I have been using one for about 4 years now. I have the Adventurer. They are finicky about batteries and you need to read and follow the instructions carefully to use it successfully. Some people, myself included, have arthritis in their hands and can have problems using the switch. Given that, I have had no problems with mine and it has had around five months of field use averaging about three liters treated per day.
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I had a lot of problems with a Steripen Adventurer and returned it after one trip. First, the switch was so stiff that I couldn't turn it on and off without help--not a good idea when most of my trips are solo. Second, it kept aborting in mid-cycle, forcing me to treat each quart 2-3 times. Third, sitting by a buggy creek stirring and stirring is not my idea of fun. If you're going with a group and you must use the Steripen, then everyone should have their own and treat his/her own water.
When you're looking at the weight, remember the following: A wide-mouth bottle is required, and Nalgene weighs a LOT more than Platypus. Extra batteries are essential, and I wouldn't go out without two extra sets. It's a good idea to take some chlorine dioxide tablets--I've heard enough reports of unreliability that I wouldn't want to trust the Steripen without backup. Add up these essential accessories, and you really haven't saved anything over my 7.5 oz. ULA Amigo Pro gravity filter (unfortunately discontinued). For solo trips, I take just the ClO2 tablets.
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey
I remember the first time my flashlight died at night (amazingly, they never die during the day.) At that moment, I decided that I wouldn't willingly bring along anything else that needs batteries. And, as soon as they came out, I got one of those little keyring type LEDs so I could change the batteries in my main lamp at night.
Loc: St. Louis, Missouri
Ditto that. I like my steripen and dislike filters. Batteries are an issue and you might want to bring spares. But if you were a filter person you might want to bring a spare cartridge in case your breaks. So you pick which way you like to do it and prepare for the potential problems your choice entails.
The low or high salt content of water should have no effect at all on the way the Steripen works.
The salt content will effect the electrical conductivity (EC) of the water and can also have an effect on the taste. UV treatment does not require any level of EC to work; it does require clear water.
If the salt content is too high, alkaline for example, the water will have a bitter taste and can give one a fair case of the "green apple quickstep". If the wrong salts are present (eg. arsenic, selenium) the water can be poisonous.
if you search steripen this topic has been covered MANY times already.
Modern civilized man, sated with artificialities and luxury, were wont, when he returns to the primeval mountains, to find among their caves his prehistoric brother, alive and unchanged. -Guido Rey
I have the Steripen Adventurer and have been giving a try on my last few trips. I used the Hiker Pro filter for years but was looking for a lighter alternative and was tired of the cost of the replacement filters. Although I find the Steripen easy to use, and have had no complaints yet, I do worry about durability. I bring backup tablets just in case. Take a look at the pictures at the bottom of this SHT trip report for the water I was drinking. I was using the Steripen and had a hard time with the colored water. Not sure if my filter would have made any difference, but it did cause me to wish I had the filter on this trip!