Nov 10, 2009 at 9:11 pm #1241582
Wow… do these Steripens work as advertised? Are they the end all of backcountry water purification? Or is aquamira a better solution?Nov 10, 2009 at 9:16 pm #1544426
Joshua BillingsBPL Member
@joshuaLocale: Santa Cruz,Ca
I like mine. Doesn't take out bad tastes though. You need to start with semi-clean water.Nov 10, 2009 at 9:17 pm #1544427
Konrad .BPL Member
I personally would go with aquamira.
Based one what i've read, major complaints regarding steripen is the fact that you're relying on a battery powered device to provide you life saving water. There have been field reports of premature battery drainage, or simple failure to power on. Most people who bring steripens tend to bring some form of a backup. Also, it has its limitations in that it cannot be used effectively when water is murky. And as I recall, steripens are ideal for some containers (ie nalgene) but not others (ie camelbaks or platy bottles, due to the fact that those containers are so much deeper, and a steripen can only be submerged to a certain extent)Nov 10, 2009 at 9:20 pm #1544429
I'm a big fan of AquaTabs, but for similar reasons people like Aquamira. AquaTabs are a mere 0.05oz (1.2g) for a strip of 10 pills, which treat 1 liter per pill. You could treat 200L of water with just one ounce worth.
AquaTabs vs. Steripen:
– About 98% lighter
– Much quicker to do (just drop a pill in)
– Cheap ($8 for 50)
– Not going to break/fail on you
– 30 min wait time
– very faint chlorine taste. No worse than municipal water
– Don't kill crypto
I hike with two 1 liter PlatyBottles. Once one is empty I fill it up and drop a pill in. By the time I'm done drinking the other Platy the 30min wait time is easily up.Nov 10, 2009 at 9:56 pm #1544435
James NaphasBPL Member
I've got a steripen adventurer. When it works, and used on clear water, it can't be beat. I've never had water taste so good, and had such an easy time purifying. No wait, instant clean water.
Having said that, I'd never go out without backup (aqua mira loaded into the small droppers available on BPL). I've had the thing fail on one trip for no apparent reason. It's worked again since. I've heard from others that it is more likely to malfunction using rechargeable batteries, which is what I use.
It does need a wider mouthed bottle. There are some lighter alternatives to a regular nalgene that will work (nalgene cantene, gatorade bottle), though none as light as a platypus or plain H2O bottle like a smartwater.
If you're dealing with water that's murky or has a lot of organic matter the water has to be filtered a bit, and the water tastes pretty bad. OTOH, same is true with chemicals.
To keep the batteries from draining you need to take them out after usage. The unit continuously drains the batteries when they are inserted. They will drain completely after being in the steripen after a couple of weeks even if it is not used.
If you decide to use lithium batteries for cold weather conditions or reliability considerations, it is not at all cheap to keep picking up two pair of CR123 batteries for each week out.Nov 10, 2009 at 10:01 pm #1544438
Dan, AquaTabs look interesting. Can't argue with the weight… Crypto isn't really something to worry about out there, is it? Don't most UL's just treat the water with tabs or premixed aqumira solution, wait, then drink?Nov 10, 2009 at 10:12 pm #1544442
My understanding is that crypto isn't a significant risk in North America.
Aquamira creates Chlorine Dioxide, whereas AquaTabs are Sodium Dichloroisocyanurate (NaDCC) which becomes free chlorine when mixed with water. I'm not sure which is better….I believe both are in everyday drinking water.
Aquamira claims that their stuff tastes better than free chlorine (AquaTabs) but on AquaTabs website they claim their stuff tastes better than chlorine dioxide…I don't know which is true since I haven't used AquaMira. I do know that AquaTabs have far less taste than my old Miox and I didn't mind drinking the Miox water. AquaTabs taste fine IMO.
