Gear test: SteriPEN Pure+

By Justin Walker 9 March 2017
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Trust your gut: a water purifier could be the most important piece of gear you pack.

FEW THINGS CAN ruin an adventure in the outdoors more effectively than drinking non-pure water then, a few hours later, being struck down with a stomach complaint. Anyone with any sense knows to pack a water filtration set-up when heading bush and I have used a few different variations on that theme over the years, ranging from pump-based to tablets.

SteriPEN is a brand synonymous with water purification and its Pure+ is a compact, lightweight (76.5g) unit that is ideal for those looking at minimal gear weight and – more importantly – efficiency and reliability in filtration. The Pure+ uses ultraviolet (UV) light to destroy a claimed 99.9% of bacteria, protozoa and viruses. The UV lamp in the Pure+ is claimed to offer 5000 treatments, based on each treatment being of 500ml volume. The treatment involves swirling the Pure+ in the water to be treated for 48 seconds.

The Pure+ is powered by USB-rechargeable batteries and each charge should see you through about 40 treatments, which is pretty impressive. The batteries can be recharged via regular household power outlets, or your computer or a portable solar panel. If you don’t have these on your trek, you can always carry a spare set of rechargeable jobbies.
I have used the Pure+ for a couple of months now and, reflecting its rather benign, unassuming appearance, its operation is similarly unspectacular – but totally effective. I drew some water from a particularly murky pond on a day walk recently, and then went through the process of purification, only slightly hesitant of the results (not knowing whether it was just dirty/gritty water or polluted). I did have the luxury of being only a few hours from home but still, as some of us would know, if a particularly virulent stomach bug hits, it can seriously impede you.

The process itself was quick: I just filled up my stove’s cup (around 300ml), turned on the Pure+ and then swirled away for around a minute, counting the seconds off in my head. Once done, I packed the Pure+ back in its pocket, downed the cup of water, then continued on my way. I would love to say it was more exciting than that, but thankfully for my stomach and I, it wasn’t. The Pure+ just simply works, and it does so without fuss. I reckon one single charge’s 40 treatments would be more than sufficient for close to four/five days in the bush and even then, simply add in a spare set of batteries and you’ve doubled the treatments.

I must confess to being a long-standing fan of mechanical/manual water filtration systems but I could definitely see the Pure+ becoming an extra item to pack for each trek. Its relatively unnoticeable weight and its effectiveness make it a fantastic primary or, in my case, back-up water filtration system.