- Dec 3, 2019 at 1:28 pm #3621306
A friend of mine was asking me for Steripen recommendations before she goes on a trip to Thailand. She’s not headed into the back country, but she’s concerned about contaminated drinking water.
I’ve never been a Steripen user in the back country, and I haven’t done any significant travel abroad, so I have no personal experience with them. However, I’ve seen plenty of user reviews on Amazon and REI, for ALL of the Steripen models, complaining that it will work fine one day and then not work the next.
CrazyCap 2 appears to use a UV LED emitter rather than a UV lamp. I think there were discussions on BPL.com MONTHS ago wondering when someone was going to finally develop a UV LED based purifier. Looks like they finally have. This one started as a kickstarter at the beginning of the year, and is now available from their website or on Amazon.
It’s interesting enough that I may purchase one and try it out. My wife doesn’t like the idea of “floaties” and prefers filtering, but I’d have no qualms about carrying this device paired with their recommended 17oz bottle.
If anyone else owns one or purhcases one, I’d love to hear feedback.Dec 3, 2019 at 2:43 pm #3621313Ron DBPL Member
I’ve used a Steripen for several years and have found that the reliability issue is solved by only using lithium batteries. That’s just a single data point though, I’d check if other have had issues regardless of battery type. I looked at the CrazyCap on Amazon and it looked like an early release of promising technology. Personally I’d wait for the inevitable changes to update the design and resolve any problems that come out during actual use.
RonDec 3, 2019 at 2:46 pm #3621314JohnBPL Member
@johnnyh88Locale: The SouthWest
This looks very similar to the LARQ bottle:
CrazyCap claims it makes water safe to drink with “Crazy Mode Sterilization (water from lake, pond, etc)”, but they only show lab test data on E Coli. As I posted in the previous thread, I’m not sure how effectiveness against E Coli translates to other risk items (Giardia, Crypto, etc.). Am I missing something when CrazyCap makes these claims? From their website:
CrazyCap’s deep UV water purification is effective against bacteria, viruses, and pathogens. It prevents a wide range of waterborne illness by effectively killing the germs (99.999%) from any questionable water source.
It could be a good product if the above is true, particularly for something like your friend’s trip to Thailand (I think city use is it’s real intended market). I like that CrazyCap sells just the cap. You could pair it with a lighter bottle, or maybe just use the cap to treat water in a scoop (old Mountain House bag in my case). Battery seems rather limited though – might just get 14 treatments in Crazy Mode.
I’ve used a Steripen for the past couple years with no issues. It’s treated hundreds of liters of water. Maybe in the past there were issues, but I think their reliability is pretty good now.Dec 3, 2019 at 3:04 pm #3621317
What specific models of Steripen are you guys using?
I figured the battery reliability issue could be resolved by using the Steripen ultra, which uses a rechargeable Lithium Ion battery. But even that model has reports of failures on Amazon and REI.
Also, I’m not a fan of relying on disposable primary cell batteries if I can help it. I had a headlamp that used CR123 lithium batteries and I disliked keeping a stack of them around for night orienteering meets. Unless I’m heading out in winter like conditions, my headlamps contain either rechargeable Eneloop NiMH batteries (Black Diamond Spot) or 18650 rechargeable lithium cells (like the Zebralight HL600).
I’d worry that the 1.2v nominal output from NiMH AA batteries would be problematic in the Steripen that uses AA’s. Maybe quality 14500 Lithium rechargeables?Dec 3, 2019 at 3:10 pm #3621318James MarcoBPL Member
@jamesdmarcoLocale: Finger Lakes
CrazyCap2 looks to be viable for a short weekend trips.They mention that “Using the CrazyCap more often will further affect the battery life.” Since they base most of their work around clean tap water for 1 minute and semi-clean lakes/ponds for 2 minutes, I expect it will require at least 3 minutes per 16oz to clean-up stream water or run-off water, usually highly contaminated with surface bacteria.
The Crazycap2 will deliver 7 days at 5uses for tap water, or, 3.5 days at 5uses per day for lake/pond water, or, 2.3days at 5 uses per day for stream/run-off water. A total usage is 80oz/day. (It should last for two nights and three days at 60oz/day or around two liters per day.)
