SteriPEN Ultra Review
SteriPEN Ultra Overview
The SteriPEN Ultra is a fantastic water purification device that works easily, effectively, and is compact enough to fit in any pack. Thanks to a neoprene sleeve protecting the device and a hard cover protecting the ultra-violet (UV) bulb, the SteriPEN Ultra is rugged enough to meet the demands of the common traveller. With 99.9% of bacteria, viruses and protozoa killed during a single treatment, the SteriPEN is a dependable tool when looking to purify contaminated water sources.
How the SteriPEN Ultra Works
Thanks to ultra-violet light, a technology used by many major cities in treating drinking water, the UV purification process can kill many common microbes. Microbes such as Giardia, E-Coli, and Legionella which can lead to water-borne illnesses.
Starting in 2001, the SteriPEN company has been taken advantage of this technology and one of the first to put it into a handheld device for consumers. While the UV purification process is standard among SteriPEN’s product line, consumers have the option of various hand held units that range in size, weight, power source, and the treatment capacity.
Of the product portfolio, there’s one common proof point from SteriPEN, and it’s that 99.9% of viruses, bacteria and protozoa can be killed during a single treatment thanks to the UV technology.
SteriPEN Ultra Details
After unpacking the SteriPEN Ultra, it was refreshing to find only five pieces in the packaging. The specific items were:
- User Instructions
- Neoprene Protective Case
- USB Charge Cable
- UV Bulb Cover (hard plastic)
- The SteriPEN Ultra Device
Once everything was laid out, it was amazing to realize how simple this water purification kit really is. After inspecting each part of the device, I then opened the instruction booklet to learn more.
A quick review of the simple instructions taught me that the activation button allows the user to toggle between a 0.5L and 1L volume of treatment. In addition, the OLED (Organic Light Emitting Display) will share status information through a variety of symbols. Battery life, lamp life, when the device is ready for treatment, how long to keep the device in water, and whether the process resulted in a successful or unsuccessful treatment can all be determined from the small display.
With less than five-minutes of studying, I tested the SteriPEN Ultra in a 12oz glass of water and opted to select the 0.5L treatment setting. Once selected, the display prompted me to place the device in water, alerting me it was ready to begin purification. Once I inserted the device into the glass, the UV bulb engaged and I began stirring the water as instructed. Thanks to a countdown timer, I continued to stir the water for the specified amount of time, while noticing the UV bulb get brighter and bluer.
Once the countdown reached zero-seconds, I was greeted by a pleasant smiling face confirming the purification process was successful.
Shortly after, the display quickly refreshed to now display the lamp life and battery life remaining.
In a matter of ten-minutes, I unpacked the SteriPEN Ultra, inspected the device, read the instructions, and tested a 0.5L treatment of water. If this isn’t an indication of how easy and intuitive the device is, I’m not sure what is.
After enjoying the glass of water (which had no change in taste or temperature), I inserted the USB charging cable into its port and connected it to my PowerPot 5 to establish a full charge.
Ultra-violet light is one of many options that a backpacker has available for a water purification system. Some alternatives are iodine tablets, chemical drops, gravity filtration, or pumped filters. Each have their benefits and shortfalls. There is one distinct difference that sets the SteriPEN Ultra apart from its competitors, purification time and ease.
All the other purification methods require additional time beyond 48 (o.5L) or 90 (1L) seconds before the water is drinkable, and some may even require a physical effort to filter the contaminated water.
Many will debate there’s a purpose for one system over another, and I would agree; but for the average consumer going on a backpacking trip, the SteriPEN Ultra is a sound investment.
At an MSRP of $99.95 the SteriPEN Ultra competes with the likes of gravity based filters, and handheld filters. The cheapest options are your tablets or chemical drops out there, but those can’t be counted on to filter to this extent.