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Reader Reviews

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SteriPen Adventurer

in Hydration - Water Treatment

Average Rating
3.70 / 5 (10 reviews)

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douglas girling
( dgirling )

SteriPen Adventurer on 07/13/2007 06:46:22 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

It was with some skepticism that I acquired this bit of gear. I owned the earlier regular version which quit working rather quickly once in the field.
This one, I’m happy to report, has, so far, fared much better than it’s predecessor. It’s much lighter too which is a nice plus. I’ve used it on a number of outings and purposely have been non too gentle with it. So far no problems – neither with the steripen nor my digestive system. The big advantage of using a UV sterilization process is that it’s instant which means you don’t have to carry your water for the obligatory 4 hours (giardia is the problem here) in your pack while waiting for drops or pills to work – and this amounts to a considerable weight saving. Yes, your base weight will go up 3 ounces, but your real weight will go down by pounds by not having to carry as much water at any one time.
My main gripe with the pen is the neck is too wide to fit in any standard bottle except nalgene wide mouths – which are pigs to carry. I ended up cutting the top off a Gatorade bottle and using that for water collection and purification and then decanting to my platypus for storage.
It’s fairly heavy on batteries but I got over 100 uses from the first set – lost count after that. Haven’t had an opportunity to use it in the cold, needless to say it will probably have to live in a jacket pocket during winter trips. Hopefully in the not too distant future we’ll have a UV LED – that may indeed be the perfect water purifier. Until then I give the Steri pen Adveturer a 4. It will come with me on every trip, can’t beat the convenience, but I’ll continue to keep some aquamira as back up.

Price comparison from GearBuyer: Gatorade 3 priced at: $46.99
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Ryan Corder
( demo )

Arkansan in Seattle
SteriPen Adventurer on 07/13/2007 14:21:28 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

My only complaints tend to line up the same as those from others. It seems, although I can't prove a shred of this, that they are in cahoots with Nalgene as bottles from said manufacturer are the only ones you can use. I suppose you could also use it with a Big Zip from Platypus, but you are still limited by the fact that you can only purify one litre at a time.

Other than that, I love it. No more pills, liquids, or clunky filters. I do take a couple of coffee filters and a rubber band just in case I need to get rid of some big stuff.

I have also successfully used the SteriPen Adventurer down into the 20s.

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Michael Davis
( mad777 )

South Florida
Maybe the best water treatment method on 09/22/2007 12:49:54 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

At 3.6 ounces on my scale, it's lighter that pump filters (1 lb.+/-)and lighter than my ULA Amigo gravity filter (9.6oz). However, pre-filtering is required, through a bandana or coffee filter, etc. as the "bugs" can hide from the UV light behind dirt particles. As earlier posts have noted, a wide mouth container is required as an "accessory." I use a soft-sided Nalgene widemouth 1 liter canteen that weights 2 oz. Then I dump the treated water into my bladder or just drink from the canteen on a day-hike. From my research, I haven't found any device/chemical that does as complete of a treatment, i.e. bacteria, protazoans, cysts and viruses. All this without a wait time and no chemical tastes. That being said, it is a machine and I carry a few Micropur treatment tablets in my kit as a lightweight back-up plan.
Overall, I am extremely happy with my Steripen Adventurer.

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Kevin Egelhoff
( kegelhoff )

Southern Cal
Used (2) brand new ones on a 9 day trip .... on 10/07/2008 16:01:06 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 2 / 5

Hmmmm ... for once I'm not even close in agreement to anyone ???
Having purchased two brand new units after reading several positive comments, I can't wait to RETURN them both. First I want to write to the manufacture and ask a lot of questions but after reading peoples post on REI's web site I'm guessing they won't respond. Here are the problems we encountered. We needed to steri approximately 2 gallons of water each night for our group of 5 people. Worked great the first day at 7,000 foot elevation. Day two climbed over 10,000 feet and BOTH units got red lights aprox. half the time. We thought maybe the brand new batteries were the problem and exchanged them with brand new Lith. batteries AGAIN ONLY to find the same problem immediately. Temp was about 50 deg. and I had warmed the batteries in my pants pocket prior to using them. Still, no luck getting a consistant reading. It was so bad that I was considering walking 14 miles back to the car to get the HEAVY First Need to use as the back up and then would have to hike all the way back to the group. A 28 mile tough day .... We decided to keep using the pens and we would end the trip early if we couldn't get them to work or we ended up burning up the batteries due to so many cycles trying to get the elusive green light. The instructions are very vague on the red light problem. Is it the sensor being dirty ? Elevation? Amount of salt in the water? Are we supposed to clean the sensor after each use? Is the pen not intended to be used for longer periods of time? Most of these questions were described on other web sites after doing some research when I got back. I still don't know what the problem was but the pens worked a little better each day as we dropped in elevation down to 5000 feet. Highly disappointed in something that seems so finicky on something so critical as clean drinking water.