I go through three 20oz bottles of water per day or 60oz, not counting boiled water used for morning oatmeal/coffee (32oz) and supper (26oz.) My Opti delivers about 2 weeks with a set of lithium batteries at this usage (actually a few days more, but this is a safety reserve.) It weighs about 3.5oz(incl bats) and slips into my pocket. Crazycap doesn’t list a weight. I don’t carry a computer around soo USB charging is out, though you can get a external power pack at around 8oz.Dec 3, 2019 at 3:20 pm #3621320Kevin BabioneBPL Member
It looks great, but I don’t think any of us want to carry a Swell-type bottle backpacking. I’ve used UV for all my treatment for more than 10 years now (a discontinued product called Aquastar) and one of my biggest complaints is that it requires a Nalgene-style 1 liter bottle. I dabbled with a product they also produced called the mUV that worked with a Platypus, but it was never as convenient.
The other thing that concerned me is that it didn’t list how many 17-ounce bottles you could purify between charges. It does say: “CrazyCap’s battery (generation 2) would last about 7-days on a single charge per 3-4 uses in Normal mode sterilization. Using the CrazyCap more often will further affect the battery life.” So, assuming they mean 3-4 uses per day that would be 21-28 cycles per charge, but that’s in “Normal” mode (1 press – meant for a city water fountain from which the locals freely drink). For back country they suggest 5 presses, which (if the math is consistent) means you get 4-5 cycles per charge. Since their maximum bottle size is 17 ounces that translates to 2 liters per charge in the back country.
I usually get 2 liters every time I stop – sometimes more if I’m prepping for dinner. My Aquastar does about 60 liters on 1 CR123 battery. For now I’ll keep what I’ve got for backpacking. If, on the other hand, I was traveling to a foreign country and spending each night in a hotel where recharging is easy then I might consider this.Dec 3, 2019 at 3:56 pm #3621328JohnBPL Member
@johnnyh88Locale: The SouthWest
I use a Steripen Classic 3, but recently bought the Steripen Ultralight (the small rechargeable one).
I think most failures reported on Steripens are due to user errors or using cheap batteries.
There is some weird math going on above…Normal mode shows treatment time as 1 minute. “Crazy Mode” has a treatment time of 2 minutes. So based on this quote: “CrazyCap’s battery (generation 2) would last about 7-days on a single charge per 3-4 uses in Normal mode sterilization”, I would expect up to 14 treatments in “Crazy Mode” (7 x 4 divided by 2). That would be 14 x 17oz treatments, which is still not much (about 7 Liters).Dec 3, 2019 at 5:24 pm #3621340Jenny ABPL Member
@jenniferaLocale: Front Range
For awhile Camelbak sold a product called the All Clear system, which was a rechargeable UV light embedded in the lid of the companion plastic bottle. I don’t see that they are still available, but I had one and ditched it because it was so heavy, over a pound. The Crazy Cap seems similar but smaller. Steripens are versatile, light, and compact – if one can trust the batteries. (I also have the 1st generation Steripen Adventurer Opti that uses the CR123 batteries. It devours batteries, even lithiums.)
Always good to see innovation, though.Dec 3, 2019 at 5:56 pm #3621346
Another earlier thread on LED UV water treatment:
Is There a Steripen-Like Device That Uses a UV Led?
IMO, UV LEDs still not practical for backcountry water purification. Maybe soonish.
— RexDec 3, 2019 at 7:13 pm #3621352
One more plug for the Steripens – I’ve used three different models (generations?) over the past 10+ years for both backpacking (mainly in the Sierra) and for several trips to countries where I don’t trust the water.
As noted above, when used with lithium batteries the Steripens work flawlessly for treating several gallons of water. I have no experience with rechargeables with Steripens.
The one time I experienced a Steripen failure was on the second day of an eight day backpacking trip, it was entirely my fault. I accidentally dunked the Steripen in water and it took several days for the Steripen to eventually dry out and work again. I always carry Aquamira as backup.
