U V pen for Sterilizing water

12:22 p.m. on August 21, 2016 (EDT)
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I know this is done in most large purification programs. My daughter was telling me about a pen ? that her friends were using on a resent backcountry trip. Has anyone used something like this . How affective is it for things other than garidia which I am not worried about in the alpine.

12:37 p.m. on August 21, 2016 (EDT)
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https://www.trailspace.com/gear/water-purifiers/

You can find reviews for quite a few of the SteriPEN products by following that link. These have been around for a while now and they are popular because of how easy to carry they are. Used properly it kills the bugs, but you are left with the color and flavor you started with. No personal experience to share, but I figured I'd point you towards the reviews.

3:10 p.m. on August 21, 2016 (EDT)
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For the SteriPen to be effective, all of the bugs in the water need to be exposed to the UV light, which means it does not work well in water that is silty or cloudy or has a lot of floaties. So in the Sierra it can be a good choice, in the Grand Canyon definitely not. There also has been a significant number of complaints about battery/unit failure, which of course is no good under any circumstances.

3:13 p.m. on August 21, 2016 (EDT)
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I've used them...they tend to be lighter and smaller than filters...but they do not remove anything from the water alone. UV devices are faster than chemical treatment...but much larger...more expensive...and more susceptible to human and technical problems. Personally I only use mine in cold weather...but Rambler and others here on TS swear by them.

9:06 p.m. on August 21, 2016 (EDT)
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An alternative UV device to the SteriPens is Camelbak's AllClear. I did a review of this setup (UV cap that fits one of Camelbak's 3/4 liter bottles) here. You might also benefit from reading my series of articles on treating water. The link is to article 1, with links to the other 3 in each article.

There are some important fundamental considerations omitted or touched on only briefly above.

First, in my experience, every time I have run into someone who complains about failures with the SteriPens, a bit of inquiry and request for a demonstration of the failure in my presence has proven to be operator error, usually on the versions with the metal electric flow buttons not being kept fully in the water. I have never personally had a failure of any of the 3 SteriPens I own, nor has my wife.

Second, NO method (chemical, UV, filter, etc) removes or neutralizes industrial, mining, or agricultural runoff or waste. Insertion of a carbon filter helps to some extent with heavy metals - mercury (we have lots of Hg runoff in streams in the local Santa Cruz Mountains, notably in Almaden Valley in the streams flowing out of Quicksilver Regional Park - maybe the name gives a hint), lead (found in streams in some parts of the Sierra and Rockies where there was or still is heavy metal mining), and a few other heavy metals).  The clue here is "KNOW YOUR SOURCES!!!"

UV does work well (when properly used) on viruses (which most filters do not catch), bacteria, protozoa (including encysted protozoa).

Chemical treatments (including ClO2) require a signiicant amount of time - 4 hours if you follow the manufacturers' directions with "room temperature" (60°F/20°C) water. The time increases as the temperature drops. If you have ice in the water, chlorine dioxide, iodine, and other chemical purifiers are effectively useless (hint - just boil or at least heat the water into the recommended range to speed the chemical reaction). Note that UV devices do not work for water with ice in it.

As noted above, turbid water reduces the effectiveness of UV (as well as chemical treatments). At least filter the turbid water with a coffee filter, cheese cloth, or a filter pump or gravity filter. You can also get pre-filters that help to some degree (with pump filters as well). You can gain some ground (yeah, yeah, bad pun) by allowing the turbid water to settle overnight, then decanting the somewhat clarified upper layer of water.

Also KEEP IN MIND - Many studies done in the back country and at trailheads have shown over and over that the vast majority of intestinal upset problems are NOT due to the water itself, but are due to people being less than scrupulous in their cleanliness, especially in handling the food. During my  most recent trip to Peru, we had a number of the first-timers who ignored those of us who have been going there over the years - DO NOT EAT STREET FOOD, un;ess you can see the preparer fully cooking it in front of you on an open fire. DO NOT accept food that has been sitting around for a few hours. Having said that, there are some of us who grew up drinking directly from the mountain streans and the local food, hence have developed a bit of immunity to the critters. But beware- this only works on streams and sidewalk cooks from which you ingested water and food that you grew up with - and not always even then. During the August trip, most of the newbies had to resort to Cipro (our doctor requires everyone bring Cipro and Diamox). Almost every one of the newbies had the "Incan Revenge". The experienced staff were almost all free of the effects.

I had my own problem - I tripped over an obstacle on one of the sidewalks and scraped off a flap of skin. I did try keeping it clean and used an antibiotic cream with a covering bandage. However when I got back to the US, Barb took a look and sent me to our doctor, who pointed out the red lines running up my arm from the injury site. He immediately put me on a powerful antibiotic (4 big pills a day for 10 days). This cleared things up, but the antibiotics do interact strongly with your innards. All is well now, but my Personal Physician said that I could have lost my arm to the really nasty bugs I scraped into the wound.

9:48 p.m. on August 21, 2016 (EDT)
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When taking antibiotics drink Kefir daily, it helps keeps your 'innards' bacteria in a normal range and prevents other illness's.

Good thing to drink daily anyways. It also helps to prevent constipation when taking meds like Codeine.

12:19 p.m. on August 22, 2016 (EDT)
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+1 to Bill's Camelback All Clear recommendation.  I love mine and if I am in an area where my water is anything other than melted snow I use the All Clear.  I don't purify snow melt.  Battery life is excellent and I can recharge it with a solar panel if I feel the need.  I have used it for a group of four over three days and the battery was still over 1/2 when we got home. 

12:40 p.m. on August 22, 2016 (EDT)
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Bill S said:

I had my own problem - I tripped over an obstacle on one of the sidewalks and scraped off a flap of skin. I did try keeping it clean and used an antibiotic cream with a covering bandage. However when I got back to the US, Barb took a look and sent me to our doctor, who pointed out the red lines running up my arm from the injury site. He immediately put me on a powerful antibiotic (4 big pills a day for 10 days). This cleared things up, but the antibiotics do interact strongly with your innards. All is well now, but my Personal Physician said that I could have lost my arm to the really nasty bugs I scraped into the wound.

 this is no joke.  My brother had a more serious injury in Nepal, impaled his shin on a piece of cross-cut bamboo, but the real problem was the infection that turned his leg into a big red tree trunk - he nearly lost it.  worth noting that medical facilities in many countries are not only not sterile but known to be sources of bad bacteria for this kind of thing.  have been advised to shun hospitals in favor of clinics run by westerners in a few countries....

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