SteriPEN Ultra — The New & Heavier SteriPEN

Greetings Hikers,

SteriPEN has recently released a new version of their UV water filter called the “Ultra“, which is being claimed as “the most advanced UV water purifer in the world”  – SteriPEN Ultra

I have to admit that I have been a fan, supporter, and user of the SteriPEN UV filters.

I know a fair amount of long distance hikers that have hated them. I also know a fair share of long distance hikers that have over 3000 miles of use with a SteriPEN and continue to love them. Inevitability articles about the SteriPEN turn into a whole bunch of hyperbole, so if we can keep those type of comments to a minimum, that would be awesome.

What I wanted to write about today was to present to all of the hikers that follow me the “new” and, oddly, heavier, new SteriPEN and to discuss the merits of this new UV Water filter by SteriPEN.

Now, by heavier, I do not just mean, ‘heavier’… I mean “heavier”… as in the second heaviest SteriPEN that they have ever made.

SteriPEN Specs:

Product Grams Batteries Treatments MSRP
SteriPEN Freedom 74 Internal 200 $119.95
SteriPEN Protector 103 CR123 100 $149.95
SteriPEN Traveler mini 105 CR123 100 n/a
SteriPEN Adventurer 108 CR123 100 $89.95
SteriPEN Journey LCD 128 CR123 100 $99.95
SteriPEN Ultra 140 Internal 100 $99.95
SteriPEN Traveler 162 AA 200 $49.95
SteriPEN Classic 162 AA 200 $69.95
SteriPEN Defender 162 AA 200 $129.95
SteriPEN Emergency 162 AA 200 $49.95

treatment based on 16oz

Simplicity At The Penalty of Weight

Based on the specs above, it is clear that SteriPEN has decided to put “simplicity of use” ahead of weight, total treatments, and interchangeable batteries.

Regarding internal batteries. There use to be a time when having devices with internal batteries was a horrific idea, and for some hikers it still is – after all, if your batteries die and you are without a battery pack that has a charge and without a usb connector, you cannot just pull out the batteries and throw in some fresh batteries from any trail-town that you might encounter while on your long distance hike. This is an issue worth addressing, but not really the primary focus of this article.

Total treatments is a huge aspect for long distance hikers. If we can get more uses out of the same set of batteries/charge, that means less money we have to spend on batteries, or less times we have to charge batteries while in a trail town.

So it really all comes down to “simplicity of use”. Can we, as hikers, really justify an additional 66 grams (2.33 oz) so we can have a smilie face, or a sad face, on our UV water filter? If that is the case for you, reading my articles is probably not the best idea.

Lets just be honest here, as much as I like to have the ‘latest and greatest’ new gear that hits the market, the SteriPEN Ultra might be “new” but it is by far not the “greatest” based on the specs alone. It is heavier than the Freedom, offers 50% less treatments than the Freedom, and is oddly less expensive than the Freedom.

+John Abela

In accordance of USA Federal Trade Commission 16 CFR, Part 255: I hereby declare that the products mentioned within the content of this article were not supplied to me free of charge, or in exchange for services. All product(s) mentioned within the content of this review is free of endorsement(s) between myself and the manufacturer(s) and meets all FTC 16 CFR.255 compliance requirements.

Feb 25, 2013 4pm – updated to remove word-play that nobody seemed to get — which is why I almost never try lol

7 thoughts on “SteriPEN Ultra — The New & Heavier SteriPEN

  1. I noticed the minimum bottle diameter is 20mm on the ultra vs the freedom (which would be a plus, looks like you could use it with a gatoraide bottle!), and also the freeedom is rated for 20L per charge, while the ultra is 50L per charge – so that is also a big difference.

    1. Agreed that for some hikers the size could be an issue.

      Regarding the 20 vrs 50 issue… that *almost* got me too, until I really started looking at the specs. SteriPEN goes to some lengths to play with their numbers on their website (and product boxes.) The specs they give are sometimes for 16 ounces, and sometimes for 32 ounces — including when they talk about overall treatments.

      But if you do find something that indicates my specs are wrong, by all means, point me to a pdf, photograph of a box, or whatever, that clearly shows that the Ultra is 50 treatments at 16 ounces, and if it appears to be accurate I will update my article. Same goes for any of the specs I listed. All of it came from their own website, except when their own website was clearly wrong (a prime example is they claim that the weight of the ‘Traveler’ is “59.9500” — giggle)

      1. Click to access ultra-user-guide-en.pdf

        How many treatments can I expect to get out of
        a fully charged battery?

        Around 50 full-liter treatments.

        The Ultra does 50 treatments at 1L (32 oz), the Freedom does 20 treatments at 1L. Furthermore, the weight of the other SteriPEN models may be without batteries, while this one is likely with batteries since they are not removable.

        If the other weights DO include batteries, I’d want to know which AA batteries they used since rechargeable batteries weigh twice as much as Energizer Ultimate Lithium batteries, and four regular AA batteries weighs almost as much as the empty plastic SteriPEN.

      2. John, I noted the same error in your spec list on 3/30/13 as Rob just has. For some reason my comment didn’t post. The Freedom does only 1/2 liter per activation, and only 40 1/2 L treatments according to their own user manual. The Ultra acts like most other Steripens in that you can select either a 1 L or a 1/2 L treatment at activation, and it will do around 50 1 L treatments. The other thing you don’t immediately see with the Freedom is that it has the same maximum number of bulb cycles (8000, defined as a single activation and counted by the device in determining bulb remaining life), but because the Freedom only does 1/2 L per treatment the Ultra and other models will treat up to TWICE as much water before they expire.
        So yes, the Freedom is the lightest Steripen – but it also treats less than half the water that the Ultra does on a charge, because it has a battery that is less than half the capacity and much lighter. AND it treats as little as HALF the water the other models do over its lifetime.
        Add that all up and you are paying one heck of a premium for its size and weight – but what else is new for Ultralight Hikers?
        Rob has already posted the Ultra user guide, so I’ll just post the link to the Freedom:

        Click to access freedom-user-guide-en.pdf

        1. Hi Lila, the indicator light will flash informing you that you have 100 treatments left. It is rare if ever that a SteriPEN user reaches 8,000 treatments. That is a long, long time.

  2. Please understand that the Steripen in not a FILTER. But a UV purifier. I generally Use a filter and then the Steripen, because any extra materials in the water reduce the efficiency of the UV light. Ezhiker

    1. Hey Ezhiker,

      I suppose if you want to get technical, we are both wrong. They are no more a purifier than they are a filter.

      These are Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) devices.

      They neither filter nor purify.

      To say they do either would be to indicate that all bad things are “gone/removed” thereby leaving a, well, ‘pure’ water – and that is just not the cases.

      A UVGI device scrambles the DNA of the bad things, making them harmless to humans. Bacteria, Cryptosporidium, Giardia, and even viruses are still technically in the water, they are just in a state of no longer being able to reproduce.

      They even kick the butt out of chlorine (photolysis) which is why I initially bought my first UVGI device years ago to install in a biotope aquarium.

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