I’ve had several others use my Steripen that complained about “failures” – in every instance it was user error. I suggest reading the instructions an trying out the Steripen at home to understand and how to use it.
I’d love to see a competing product but for my use I don’t think the Crazycap is it.
Does anyone have any personal experience with Steripen support since the Katadyn acquisition?Dec 3, 2019 at 9:29 pm #3621370Russ WBPL Member
@gatome83Locale: Southeastern US
My Steripen Ultra worked great for about 3 years and then it just died on me during a 10 day Sierra hike this August. I was with a buddy and we suffered through sharing a Sawyer Squeeze Mini for the balance of the trip. As for Katadyn support, I wrote them a note and had a new unit at my door within the week…no questions asked, so I would say customer support is outstanding. Unlike Black Diamond Trekking Poles…but that’s another story.Dec 4, 2019 at 12:26 am #3621388IanBPL Member
I’ve been using the Steripen Ultra for a few years without complaint. Couldn’t be happier with it.
I got pretty sick in Cambodia from what I suspect was water that was bottled from the tap at the restaurant. We broke the seal on the bottles but they raised an eyebrow. It ended up being a long flight home with many trips to the plane’s bathroom.
All this to say that I don’t trust water in most of Asia any more. I can’t speak for the product in the OP but I don’t believe Steripen can sterilize things like tapeworms and other parasites that can be found in untreated water. It’s not that much of a hassle and preferable to the alternative to treat it, sometimes twice.
If the water bottle looks legit and I got it from the airport or a reputable hotel, I will treat it with just the steripen. If I’m in a pinch and I have to buy it from a street vendor or some place that’s questionable, I’ll filter it and then treat it with a steripen.
At restaurants I’ll order a beer or soda and skip the ice. Any restaurant I’ve been to throughout Asia seems to understand their customers prefer to have the drink opened at the table. I’d skip the fresh squeezed juicesDec 4, 2019 at 12:33 am #3621389
Please note: The CrazyCap does NOT have any certification from the EPA or the FDA. It has not been tested in an independent laboratory. This is a bit of a give-away for a fly-by-night product.
As such I would treat it as little more than a gimmick. I would NEVER rely on it.
Also note: the Steripen units ARE tested and certified.
CheersDec 4, 2019 at 6:13 am #3621453
To give Crazy Cap a little credit: they have test results from an independent lab, linked about halfway down this page:
However, while CC’s report describes the test protocol, I couldn’t find anything about using a standard protocol. LARQ’s lab test (again linked about halfway down) at least claims to follow ASTM E2315 ($).
Plus frequent Crazy Cap web site misspellings and mangled English, and I’m underwhelmed.
Testing against E. coli is pretty standard practice. And E. coli contamination in well/river/ocean water is widely used as a proxy for “don’t drink this or swim here.”
— RexDec 6, 2019 at 5:32 am #3621731Sam FarringtonBPL Member
@scfhomeLocale: Chocorua NH, USA
“I always carry Aquamira as backup.”
Their website states that Aquamira is chlorine based. The Merck Manual, 20th edition (2018) states that, “Giardia cysts resist routine levels of cholorination. Disinfection with iodine containing compounds is variably effective and depends on the turbidity and temperature of the water and duration of treatment.”
Potable Aqua is an iodine based treatment, and where Giardia is a concern, may be a better choice for back-up use. The small pills are sensitive to water, so not wanting to carry the small glass bottles, I carry it in one of the traditional small and sealable cylindrical plastic containers sold to campers for storage of strike anywhere kitchen matches.Dec 6, 2019 at 6:44 am #3621736
Iodine pills are effective against Giardia – if left to work overnight. Hospital smell.
Caution: iodine pills have a definite finite life in a sealed bottle. That life is very much shorter once the bottle has been opened – regardless of the subsequent container. They go dark and gooey.
It sticks in my mind that chlorine treatments can react unhappily in some cases. With some Council water treatments, where chlorine has been used, chlorine gas can be liberated – not good. Equally, water with a high level of sulphur in it can liberate sulphuric acid which is not very healthy either.
