SteriPen's Ultra UV Water Purifier is All Smiles


SteriPen Ultra

SteriPen has expanded its 2013 lineup with the Ultra, which it calls "the most advanced UV water purifier in the world." 

The Ultra features a user-friendly OLED (organic LED) screen that shows a smiley face if an effective dose of UV light is delivered to your drinking water and a frowny face if the dose of UV light is interrupted — no confusion about whether that water is good to go. 

The Ultra's bulb lasts for 8,000 treatments and is designed with a tapered end to fit a wide variety of containers, including commercial water bottles. Its USB-rechargeable internal battery can be recharged via computer, outlet, or portable solar panel.

SteriPen Ultra

Weight: 5.0 oz

Treatments per Charge: 50

UV Lamp Life: 8,000 treatments

Availability: March 2013 (at REI now)

Price: $99.95 

SteriPen's Kayla Moore demonstrated the Ultra for us at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market in January. 


SteriPen Freedom

SteriPen also has updated its 2013 Freedom UV water purifier to include a solar panel with a built-in lithium-ion battery. Cloudy skies? Even without sunlight, the battery can charge the Freedom from a computer or outlet through a micro USB port. 

The Freedom is buttonless, with instant-on water detection. It's SteriPen's (and the world’s) smallest, lightest UV water purifier. Designed for a wide range of traveling adventures, and SteriPen bills it as "sleek enough for a restaurant, rugged enough for Everest!"

SteriPen Freedom

Weight: 2.6 oz (Freedom), 4 oz (solar charger)

Treatments per Charge: 40

UV Lamp Life: 8,000 treatments

Availability: Now

MSRP: $99.95

Filed under: Outdoor Retailer, Gear News

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Comments

MoeIsMe
RETAILER
69 reviewer rep
1 forum posts
February 7, 2013 at 10:02 a.m. (EST)

The concept of the SteriPen is great... sterilization without chemicals. Glad to see it with a rechargeable lithium battery now.

I have a couple of questions...

1. Can it be called a 'purifier' if pathogens are killed, but not removed? Plus, it does nothing to remove toxic chemicals, which again makes me think that it is mis-labeled as a 'purifier'. You still have to drink whatever is in the water.

2. Is the new indicator (smiley face) based on a timer? I assume the power on the UV lamp is regulated so that you can be sure that a certain amount of time is sufficient to kill all pathogens?

Thanks for the info. The SteriPen could be an important part of a multi-step purification process.

pineapplefish56
10 reviewer rep
31 forum posts
February 7, 2013 at 11:14 a.m. (EST)

Cautions not listed or explained in the instruction booklet.

(From an original version of the SteriPen)

Notice in the photo, there are NO DROPLETS on the glass, above the water line… Because they will NOT be cleaned.

When you dip your Nalgene bottle into the source water, the threads get contaminated and therefore the cap gets contaminated too, when you put the cap back on.

Any spillage over the top, or water droplets above the water line in the container are suspect contamination.

Micropur (and other products too) recommend that after dissolving their product in the water, that you crack open the bottle while holding it upside-down and let a bit of water flow out of the cap. The activated cleaning solution then cleans the cap and threads on the outside where you put your lips. All the water inside the container is cleaned too, not just the water below the water line.

Instruction page #4, Item #5 says:

•  “SteriPEN is not intended to disinfect water above the surface of the water in the container, i.e., droplets of water suspended on the side of the container.”

Caution: You cannot clean the cap and threads or water droplets above the waterline with the SteriPEN product.

Note: The product is designed to kill all micro-organisms. Giardia lamblia is 2 microns. They could be anywhere where there is even the smallest speck of water.

pineapplefish56
10 reviewer rep
31 forum posts
February 7, 2013 at 11:35 a.m. (EST)

A 'flow-through' system such as on the: 'Platypus GravityWorks Water Filter' and incorporating the SteriPen ultra violet technology placed INLINE with the GravityWorks FILTER, would be the best of both worlds.

A pre-filter would also be an improvement on the GravityWorks Water Filter.

 

 

Seth Levy (Seth)
TRAILSPACE STAFF
411 reviewer rep
1,025 forum posts
February 7, 2013 at 4:17 p.m. (EST)

Hi MoeIsMe,

Good questions:

1. Can it be called a 'purifier' if pathogens are killed, but not removed? Plus, it does nothing to remove toxic chemicals, which again makes me think that it is mis-labeled as a 'purifier'. You still have to drink whatever is in the water.