Edited by kegelhoff on 10/27/2008 18:13:28 MDT.

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Mary D
( hikinggranny )
Steripen-switch way too stiff on 10/17/2008 13:52:56 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 2 / 5

My big complaint with the Steripen Adventurer is that I could not work the switch! It's fine for those with big strong hands (the kind who regularly open jars for their SO), but not for me (I can open most jars, but not all). I would attempt to turn on the Steripen switch until my fingers were sore. Sometimes it worked, but often it didn't. I've heard quite a few complaints from other women about the switch. It's good that it's stiff enough not to turn on while in the pack, but not when it's so stiff you can't turn it on deliberately!

My second complaint is that it is really slow, especially when you're trying to purify water for several people. My filter of choice is a ULA Amigo Pro--I can fill up the container and let it filter on its own in camp. With the Steripen, I was sitting there on the buggy creek bank stirring for what seemed like hours to get enough water for four of us. After a day of this nonsense, I put the Steripen away and hauled out the Katadyn Micropur tablets I carry for backup. I hate using chemicals (especially after a really bad experience with iodine), but anything was better than all that stirring! The Steripen is not suitable for other than solo trips, unless everyone in the group has his own and purifies his own water.

The third problem is the already mentioned issue of requiring a Nalgene bottle, which negates any weight savings with the Steripen. The 3.6 ounces mentioned does not include the batteries, and I wouldn't take it out for a week's trip without fresh batteries in it plus two sets of extra batteries. Steripen Adventurer plus three sets of batteries plus Nalgene bottle total 11.0 ounces. My ULA Amigo Pro filter, plus added stuffsack and a Platypus filter connecter, weighs 8.7 ounces.

The fourth problem is that the Steripen doesn't zap the water left on the rim and threads of your Nalgene bottle after you dip the bottle into the water source. Not a big deal for healthy adults, but a definite concern with my young grandchildren in the party.

The Steripen Adventurer went back to REI right after its maiden trip! I was tempted to give it a 1 rating, except that guys with big muscular hands (like my son, who had to turn it on and off for me) won't have problems with the switch. This gizmo was definitely not designed for females!

Edited by hikinggranny on 10/17/2008 16:33:29 MDT.

Price comparison from GearBuyer:
Katadyn Micropur priced at: $13.95
Katadyn Micropur Tablets priced at: $8.95 - $16.75
Nalgene Jars priced at: $3.19 - $7.90
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Noel Hong
( arborrider08 )

SouthShore of Lake Superior
Still looking for the ultimate water purifier. on 11/11/2008 13:26:57 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 3 / 5

Purchased a sale priced SteriPen Adventurer as a possible replacement for a MIOX unit.

The negatives I knew of prior to purchase include 1L at time, bottle mouth size requirements and probably not the most durable if dropped.
The big negative after purchase is the number of liters of water purified per set of batteries. Using Surefire lithium 123 purified ~15 liters. Same result with a 2nd set of batteries. In the MSR MIOX 2 sets of the same batteries from the same box(7month fresher shelf life) lasted more than 26 days of ~4L per day.

The pros for this unit are the relatively light weight and compact size. It's a purifier and you can drink the water immediately after treatment. Don't have to take the unit to bed with you on sub 0C nights.

For now I'll still carry the DIY gravity filter kit and if heading to viral infested waters haul along the MIOX unit.

Price comparison from GearBuyer: Surefire Batteries priced at: $2.99
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Marc Kokosky
( mak52580 )

Washington, DC Area
I Like It on 10/14/2009 04:41:46 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I need to disagree with many of you. I also had some substantial doubts about the quality of this unit when I purchased it. However, since I travel internationally to 3rd world countries for work, and have weight limits set by the airlines and don't have time in the field to wait several hours for water to purify, I took a chance.

I must say that I have been more than pleasantly surprised. Like one poster on the REI reviews mentioned many times it not understanding what the different colors and sequences of the blinking lights mean that lead to a lot of the confusion and subsequent frustration... and I'll be the first to admit that they should simplify this going forward with future units. Even to this day, I carry the instructions with the pen in the event I forget or am confused I can look them up. Even after all this time, I still get confused and can't remember what they all mean!

But to date, I have filtered water directly from ponds, riverbeds, boreholes, and puddles from places such as Sudan, Namibia, Tanzania, Kenya, Zimbabwe (at the height of the cholera epidemic last year), Cambodia and Malawi among others and not once gotten sick. I also, obviously, have used it on my routine backpacking trips in the US and feel confident that if it can handle water where I have been then any backcountry organism in the US doesn't stand a chance!

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Alan Seegert
( zemmo )

Worked great for us! on 05/13/2010 12:33:24 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I just got back from a trip to Nepal, and one of the members of our group had a SteriPEN Adventurer. The seven of us in the group ended up using the SteriPEN more than we expected, as our other two purification devices failed during the trip. It worked flawless the entire time, and the battery consumption seemed quite reasonable.

Since I got back I have been talking to the tech support guys for Hydro-Photon, and some of the issues above seem to have been addressed. I just ordered one for myself, will post updates here if required.

Keith Selbo
( herman666 - M )

Northern Virginia
neat idea but ... on 05/20/2010 11:28:58 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 2 / 5

steripen water purifier
Price: $90
Weight: 3.6 oz
Capacity: 50 l. per set of CR123 batteries.

I've spent some time trying to think of something nice to say about this product and I guess I can acknowledge that it works as advertised, but that's about it.

To begin with, its operational state is conveyed by coded flashes of a red/green LED. They weren't easy for someone my age to remember and require that your eyes remain riveted on the pen during the whole sterilization process.

That is a disadvantage compared to passive purification such as chemicals or gravity filters which may take longer to act, but free you do do whatever you wish while they do their work.

What bothers me most though is that there is no distinct demarcation between the dirty and clean side of this system. It requires a lot of concentration and care to make sure a drop of dirty water doesn't get deposited on the sterilization vessel in a place where it could re-contaminate the clean water. Also, the pen has water sensing contacts on it's side which must be in the water for the pen to function but there is no direct path between the contacts and the lamp so it's hard to say whether the contact area gets enough UV to be sterilized. If not, they provide a hiding place for organisms.

The 3.6 oz. weight is appealing, but spare batteries are a must in most situations. They add weight and are definitely not cheap. Rechargeable batteries are an option. They have about half the capacity as the CR123's and may necessitate the additional burden of a charger on a thru-hike.

I continue to give thought as to how to overcome these difficulties, but until I do, it sits on the gear shelf.

Regarding the 5/5 review below. It is for the JOURNEY model which is substantially different from the adventurer. I suggest the author create a new product thread for the Steripen Journey and move it there to avoid confusion.

Edited by herman666 on 06/04/2010 12:29:11 MDT.

Craig Price
( skeets )

Melbourne, Australia
5/5 for me too on 05/21/2010 03:18:15 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I've had the Steripen Journey for some time now. It does everything it was stated to do.
I don't need to carry lots of water. As I backpack to fish (solely), I am near or aiming to get to, water a lot of the time. Therefore, I can refill, sterilise and drink as needed, without being encumbered with a lot of weight by carrying water. The net return in weight is well in advance. convenience is beyond par - hmmm, I feel thirsty, 2 mins later I've quenched the thirst and back to the primary purpose of being here, fishing.
I didn't find it a problem to use a gatorade bottle. The diam is perfect for the journey. Gives me a one stop solution.
Finally, I'll repeat the one aspect of one review that convinced me to try it - I have NEVER gotten sick with gardia or other water borne nasties using the steripen, even in areas with a lot of livestock and obvious excrement in the waterway - I have great confidence in it from experience in some nasty conditions.

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