Apr 19, 2010 at 1:05 pm #1257894
Tried doing some searching but didn't find what I was looking for…
I know there were lots of complaints about failing steripens and battery issues and such…
It appears that Steripens have been updated since late 2008 (which prob means the stock in stores has been updated since 2009) for better sensors, etc.
So my question – have steripens gotten better? I keep vacillating between a gravity filter setup and a steripen for my trips this year. looks like the price on steripens have dropped some and the quality improved.
If you've gotten a steripen in the last 9 months or so, how have the AA batteries been? How has the reliability of the contacts been?Apr 19, 2010 at 1:14 pm #1599587
Anything can fail — but overall, I believe Steripens are dependable. I used my Adventurer regularly on a 7-month RTW trip last year without any problems whatsoever.
To me, I think the decision between Steripen vs. gravity filter should center on water sources. If they are fairly clear and good to OK tasting, then get the Steripen. For brown river water, green algae ponds, or any water with lots of sediments, larvae, dead bugs… I will definitely want a filter that will clarify water and improve its taste.
I find myself using a combination of chlorine and filter when out in the wilds — and using the Steripen on world travels (hosteling) — where tap water usually comes out clear and OK tasting — but biologically suspect.Apr 19, 2010 at 1:15 pm #1599588
They don't use AAs, they use, I think, CR123s.
I have the new Adventurer Opti. It's worked great so far. But then again, my last one worked great too. A bit of a pain in the winter, as I had to keep the batteries warm, but other than that it's been fine.Apr 19, 2010 at 1:17 pm #1599589
The large, classic model uses four AA batteries. The other smaller models use two CR123 batts.Apr 19, 2010 at 1:21 pm #1599590
I've had my adventurer for almost a year and have had no issues with batteries whatsoever. I've only had two problems: One was when someone else dropped it into their water bottle while zapping it. Not good.
Several days in the hot sun on a dark surface got the water drops out of the crystal and all has been well since.
The other was a "battery cap issue". Something about the metal used getting torn up from removing the battery cap. I sent it back to Steripen and they quickly replaced it for free.
Once again, I am very psyched about this gizmo and it will be my primary treatment method going forward.
LoganApr 19, 2010 at 3:57 pm #1599650
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
I want less weight in my water treatment gear, thus I carry a SteriPen and chlorine dioxide tablets – ONLY.
My SteriPen Adventurer is working very well. I remove the lithium CR-123 batteries after each trip and replace the cap with only gentle tightening so as not to compress the O-ring too much when stored.
My use of the SteriPen is to sterilize (much better than mere filtering) my bike bottle water that I use for electrolyte drinks. That way I have clean water in 90 seconds.
For my hydration bag I use Micropur chlorine dioxide tabs which tend to also keep the tube clean as well. Re-filling the hydration bag at night gives the chlorine dioxide tabs plenty of time to work. I crush them to give them a faster acting dispersion in the water.
I hope to heaven I never have to carry another filter while backpacking. That is SO 20th century.Apr 19, 2010 at 4:17 pm #1599661
Thanks for this thread, I'm going through the same considerations…and would like to know more of the story behind the complaints and what, if anything was done to address them.Apr 19, 2010 at 5:03 pm #1599690
@brooklynkayakLocale: South West US
The only reason I don't go the stripen direction is the water quality that I often come across.
A filter gets rid of the stuff that makes some water taste bad. I think I am less tolerant of gunk in my water, but I'm a wimp:-)Apr 19, 2010 at 6:25 pm #1599736
Wow look at that info!
I thought they were all AA now but I guess I was wrong. I think I still prefer AA just because they're easier to get. Looks like the steripen is pulling ahead – I tend to be in areas where the water source is fairly clean. The "big trip" this year is the BWCA for a week.
