Steripens are pretty awesome conceptually.
And frankly, from the original classic to the latest and greatest, Steripens all work great.
I once got sick in Hong Kong many years ago and again in India, and have worried about water ever since.
In comes Steripen to the rescue.
Basically, Steripens make living organisms (bacteria, viruses) sterile. As such, you won’t kill the bacteria that’s in the water, but the ultraviolet light does prevent them from reproducing, so though viruses/bacteria get into your system, the worst that can happen is a little discomfort, and once they die, since they don’t reproduce, you’re fine.
Since ultra-violet light as a mechanism is used to treat water at large city water plants, making a handheld version makes sense.
The concept is simple. A handheld unit, ultraviolet lamp, some basic protection to prevent damage, a rubberized water proof button to start and stop the ultraviolet light (as ultraviolet light is dangerous except when it’s immersed in water).
And for the most part, that core technology hasn’t changed much.
But that first gadget wasn’t an ideal fit for everyone. It used disposable CR123 batteries (200 treatments or so) which are expensive, or 4 AA batteries which add to size and both require the need to travel with spares, it was rather largish for a handheld device, and there were hopes to find ways to make the technology safer and simpler. Over time, the gadget has gotten smaller, versions have come out with solar rechargers, 4 regular AA’s in some models, or a pair of rechargeable lithium AA’s in more compact versions, and new water connector safety mechanisms to prevent the ultraviolet light from lighting up when not immersed in water.
The Freedom is the culmination of these advancements.
– the device is smaller than other Steripens
– The latest water sensor means no more start/stop button
– A 48 second setting means great for a glass of water, rather than 90 seconds for a liter of water.
– the cap is deeper inset to prevent the cap from falling off easily
But most important:
– it is chargeable via USB (with a micro USB port on board).
For adventurers who travel with solar USB chargers (I have three), this is a godsend.
For business travelers with laptops, this is great as well.
Now, to get all that great tech into a now smaller device, there is one big compromise that the Freedom makes. Because of it’s small size, and safety features, the battery is understandably smaller. A full charge can cover about 40-50 uses of 16oz of water, vs. the classic model which can do 200 uses and also has a 90 second timer for 1 liter bottles. But then, with a USB charger, you can top off the charge every day, and you can always do two sterilizations for larger bottles.
No more walking around with spare Lithium AA’s or CR123s.
The smaller size is also advantageous not only for those business travelers who want to have it in their jacket pocket or computer bag, but the smaller size is also great for hikers, where every ounce counts, so this smaller size is a godsend.
The biggest gripe would have to be price. Hopefully, the Freedom sells well enough that the price comes down over time. I think this is a great gift for business travelers and hiking enthusiasts alike and a must have in a bug out bag if you have a good solar charger. Another side feature is an LED flashlight….frankly….this is unnecessary. and one other minor issue, the rubber cap for the micro USB port is hard to remove. A small gripe to be sure….
All in all, I think the Steripen Freedom is the best of all worlds for purifying glasses of water, and I highly recommend it.