UV Water Purification

Discussion in 'Camping, Hiking, Cooking' started by Jslo, Jul 26, 2013.

  1. Jslo Active Member

    Posts: 181
    Ratings: +80 / 0
    Hey folks, has anyone tried or had success/failures with a UV water purification system while backpacking/hiking?

    I will soon embark on a couple day trip up into the Rockies high country, and it would be nice to not carry a ton of bottled water! But I have a mental block against these things...do they work? Believe me I'm not interested in contracting the Aztec-Two Step while on a hike I'm guiding/hosting.

    Any advice or tips appreciated!

  2. Chad Lewis NEVER wonder what to do with your free time

    Posts: 885
    Mount Vernon, WA
    Ratings: +153 / 0
    I've been using a steripen for several years and been happy with it. They work as advertised. I always carry spare batteries and a backup water treatment method because it's an electronic gizmo that could fail and it has a light bulb on the end that could break if you dropped it on a rock. Having said that, I've never had an outright failure. My backup is iodine tablets and iodine neutralizer (can't stand that iodine taste). Compared to a conventional filter you need to be aware of a couple things. One is the pen won't fit into bottles that have a small opening. I use wide mouth Nalgene bottles or purify water in a cooking pot and pour into something else to carry. Second is the clarity of the water you're gonna drink. If you know your water source will be cloudy then you need to have a way to filter the sediments and stuff. I use a cotton handkerchief folded twice and cover the opening of the bottle when I fill which does a good job of keeping random floaters and stuff out. Water that's truly turbid will need to be filtered better; steripen make a good one.
  3. Jslo Active Member

    Posts: 181
    Ratings: +80 / 0
    Thats helpful, thanks! Ok here is my total newbie question...

    Isn't the bottle you dipped into the stream/lake/river/waterfall dirty itself? What I mean is the water INSIDE the container is purified via the UV on the steripen...but what about water on the threads, or droplet here and there?

    If I may be so bold and new, what is the system for getting the water into the container...or am I too paranoid worrying about every little drop?

    Thanks in advance for any help
  4. Bestbuilder Member

    Posts: 68
    Issaquah, WA
    Ratings: +3 / 0

    Jslo, here is a quote that should answer your question:
    Water treatment is all about reducing the payload to a level your body can handle safely, NOT about total kill. That's why they talk about 99.99% efficiency etc.
    Small drops of possibly contaminated water are so diluted by the treated water they have no effect overall. yes, this does comply with the CDC and EPA rules. Roger Caffin Phd,

    Its a simple matter of numbers- They are in your favor. I have used the Steri for over 5 years w/o any issues. Yes they work and they are the most convenient system I have found. (I have used just about every system on the market)

    Also, 90% of backcountry illnesses are cause from bad hygiene, not the water source! The key is to wash your hands after you relieve yourself and make sure those cooking for you do the same.

    Jslo and Jim Wallace like this.
  5. Steve Call Active Member

    Posts: 1,566
    Wetside, WA
    Ratings: +188 / 0
    Don't want to highjack this thread, but I just bought a Katalyn water bottle with a filter inside. I followed the directions for prepping the bottle before using it on an upcoming trip. I guess it works, but the flow of water via sucking it through the filter is really slow. Certainly won't be thrist quenching. I guess that's how it is supposed to work, but I'm disappointed. Should I return it to REI and get a steripen instead?
  6. Brian Miller Be vewy vewy qwiet, I'm hunting Cutthwoat Twout

    Posts: 881
    Ratings: +66 / 0
    Steve, I tried the Katadyn Purifyer bottle and it sucked; well I couldn't suck anything from it. I emailed Katadyn and they told me a single stage filter bottle would be fine for most of the US and Canada, and the single stage filter would be easier to drink from. But a week later after reading the reviews of the Katadyn water filter bottle I took the Purifyer bottle back to REI (gotta love their Customer Svc) and exchanged it for a Sawyer Filter bottle. The Sawyer is fairly free flowing, it's almost like drinking from a straw. And I can remove the filter from the bottle and connect it between two large capacity water bladders for a gravity system. It's an awesome filter solution.
  7. Steve Call Active Member

    Posts: 1,566
    Wetside, WA
    Ratings: +188 / 0
    Brian, thanks. Glad to know I'm not alone in thinking it sucks.

