Gear Review: How Does the SteriPen UV Water Purification System Work?

SteripenThe Steripen is a UV water purification system.  It’s a small hand-held device that emits UV rays to purify water by killing bacteria, protozoa and viruses.  It takes 4 AA batteries and weighs about 5 ounces.  The Steripen UV water purification system is one of the best ways to completely purify water while camping and backpacking…although, its not perfect.


The Steripen is probably the easiest and cleanest way to completely purify water.  Simply push the button once for 1 liter or twice for 0.5 liters and stir the pen around in your water source.  The blue light will emite UV rays that will purify the water of any contaminants.


  • Purifies water fast and without any chemicals
  • You can use it in any country because it destroys bacteria, protozoa and viruses


  • Needs batteries
  • Breakable
  • Adds extra weight to your pack
  • Does not remove sediment


Overall I love the Steripen!  Although it can be little overkill for a lot of situations.  If you’re doing a long trek, sometimes its just easier to carry a small bottle of iodine tablets rather than a device of this size (even though it is NOT really that big).  But despite Iodine tablets being cheaper and easier to carry, if you don’t mind the device adding weight to your pack, you can have chemical-free water during your trek.  Plan on getting weird looks from villages and fellow backpackers whenever you bust it out.

Daniel Royse Written by:

Daniel Royse is the founder and editor in chief of the online travel publication, This Boundless World. He has written numerous articles on travel, business and politics and has recently completed his first full-length novel titled The Watermelon King. Daniel is an obsessive writer and explorer who has backpacked to over 50 countries, spanning five continents. To the disbelief of many, he still enjoys long, hot bus rides through chaotic places. More information about The Watermelon King can be found at Contact: danroyse(to)