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?