Clean drinking water can be hard to find in the back of beyond, but the SteriPen can zap nasty bugs with its special power – UV light
Drinking water from a gushing mountain stream might seem tempting when you’re parched from an epic trek but, as the saying goes, there’s often ‘something in the water’.
Whether you’re camping in the wilds, trekking in the tropics or just making sure that the water from a foreign tap isn’t going to ruin your holiday, you need a SteriPen to keep your drinks stomach-friendly.
The SteriPen is about the size of a small torch and looks a bit like a hand-held lighter for gas hobs. The concept is simple: zap bacteria, protozoa and viruses with enough UV-C light and it disrupts their DNA, stopping them from reproducing. This means the blighters can’t disrupt your digestive system either.
The SteriPen couldn’t be easier to use. Push the start button and place the glass wand into a one-litre container of water so that the sensors are covered.
The wand will then emit Ultra Violet and visible light. Stir the wand around until the light goes out. If the small indicator light goes green, glug away, if it goes red, don’t: repeat the process until it is safe.
There are no chemicals, just UV light, so there’s no nasty after-taste that comes from chemical purifiers. That’s not to say that if you have just purified pond water it might not have a strange flavour, but if your source is good it won’t be tainted.
Even though this will produce pure drinking water from even the most contaminated sources, it will not filter out sediment.
In many cases you will also need some form of filtration device There are several types on the market, but if you’re really stuck you can rig up a simple sieve by pouring the water through your shirt. Then zap it with you SteriPen.
The SteriPen is relatively robust, though the glass wand could potentially be a little vulnerable if treated roughly.
It is also an electronic device so needs batteries, which aren’t always readily available if you're in the middle of nowhere. So to make it even more versatile there is a separately sold, small solar unit that will power it up if your batteries go flat.