The Best Invention for Modern Travel?

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.



About Mike

I have a passion for adventure travel that began in 1989 with my first overseas trip: climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Having never been to a foreign country, Africa felt like being on another planet; I knew then and there I was hooked on travel. Since that time, I have visited all seven continents and dozens of countries. I’m using the experience I’ve gained in planning my own trips to help my clients plan their own adventures through my adventure travel company ( After working as a firefighter for the US Forest Service in California and Wyoming for three years, I moved to Durango, Colorado where I graduated from Fort Lewis College with a degree in accounting. After graduation I moved to the Denver area where I worked in a Big Eight accounting firm to obtain my CPA license; soon afterward I began a career as an auditor with the Colorado Department of Education. My background in accounting helped me develop detailed-oriented skills that have been extremely useful in researching and planning my own travel over the years. I think this provides a unique asset to my clients in putting together their adventure travel plans. I currently live in Golden, Colorado with my wife Valerie, who shares my love of adventure travel. I’m an active member of the Colorado Mountain Club where I lead trips for club members and have taught ski lessons in their Telemark Ski School. I enjoy skiing, mountain hiking, trail running, photography, and astronomy. I take any opportunity I can get to explore new places, whether it’s on the other side of the world or just down the road.
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