Many of our travels take us to places that, unfortunately, require us to be very diligent about what we put in our mouths. Avoiding certain uncooked foods, drinking only bottled water, brushing your teeth with beer (this one is actually quite stimulating) and other precautions are a necessary evil in some of our favorite travel destinations.
Todd Sullivan over at Globetroopers has a great article in his blog this week about a device that can reduce your chances of getting traveler’s sickness from water-borne microbes: It’s called the SteriPen and Todd says it’s “by far the best invention for modern travel.”
“SteriPEN products are ultraviolet light water purification devices. No more bottled water, no more boiling water; you just turn it on, shake it around in your water, and it kills 99.9% of bacteria, viruses and other nasty stuff. It’s not new technology either; cities and bottled water companies have used it for decades to purify the water that millions of people drink. But SteriPEN was the first company to bring it to the global travel scene to help Globetroopers alike avoid travel sickness on the road.”
I’ve used pump filters on my trips, and they work fairly well, but are bulky and can be cumbersome to use. Also, they don’t kill viruses unless you have one of those special iodine attachments, which can make the water taste funky. Another problem I’ve encountered is that if the filter gets clogged, you’re pretty much finished unless you bring a spare filter attachment. With the SteriPen, you place the pen in the water, turn it on, swirl it around until the light says its OK, and you have clean water. The one thing to remember is that you have to use clear water; it won’t work if the water is murky. However, you can use a model that comes with a pre-filter, or you can buy the filter separately.
I have not yet tried this product, but it’s getting rave reviews in places like Backpacker Magazine and Outdoor Life. I do see one potential problem though: If you fill your bottle directly from a water source, seems like you risk contaminating parts of the bottle that the pen wouldn’t reach (e.g. water on the rim and threads of the bottle). To be safe, I would think you’d need a separate bottle to scoop up the water and then pour into the bottle being sterilized. Or does SteriPen have some mechanism to avoid this issue?
I’d love to hear from readers who have experience with this product. I’m going to pick one up myself for my upcoming trip to Kamchatka, Russia and will let you know what I think.