Please accept my application to test the SteriPEN Journey water
purifier. I have read all relevant parts of the Survival Guide
version 0609 and my agreement is on file.
This has been a long winter and the snow has hung around far too long
in Washington, but it is finally melting and trails are accesible! I
plan to be out hiking and backpacking as much as possible through the
remainder of August, all of September, and even push my luck into
October this year. I get out every weekend for either a dayhike or a
backpacking trip. On those trips I drink many liters of water,
especially in the summer sun. My body is mostly water and I intend to
keep it that way! For dayhikes my primary method of obtaining water
on the trail has been chlorine-dioxide drops. While backpacking I
carry a ceramic filter that I've owned for four years. Each method
has its strengths and weaknesses and I'll be curious to see if the
SteriPEN can equal or surpass them. It certainly looks like it could
work well on a dayhike or backpack.
Most of my trips will take place in the Washington Cascades.
Campsites will typically be around 4000 5000 ft (1219 1524 m) in
elevation for trips into the mountains. In these areas water is
obtained from either a creek, spring, or most often a mountain lake.
For most the water is fairly cold and clear. It is generally pure but
often times there will be fields of marmots living along the creek, a
potential source of giardia. I will also backpack at least one day on
the Washington Olympic coast, likely from Rialto beach to Toleak
point. Elevation gain here will be negligable as the entire trip is
at sea level. The water along the coast is quite different. The
creek water filters through the roots of trees and becomes tea-colored
from the tanins that leach into it. Deer are also prevalant. While I
likely wont be backpacking often beyond November I will continue to
carry the SteriPEN on dayhikes and use it for water along the way.
Some considerations I will use to evaluate the SteriPEN:
Purification this is of course the number one concern for any water
purification device, and one where you are putting your health in the
manufacturers hands. Does it kill the harmful bacteria, protozoa, and
other bugs in the water? There is no easy way to assay this beyond
whether I get sick or not! Considering the amount of water I drink I
will surely encounter a contaminated source. Hopefully the SteriPEN
is up to the job.
Battery life second only to the purification. How long do the
batteries last? Can a single set power the device through a multi-day
trip? Hydro-Photon claims that disposable CR123 batteries can treat
50 liters (13 gallons), while rechargeables will work for 20-25 liters
(5 6 gallons). I will test the device with both types to verify
their claims. Also I am curious about how the batteries will die. Is
it a quick, sudden shut off or is there a warning before hand to avoid
an incomplete treatment? In addition, can the device be stored with
the batteries inside between trips or will they slowly discharge?
LCD Screen this is what distinguishes the SteriPEN Journey from the
other models. The company claims this makes it much easier to use
than the others and will track useage stats for the device. It
mentions "universal symbols" which has me curious. Is the screen easy
to understand? Are the controls intuitive? Can it be read in direct
sunlight? Is the battery life meter accurate?
Durability relying on a piece of electronics for a basic function
such as water treatment means it must be reliable. The SteriPEN
Journey ships with a plastic cover for the lamp and a pouch to store
the device in. Is this sufficient to protect it while bouncing
around in a backpack? Are there specific care instructions to avoid
damage? Can it be damaged by use with very cold water or heat? Is
the body of the device, the part that isn't submerged in the water,
also waterproof? Is the battery compartment water-tight?
Useability the SteriPEN Journey appears very easy to use based on
their description; set the volume of your container, turn it on, and
swirl the device in the water until the countdown stops. Is this all
there is to it? Can it work with a variety of container types and
shapes? Their website only mentions 0.5 and 1 liter containers can
it work with larger volumes or will I have to sterilize in small
bottles? Does it work with smaller-mouth bottles such as a Gatorade
bottle? Is it safe to use with metal bottles? Will the UV damage
plastics? Are the buttons and switches easy to operate? Can it be
operated with gloved hands? Is it easy to change the batteries?
The SteriPEN Journey looks to be a very useful, interesting
alternative to chemical drops and filtration. It would combine the
lightweight advantage of chemicals with the flavor-saving of a filter.
I would be very interested in testing this device.
Black Diamond Mirage tent field report to be submitted this week.
My previous reports can be viewed here: