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#169189 - 09/10/12 02:13 PM Steripen experience?
bobito9 Offline
member

Registered: 01/25/08
Posts: 385
Howdy,
Anyone here had much experience with using these? I've had one for a couple years: well actually, the one I bought last year seemed to not be working well so I exchanged it at REI for another. Now, after further experience with it conking out on me, I think it's just in its nature to fail sometimes. It can really gobble batteries. It may just be that my last batch of betteries were not good enough, but it seems like I'm always making excuses for it failing. The irritating most recent experience I had was that it worked fine with one new set of batteries for 2 people on a 7 day backpack, but then on an 8 day trip for one person, a new set of batteries (and I had no spares: my bad) only lasted 5 days. Luckily I had iodine as backup.
The truth is, it can really be super convenient and light when it's working well. I originally bought it for a backpacking trip in Costa Rica because it is suppose to kill a wider spectrum of bugs than my pump does, but it is also super light.

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#169193 - 09/10/12 03:10 PM Re: Steripen experience? [Re: bobito9]
BarryP Offline
member

Registered: 03/04/04
Posts: 1574
Loc: Eastern Idaho
Iíve really enjoyed the steri-pen opti. I love the mineral-tasting water that regular filters cover up. And itís cold and ready to drink.
The opti uses 2 CR123 batteries. It advertises 44 liters (or something like that) per set. I probably got 40 liters out of it. When the batteries go down, the blue tube wonít turn on even though the LED is green (for ready to go). However, if the UV tube doesnít turn on while in the water, look at the indicator LED. Mine turned red in the water and I knew the batteries were ready to be replaced. I usually carry a spare set of batteries.
I use SureFire batteries because theyíre the cheapest for the highest quality.

So which steripen are you using? And exactly what was the brand of your batteries?

-Barry
-The mountains were made for Tevaís

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#169195 - 09/10/12 03:19 PM Re: Steripen experience? [Re: bobito9]
Pika Offline
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1736
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
I have used a Steripen Adventurer for at least five years and have found it to be both convenient and reliable. Regarding battery life, I have heard numerous reports that batteries will go downhill fast if you leave them in the pen. So, I take the batteries out after each use. I generally get about the advertized number of uses from batteries using this protocol. Beyond the battery trick, the most important thing with the Steripen is to read the instruction thoroughly. All of the issues I have had with mine were resolved by a re-reading of the instructions. Take your instructions with you, they are worth the fraction of an ounce of weight.

I too, like the flavor of Steripen-treated water better than either filtered or chemically treated water.
_________________________
May I walk in beauty.

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#169206 - 09/10/12 07:57 PM Re: Steripen experience? [Re: bobito9]
bobito9 Offline
member

Registered: 01/25/08
Posts: 385
Thanks for the replies.
I'm pretty sure mine is an opti. It uses CR123 batteries. My first trip, 7 days, I used Rayovac 123A lithium batteries, and like I said, there were 2 of us, and it was still good at the end of the trip. This time, 8 days and only one person, I figured I'd be safe easily, but like I said, it died after 5 days. This time, though, I used Grainger's (a construction and repair parts wholesaler) name brand CR123A lithiums. Don't know who the actual manufacturer of them is, but I suppose they may not be as good of a quality. On the plus side, I get them at a steep discount of 80 cents apiece (list price $8.50 each) due to a contract my employer has with them. At that price, I guess I have no excuse not to bring several extra pairs with me.
Well, I am reassured that it is working well for you guys. Probably I am over-estimating how much use I can get out of a set of batteries and just need to adjust my expectations. I find the LED indicator lights to work ok, except that they are hard to see in the daylight.

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#169209 - 09/10/12 08:17 PM Re: Steripen experience? [Re: bobito9]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
My experience with them has always been second hand, usually starting with, "Do you have a filter? My steri-pen stopped working." Last trip (Labor Day) two of the group had steri-pens (two different versions) and both failed. Fortunately the rest of us had filters.

The majority of problems appear to be due to using the wrong batteries or not reading instructions, but some folks are smart enough to use the right batteries and the instructions, and still have failures. So I won't be getting one any time soon. If it's not at least as reliable as the Hiker Pro, it's not worth getting.
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#169211 - 09/10/12 08:37 PM Re: Steripen experience? [Re: bobito9]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
I've had good experiences myself, but always get the quality Li batteries. Sounds like you have enough experience with the thing to avoid user error issues.