AquaTabs vs. Aquamira:
– AquaTabs are quite a bit lighter
– AquaTabs have no 5 minute wait before you insert
– AquaTabs give you the perfect dose everytime
– Taste is probably similar
– Aquamira kills crypto
– Aquamira is supposedly less safe to handle….getting it in your eyes or on your bare skin is supposedly bad, but I don't know if this is really significant or not since I read this on the AquaTabs website.Nov 10, 2009 at 10:20 pm #1544444
James, That is odd about the battery drainage… we use CR123A's in our Sekonic light meters, and those last for months with regular use. Wouldn't want to be buying those on a weekly basis.
Dan, thanks for that info! I may give those AquaTabs a try! Did you get your MLD Revelation? ;)Nov 10, 2009 at 10:27 pm #1544446
Yup I got the Revelation :) I gotta plan one more trip this fall to use it…Nov 10, 2009 at 10:28 pm #1544447
Congrats! Next one that shows up on this board is mine… ;) Ok, off to order tabs…Nov 10, 2009 at 10:35 pm #1544448
Yup…next one is all yours….unless I buy one for my wife…hmm….j/k
I'm in Canada so I get my tabs at MEC. They are $8.75 for a pack of 50. I think you can probably order them online if you want but you would have to pay $5 to become a member and another $5 or so for shipping….still not too bad if you buy a bunch considering they are $12-$13 elsewhere.Nov 10, 2009 at 11:10 pm #1544453
I've gone round and round on this. To me it came down to this.
Would I carry just a GPS and no map and compass?
Same with the Steripen. It's electronic and it's gonna fail so just like a GPS "if" I carried a Steripen, I would carry Aquamira as a back up. And that's where it begins to not make any sense to me.
For my type of hiking the 30 minute thing rarely comes into play. I carry a 2L evernew and a 700 ml drinking bottle strapped to my pack. Once all the water has been transferred from the 2L to the 700 ml (on a longer hike) I then start looking for water. Once I spot it, I fill the 2L, treat it and throw it in my pack and continue on.
Same deal at camp. Just before sleep, if possible, I make sure I'm topped off and treated. (I almost always pitch near water).
Even if I use water for breakfast and the stream / lake is close I'll top off before I start walking.
Of course, sometimes things don't work out as planned but in my limited experience I've only found one time where I wanted a drink and had to chill for 30-40 minutes.Nov 10, 2009 at 11:50 pm #1544456
Ben 2 WorldBPL Member
@ben2worldLocale: So Cal
I've been using my Steripen very regularly over the course of my current RTW trip — almost seven months now. It has saved me the trouble of buying countless bottles of water. I can't say enough good things about the Steripen's dependability, ease of use — and of course, its effectiveness!
Just about the only types of water where Steripen is suboptimal:
1. turbid water (think really brown or green yucky water)
2. contaminated water (e.g. heavy metals, fertilizer, etc.)
3. foul-tasting waterNov 11, 2009 at 12:46 am #1544464
Mike WBPL Member
@skopeoLocale: British Columbia
…Nov 11, 2009 at 4:23 am #1544475
Mike raises the key issue – because the steripen can be used on demand (assuming an adequate supply of water sources) you will end up carrying much less water at any one time – and water weighs a LOT more than any purifying system you choose. Chemicals take 1 – 4 hours to purify your water – you will have to carry this full weight of water with you while the chemicals do their thing.
I like my steripen – they are a little quirky, but once you get them figured out, they are so nice to use. But , DO carry a backup system.
Yes, batteries are expensive, but so are the chlorine dioxide tablets – you'll be paying for one or the other.
