The Most Useful Travel Tool Ever

posted in: Planning, Travel Gear | 19

When it comes to travel, the list of things you “absolutely must have” gets longer and longer with each passing year.  If Wanderrlust had taken place in the 80’s before the rise of the internet, Courtney and I would have packed some clothes, a world atlas, a 35mm camera, a Swiss Army knife, and a few books to pass the time.  In today’s world, there is so much gear that is “absolutely necessary” – from specialized shoes and technical clothing to gadgets of all kinds to a hospital-sized chest of medicine, you’ll fill a 90L pack before you know it and still not have enough space for everything.

In the last eight and a half months on the road, we’ve had the opportunity to put all the items in our bag to the test (some proved useful and worthy investments, others not so much) and mourn the loss of many items sent home or never packed.  I regret sending home so much camera gear in the early days (oh, how I miss my 16-35mm f/2.8!), while Court wishes she had packed less technical clothing and more items that she would actually wear in everyday life (definitely her favorite green jacket).  But, hindsight is 20/20, and it’s hard for anyone who hasn’t already traveled long-term to know what’s really useful and what isn’t.

Of everything that did make the cut, the one item we’ve never second-guessed is our SteriPEN.  Why?  Because it ensures access to the most important thing for survival: water.

We use our SteriPEN daily.  In a little over three minutes, we’ve got two liters of water that is safe to drink.  Using UV light, the SteriPEN destroys any viruses, bacteria, and microbes that might be in the water.  It’s like a tanning salon in Jersey except that with the SteriPEN, all the housewives die in the first episode.  It should be noted here that the SteriPEN will not destroy things like radioactivity, metals, and toxic chemicals (or in the case of Bravo, Andy Cohen — Shotski!).

At around $100 USD, the SteriPEN is capable of purifying 8,000 liters of water over its lifetime (for those at home doing the math, that’s a little over a penny per liter).  With stories like this from India, Kenya, China, and elsewhere about fake bottled water, it’s reassuring to know that you’re getting clean, drinkable water – all from the comfort of your hotel room, no less. There’s no need to go on wild goose chase looking for authentic stuff and certainly no need to pay a boatload for over-priced hotel or airport agua to satisfy your thirst.  As an added bonus, it’s environmentally-friendly too, which is hugely important in SE Asia where the level of litter, especially plastic, is appalling.

Most importantly, the SteriPEN gives us peace of mind – we may freeze, we may starve, we may die in a bus accident, but by god we will be hydrated.

19 Responses

  1. Julie Lord - SteriPEN
    | Reply

    Thanks for the informative review and for spreading the word about the benefits of our handheld UV water purifiers!

    • courtneyderr
      | Reply

      Happy to do it, Julie – we love our SteriPEN!

  2. Franca
    | Reply

    We don’t have a water purifier, but I can see its benefits if we had it in some countries we travelled to where tap water isn’t drinkable.

    • Courtney Derr
      | Reply

      Or in countries where bottled water is super expensive, Franca!

  3. Tyler
    | Reply

    Any idea if you can fly overseas with it? Does it have to be checked?

    • H.J. Derr
      | Reply

      We’ve carried it from the US through every country we’ve visited so far – both as checked and carry on with no problems.

  4. Spyros
    | Reply

    That’s a great feedback.
    What was your experience with the batteries? Did they last long?

    • H.J. Derr
      | Reply

      The batteries are great. We’ve kept our pen charged in case we need it but the batteries definitely last a long time. The manufacturer says that the SteriPEN is capable of 50 1-liter treatments per charge and I would say that is close to what we’re seeing under real conditions.

  5. Ilan
    | Reply

    Can you use it to remove germs from salad that was washed with contaminated water. We’re going to SE Asia and have concerns about eating fresh salads in restaurants.

    • H.J. Derr
      | Reply

      Hey Ilan – it’s for liquids only, so no. That said, we ate fesh salads and vegetables everywhere from nice restaurants to the sketchiest street stalls imaginable. When we got sick, it was more often from “fancy” places. If a stall has a long line,
      odds are that turnover is high and they’re not making people sick. That kind of news spreads fast. Happy eating!

      • Ilan
        | Reply

        Thanks. That’s very helpful.

  6. […] Read their full review on the Wanderrlust blog: The Most Useful Travel Tool Ever […]

  7. Michael Lyman
    | Reply

    I’m currently shopping for a SteriPEN & your review is very helpful in deciding which one to purchase. Thank you.

  8. Catherine
    | Reply

    Does anyone know how to filter the WATER from the shower or bath in Mexico ? Is there such a filter? Because I think surely even if I filter the water I drink… the biggest organ in my body .. my skin.. .is absorbing it when I shower or bathe! So what’s the point of only going part way? Any suggestions? Water Purification tablets in the tub?

  9. Marie
    | Reply

    would it be beneficial to take one along to India?

    • H.J. Derr
      | Reply

      I would definitely recommend it for India. In fact, we were in Dehli when we wrote this post. “Fake” bottled water is a real problem in India and elsewhere, we purified every bottle while we were there.

  10. Muralidharan Karal
    | Reply

    very nice to see it. can u just mail to me where it is available in India.


  11. Kelli
    | Reply

    Hey there!

    Stumbled along your blog while researching the SteriPen. I was wondering if you feel confident with treating tap water straight from the tap or if you’re mostly treating purchased bottled water with the SteriPen?

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