SteriPEN Water Purifiers

Once, my bus broke down just east of Namibia’s barren Caprivi Strip. Though I was certain to begin any day’s travel with a full water bottle, the break-down occurred late in the day, and I had consumed most of my water already. As we waited for the “mechanic” (read: sweaty African guy with two tools to his name) to cycle to our remote spot and rebuild our axle, I drank my last drop. Parched, I soon succumbed to the pressure: I dunked the ladle into the communal gourd a village woman had brought, and slowly poured the water into my Nalgene, through my t-shirt, pretending it was a filter. I drank deeply and re-filled my bottle. Happily, I didn’t fall ill — and a passing vehicle picked me up soon thereafter — but I sure was nervous for a while.

Had I known about SteriPEN, a portable water purifier that uses ultraviolet light to destroy waterborne microbes, I might’ve bought one before heading to The Dark Continent. The 4-ounce Adventurer Handheld Water Purifier is fast (it only takes 48 seconds to sterilize 16 ounces), and fits easily into a backpack. The optional solar charger would’ve allowed me to drink over and over again without having to buy any of those crummy imported Chinese batteries. What a gip those were!

SteriPEN also makes an all-in-one set that includes the purifier and a special filter for all wide-mouth water bottles. Sure, $120 seems like a lot — until the first time your cracked lips are screaming for a drop of Aqua Vita.