Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Brands

Accessories

Steripen Adventurer

Price: $129.95 (optional solar charger $49.95) www.steripen.com4 stars LIGHT MAY GIVETH LIFE, BUT IN THE CASE OF THE SteriPen, it taketh away.

Lock Icon

Unlock this article and unwrap savings this holiday season.

Already have an Outside Account? Sign in

Outside+ Logo

Now 30% Off.
$4.99/month $3.49/month*

Get the one subscription to fuel all your adventures.


  • Map your next adventure with our premium GPS apps: Gaia GPS Premium and Trailforks Pro.
  • Read unlimited digital content from 15+ brands, including Outside Magazine, Triathlete, Ski, Trail Runner, and VeloNews.
  • Watch 600+ hours of endurance challenges, cycling and skiing action, and travel documentaries.
  • Learn from the pros with expert-led online courses.
Join Outside+

*Outside memberships are billed annually. Print subscriptions available to U.S. residents only. You may cancel your membership at anytime, but no refunds will be issued for payments already made. Upon cancellation, you will have access to your membership through the end of your paid year. More Details

steri-pen

Price: $129.95

(optional solar charger $49.95)

4 stars
LIGHT MAY GIVETH LIFE, BUT IN THE CASE OF THE SteriPen, it taketh away. With the push of a button the battery-powered unit emits a burst of germicidal UV light that destroys the DNA in 99.9 percent of water critters such as giardia and cryptosporidium. With scrambled DNA, these little gut busters can’t reproduce, and die. It’s beautiful. The ray also nukes e-coli, staph and horrors such as cholera, typhoid, botulism and other nasties you’d rather not have inside you.
It all sounded too good to be true, and I was reluctant to guinea-pig myself with a water purifier that used invisible light instead of chemicals or pumps that you can actually see or taste doing their thing. Using UV light to purify water, however, is nothing new and is often used in home systems, bottling plants and hospitals. To some degree, we’ve all unknowingly trusted the technology for years.
So, with trepidation I dipped the light stick into a bottle of backcountry creek water and hit the switch. An eerie blue light cast from the SteriPen’s clear plastic tube, killing everything in its wake (or so I really, really hoped). After about a minute the light snapped itself off, indicating it was done dispensing death. I lifted the bottle to my parched lips and drank. Two weeks passed and my plumbing seemed fine. I repeated the test several more times, once in an area where, years before, the water had given me giardia, and can report no ill effects. Now, the 4-ounce SteriPen has a regular home in my pack. I like it because it’s faster at treating water than chemicals, less of a hassle, and smaller and lighter weight than filters.
The SteriPen may not, however, be the ticket for you. It requires clear water for proper UV light penetration. Murky water may let a few survivors slip through. SteriPen does have a “prefilter” unit ($6.95) for such a contingency, and which I didn’t test.
With disposable AA batteries, the unit delivers between 25 and 50 16-ounce doses. Lithium batteries can double output, according to the manufacturer. Green-minded folks will be psyched to know that an optional solar recharger case is available. Keep a set of batteries, and swap them out when the ones in the unit die, and you’ll never want for water again.