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#169261 - 09/11/12 01:44 PM Re: Steripen experience? [Re: skcreidc]
Rick_D Offline
member

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 2802
Loc: NorCal
Generics and house brand CR123s vary a lot and UV gizmos have high current requirements, so need the best for long battery life. Read flashlight forums for brand-specific testing results (their nerd: non-nerd ratios are usually quite high).

Certain Steripens have farily high battery drain when idle, so I always ensure the circuit is open when stowing.

Cheers,

Rick

Originally Posted By skcreidc
I've had good experiences myself, but always get the quality Li batteries. Sounds like you have enough experience with the thing to avoid user error issues.
_________________________
--Rick

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#171875 - 11/11/12 11:47 PM Re: Steripen experience? [Re: Rick_D]
Richard Cullip Offline
member

Registered: 11/10/12
Posts: 16
Loc: Poway, CA
I like my Steripen Opti. However, typically I use it to just zap one liter of water a day while on the trail. Once in camp, I usually do 3 liters of water in a gravity filter (Sawyer Squeeze). The gravity filter setup gives me enough water for the evening meal and morning meal and lets me start the day's hike with a liter of filtered water on board while conserving the batteries of my Steripen. If I need more water during the day's hike, I break out the Steripen and zap a liter at lunch or rest breaks. The combo approach gives me flexibility and a little bit of backup in case one or the other fails.

Live is good. Eternal life is better!
Richard
_________________________
Life is good. Eternal life is better!
Richard

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#171887 - 11/12/12 01:55 PM Re: Steripen experience? [Re: Richard Cullip]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2752
Loc: California
In many places, you do not need to treat water that you will use in cooking, if you bring the cook water to a full boil. I only treat cooking water if it is really gunky and off colored. I see the Steripen as a bonus when traveling in areas where there are a lot or water sources while hiking, so you can reduce the weight of water carried.

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#171938 - 11/14/12 10:03 AM Re: Steripen experience? [Re: bobito9]
alrany187 Offline
newbie

Registered: 11/14/12
Posts: 9
Loc: Western New York
Thanks to the OP for this thread as I have been considering the Steri-pen for the trail. Does anyone have any experience with the solar recharger version?

Regards,

Ellis
_________________________
Warmest regards,
Ellis

"A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way." - Mark Twain

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#173553 - 01/05/13 09:13 PM Re: Steripen experience? [Re: bobito9]
Archbishop Offline
newbie

Registered: 01/02/13
Posts: 12
Loc: Indiana
Have the classic version that takes AA batteries. Yes it's a bit heavier, but I don't like odd batteries.
Bought mine used off Ebay a couple of years ago. Loved using it, but on my most recent outing it failed to work. (Even with fresh batteries.) I always travel with iodine tablets as a backup.
I will probably buy another one, but I would think of traveling without a back up plan. (For me, iodine tablets.)

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#174165 - 01/22/13 01:36 PM Re: Steripen experience? [Re: alrany187]
grampa Offline
newbie

Registered: 05/14/09
Posts: 5
Loc: SoCal
I've used the Steripen for three, four years now, and am very pleased with it. It's important to read the directions carefully and follow them! On one trip it "failed" on my son-in-law, but I saw he was using a fairly shallow pan to treat eh water in, and the sensor wasn't getting consistently covered - user error!

Always use high quality batteries! Generic CR123s simply do not have the power to work correctly! Always have a back up set of batteries! Always remove the batteries when you get home!

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#174585 - 02/02/13 03:50 PM Re: Steripen experience? [Re: bobito9]
Robb Offline
newbie

Registered: 02/02/13
Posts: 11
I had a friend who was bragging about his Steripen before we left for a 6 day trip. We got out on the first day and he went to use it on a bottle of water and realized he'd forgotten to change the battery before we left. Luckily I had enough chemicals for me and him.

They're definitely a great piece of tech, but you need to remember the batteries!

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#177118 - 05/16/13 12:54 PM Re: Steripen experience? [Re: BarryP]
Tylert27 Offline
newbie

Registered: 05/15/13
Posts: 4
Yeah, sorry I haven't had the same kind of luck as you have with the Steripen. I really enjoy mineral water and I agree with Barry in that it keeps that taste as opposed to other types of water filters. What kind of batteries did you use? If your having bad luck with them, may try these Steripen batteries that Steripen recommends using.

