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Product Review: The SteriPEN

The Water Purifier

Many of us have been the traveller in a foreign country who brushes their teeth with bottled water and holds off on ice in their drinks. It's important to always be vigilant about the water supply when travelling - in general we cannot tell contaminated water with the naked eye, which makes us vulnerable to a range of illness-causing bacteria. I came across a genius little device that makes water (almost) instantly safe to drink. I don't travel without the SteriPEN, so I thought I'd share it with you.

What is the SteriPEN?


The SteriPEN is perfect for any type of travelling. It easily transforms water from streams, lakes or taps into safe, clean, drinking water. A light-weight, pocket-sized gadget, it has an approximately 5mm long UV light that takes an average of 90 seconds to kill a range of bacteria, purify your water and make it safe to drink. It uses two batteries, Lithium or Nickel Metal Hydride batteries (alkaline batteries of any kind are not recommended).

How does it work?

SteriPEN test

The SteriPEN is simple to use: take the lid off and place the UV light in the water (the entire UV light needs to be dipped into the water in order for it to work). Do not submerge the entire product as the batteries are contained at the bottom. Tap the button once to sterilise up to 500 milliliters of water and twice for 1 litre. Once the button starts flashing green it's ready to use - stir the water, making sure that the entire UV light is submerged. If you stop halfway or the sterilisation has not worked, the light flashes red and you will need to start the process again. Once you get the hang of it, it will literally take you two minutes to have clean drinking water no matter where in the world you are. The water does not taste like chemicals and can be consumed immediately.

Some places to consider sterilising water:

  • Water from natural sources such as rivers, streams or lakes
  • Tap water in areas where the water supply has been jeopardised by natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes or floods
  • Power outages can disrupt water pumping stations, allowing water pressure to slow or stagnate, creating risk of microbial contamination
  • When traveling to foreign countries with known water purity problems

What does SteriPEN eliminate:

  • Cholera
  • E-coli causing the most common travellers illness, resulting in 72% of cases in some regions
  • Giardia
  • Hepatitis A, B, C and D
  • Legionella

There are a number of SteriPENs available to buy. The outdoor range is made up of the Freedom, the Journey, the Adventurer Opti and the Classic. The Freedom is a relatively new product that is the first rechargeable UV filter purifier. It can be charged via a computer or AC outlet. The Adventurer Opti doubles as a convenient LED flashlight. The Traveller and Traveller Mini are the most affordable SteriPENs. The Emergency and Sidewinder are typically used for emergency situations, whenever the fresh water supply is disrupted or contaminated. Visit the SteriPEN website and use the handy comparison tool to select the best SteriPEN for you.

Last Updated: January 2013

Sarah Matthews

Sarah Matthews

Having grown up in Johannesburg, Sarah left the sunny shores of South Africa for London. Always excited to experience new places, meet interesting people and indulge in different cultures, she definitely loves to travel and write about it.