I'm guessing, but it was at least five years ago when Hydro-Photon, Inc. announced the SteriPEN water purifier, a portable battery powered device that uses ultraviolet radiation to kill just about everything you might find in wilderness water in seconds.
As I recall, a manufacturing problem delayed the release of the device and actually resulted in a total redesign. I had to wait at least two years before I could get my hands on one. But it was worth the wait.
From the first time I saw it written up in a national magazine, I was hooked.
In my quest to go ultralight, I was looking for anything that could help me shave ounces from my load and the SteriPEN seemed like just the ticket. It didn't disappoint.
The device has evolved since the original design and now you simply push the button one time and place the pen in water. It automatically insures you get the correct amount and duration of UV light necessary to produce a liter of safe, clean water.
Push the button twice and you purify 16 ounces in 48 seconds. Then you put the SteriPEN in a pouch that fits on your belt and you're back on the trail. Very slick.
From the official SteriPEN water purifier web page:
SteriPEN™ is the only portable water purifier that uses ultraviolet (UV) light to destroy waterborne microbes. Whether your source is a woodland brook or an overseas hotel tap, SteriPEN sterilizes clear water by destroying viruses, bacteria and protozoa—including Giardia and Cryptosporidium—in seconds. Carry a SteriPEN to disinfect water wherever you travel, hike, camp or trek. It’s the fastest route to pure, safe drinking water anywhere."
Weight: 3.7 oz. without batteries.(6.5 – 8 oz. with batteries, depending on type)
Dimensions: 7.6" (L) X 1.5" (W) X 1.5" (H)
Battery: 4 disposable or externally rechargeable AA batteries
What it Kills
Ultra-violet light safely & effectively destroys bacteria, protozoa, viruses, cryptosporidium, giardia, E. coli, hepatitis, salmonella and dysentery.
The Pros: fast, easy and light (8 ounces or less) with batteries. Customer service is one of the best I've ever encountered. Really amazing and responsive.
The Cons: it uses batteries, which can run out, so you need extra batteries and/or a back-up water purification source, which of course adds weight.
My recommendation is that you use four 2500 or better milliamp nickel-hydride AA rechargeables to maximize the number of liters you can get. But I tested them once and got 60 liters of water out of one charge.
As always, I recommend you do your own testing at home BEFORE you go into the wilderness.
I'm on my second generation SteriPEN and really love it.
Be light. Be safe. Be one with the pack.