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Steripen Adventurer Water Purifier : A Backcountry Essential

I've been using the Steripen Adventurer water purifier for a few months, and I can now safely say it works.

I've been using it to purify some pretty rank water and I haven't been sick, so from now on I'll be toting my four once wonderpurifier everywhere I go. It's totally revolutionized my approach to hiking and backcountry water needs. In the past, I've pulled hairs out deciding how much water I want to pack in with me for a day-long outing: Should I bring lots of water, or little bit of water and a pump? Option A always seemed like a bad idea because it was heavy, and option B always seemed like a bad idea because pumping was time consuming. But now the answer's way easy: I bring a liter of water and my SteriPEN.

Here's a basic rundown of Hydro Photon's SteriPEN: it's a municipal water treatment plant that fits in my pocket. Seriously. It's basically a tiny plastic case that houses some circuitry and a few batteries; protruding from that case is a waterproof ultraviolet lamp. The contraption employs the same purification technology as that used on my drinking water at home. When I'm thirsty and out on the trail, I fill up my Nalgene bottle with stream water, push a button, stick the SteriPEN in the bottle, and swirl it around for 90 seconds. Viola, my water's safe to drink. No more giardia, no more crypto, no more worries -- all the nasties get zapped thanks to a little ultraviolet jolt. Safe for me, not safe for the bugs. I don't have to sit there for 20 minutes messing around with a pump. I just fill and go. 

The unit destroys not only bacteria and protozoa, but also viruses. The latter part is noteworthy because traditional pumps are rarely if ever able to filter out viruses; the baddies are simply too small. In the past when I've been in regions prone to viruses -- backpacking in Central America, for example -- I've had to either pre-treat my water with iodine or else add an iodine attachment to my pump. One's light but tastes terrible, the other's heavy and tastes bad. There was no perfect solution. But now with the SteriPEN, the water I've purified tastes like water.

The one thing I will need to ensure in the future is that my water is clear to begin with; the ultraviolet light beams won't penetrate through murky water. I'll probably purchase a Nalgene pre-filter accessory for this.

Other things I like about the unit: it's built to last, as the lamp is rated to 5,000 uses. Also, it never clogs. I can't begin to quantify the time I've spent scrubbing out or replacing dirty filter cartridges. Aside from the absolute ease of use, the SteriPEN is one of those tools that I can't really justify leaving at home -- sort of like my mini LED headlamp. It weighs nothing and takes up practically no pack space. It's hard to think how I've been such an outdoor nut all these years without one. On the trail it's great, and I plan on taking it along when I do adventure travel; you never know when the glass of water that came with dinner is trustworthy. 

Bottom Line: A new standard in personal water treatment -- foolproof, dependable, discrete, doesn't clog, doesn't leave weird tastes or chemicals in the water, and works about 20 times faster than my old hand pump. -- N.W. (Mar '08)

Price: $130

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Worldwide there are more than 12,000 species of ferns. In New Zealand, the silver fern is the national symbol. According to Maori culture,the unfurling tip of the fern, called a "koru," represents the cycle of life and death. This image is often used in art and jewelry.

Source: 100% New Zealand, The Official Site for New Zealand Travel

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