SteriPEN Journey Product Review


The SteriPEN Journey is an ultra-lightweight water purification system that can treat 16 oz of water in 48 seconds using UV light.

“We’ve got a  Hydro-Photon dagger that destroys living organisms by disrupting their DNA,” we said. “Oh…I just have a small Swiss Army knife.” the 13 year-old Boy Scout replied. After a quick chuckle and explaining that our “dagger” is really a water purification device, we sat down and explained how UV light from a small device such as this, can purify water, and that its effectiveness has been noted and used since 1878.

While the SteriPEN might seem like something out of a Sci-Fi movie, its true effectiveness at killing 99.9999 percent of bacteria, 99.99 percent of viruses and 99.99 percent of protozoa are well documented. The product exceeds U.S. Environmental Protection Agency guidelines for microbial purifiers and has been tested by various laboratories and Universities across the country. But this technology is nothing new. Its been used by many water bottling plants and city municipalities for decades. So some of the bottled water we’re already drinking is purified using UV light.

The SteriPEN Journey can be used with 1 liter bottles.
The SteriPEN Journey can be used with 1 liter bottles.

The great thing about the SteriPEN Journey however, is that it is small and light weight (about 4.5 oz), making it perfect for those of us who like to go out into the wilderness fast and light. We can forget taking several minutes to pump water through filtration devices or making funny faces as you force yourself to drink bad tasting, chemically treated water. With the SteriPEN we simply filled up a 32 oz water bottle with clear water, inserted the SteriPEN Journey into the bottle, pressed the activation button and waited 90 seconds before it was ready to drink.

By far, the SteriPEN is one of the easiest water purification devices to use. It’s powered by two camera-size batteries (CR123) that provide enough power for 8,000 cycles, or purifying up to 8,000 liters (200 gallons) of water. The indicator on the side of the unit shows the battery level and purification timer. In addition, the SteriPEN Journey has a two settings, allowing you to adjust for 1-liter  or 1/2-liter bottles. Two water sensor pins activate the UV light and it’s recommend to stir the water during the purification process to kill all the little guys in there. Once the masacare is completed, a happy face appears on the LCD screen, indicating the process was successfull.

In addition to the device being easy to use and reliable, it also saves the need to purchase plastic water bottles of which most end up in landfills, instead of someone’s fleece jacket. Those of us who talk endlessly on the trail and don’t shut up for any reason at all, like to use larger mouth water bottles. For those guys, we found that the optional FitsAll Filter works great to fit popular Nalgene, SIGG and even Gatorade wide mouth bottles. The FitsAll Filter retails around $14.95 and is essentially a funnel with a cup that comes with an attachable filter cartidge to remove water particulates, not microbiological or chemical contaminants, to clean up your water before you treat it. The SteriPEN Journey and Classic models fit into the funnel to prevent water from leaking out and makes it easier to use.

While the SteriPEN Journey had some obvious advantages, we at first thought that the lamp might be a bit fragile. We quickly discovered that it’s surrounded by a thick quartz outser-sleeve and orange colored cap that will keep it safe and protected, even in a stuffed backpack. The Journey also comes with a neoprene cover that protects it from scratches and allows you to carry it on your belt so you can also pretend you’re a Jedi master with a new light saber…not that we did that of course.

The optional FitsAll Filter allows you to clear water from small particulates and allows the unit to fit large mouth water bottles.
The optional FitsAll Filter clears water from small particulates and allows the unit to fit large mouth water bottles.

Overall we loved the technology and light weight operation of the SteriPEN Joruney. We would definitely recommend it for hikers, campers and backpackers. In mountaineering conditions, we learned from other users that the SteriPEN will work in cold high-altitude climates. The batteries, however, need to be kept warm or the unit becomes useless. Finally, as over-cautious as we are when heading out into the wilderness, it’s always a good idea to have a back-up water purification method. Many of us will still carry a small portable filtration device, while others will also rely on chemicals for emergencies. Nevertheless, we found the SteriPEN Jouney as a welcome piece of new gear. The SteriPEN Journey retails around $100.


  • Easy to use and lightweight
  • Really fast. We ended up carrying less water and using the SteriPEN to purify more of it on the trail.
  • Immediate drinking water. Saves time. No need to wait for chemicals to work.
  • Backpackers have used the SteriPEN for many years with excellent results.
  • Fits most large and small mouth water bottles, including Gatorade bottles (with FitsAll Filter).
  • Great tasting water.


  • Drinking dead organisms.
  • Carrying an extra set of batteries just in case.
  • Need to use clear water, althouth not a problem in most areas.
  • Doesn’t work well with cold batteries and you’d probably need to carry an extra set.
  • Water must have enough electrolites in it (salt) to work. It’s a chemistry thing.

For more information, contact: Hydro-Photon Inc., P.O. Box 675, 262 Ellsworth Rd., Blue Hill, ME 04614. (888) 826-6234.

By Dan Sanchez

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