ST.com Gear Lab – Drinking healthy water anywhere – Steripen Review


We were already 5 months into our Central America trip when we met a couple from Czech Republic with whom who got along right away. They live in London like we used to so we had a lot to discuss about the English society, that twisted cosmopolitan metropolis London is.

We were crossing the border to Costa Rica from Nicaragua and they were going to do a little deviation to visit a famous town up the river called El Castillo. We had time to spare so we decided to go along which  turned out to be a great idea, but we will talk about it in another post.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe decided to buy some groceries before the trip so we went to a little market and, as always, we bought plenty of water. Surprisingly, our Czech friends did not buy anything to drink and we asked?

– Aren’t you going to buy any water? You know that tap water isn’t safe, right?

– Sure, but we have our water purifier device, we don’t need to buy it.

– A device? Which one?

– A Steripen!!!

I looked at Sara and thought: how stupid could we be?

It happens that we bought a Steripen® before our trip but we always kept it in our backpack for emergencies, like when you are in places with no access to bottled water and need to get some. But why? Why keep it only for those moments that rarely happen? Why not use it on a daily basis to save dollars and dollars of bottled water and spare the environment a few plastic bottles. Thank you Borbara and Jirik for showing us the way. Since that day, we kept the Steripen in our daypack and have been happily using it since.


the steripen freedom kit

the steripen freedom kit

This will not be a very technical review, specially because we cannot attest objectively if it works or not, beside stating we haven’t had any health issues since we started using it. If you want a more technical review, you can check it here, it’s not the same model but it is the same technology. The model we bought is the Steripen Freedom that has two main advantages comparing to others: the size and the rechargeable battery by USB cable.

Before traveling, Sara, in her powers of Chief Medical Officer of  this journey, investigated all the options for purifying water and, after boiling water (still the best method available), using a UV lamp is one of the best, as long as the water is clear. You can check more details about the different water purifying methods in the CDC website. Backpacking in regions like Central America, where most of the time the water is not drinkable, it’s almost mandatory to have a water purifier. We also carry the chlorine disinfectant pills for when anything goes wrong with the Steripen, but until now, it was not needed.

In Colombia, we were trekking in a rainy forest and ran out of water, so we decided to use the fresh water from a spring and do a little demonstration. Most probably the water was drinkable but why not do it all the time anyway? It will not make it bad and it’s free! (free to use the Steripen, not to buy it 🙂 Check our video using the Steripen to purify spring water:

Filter for the steripen

Filter that we bought in separate to clear the water before applying the UV lamp.

In case the water is not clear enough, you can buy from the same company a filter to clear up the water before applying the UV lamp. It is very important because, if the water is blur, then the light will not get to all the particles, which may leave some parasites alive and we don’t want that.

The filter comes with 2 rubber adapters so they can adjust to any bottle and everything is very light in terms of weight  which is great for us backpackers. The only downside is its bulkiness, but being so flexible and resistant you squeeze it everywhere on your pack.


When we planned our trip back in 2010, this was basically the only brand in the market available for travelers. Nowadays, many have the same solution, like Verilux that may be better or worse than the Steripen, we don’t know. We do know some advantages of using this product comparing with other methods:


  • it only weighs 74 grams
  • you can charge it with anything, even your laptop (USB port), no need for batteries like in other models
  • it’s quick to use, just 60 seconds and you are ready to drink
  • doesn’t impart any smells or flavors to the water
  • it’s free to use as the battery is rechargeable
  • makes you save loads of money of bottled water


  • comparing to other models it’s a good price, but alternative methods are free
  • it’s feels very fragile, you have to be careful handling it all the time
  • you have to be careful not to look at the light as it is dangerous to your eyes
  • once in a while took us some tweaking to work, but at the end it did
  • it has a limit in terms of water measure that you must be careful to follow

Overall we are very happy with this product, it’s very practical and we save a lot of money from bottled water, besides keeping us more confident about what we are drinking.  We highly recommend buying one of this for your travels if they are in countries where water is not always reliable to drink.

SpiritsTrek Score: 70%



Steripen Website – http://www.steripen.com/

Steripen Comparision of Models – http://www.steripen.com/compare/

Technical Review – http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/steripen_adventurer_review.html#.U8HKx1a5PLR

CDC Water Purifying Recommendations – http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/water-disinfection



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