I'm not aware of any laws that regulate the use of the word "purifier."  You're correct in that a properly functioning UV disinfection device like the SteriPen won't remove dissolved heavy metals, hydrocarbons any any non-pathogenic contaminants.

2. Is the new indicator (smiley face) based on a timer? I assume the power on the UV lamp is regulated so that you can be sure that a certain amount of time is sufficient to kill all pathogens?

Another good question.  I think that it delivers a 45 second dose, and that if this dose is interrupted, you get a warning.  I know that other versions of the SteriPen recommend multiple doses for highly turbid (cloudy) water.  I'll check with the company and post the reply here.

For a great primer on all the concepts related to treating backcountry water, check out Bill's article here: http://www.trailspace.com/articles/backcountry-water-treatment-part-4-methods-for-making-water-safe.html

Bob C
3 reviewer rep
1 forum posts
February 10, 2013 at 2:46 p.m. (EST)

UV light is not used to kill tough organisms such as protists in drinking water, but to denature their DNA, so that their oocysts cannot reproduce inside the host organism - you. Even municipal drinking water standards do not require the removal (usually by filtration) of 100% of oocysts, but the amount that can legally remain is extremely small. It takes a critical mass to infect most people. Whether that might be available in the residual water drops that are not treated with UV light in a container would depend on the amount of untreated water and the concentration of the oocysts. Although I have a SteriPen, I most often use chlorine dioxide to disinfect water; it takes more planning and the water has a bit of a taste, but I think that it is a more sure method. That said, if you need to make water quickly, the SteriPen is a reasonable alternative.

pineapplefish56
10 reviewer rep
31 forum posts
February 11, 2013 at 3:59 p.m. (EST)

I just don't trust the thing, the way it is made to be used!

Seth Levy (Seth)
TRAILSPACE STAFF
411 reviewer rep
1,025 forum posts
February 18, 2013 at 11:47 a.m. (EST)

Hi MoeIsMe,

SteriPen got back to us with some answers to your good questions.  Here they are:

1. Can it be called a 'purifier' if pathogens are killed, but not removed? Plus, it does nothing to remove toxic chemicals, which again makes me think that it is mis-labeled as a 'purifier'. You still have to drink whatever is in the water.

SteriPEN meets the purifier standard USEPA Guide Standard and Protocol for microbiological purifiers. When dealiing with chemicals, you are getting into a different segment known as water treatment.

2. Is the new indicator (smiley face) based on a timer?

Like all of our products, there is a timer, yes.

3. I assume the power on the UV lamp is regulated so that you can be sure that a certain amount of time is sufficient to kill all pathogens?

Yes, the product has been tested extensively (http://www.steripen.com/micro-biological-testing/). It is simply the same light intensity over a consistent time frame producing consistent results..time & intensity of lamp. Tested. over....and over....and over....and over :}

pillowthread
REVIEW CORPS
1,195 reviewer rep
1,063 forum posts
February 19, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. (EST)

@ Moe: Yeah, I hear your concerns...like Bob C notes, one of the more interesting parts about the SterPen-style systems are that they actually don't kill the organisms.

All the SteriPen claims to do is mutate the organisms beyond their capacity to reproduce. You then ingest the live, mutated organisms, hoping for the best case scenario...one where the random mutations don't include that one-in-a-trillion mutation that creates the next "superbug," that you then ingest...

Personally, I don't want to roll those dice for now...especially when a liter of creek water can have billions of microorganisms...

Seth Levy (Seth)
TRAILSPACE STAFF
411 reviewer rep
1,025 forum posts
February 20, 2013 at 11:58 a.m. (EST)

Hi pillowthread - it's probably more accurate to say that the UV radiation denatures the DNA and RNA of the pathogens. A mutation implies a heritable trait. They way I look at it is essentially that the organisms are cooked by a higher frequency of electromagnetic radiation than heat.  It's qualitatively equivalent to cooking a steak, just using UV radiation, rather than IR radiation.  The question of natural selection isn't as relevant with "overwhelming force" as it is with antibiotics. For example, we don't worry about creating heat-resistant organisms in the meat that we cook. Forgive the fuzzy explanation - I remember my High School biology teacher telling me I was "worse than hopeless!" Bill, our resident physicist, will likely chime in and explain exactly what I've gotten wrong.

That all said - water purification is a very personal decision. I don't use UV myself, and have a whole "water selection" ritual when I get into camp that is far beyond rational.

Porter
21 reviewer rep
5 forum posts
February 20, 2013 at 8:38 p.m. (EST)

These devices had the biggest failure rate of any gear on the A/T. I dont think they are up to the task yet. Can't wait until they are.

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