SteriPEN Traveler Bundle - Review

I happened across a SteriPEN product at Costco a while back, and picked it up for inclusion in a kit. If I remember correctly, it was about $45. Checked the price at other outlets on my phone, and felt good about the purchase.  Being able to hold one and check it out before forking over the cash was a nice touch. The packaging allow me to study it rather well. I liked that it came with a BPA-free 1 liter bottle, and a pre-filter attachment.

The idea behind any SteriPEN product is that UV lights can be used to kill all kinds of biologicals found in a water source. For people traveling in areas where the water supplies do or could have dangerous microbes, protozoa, bacteria, viruses etc, a SteriPEN UV sterilizer will kill those nasties so they don’t kill you or make you ill. UV light scrambles the DNA innards of harmful organisms. This kills them or prevents them from reproducing after you drink them down. Given enough time in the presence of unhindered UV light, these bugs will not harm you.


SPTBpkgRearThese are a couple shots of the packaging. It included the usual selling points and marketing angles, but the clear view of the pre-filter caught my eye.



SPT-UVunitThe SteriPEN UV hand held unit is rather simple. It is an integrated housing containing the electronics, controls, batteries and lamp. It appears to be sealed against water intrusion at all points. Not shown in the picture to the left is the glass lamp cover. You can make it out in the packaging shots above. It is a hard plastic cover, smoked in color, and snaps on quite firmly. Removing it takes a good deal of force. At first I was annoyed with this. I imaging twisting it off at an angle and snapping the lamp. I prevented this by using both hands against each other, and pulling it straight off. The tight fit is a good thing, however. Without the protective cap, the lamp will be broken. If the cap can easily be dislodged in storage or during deployment, the risk of damage rises greatly. In the end, I am happy with the solid fit. The lamp is good for 1,000 uses, which for this package deal means 1,000 liters of water.


The battery compartment is sealed with a rubber gasket under the cap, which lifts off after twisting it counter clockwise. There is an arrow on the cap, which aligns with either the locked, or unlocked indicator. The cap will only move a few degrees due to movement stops molded into it.


There is a wonderful “made in China” sticker on the cap. Classic. I collect them all.



SPTbatt1 SPTbatt2With the cap removed, you will notice + & – signs printed in red along the rim of the battery compartment. These assist in properly orienting the batteries. No other indication will give you proper guidance. At the bottom of the battery well are four springs, which in most electronics would mean that the flat negative end of the battery should go in first. Pay attention to the polarity indicators, and ignore your other experience. Replacing the cap takes some force, as the batteries sit high in the well after installation. Line up the arrow with the “unlocked” graphic and twist clockwise.

SPTcontrolThe only control on this device is the On button. Conveniently printed around it are the instructions.  “Press once for 1L. Press twice for 0.5L”  That would be roughly equivalent to 32oz. and 16oz.. The distinction is important for proper sterilization. The UV light needs to work within the water for a given amount of time for a given amount of water. For a full bottle, it burns longer.

The light you see near the locked and unlocked graphics tells you the state of the device. Everything from ready, to working, to done and failed is displayed by solid and flashing green and red lights. Even battery and lamp life warnings are given. The documentation is clear and comprehensive.

SPTBpreflt1 SPTBpreflt4The pre-filter is a two piece adapter that screws in place between the supplied wide mouth bottle and the bottle cap. The body of the pre-filter includes two gaskets on the bottom and inner bottom, designed to keep contaminants away from the bottle mouth and threads. The actual filter is a screen cage with a sports bottle nipple on one end.

These two pictures show the filter inserted and locked in the storage position – facing downward. Filtering operations are done with the cage reversed.

SPTBpreflt3 SPTBpreflt2

Here, you see the pre-filter screen cage in the fill position. Notice the blue gasket o-ring? There is one at the other end of the cage as well. It seals in either position, and the nipple can seal as well by pressing down on it. The picture to the immediate left shows you how water can be pre-filtered by pouring into the cavity, and air can escape the bottle through the nipple. In my test, the bottle filled in 30 seconds.






Here is the 1 liter wide mouth bottle with the pre-filter and cap installed. In this condition, the filter is reversed and lies in the storage position. Indicators for both liters and ounces are printed on the bottle exterior.



