LTR - Hydro-Photon SteriPEN Journey - Derek Hansen
- Thank you for the extension. I have internet!
For your review:
# # #
LONG TERM REPORT
31 Jan 2009
Field Locations and Conditions
28 Nov 2008: Pohick Bay Regional Park, Virginia. Deciduous forest
with pine and holly intermixed. Elevation 500 ft (152 m). Temperature
was a reasonable 40 F (7 C) with slight wind. This was a 4-mile day
hike with the family. I collected and treated water from one of the
streams we crossed along the way.
27 Dec 2008: Pine Valley Mountain Wilderness, north of St. George,
Utah. Clear and cold conditions with about two feet of snow on the
ground. I was going to attempt an overnight camp, but I wasn't
prepared for the deep snow (no snowshoes!), so this solo expedition
(I was determined!) turned into a painful 6-mile slog. The
temperature hovered around 40 F (7 C) with a slight wind. The rough
mountain landscape was punctuated with red cliff faces, juniper,
pine, and cedar trees. Elevation was 4,500 ft (1,372 m).
14 Jan 2009: Bull Run Occoquan Trail, Virginia. I had a lot of free
time in January, so I hiked 14 miles (22.5 k) of the BROT from
Fountainhead Regional Park. Elevation was from sea level to about 500
ft (152 m) Deciduous forest with occasional pine and holly trees.
This is a beautiful trial with lots of stream crossings and ample
water. The trail was clear, but temperatures remained around 25 F (-4
C) during the hike with cooler wind gusts. I used the Journey to
treat my 1 L (32 oz) Nalgene from one of the streams.
Performance In The Field
I packed very little water during our day hike in Pohick Bay and I
was hopeful we would find water along the way. The first stream we
crossed was filled with leaf litter and I had to hike upstream for a
while before I could find a clear opening. The source looked pretty
good and the Journey functioned great as I had expected. As we drew
nearer to the bay, we crossed a connecting stream and saw some of the
debris that was feeding into the stream. The mix of rusting metal and
garbage made me think twice about drinking the water and I opted to
abstain simply because we weren't too far away from civilization.
I talked with my wife along the trail and I wondered about the
different toxins and possible poisons in the water I almost drank. We
speculated about how well any portable treatment would clear toxins
in the water. Up to this point I have had no doubts about the
reliability of the SteriPEN product, but I don't think it was
manufactured to clear toxins from the water.
I've carried the SteriPEN with me on a few other day hikes, most
notably my overnight-turned-day-hike in Utah where conditions turned
me back to the trail head. I was so excited to be among the red rocks
of Southern Utah and took a chance to hit the trail while visiting
family, but the area had been hit by an unprecedented amount of snow
before I arrived making even the lower-elevations fill with snow.
There were no water sources where I could use the SteriPEN, and in
these conditions, I would have most likely had to melt snow. Even
though I didn't have a chance to use the Journey, I didn't mind
having the product in my backpack. It doesn't weigh too much and I
liked having the back-up water treatment.
On the Bull Run trail, I took WAY too much water with me, considering
how many water sources are available. I hadn't hiked the lower
portion of the trail before and didn't realize how many stream
crossings there were and how the water was available so easily. After
crossing a number of streams, I finally gave in and got rid of some
of my water and began refilling as needed along the way.
From my experience back in November with dead batteries, I decided
to keep the batteries in a separate bag and put them in the Journey
only when I needed to use it. Using my fingernail again, I was able
to easily open the case and insert the batteries. With the low
temperature and wind chill, my hands were very cold and it took some
time to get everything in place to treat the water. When the
treatment was done, the battery indicator gave me a "straight face."
I wasn't sure if the batteries were drained (I haven't used the new
batteries much), or if it was the cold. My guess is that it was the
The best news about the SteriPEN Journey is that I feel confident
that the unit works. I never got sick from the treated water I drank
and I felt reassured with the research that has been done on the
product. During my field usage, I was able to use the product many
times, even successive uses when I treated many bottles at a time.
The Journey worked well and was reliable, although I will always keep
a spare set of batteries with me.
I think this product shines when treating one or two liters (32 or 64
oz) of water at a time. The wait is reasonably short and I can drink
water fairly quickly. When I had to treat multiple liters/fl oz the
process was tedious and didn't really beat out other methods like
chemical treatments or pump filters that my comrades used. In
comparison to a pump, the Journey is light and streamlined and fits
well in my pack. However, the SteriPEN is bulky and large compared to
my usual chemical treatment.
When treating a large bottle with two liters (64 oz) or more of
water, I will stick with chemical treatments, especially if I don't
need to drink the water immediately. Where water is plentiful and I
can refill more often, the SteriPEN shines because I can drink
immediately and not worry about waiting.
Worrying about battery life was a small issue for me, and I would
consider carrying a spare set of batteries on every trek. I think the
first set I had lasted pretty well considering how many times I used
it, but I wasn't able to really determine the absolute lifetime
during my field use.
1. Easy to use: one-button-push to activate
2. Fast treatment (90 seconds for 1 liter/32 oz)
3. Reasonably light weight
1. Process gets tiresome when treating multiple liters/fl oz at a time
2. Easy to over-tighten the battery case and strip threads
This concludes this test series. I would like to thank Hydro-Photon
and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this product.