The SteriPEN is a remarkably simple and clever little device. All it really consists of is a small, handheld UV light. Dip the light into a glass of water, turn it on for 90 seconds, and you’ve just killed upwards of 99.9% of bacteria and viruses in your water.
There is an immediate appeal to such a simple, reusable device like the SteriPEN. Ideal for anyone traveling to locations with questionable water supplies, or for anyone who wants the ability to sterilize their water for drinking without impacting the taste or altering the water in any way other than killing microorganisms.
Travelling with the SteriPEN Portable UV Filter
Although it could certainly be put to work in a huge variety of situations, perhaps the one where the SteriPEN is the most useful is in traveling situations. If you find yourself heading to a destination where water borne pathogens are a big problem and water quality can be an issue, it is prudent to pick up something like the SteriPEN or filtered water bottle.
The benefit of the SteriPEN over a filtering bottle is its ability to sterilize water in any container easily and quickly. Instead of having to dump every glass of water into your filter bottle to draw it through the filter, you can fit the SteriPEN into a variety of different bottles, glasses, and other drinking vessels. As long as the light can be completely submerged, you can use the SteriPEN. However, the SteriPEN is unfortunately too cumbersome to fit in most narrow-mouthed water bottles, so you will need a wide-mouth in order to make use of it.
What the SteriPEN Purifies
It is important to note that the SteriPEN is not a filter. It is a water purifier, using UV light to kill bacteria, viruses, parasites, and other water-borne pathogens that can be harmful to your health. Shining a powerful ultraviolet light into the water for the recommended 90 seconds is deadly to disease-causing microbes, but it does nothing to impact the chemical contents of your water.
This means that unlike something like the LIFESAVER Bottle, the SteriPEN should only be used with water that is already more or less clean. In fact, this is a requirement: the SteriPEN only works if the UV light can actually pass through the water effectively, meaning extremely turbid (cloudy water you can’t see through) will not be effectively sterilized by the SteriPEN.
So where the SteriPEN comes in handy is when you have access to more or less clean water that you still question. Examples of this could be the tap water in an area with known issues, from a flowing stream or river with clear but potentially microbe-rich water, or from water treated with one or more preliminary filters.
One such filter is actually marketed specifically for use before the SteriPEN. The SteriPEN Water Bottle Filter Kit (~$13) attaches to the mouth of your water bottle providing you with a 40-micron filter that filters water as you pour it into the bottle. Ideal for removing sediment and reducing turbidity of water before use with the SteriPEN, the filter kit rounds off the SteriPEN as a simple portable solution to producing potable water.
Charge, Lifetime, and Portability
The SteriPEN is massively portable. Easily able to fit into a pocket or a small bag, it can be taken with you pretty much anywhere without issue. On full batteries, the SteriPEN is good for about 30 90-second purifications, the manufacturer recommended time to purify 32 ounces of water. Relying on CR123 replaceable batteries, you have the option of getting rechargeable batteries for repeated use, or keeping some spares available to make the SteriPEN ready to go whenever needed.
As far as durability, the SteriPEN is not the most rugged tool ever designed, but so far hasn’t given us any trouble. Although it might not do well in a serious survival situation exposed to the elements, for those traveling the less wild parts of the globe, the SteriPEN should be able to hold up if it’s not treated too harshly.
If you find yourself heading abroad and worried about the water, the sub-$70 investment in the SteriPEN is definitely a worthy one. Used properly, it can save you some serious gastrointestinal agony.
Combined with a high quality pocket filter, the SteriPEN represents a second line of defense to more or less ensure your water is safe to drink practically regardless of the source. Even combined with a simpler filter like the one mentioned above the SteriPEN immediately opens up a wealth of new water sources.
Overall, we are quite pleased with our SteriPEN, and we award it 4/5 stars. The primary complaints about it is the fact that the durability and construction leave a little something to be desired, and we would like to see a slightly less bulky design which allows it to fit more easily into smaller bottles and drinking vessels. It can also be sometimes difficult to see if the UV light is actually on when using the SteriPEN in bright light, such as outdoors. Other than that, it works as advertised!
Easy To Use
Lacking in Durability
- Editor Rating
- Rated 4 stars
- SteriPEN Adventuer Opti Portable Handheld UV Water Purifier
- Reviewed by:
- Published on:
- Last modified:
A simple hand-held ultraviolet water purifier, the SteriPEN Adventurer Opti allows you to easily disinfect a glass of water by simply submerging the UV light and pressing a button.
Jacob Hatch is the author and founder of Hydration Anywhere. He has been actively writing about drinking water since 2013. These days Jacob spends most of his time investigating water related news, studying environmental issues, reading health studies, and reviewing products like water bottles and water filters.