It may be worth reading our extended review of water treatment methods. Written some years ago, but still completely relevant.
A Survey of Water Hazards and Water Treatment Methods – Part 1 (Overview of bugs and wogs)
A Survey of Water Hazards and Water Treatment Methods – Part 2 (Remove, kill or deactivate)
A Survey of Water Hazards and Water Treatment Methods – Part 3 (Summary of methods)
A Survey of Water Hazards and Water Treatment Methods – Part 4 (Chemical methods)
A Survey of Water Hazards and Water Treatment Methods – Part 5 (Filtration methods)
A Survey of Water Hazards and Water Treatment Methods – Part 6 (UV methods)
My bottom line: if the product has not been tested by at least 2 independent labs and met EPA specs, it is no better than filtering through a handkerchief. Don’t touch the cowboys.
CheersDec 6, 2019 at 6:55 am #3621738
I use Aquamira as I mostly hike in the Sierra and get my water from high altitude lakes or creeks; I’m also very careful about choosing water sources. So far after dozens of trips I’ve never experienced any symptoms from the water.
Serious thread drift follows…….
A long time ago I did try Potable Aqua and ditched it when I found Polar Pure (pure crystalline iodine in a purpose built bottle). Alas, Polar Pure is no more – the feds harassed the manufacturer after it was discovered that meth labs had been buying up or stealing entire stocks from outdoor retailers; pure iodine crystals are used in meth production.
I got an education on all this about 10-12 years back when I was looking to buy Polar Pure for my son’s boy scout troop but couldn’t find it at any local outdoor retailer. And they all gave me funny looks when I said I was looking for 8-10 bottles.
I found from their website that the Polar Pure address was in a residential area couple of miles from my house. I called the number listed on the website and asked if I could pick up a few bottles from them directly as I couldn’t find any stock anywhere. The guy I spoke with was the owner; he asked me to stop by later that day and said he might have some stock.
When I went there I met this 80+ year old guy who had been running the business for a few decades. Once he was comfortable that I wasn’t trying to buy Polar Pure for meth production and he verified my personal information (required by the feds at that point), he told me his tale of woe of how the feds were trying to shut him down.
As a matter of principle he wanted to keep selling Polar Pure for legitimate use – mainly hikers and backpackers. But it was becoming increasingly difficult with all the lawsuits the feds had against him.
I did acquire two bottles of Polar Pure from him that day that I still have!
I doubt if it will ever run out even with very regular use but I long since switched to Aquamira and the Steripen.Dec 6, 2019 at 12:46 pm #3621751
Polar Pure is back on the market. You can buy it on Amazon.
Sam – while Aquamira and Micropur are Chlorine based, they are not Chlorine. They are Chlorine Dioxide. It has different chemical properties than chlorine.
The CDC Guide on back country water treatment clearly differentiates between chlorine and chlorine dioxide effectiveness.Dec 6, 2019 at 5:24 pm #3621772
It’s good to know Polar Pure is back on the market.
Article about Polar Pure and it’s inventor Bob Wallace.Dec 6, 2019 at 8:16 pm #3621797
Polar Pure is back on the market.
Ah – I don’t think so. You can get Potable Aqua on Amazon – it’s the same as the original Coghlans iodine pills ( Tetraglycine Hydroperiodide), and they come up if you search for ‘polar pure’, but that’s all. The Potable Aqua even comes in the same brown bottles with the same Vit C neutraliser pills. Made, I am sure, by the same source Coghlans use.
CheersDec 6, 2019 at 8:46 pm #3621801
Roger – Not what I’m talking about AT ALL.Dec 6, 2019 at 8:56 pm #3621804
How very odd. What I got was thus:
Note text: No results for …
Is Amazon censoring products because I am overseas?
CheersDec 6, 2019 at 10:36 pm #3621826
Try typing just “Polar Pure” in the search box?Dec 6, 2019 at 10:38 pm #3621828
Shipping a DEA-controlled substance like iodine overseas … maybe not.
— RexDec 6, 2019 at 11:10 pm #3621840
Try typing just “Polar Pure” in the search box?
Tried that several times. No joy.
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