IPARider – the classic complaints were cold weather battery failures and some kinda failure where the steripen wasn't recognizing that it was in water. Warming the batteries against your skin should fix the battery failure, and the larger contacts on the newer models should fix the water recognition issue (which is why I started this thread).Apr 19, 2010 at 6:36 pm #1599747
Just FYI, it's possible (I know because I did it to mine) to modify a classic Steripen to use AAA's instead of AA's. This cuts down on the weight a lot, but note than AAA's have less than half the capacity of AA's while not quite being half the weight, so for longer excursions it's not worth it. I don't know for sure how long they last because I've only used it for weekend trips.
How-to: cut a rectangular piece of lightweight foam to fit in between the 4 batteries and provide pressure against them (stops them from moving around). Then, use needlenose pliers to pull and extend the contact springs inside the battery comparment. It is good to pull these quite far, to put more pressure on the batteries and keep good conatact.
I got the Classic version because I needed it for a Europe bike tour and wanted easy-to-replace-or-charge capability. I had a AA/AAA solar charger with me so I could charge on the go. I would get a Lithium version now, but the weight isn't hugely different and I'm waiting for an LED Steripen instead, which should be way more efficient and lighter.Apr 19, 2010 at 6:41 pm #1599755
I got the new one because it looked like they've solved most of the issues.
This weekend will be first real test of my Opti.Apr 19, 2010 at 6:41 pm #1599756
@snowfiend131Locale: Western PA
I was one of the people complaining about the Steripen Journey's sensors not knowing they were in water. I heard Steripen updated the sensors, so I swapped my Journey for a new one. I no longer have any issues. I even tested it in distilled water (thinking that distilled water would conduct electricity just as poorly as the cleanest stream water), and it works fine.Apr 19, 2010 at 7:31 pm #1599790
@bleanLocale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
You can also get AA shells for AAA batteries. I do not know abou weight.) For example:
Alleged coupon code: MLCK401433031075NL1Apr 19, 2010 at 10:04 pm #1599876
Yes, there have been two major updates.
Early Adventurers had a battery problem when switched 'off'. Too much leakage. BPL drew this to the attention of the company and they fixed it. (Whether BPL actually triggered the fix is however unknown!)
The recent Adventurer Opti has low off-state current and is a dream to use. Review coming shortly.
My preferred method.
CheersApr 20, 2010 at 6:21 am #1599951
Thanks Roger –
It appears the only differences between the Opti and the other models is that the opti uses optical sensors instead of metal contacts to detect the water, and the Opti uses CR123 batteries instead of AA. is that right?Apr 20, 2010 at 6:50 am #1599962
Roger – and please say a bit more on the "low off-state current" and how that is different in the Opti than the other models
ThanksApr 20, 2010 at 6:51 am #1599963
>> …is a dream to use. Review coming shortly.
Good to hear. I got it based on your last review and their fixes. I don't doubt the BPL review helped push change for them. : )
I will try mine this coming weekend. Let me know if I can collect any test data for your upcoming review. Will be in GSMNP.Apr 20, 2010 at 8:25 am #1600000
I purchased my Adventurer last year. I'm pretty sure it's updated — with water sensor:
1. No problems whatsoever with the sensors.
2. No problems whatsoever with leaving the batteries inside the Adventurer in-between uses. The last set of CR123's — they were used regularly for 2 months up to Dec 2009 — and have been sitting inside the battery chamber unused for 5 months now — and they still work!Apr 21, 2010 at 2:54 pm #1600578
Hi Kieran and Matt
No, the Opti has several differences, which I outlined in the article:
Lower off-state current drain
Optical sensor rather than conductivity (through metal plates)
Easier to remove lamp cover.
Only the Classic uses AA batteries; all the rest use CR123s.
The off-state current was about 600 microamps in some early models of the Adventurer, and this was an accident I am assured. The off-state current is now supposed to be below 60 microamps. I haven't verified this myself, but I have some confidence in my source.
