STERIPEN ADVENTURER OPTI WATER TREATMENT
BY NANCY GRIFFITH
July 27, 2014
Northern California, USA
5' 6" (1.68 m)
130 lb (59.00 kg)
My outdoor experience began in high school with a canoeing/camping group which made a 10-day voyage through the Quebec wilds. I've been backpacking since my college days in Pennsylvania. I have hiked all of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina. My typical trip now is in the Sierra Nevada in California and is from a few days to a few weeks long. Over the past few years I have lowered my pack weight to a light-weight base weight of 15 lb (6.8 kg) and use a tent, stove and quilt.
Manufacturer: Hydro-Photon, Inc.
|Photo courtesy of Hydro-Photon|
Year of Manufacture: 2012
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.steripen.com
MSRP: $89.95 US
Listed Weight: 3.6 oz (103 g) with two CR123 batteries
Measured Weight: 3.6 oz (103 g)
Device only: 2.4 oz (68 g)
Batteries only: 1.2 oz (31 g)
Carrying Case Weight: 1 oz (28 g)
Expected Battery Life: 50 L
Measured Battery Life (1): 32 L (mostly half liter doses)
Measured Battery Life (2): 23 L (all full liter doses)
Measured Battery Life (3): 27 L (all full liter doses; removed batteries between trips)
The Steripen Adventurer Opti (hereafter referred to as the Steripen or pen) uses ultra-violet light to destroy viruses, bacteria and protozoa such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium. A half-liter dose takes 48 seconds and a one-liter dose takes 90 seconds.
To use the pen I press the button once for a 1 L dose or twice for a half liter dose. The green light comes on and flashes to indicate it is ready to go. Once I place the lamp in the water, the lamp lights up with a blue UV light and the water sensor starts flashing. I then slowly move the lamp around in the water with a stirring motion. When the lamp goes out the dose cycle is completed and I can look at the light on the handle which should be green to confirm that it worked. If the pen is lifted out of the water by accident, the light will turn red to indicate that the cycle was not completed. I then lift the lamp out of the water and dry it and the water sensor.
The Steripen can also be used as an emergency flashlight by leaving on the cap. I need to press and hold the button for three seconds. It will light and be on for three minutes or can be turned off by pushing the button once.
The pen gives a low battery warning by flashing a red light when the batteries need to be replaced. It also gives a warning prior to that when a dose is complete. It flashes red between the slow green blinking of a completed dose.
I have been using the Steripen for the past two years and have used the Steripen on at least twenty-five backpacking trips, including a 21-day hike of the John Muir Trail. I originally purchased it to see how/if it would change my hiking style by being able to treat water more readily while hiking. I have been using a gravity filter which is very convenient in camp but is a little cumbersome on the trail requiring a longer stop to get water.
I like the convenience of being able to quickly dose a liter of water and keep moving on. However, when we need to stock up on more water than say two liters, the gravity filter is easier and overall quicker to use. My original plan of switching to the Steripen as our sole source of water treatment has never come to fruition, but I like it so much that I carry it in addition to the gravity filter. So much for saving on weight. The only trips where I don't take the Steripen are those where we are mainly staying in a base camp, but those are rare. The Steripen shines for on-trail water needs when I want to go light and get water in small quick amounts.
Most of the water sources that I've used the Steripen with have been clean and clear. In cases where there are some floaters I just filter it out through a bandana after dosing.
When I bought the Steripen in 2012 I started to track how many times I used it to get an idea of how long a set of batteries would last. Initially I used it for 1/2 liter doses in a large plastic cup that wasn't so deep that I'd fear dropping the pen in the water. Eventually the cup broke and it was always difficult to see the pen working in bright light anyway. So I changed to carrying a half-gallon milk jug which I cut out the top to make a sort of scoop. This solution has been working very well since I can easily see the blue UV light through the jug and I can dose a full liter at a time.
The batteries are stated to last for 50 L with a new set of two CR123 lithium batteries and for 30 L with a set of rechargeable batteries. I tracked my usage and got 32 L on the first set of batteries (supplied with the pen) and while I was dosing half liters at a time. I installed new batteries and tracked it again using full liter doses. This time I got 23 L before the batteries died. I wasn't satisfied that this was even close to the advertised battery life so I contact customer service. They were incredibly responsive and asked me to return my pen for analysis. They can read the number of doses and concluded that I had 16 more doses than I had counted. OK, but that still isn't 50 L of life. She also recommended that I remove the batteries between trips since they'll drain much more quickly if left in the device. I followed this recommendation and got 27 L of life on the next set of batteries (supplied by Steripen). Overall, I can't say that I'm too disappointed about the battery life; a set of batteries seems to last a busy summer season. But I haven't been able to match the advertised life. When I'm nearing an expected end-of-life for my battery set, I either carry an extra set of batteries or just figure on using my gravity filter for the rest of the trip.
I usually carried the Steripen in a hip pocket or top lid of my backpack without its protective case. I'd often wrap it in a bandana since I'd use that to wipe it off after use. It seems really sturdy and hasn't shown any signs of damage or wear. I haven't abused it but neither have I been particularly careful with it.
I haven't ever used the flashlight feature though I suppose it would be useful in an emergency.
The Steripen Adventurer Opti water treatment has proven to be a quick and convenient way to treat water while on the trail. I still prefer my gravity filter for in camp but rarely leave on a trip without my Steripen.
THINGS I LIKE
Small, lightweight water treatment
THINGS I DON'T LIKE
Haven't gotten the advertised battery life
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Read more gear reviews by Nancy Griffith