    REI here I come!
  8. Jim Wallace Smells like low tide

    Posts: 5,663
    Somewhere on the Coast
    Ratings: +544 / 0
    Whew! Same deal here. It sits in my cupboard. Mine was kind of large and bulky. I thought I might need it for running rivers, or all-day hiking excursions, but so far, i have been able to carry enough water bottles in my day pack or boat, filled from home, to get me by. We don't have any chlorine or other chemicals added to our drinking water here in Grayland. I am thankful that there is none of that poisonous industrial waste known as "flouride" added to our drinking water here.

    For backpacking, I have and still use the Katadyn Hiker hand-pump purifier. I also carry water purification tablets. I have been curious about those UV Steripens. I might get one.
  9. Bestbuilder Member

    Posts: 68
    Issaquah, WA
    Ratings: +3 / 0
    Steve, I'm not to fond of Katadyn bottles, I used to use one and the water from the filter used to have a taste (I'm not found of unnatural water tastes). For ease on the water I would go with a Sawyer Squeeze instead of the sawyer bottle, it is more versatile and you can use it as a gravity filter also (when regular backpacking) the SteriPen requires a separate container. The Sawyer Squeeze will fit in you vest.
  10. golfman44 Coho Queen

    Posts: 1,749
    Ratings: +1,074 / 0
    To piggyback on this thread, anyone have experience with the camelbak allclear bottles?
  11. Salmo_g Active Member

    Posts: 7,557
    Your City ,State
    Ratings: +1,688 / 0

    Just returned from a hiking trip with my daughters in the Desolation Wilderness. Since I flew down, they provided a lot of things so I didn't have to deal with it in luggage. One brought her MSR waterworks filter, and the other a UV steripen. I was surprised, but she's a pretty cautious uber-scientific type, and she's used it for over a year with no problems. I used it on one water bottle filling - I'll let you know in a week if it's OK. I sure like any idea to reduce weight and bulk in my backpack, so I may be picking up one of these too.

  12. Bestbuilder Member

    Posts: 68
    Issaquah, WA
    Ratings: +3 / 0

    Golfman44- the Camelbak clear weighs a whole pound! Go with the SteriPen if you are looking at UV or go with the Sawyer Squeeze if convenience, weight and ease on the river are a concern.
    Also the camel is top heavy as well as just plain old heavy.
  13. Brian Miller Be vewy vewy qwiet, I'm hunting Cutthwoat Twout

    Posts: 881
    Ratings: +66 / 0
    I looked at and read reviews for the "Squeeze" (plastic bag reservoir is not super durable, hard to fill), and do not understand how something that appears to require two hands to drink from is either as convenient as a one handed easy to fill wide mouth Sawyer Filter Bottle with a good flow so you don't have to squeeze, or more versatile since the Filter Bottle has a removable filter that can be connected to a source water bag like a Platypus with a tube and used in an unattended gravity system to a potable water storage bag or vessel, but I am often :confused:

    Sent from my Droid RAZR Maxx using Tapatalk 2
  14. Jslo Active Member

    Posts: 181
    Ratings: +80 / 0
    Quick trip report on the Steripen Adventurer:

    I used it last week on a trip to the Flat Tops Wilderness on the western slope of Colorado. Due to other hydration options, I only had to use it once. For reference, I have this bottle:

    Basically I unscrewed the top and put it in a safe/clean spot. Then I dipped the bottle in the gin clear and cold mountain stream. There was no sediment or anything! Crystal clear. Really cold. Great taste. But I'm jumping ahead :p

    Afrer filling it up (.75L approx capacity) I stuck the steripen into the water and activated it for a 1L purification (90 seconds approx). You have the choice of a .5L or a 1L activation cycle. I could see the lamp light up and glow brightly even in daylight. I swirled the pen in the opening of the bottle, stirring the water. I kept stirring. Some water spilled. I took care to NOT allow the bottle top I had removed before dipping the bottle into the stream to hit the ground, or to be exposed to the water while I swirled and spilled. After swirling and getting the "all clear" signal LED, I intentionally splash-spilled now purified water from inside the bottle around and over the threads (my thinking is it would wash away the unpurified water?). Then I did my best to dry the threads. I couldn't get them perfectly dry. Lastly, I screwed the top back on, and proceeded to drink through the built in straw dealybop thats part of the top of the bottle. Cold and tasty, and no stomach problems!

    It was a little wierd to do the first time, but man it was simple/light/effective. I'm a believer. Thanks for all the tips here!
    Chad Lewis likes this.
  15. zeroforhire New Member

    Posts: 10
    Snohomish, WA
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    I have used steripens for 4 years. They work great. Here is a tip. If you use it on clear, cold water (like snowmelt) it sometimes will not come on. Add a pinch of salt to your water to fix it.