CheersApr 21, 2010 at 2:55 pm #1600579
Thanks for the offer, but the review has been submitted already.
CheersApr 21, 2010 at 3:50 pm #1600604
I have the Steripen Journey, which I prefer to all the other models. It weighs in at 4.5 oz with the batteries (Buy the streamlight 12 pack at Amazon).
A few features that make it superior to other models
#1 – the ribber neck around the light fits water bottles perfectly (not nalgenes) I carry a 1 liter Aquafina bottle and a platypus collapsible. The pen fits in the mouth perfectly, just turn it upside down and slightly swirl.
#2 – the LCD display tells me how the battery is doing
#3 – ease of use, the scouts can't mess up doing the process.
You do need to "blow" on the water sensors after each use to make sure they are dry or you might get the frowny face on the screen.Apr 21, 2010 at 8:58 pm #1600758
@marti124Locale: Moderator-JohnMuirTrail Yahoo Group
I too evaluated a pilot Opti unit for Steripen. It was used for 23 days on the JMT last July/August. It worked just fine. It was less temperamental, by far, than the traditional Adventurer that I own. I did use the flashlight features a couple of times, but principally it was used for sterilizing water. It is also an improvement in visibility in the bright sun but still not as visible as I would like it, one has to create a shadow/shade setup to clearly see that the unit is operating while stirring if done in bright light.
We used for our sterilizing container the 1.9 oz ZipLock Quart Container I have posted about elsewhere on BPL forums. Steripen's support said such a container would work (they did express a caveat about durability in sunlight over time, as I posted their response elsewhere).
I wondered if the glass chamber bulb was orange instead of transparent if that would not be better?
One of the other hikers had the Journey Steripen and we were somewhat jealous of the more affirming visual feedback of success, the one downside of the adventurer, is that if you don't keep your eye on the unit and have artificial shade setup for watching it, you won't realize if it operated successfully – but with the more clearly visible smiley face symbol on the Journey, it's not so much a problem with it. It's too bad there can't be a separate LED light for "successful" and one for "failure" that stays lit for 10-20 seconds and doesn't require shade to see it. I like the fact the Adventurer is slimmer and weighs 1 oz less than the Journey.
It definitely is an improvement over the older Adventurer. The flashlight feature is nice in a pinch too.Oct 8, 2012 at 11:20 am #1919189
@swimjayLocale: Northern California
Used an Adventurer Opti in August 2011 for about 20 quarts, then stored unit with batteries out of unit in separate ziploc until Sept. 2012. Re-inserted batteries and attempted to use unit–unfortunately, not before hitting the trail. Unit would seem to turn on with one press, small sensor light and green indicator LED would begin flashing, but as soon as I put the unit in water, the indicator LED would turn solid red and the sensor light would shut off, with the UV light never having come on.
Back home, measured battery voltage, and both CR123's at about 2.89V.
How low can battery voltage go, and unit still work?
Shouldn't the batteries have maintained their voltage longer? (Steripen claims 50 liters). Tried cleaning contacts (which looked good), tried warming batteries (ambient temps 50 F+, not cold).Oct 8, 2012 at 11:54 am #1919201
@barrypLocale: Eastern Idaho (moved from Midwest)
“Back home, measured battery voltage, and both CR123's at about 2.89V. How low can battery voltage go, and unit still work?”
Just some thoughts:
1. What was the brand?
2. How were the batteries stored? Hopefully at room temperature and moderate humidity. They don’t do well when stored cold or hot.
3. 2.89V is a good sign your batteries are shot. It’s not low enough to turn the LED initially red. But when you stick it in the water, all of a sudden a near Amp is being sucked from the battery and the voltage will drop big time and thus the UV tube cannot turn on.
-BarryOct 8, 2012 at 12:05 pm #1919205
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
If you use Steripen, make sure and bring spare, unused batteries. Use brand name, non-rechargeable batteries.
I've had same experience with less use and less time between uses
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