And finally if you are using chemicals, chlorine dioxide is superior to aquatabs. Aquatabs chlorinate the water, Aquamira or other chloride dioxide products oxidize the water (they do not chlorinate) this is more effective AND tastes better.
dougNov 11, 2009 at 5:21 am #1544477
Ken T.BPL Member
Love mine. Have had it for 3 years. Problem only with the supplied batteries not giving a warning that they were dying. Been using Duracells since with absolutely no problems whatsoever. I only take the batteries out when the unit is home. Love it, love it, love it! Was heartbroken last month when I lost mine. No hesitation to buy another. It's on its way right now. You can get little charcoal filters that fit inside a large mouth Nalgene to go along with, to handle funky flavors.Nov 11, 2009 at 7:32 am #1544509
Which is the model most are using? I see they have a Journey with LCD indications, which purifies 16 ounces 100 times on a set of batteries…
The Adventurer and Traveler look about the same, and then there is the origblue/white UV model.
Which one is the best of the bunch for weight and function?Nov 11, 2009 at 9:10 am #1544543
One of my backpacking friends has the journey. He loves his. And, if I didn't already have a filter I'd probably get one myself.Nov 11, 2009 at 9:25 am #1544548
Scott BentzBPL Member
@scottbentzLocale: Southern California
I have a Journey. 4 of us used it this summer on a JMT thru hike. I found it does not work when it is cold outside or the water is real cold. Could be user error, but it happened over and over. We all carried Chlorine Dioxide tablets also. So, when the Steripen was giving a frowny face we just used the tablets.
As mentioned above, the ability to treat quickly is why we took the Journey. We figured we could just purify at a crossing and drink. We did that a lot. As we left, we filled 1 liter and used a tablet that we could drink in 30 minutes. Seemed to work well. I would not rely upon the Steripen in cold temps and cold water.
ScottNov 11, 2009 at 9:45 am #1544554
Mike WBPL Member
@skopeoLocale: British Columbia
…Nov 11, 2009 at 10:11 am #1544565
" found it does not work when it is cold outside or the water is real cold."
How cold was it, and how cold was the water? My buddies worked with ambient temps down to 40 and water that was cold enough that it hurt when I waded through the knee deep water (don't know how cold it was).Nov 11, 2009 at 11:59 am #1544585
"Dan – Protozoa are not uncommon in North America."
AquaTabs kill most Protozoa including Giardia, which I believe is the most significant concern. They just don't kill 100% of crypto when it's in the oocyst stage. From my reading, cypto is not considered a common protozoa in N. America.
"The fact that the Steripen kills the organisms in minutes allows me to carry .5 to 1 liter of water in my pack and refill frequently whenever I want. Your 2 liters of water means that you are carrying a couple of extra pounds of water while trying to save a few ounces of weight by carrying chemicals. Unless there is a shortage of water in your area, I don't see how the chemicals are reducing your pack weight?"
I carry two liters of water because I think that is a good amount to have where I hike. Not because I need it for my preferred water treatment method. If I thought carrying 1 liter was fine, then I would just fill my PlatyBottles with 1/2 liter each and still drink one while the other treats. A pint of water is plenty for 1/2 hour. I don't carry extra water because of the chemicals.Nov 11, 2009 at 12:11 pm #1544589
"If you are using chemicals, chlorine dioxide is superior to aquatabs. Aquatabs chlorinate the water, Aquamira or other chloride dioxide products oxidize the water (they do not chlorinate) this is more effective AND tastes better."
Aquamira is more expensive, heavier and requires you to sit and wait for 5 minutes while it reacts before you can administer it. If you're worried about crypto then sure, bring Aquamira, but otherwise I don't see why anyone would want to go through this hassle for a possible tiny improvement in taste. The 5 minute wait is a major con IMO.Nov 11, 2009 at 2:07 pm #1544628
Scott BentzBPL Member
@scottbentzLocale: Southern California
I don't know how cold it was but we had a few nights with frost if that is any indication. Never had a thermometer to look at. If I left the Steripen Journey out in my pack, or just out, it did not seem to work under those conditions. I made it a point to put it in a pocket when we left camp in the early AM to heat it up a bit.Nov 11, 2009 at 2:10 pm #1544630
"If I left the Steripen Journey out in my pack, or just out, it did not seem to work under those conditions."
I'd bet the batteries are the problem. Cold batteries don't provide much electricity.
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