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#177135 - 05/16/13 11:54 PM Re: Steripen experience? [Re: bobito9]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
I just bought the steripen travelor at Costco for $49. It comes with 4 lithium batteries and weighs 6 ounces with 4 bats in it. It has a nice water bottle with a prefilter and the steripen sits in the top of the prefilter, and reaches into the water bottle. Around here the water comes mostly from gin clear mountain streams and no filtering is required. Since it only weighs 6 ounces and can refill a canteen with heavy water, it has a place in hiking in mountains with streams. Maybe the worst thing to filter out around here is glacier silt. I cannot taste any taste from the steripen and though I try not to look at it, there is really no safety warning about the UV light.
Jim grin
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#177140 - 05/17/13 01:08 PM Re: Steripen experience? [Re: Jimshaw]
Rick_D Offline
member

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 2802
Loc: NorCal
Let those bats out, outdoors, right away! Wear gloves; they might be rabid. laugh

Cheers,
_________________________
--Rick

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#177543 - 06/02/13 07:08 PM Re: Steripen experience? [Re: Rick_D]
kevinhansen Offline
newbie

Registered: 04/15/13
Posts: 10
I have a classic SteriPEN it's a first generation. I've discovered that it needs perfect batteries in order to work. And forget about cold temp operation.
I haven't used mine in years.

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#178103 - 06/30/13 12:07 AM Re: Steripen experience? [Re: kevinhansen]
Pale Ale Offline
newbie

Registered: 06/18/13
Posts: 13
Loc: Northern California
Just returned from a three-dayer (I wrote about it under Trip Review here), and I used my steripen for the first time. Mine uses the lithium 123 batteries, and I brought a spare set. I really like the Steripen because 1) it quickly zaps the water in my canteen and 2) I have a hand free to kill mosquitoes who always love to attack when I'm procuring water and 3)I ended up zapping most everyone's water because it was so quick...wait...is that good or bad? Hmmmmm. Well...I probably zapped about fifteen quarts. Worked well.

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#181542 - 12/30/13 01:17 AM Re: Steripen experience? [Re: Pale Ale]
Talthing Offline
newbie

Registered: 12/29/13
Posts: 14
oooph...I'm really glad all of you have had such good luck with your steripens..I am waaay to sketched to use one myself. Sure, Giardia (and maybe Cerpusculum) may be killable with UV, but it's the chemicals I'm worried about (Hepititus, pharmaceuticals, etc). 2, I don't know that I like to rely on stuff that uses power. A flashlight, ok, my water purifier...? I do quite a bit of hiking and packing in semi-urban areas. I use the MSR Sweetwater filter and back it with the MSR purification drops. Call me paranoid, but I haven't gotten sick yet.

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#181552 - 12/30/13 11:57 AM Re: Steripen experience? [Re: Talthing]
BZH Offline
member

Registered: 01/26/11
Posts: 848
Loc: Torrance, CA
Originally Posted By Talthing
... it's the chemicals I'm worried about (Hepititus, pharmaceuticals, etc). ... I use the MSR Sweetwater filter and back it with the MSR purification drops....


Your system does nothing for chemical contamination. The filter is ineffective against viruses (like hepatitis), but the steripen is effective.

If you are worried about chemicals you probably have to distil the water.... or treat with activated carbon, though I have yet to find research that shows the effectivity of activated carbon in portable systems to treat water.

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#181559 - 12/30/13 02:07 PM Re: Steripen experience? [Re: Talthing]
Rick_D Offline
member

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 2802
Loc: NorCal
This is why you never make a treatment selection in a vacuum. Unless you know your source waters you can't make an informed choice. A mountain stream at 12k feet placed different demands than a runoff ditch in an agricultural area.

Cheers,
_________________________
--Rick

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#181569 - 12/30/13 09:41 PM Re: Steripen experience? [Re: Rick_D]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Yep. There is no portable filter or purifier that will take out chemicals or minerals.

Salt water, runoff from fertilized fields or cow pastures, water running through tailings of old mines... all suspect and all untreatable with typical backpacking chemical purification or filters, or even the almighty First Need purification system.
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#181573 - 12/30/13 11:01 PM Re: Steripen experience? [Re: lori]
rockchucker22 Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/12
Posts: 749
Loc: Eastern Sierras
Originally Posted By lori
Yep. There is no portable filter or purifier that will take out chemicals or minerals.

Salt water, runoff from fertilized fields or cow pastures, water running through tailings of old mines... all suspect and all untreatable with typical backpacking chemical purification or filters, or even the almighty First Need purification system.
I was watching the travel Chanel and they had a emergency salt water filter, looked like an oversized backpacking pump filter but was said to filter ocean water into fresh drinking water. On the show they said it was commonly carried on sail boats.

