INITIAL REPORT: SteriPEN AdventurerOpti (Curt)
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SteriPEN AdventurerOpti Water Purifier
Report Series by Curt Peterson
Initial Report - May 2010
Field Report - July 2010
Long Term Report - September 2010
Below you will find:
Initial Report Contents
Tester Background and Contact Information
Initial Report Summary
Field Report Contents
Long Term Report Contents
Tester Background and Contact Information
Name: Curt Peterson
Height: 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Weight: 270 lb (122 kg)
Email address: curt<at>backpackgeartest<dot>org
Location: North Bend, Washington, USA
I live in the Cascade foothills, just 20 mi (32 km) from the Pacific Crest Trail via trails leading right from my backyard. My outdoor time in Washington is spent dayhiking, backpacking, climbing, fishing and skiing everywhere from the Olympic coast to rainforests to Cascade volcanoes to dry steppe. I played football in college and often evaluate products from a big guy perspective. My typical pack load ranges from 11 - 20 lbs (5-9 kg) and usually includes plenty of wet weather gear.
SteriPEN AdventurerOpti Specifications
SteriPEN Weight: 3.6 oz (103 gm) measured on my scale | 3.6 oz (103 gm) manufacturer claim
SteriPEN Sack: 0.8oz (25 gm) | Weight not listed by manufacturer
Maximum Height: 6.1 in (15.5cm) manufacturer claim
Maximum Width: 1.5 in (3.3 cm) manufacturer claim
Maximum Thickness: 1.0 in (2.2 cm) manufacturer claim
Batteries: Two (2) CR123 Batteries (included)
Battery Life: 100 16 oz (.5 L) treatments claimed with disposable batteries
Battery Life: 40 to 50 16 oz (.5 L) treatments claimed with rechargeable batteries
UV Lamp Life: 8000 treatments claimed
Manufacturer Website: http://www.steripen.com/
MSRP: None listed by SteriPEN, but $99.95 USD at the online retailers they link to when you click the "Buy Now" button
SteriPEN Adventurer Opti Initial Impressions
Water treatment has always been one part of my gear kit I haven't been happy with. For most of the last 20 years I've treated water not because I want to, but because I feel like I'm supposed to. I have tried just about everything. From iodine to chlorine dioxide tablets to bottle filters to gravity filters to a number of different pump filters, just about everything has left me frustrated. The UV filters like the SteriPEN are the one technology I have not used, and I have high hopes that it will be the solution to my treatment needs.
I am fortunate to live in the Pacific Northwest where we have fantastic, clear, clean water and plenty of it. I rarely carry water on the trail - often the single heaviest thing in many backpackers' packs. On the western slopes of the Cascades and the Olympics in particular, a backpacker is rarely more than a mile or two - just a half hour or so - from water. This reality has greatly influenced my treatment style. I want it quick and easy. I prefer to stop on the trail, leave my pack on, pull some water out of a river, creek, or stream, treat it as quickly as possible, drink it down, and keep moving. I've given up on pumps. They are much too slow and have way too much going on with hoses everywhere and parts to put together and cleaning and back flushing. They are often the heaviest treatment method as well. Tablets simply take way too long and are not intended to be used "on the go". Gravity filters are great for camp, but not an ideal on-the-run solution. They usually have the multiple-hose, multiple-parts challenges that pumps have. Because of these issues, bottle filters have become my preferred method of water treatment. They're quick, keep the water cold and tasty, and are simple in design and construction. The main problem with bottle filters is that there are plenty of low quality brands, they typically have the worst filtering abilities, and can be hard to suck and squeeze. My favorite bottle filter has been out of business for years and the last of my supply is getting thin. To be honest, all these annoyances have led me to "go wild" for a good chunk of my backpacking. If it's remote, cold, clear, and I know the source I'll simply dip and drink. Probably not the smartest idea, but that's where I am right now. In Wilderness Areas I don't lose a lot of sleep over this, but in areas with free ranging cattle drinking untreated is not something I'm eager to do. The idea of a treatment method that is quick, simple, has no moving parts, and is highly effective is definitely appealing. I am doing more trips with my 7 year old, and while I'm dumb enough to not treat on my own water, I'm not willing to experiment on him.
