The Gear Junkie Scoop: SteriPEN AdventurerOpti

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By Stephen Regenold

A pair of international trips this year have netted me multiple bouts of stomach sickness, but I can't say I haven't tried to allude the little bugs that cause ill will to so many travelers.

One weapon I've employed, the AdventurerOpti device from SteriPEN ( is marketed to kill viruses, bacteria, and protozoa, such as giardia and cryptosporidium, with ultraviolet light. The handheld product is a miniaturized version of UV-light technologies used in municipal water-purification plants around the world. The AdventurerOpti is a new version of the SteriPEN product, which has been on the market for a few years. It is slightly smaller and lighter than other SteriPEN models.

Traveling in Nepal last month, the AdventurerOpti was constantly at my side. The product is small, easy to use and quick: Press the button, dip the lamp into your drink, and wait 90 seconds to purify a liter of

My stomach issues while traveling may have been from foodborne, waterborne, or even airborne sources–it's impossible to know. I used the SteriPEN 90 percent of the time when drinking water procured outdoors from lakes and streams. I even used it in restaurants where tap water was served.

The $99 product worked as promised, as far as I know. But it is one of those items that you simply have to trust that it does what it says it will do. Water looks or tastes no different after UV purification.

For really dirty water, the SteriPEN will not work. Water has to be mostly clear for the product's UV light to do its trick. Murky water from lakes or rivers has to be filtered before the SteriPEN can be used.

On my travels, I will continue to tote a SteriPEN along. I will use it in the outdoors for backpacking and climbing trips as well as when traveling internationally. In the end, the AdventurerOpti is an insurance policy, an extra step in the fight against the little bugs that can make the stomach sick.

–Stephen Regenold writes about outdoors gear at

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