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Application to test - SteriPEN Journey - David Baxter

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  • David
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 5, 2008
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      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.

      Test plan

      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:

      Thank you,
      David Baxter
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