Clean and reliable water may be a given when you open the tap back home, but when you are on the road, it isn’t always readily available. On some trips, you may be trying to locate clean water in the wilderness, on others it may be the tap water that needs some extra attention.
SteriPEN water purifiers use ultraviolet (UV) light to disinfect water. There is absolutely no question about the effectiveness of UV light, in fact, your local water company may be using the same technology to clean your municipal water supply. At home, I use a commercial UV cleaning system in my furnace, and it has had a noticeable effect. The EPA has recognized UV light as a proven viable technology.
The SteriPEN traveler is a compact water purifying pen, operating it is as simple as turning it on, removing the protective cap and placing it in a cup or bottle of water. The pen can clean up to one liter of water at a time, in under one minute. Sensor prongs ensure the UV light won’t turn on when the pen is not immersed, protecting your eyes from the UV radiation.
Before purifying water, you do need to be sure that it is free of particulate matter – UV light can kill a lot of things, but it won’t remove dirt or other small debris. Commercial filters can easily take care of this, and in the worst case scenario, you can even use a piece of clothing as a filter cloth.
The product runs off four AA batteries, but SteriPEN recommends only using Lithium or Nickel Metal hydride batteries. On a full set of batteries, the SteriPEN traveler will disinfect up to 200 liters of water. I found that some brands of Alkaline batteries work in a pinch, but you will definitely want to travel with a few spare batteries you have tested with the SteriPEN.
At just $59.95, this is the most affordable SteriPEN, and if your trips take you somewhere with questionable water, investing $60 to prevent a week of stomach cramps is easy to justify. Then again, there are also times I think I’d use this to disinfect the water glass at the local budget hotel.