The SteriPEN AdventurerOpti arrived safe and sound to my home in what appears to be the retail packaging. Everything was included and it seems ready to go right out of the box. It looks just like it does on the SteriPEN website, which offers a more in depth description of the device, including a short video. The site is easy to navigate, well organized, and covers the various SteriPEN products thoroughly. Probably the most useful part for someone who has just purchased a SteriPEN is the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section that covers a lot of the basic information on how to use the SteriPEN. There is also an accessory section, though not much is available for the AdventurerOpti. The one item that might interest folks who frequent dirty water areas is a prefilter as the SteriPEN is supposed to be more effective in clearer water. Here is the website description for the AdventurerOpti:
From the SteriPEN Website:
INTRODUCING THE LATEST ADVANCE IN OUTDOOR WATER PURIFICATION!
The smallest, lightest SteriPEN®, the AdventurerOpti, uses a revolutionary optical eye to sense the water. The patent-pending technology provides safe use and the standard insulating sleeve around the UV lamp allows purification in even the coldest of waters.
Fast, Light, Easy and Effective, the AdventurerOpti provides the ultimate protection from waterborne illnesses. Giardia, cryptosporidium, bacteria and viruses are all destroyed in secondsby SteriPEN® UV light. Similar to other SteriPEN models, the Opti purifies 0.5 L (16 oz.) in 48 seconds and 1.0L (32 oz.) in just 90 seconds. The UV lamp provides up to 8,000 one-liter treatments.
The new optical sensor doubles as a convenient LED flashlight. It's a great backup light when camping or taking a night-time walk to refill your water bottle. The Flashlight mode is activated by pressing and holding the single button down for 3 seconds. The clear lamp cover focuses the LED light.
I'm looking forward to testing the AdventurerOpti. I'm not worried about its effectiveness. Everything I've read about UV treatment has me convinced it's a solid method to purify water. Probably my biggest concern going into the test is durability. It feels super tough, has a nice thick rubberized coating on the main part of the unit, and seems very solid, but it does contain a big glass element that houses the UV wand. That said, I take a number of things that are much more fragile into the backcountry and don't have any problems with them. I'll be careful not to drop it on rock from chest height, but barring that I can't imagine it will need to be babied much. It does come with a tough plastic piece that covers the wand and a neoprene case, so there's plenty of protection built in.
Depending on what bottle is used with the AdventurerOpti, this solution has the potential to be one of the lightest treatment methods I've used. Especially if I just use my normal camp cup or mug, the only weight added to my gear list would be the unit itself. It's lighter than any bottle filter I've used and is probably only outdone by tablets. Trying out a number of different bottles and seeing which fit well and work in tandem nicely with the SteriPEN will be a significant part of my field testing.
The two "new" features of the AdventurerOpti that have not been in previous models are the water sensor and the LED light. The sensor is interesting. Apparently it senses whether or not the wand is correctly placed in the water so the likelihood of an ineffective treatment is greatly diminished. I haven't used the older SteriPENs, so I have nothing to compare this to, but as long as it works, it sounds good to me. The LED light doesn't seem like that big of a deal to me. I suppose it never hurts to have another small light around and it takes up no space or weight, but the presence or absence of the light wouldn't affect my decision to choose this product or not at all.
The battery life is also not that big of a concern to me. SteriPEN claims 100 treatments of 16 oz (.5 L). I figure even if they're optimistic by 100%, 50 treatments would last me a week at least and that seems very reasonable. Perhaps through-hikers will have concerns with battery life, but even having to carry spare batteries seems to be small inconvenience if the SteriPEN meets all of one's other water treatment needs. Most of my trips are 3 or 4 days, so I'm not too worried about battery life at this point.
I look forward to getting some on-trail usage of the AdventurerOpti and see how it works in the real world!
Initial Report Summary
The AdventurerOpti looks like an almost perfect solution for my style of treating water on the trail. It appears to be quick, light, effective, and simple. If it can hold up to trail usage and stayed powered for a weeklong trip, it could be the solution I've been looking for. I can't wait to find out!
My thanks to BackpackGearTest.org and SteriPEN for the opportunity to test this unique water treatment method!
Please check back in July for a report focusing on field usage of the SteriPEN AdventurerOpti.
Long Term Report
Please check back in late September for a report summarizing 4 months of field usage and final thoughts on the SteriPEN AdventurerOpti.