Sorry OFF TOPIC
_________________________
The wind wont howl if the wind don't break.

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#181574 - 12/30/13 11:35 PM Re: Steripen experience? [Re: rockchucker22]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Originally Posted By rockchucker22
Originally Posted By lori
Yep. There is no portable filter or purifier that will take out chemicals or minerals.

Salt water, runoff from fertilized fields or cow pastures, water running through tailings of old mines... all suspect and all untreatable with typical backpacking chemical purification or filters, or even the almighty First Need purification system.
I was watching the travel Chanel and they had a emergency salt water filter, looked like an oversized backpacking pump filter but was said to filter ocean water into fresh drinking water. On the show they said it was commonly carried on sail boats.

Sorry OFF TOPIC


And here's another way.
http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/drinkseawater.html
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#181576 - 12/30/13 11:43 PM Re: Steripen experience? [Re: lori]
Rick_D Offline
member

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 2802
Loc: NorCal
That's pretty cool!

Katadyn makes smallish RO units. Not cheap, not small, not light, but they'll do in a pinch. Maybe kayaking in Baja, or something like that?

Katadyn Survivor
_________________________
--Rick

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#181579 - 12/30/13 11:47 PM Re: Steripen experience? [Re: Rick_D]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Originally Posted By Rick_D
That's pretty cool!

Katadyn makes smallish RO units. Not cheap, not small, not light, but they'll do in a pinch. Maybe kayaking in Baja, or something like that?

Katadyn Survivor


A steal at $1195!
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#184855 - 05/05/14 12:08 AM Re: Steripen experience? [Re: bobito9]
bobito9 Offline
member

Registered: 01/25/08
Posts: 385
well, since my last posting, I had an excellent string of good luck with my steripen...until a couple weeks ago! Actually it wasn't the pen itself itself, but rather some brand new batteries straight out of the plastic wrap that were defective. Very irritating, seeing as how as I was in the backcountry. I boiled water...til my fuel ran out. Oy! But it was a great trip all the same. And I still like my steripen.

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#184856 - 05/05/14 12:13 AM Re: Steripen experience? [Re: bobito9]
Rick_D Offline
member

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 2802
Loc: NorCal
Super-picky about batteries. A definite point of caution with any of the CR132 UV units I've used. Some cells simply do not work.

Get a CR132 flashlight for your rejects, they'll work fine there.
_________________________
--Rick

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#184885 - 05/05/14 07:16 PM Re: Steripen experience? [Re: Rick_D]
bobito9 Offline
member

Registered: 01/25/08
Posts: 385
Actually, I didn't give quite the whole story. I figured that perhaps only one of the new pair was defective. As it turned out, this must've been true and I was able to take the one good new battery and combine it with one of the old used-up batteries and make the pen work for about a day.

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#185001 - 05/09/14 05:59 PM Re: Steripen experience? [Re: bobito9]
BarryP Offline
member

Registered: 03/04/04
Posts: 1574
Loc: Eastern Idaho
Would you share with us the brand of bad battery? Inquiring minds want to know.
Thanx,
-Barry

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#185003 - 05/10/14 12:02 AM Re: Steripen experience? [Re: BarryP]
bobito9 Offline
member

Registered: 01/25/08
Posts: 385
Sure. I bought them at Grainger, the building and maintenence materials supply house. It is packaged under there house name, don't know the manufacturer. Lithium CR123A type (some steris use other battery types). Interestingly, when I was buying them, I noticed another pack with obviously corroded batteries inside. However, despite my problem with them, I'm going to keep buying them I guess, because I get a huge discount through my company, 90% off. I pay 80 cents apiece, and generally they have done fine (my headlamp also uses them)
That said, what brands are truly the most reliable? There are times when reliability is of the utmost importance

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#185011 - 05/10/14 03:42 PM Re: Steripen experience? [Re: bobito9]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6401
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I buy brand name batteries (Everready or Duracell), generally, or at least supposedly, more reliable. I gave up on Steripen a few years ago--couldn't get it to work even with the directions along and my electrical engineer son helping, My summer headlamp (Petzl e+lite) and my bathroom scale also use the CR123 batteries. I'd rather pay more and risk less than get the cheaper generic or house brand batteries.

IMHO, your water treatment system should have a backup when taken into the wilds. Katadyn or Aqua Mira chlorine dioxide tablets weigh next to nothing, certainly a lot less than the extra fuel and fuss required to boil water if your electronic gizmo or filter give out. I've had both happen!



Edited by OregonMouse (05/10/14 03:50 PM)
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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