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Traveler's Gear Box: Would You Add The SteriPEN Journey To It?


Should the SteriPEN Journey be tossed into the Traveler's Gear Box?

It's lightweight, easy to use, and gets the job done both quickly and efficiently, according to testing data. But would you add the SteriPEN Journey to your gear box?

Just 7 inches long and under 5 ounces in weight, the SteriPEN Journey (MSRP $99.95) won't take much space up in your backpack.

It works to quickly "destroy," as the instructions put it, via a dose of ultra-violet light, 99.9999 percent of bacteria, 99.99 percent of viruses, and 99.9 percent of protozoa -- including crytosporidium -- that might be in the bottle of water you just scooped up from a lake or filled from a stream or spring. It accomplishes the deed by disrupting the DNA of microbes with that short UV dose. "Withoput functional DNA, microbes can't reproduce or make you sick," says SteriPEN.

If you're using a 1-liter water bottle, it takes approximately 90 seconds to purify the water. Half-liters take about 48 seconds, according to the folks at SteriPEN. In other words, while hikers and backpackers with water filters are still pumping away or those with tablets are waiting for them to dissolve and get to work, you could be sipping a cool drink.

The Journey also features a small LCD screen built into the handle that not only tells you when the purification process is done, but also whether the water is good to drink and how the unit's batteries are faring (it requires two CR123 batteries, which are included with the unit).

A few years ago I took a look at other hand-held purification devise, MSR's Miox. Both the SteriPEN Journey and the Miox have one problem in common -- they don't filter the water. So while your water might be purified, it also might have things other than water floating around, depending on how careful you were when you scooped the water into your bottle. In fact, the SteriPEN folks recommend that you pre-filter any dirty or discolored water before using the Journey.

Unlike the Miox, though, the Journey has no oxidizing agent that can impart a flavor to your water.

While I've long used an MSR Waterworks filtering system, the SteriPEN Journey certainly sounds intriguing. Any users out there who can weigh in on whether to add this system to the Traveler's Gear Box?


I highly recommend using a pre-filter (a bandana works) for any turbid water. I have read something about the UV bouncing off / around particles, missing those little protozoa hiding behind them.
The "Classic SteriPEN" works off AA Batteries (as do other items I carry) which last twice as long as the CR123's and weighs a mere 55 grams or so more than the "Journey SteriPEN."

I haven't tried it yet. Sounds like it could be a winner if it does what the manufacturer claims it does.

I find this intriguing and have been considering this method of filtration. Would be nice to be able to drop the larger and heavier MSR filter.

I have tried the UV pens. They work, but are problematic. The design is such that it often takes longer to use than filtering. You have to vigorously shake the pen in your water bottle to kill the bugs, but because the thing is so wide, it's impractical to do. Had they made it long & skinny, it would be perfect. The other problem is that all the shaking around makes the battery connection kind of flaky, mine kept going out, and then you have to start over.Good idea, bad development.

I LOVE(D) our steripen...until it broke! We had Nalgenes that fit the seal of the pen perfectly and were able to turn the bottle upside down and swirl it without much leakage. With 2 months of use, never got sick, so it seem to do the trick. Very easy to filter the water with a bandanna/Tshirt from a scummy water source before purification, and as for taste, it's also easy to throw in a few fruit peels or mixers if you've got icky water. Sadly, I dropped te pen (not from a very tall height) and the lamp seems to be busted. The company does have a great warranty, so we'll see what they say. Bottom line: if this is your only method of purification on a camping trip, bring a back up!

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