SPTbulb SPTBster2

When you first activate the SteriPEN, it does a check. You’ll notice two small probes at the base of the lamp. The SteriPEN looks to see if there water connecting these two. If so, it won’t activate. So it is important to remember, it needs to be dry before turning it on, and it needs to be dried again before treating successive bottle of water. Once it is on, you then insert it into the water bottle. The lamp will glow once the probes are immersed in the water.

The second picture shows you how the whole thing looks assembled. The pre-filter is removed so that the SteriPEN can be inserted. Notice how the bottle is upside down. This is an instruction by the manufacturer. Water does leak between the mouth of the pre-filter and the rubber cone-shaped seal just below the lamp – unless you force them together. That’s the idea, though – forcing them together. My concern is that the rubber will be worn, or damaged long before the 1,000 cycle life of the lamp has ended. SteriPEN instructs users to run it inverted so that the water will always be in contact with the probes. If the contact is broken, the lamp shuts down, and you get a steady red light. This tells you the cycle is incomplete, and the water has not been sterilized.

You can get around this situation, though. With the bottle full, you can still get the probes submerged. Depending on the level of the water, you might still be able to use the prefilter housing as a guide /support/seal. Otherwise, simply hold the unit to keep it from dropping into the bottle, and stir. Inverted or upright, there meeds to be a stirring motion to force the water to flow around the lamp. This brings the nasties closer to the lamp for longer periods of time, and more uniformly subjects them all to the killing UV rays.

SPTBster1 SPTBster3

Here, you see the SteriPEN inserted into the pre-filter housing upright and inverted. The picture showing the unit energized is in the inverted position. UV light is invisible. But it is generated along with visible light, so the glowing light you see is the only real indicator you have that the unit is on and working. There can be no UV light present if the lamp is dark.

You do not have to use the bottle that comes with this bundle. The taper of the SteriPEN rubber neck reduces far enough to allow you to use it with smaller bottle, right on down to those .5L battles of water you find at the store. If your requirements demand sterilization of even those pre-bottled water containers, this unit can fit into the mouth and make a seal.

The SteriPEN uses 4 AA batteries. The manufacturer instructs users not to use alkaline batteries, as they can not produce enough current to effectively power the unit, and I suppose that under that kind of stress, they may leak, causing corrosion in the battery compartment. The recommended battery types are Lithium disposable or Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) rechargables rated at least 2300 mAh. Lithiums are lower weight, but the NiMH will run better in cold climates. It is recommended that you remove the batteries when the unit is placed into storage. I would add that this is a requirement. All AA batteries may possibly leak during storage.

My Thoughts on This Package

The bottle is nice, proportionally, for its size. It has enough changes in shape to make it easy to hold onto. For a 1L bottle, it has a wide enough base to prevent tipping on most surfaces. The smoked color helps keep bright light from encouraging growths inside (though there shouldn’t be anything but sterile water in it…) but allow easy viewing of water level and lamp operation. It doesn’t crush under a strong grip, though it has some measure of flexibility, to prevent shattering.

The pre-filter body has some nice indentations to help get a grip on it while tightening and removing. The gaskets are well made, and the important one set inside the body, which mates to the open end of the bottle, is nicely captive. This gasket is about 3/8″ wide, so it should mold against most variations of bottle mouths.

The bottle cap also has a captive gasket. Since it is designed to work with this bottle and the filter body, it is somewhat narrower, but is inset much deeper. I don’t think it is ever going to come out, and would almost certainly fail if someone tried to pry it out. The cap has rubber portions on it and a molded loop for hanging off fingers, hooks and carabiners.

Aside from having to carry batteries, and the possibility of lamp breakage, I am happy with this setup. Next on the list is a solar charger, and a supply of batteries.


2 comments to SteriPEN Traveler Bundle – Review

  • Love this and your site!!! How does one contact you for potential product review submissions? Thanks!!!

    • LP

      Thank you. I do only a few reviews, generally things I am excited about, since so many reviews are already out there. Are you asking about the software package in your site? You can write me at lp at and tell me about it. If it gets my attention, perhaps we can work something out. But be warned, I post honest and fairly complete reviews……

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