UV Water Filter: Steripen Adventurer Opti Review
Use: The best backpacking water filter for camping and hiking
Ease of Use
Price reflects the speed and reliability of water filter
Purifies water in most contexts
The batteries last for ages and it's fairly unbreakable
Purifies at the click of a button and cuts out reliance on plastic bottles
I Don't Like
If you're looking for a quick and easy way of reducing your reliance on plastic bottles when you travel, or want to find a dependable water filter for backpacking, hiking or camping, the Steripen Adventurer Opti is for you.
Finding the best backpacking water filter - and why you need one
Cutting down your environmental impact
When was the last time you bought bottled water? If you’re at home, perhaps not so recently. But what about the last time you were travelling?
We’ve all been there, uncertain about whether the tap water is indeed safe to drink and concerned for the inevitable Delhi Belly if it turns out that it’s not.
The answer? Buying bottled water – it’s a less risky strategy after all.
I personally don’t want to consider the number of plastic bottles of water that I went through per day before I invested in a water filter. A million plastic bottles are bought per minute around the world, a horrifying statistic that really highlights the impact that buying water when we travel can have.
Not only this, but bottled water is hardly a cost-effective way of travelling. When I first moved to Bolivia, I was spending at least 50p (60 cents) daily on water, a cost that really adds up when you’re backpacking long-term. If I’d have continued with that sort of spending for an entire year, I could easily have paid over £180 ($240 USD).
Finding a reliable – and fast – portable water filtration system
About three months into my trip, I was so disgusted with my environmental impact and the amount of money I was wasting daily that I finally bought a water filter. It wasn’t actually the Steripen Adventurer Opti; my brother brought me the Sawyer Mini water filter.
It came with a 0.5 litre (16oz) pouch and a filter attachment through which you squeeze the water by gently folding the plastic pouch. It worked perfectly – when my brother did it. When I used it? Well, I didn’t have quite the same amount of patience and the bag split close to the filter – apparently a common issue if you’re a bit heavy-handed with it. It also felt like it took a long time to filter (a couple of minutes – but hey, I’m impatient!).
I was not 100% convinced by the Sawyer Mini water filter and in my research, I came across the Steripen Adventurer Opti. It was definitely more of an investment due to its higher cost, but one that, two and a half years later, has paid for itself many times over due to its versatility of use, portableness and speed of purification.
Is the Steripen Adventurer UV water filter for you?
The Steripen Adventurer Opti has been an excellent purchase for me as it suits my style of travel. I regularly visit countries and cities where tap water isn't safe to drink (or no one is quite sure) and I don't want to take the risk.
When I bought this Steripen, I was also looking for a portable water purification system: something fast and lightweight that would function as a backpacking water filter, both day-to-day as I'm travelling but also on the trail, where it would quickly - and easily - make water safe to drink.
However, if you're planning on hiking somewhere where access to clean-looking water may be an issue, the Steripen Adventurer is definitely not for you. In the instruction manual, it recommends that the Steripen Adventurer is only effective for treating up to water that is "as cloudy as weak lemonade" and which require double treatment to ensure the water is safe.
Where there are visible floating objects or the water is significantly less clear, the UV light that purifies the water cannot function 100%, leaving you open to ingesting nasty things in the water. This has only been an issue once when I've been hiking. After heavy rain in Torres del Paine National Park, the water pump at Campamento Serón wasn't working and the water we took from the river had a large amount of sediment in it. Unfortunately, the Steripen Adventurer just wasn't up to the job.
Two German guys on the campsite had the Sawyer Dual Bag Water Purification System (which youhang from a tree and let gravity push the water from one bag through the water filter and into the second bag) while the Sawyer Mini water filter (which my dad has assured me works excellently for filtering water taken directly from muddy puddles) would have been perfect in the situation too.
A final alternative to investing in this backpacking water filter is to rely on boiling water, the cheapest method. It's fail safe, but one that's time consuming, particularly when you have to boil water for longer periods of time at altitude and then have to wait for the water to cool. It can also leave the water with a slightly metallic taste.
However, if you're looking to end your dependence on plastic bottles that ultimately end up in landfill or the ocean, the Steripen Adventurer is an essential item to take with you on your next trip abroad.
70g (2.5oz) without batteries
99.9% of protozoa, 99.99% of viruses and 99.9999% of bacteria
Purifies 0.5l (16oz) in 48 seconds; 1l (34oz) in 90 seconds
Number of treatments:
Can run 50 treatments per set of batteries
Must be used with a bottle with 4.4cm (1.75in) diameter
Steripen Adventurer Review
I've been using the Steripen Adventurer without issue for several years now. During those times, I've been particularly impressed with the following:
Speed and ease of use
- It's the most straightforward filter I've used. Take the plastic lid off the UV bulb, submerge it in your water bottle, press the button (once to treat one litre, twice for 0.5 litres) and stir to ensure that it purifies the water correctly. The UV bulb will start emitting light; continue stirring until this goes out and the light beneath the button begins to flash green to indicate success.
- If there's a problem, the button will flash red, with the exact issue indicated by the pattern of flashes (something deciphered in the instruction leaflet that comes with the Steripen - so be sure to keep it with you when you're travelling!).
- It takes either 48 seconds for 0.5 litres or 90 seconds for one litre - a seriously fast time in comparison with other water filters.
Weight and size
- At only 103g (3.6oz) with batteries and 15.5cm (6in) in length, it's small enough to slip into your pocket or your day bag. I've found it excellent for when I'm hiking or when I'm sightseeing in town and want to filter tap water.
- Unlike the Sawyer Mini where the bag split from excess pressure (and my impatience), I can't think of many ways that you could actually break the Steripen Adventurer. The UV bulb is delicate, but as long as you keep the plastic case on it when it's not in use and stored it in its padded, protective bag, there should be no reason why it gets damaged. I'm hugely disaster prone and mine is still in one piece!
- The batteries also last for ages. The official claim is that they can manage 50 treatments before needing to be replaced, but I'm sure mine have been going for longer.
I'd be lying in this Steripen Adventurer review if I was to say that this product is 100% perfect and there are a number of areas that are worth considering before you invest. However, in the two and a half years that I've been using this backpacking water filter, the problems have genuinely never been enough to make me regret buying this Steripen.
Things to Consider
Ease of use
- The biggest problem I've faced with the Steripen Adventurer is the fact that any old bottle won't work. You need one with an opening of 4.4cm (1.75in) for the Steripen to fit inside. To be fair, this isn't a huge issue; you just need to make sure that you buy a reusable water container (such as this one) before you leave for travelling and try not to lose it along the way (which I've done) - although it's fairly standard to find bottles with larger mouths now anyway, so you can easily replace it on the road.
- The batteries are also a weird size (CR123A) and while you can buy them on Amazon, they come into large quanitites. I've ended up buying a box to ensure that I always have spares available when required.
- The Steripen Adventurer isn't the cheapest backpacking water filter - that accolade easily goes to the Sawyer Mini water filter. However, I genuinely think that it's the most cost - and time - effective backpacking water filter that you can find. My brother recently bought the Camelbak All Clear, which works in a similar way as the Steripen, although it has an attachment to the top of a Camelbak bottle that purifies using a UV light. Although it's USB re-chargeable (a definite bonus), it costs more (£75/$99USD to the Steripen's £68/$90USD) and if you lose the Camelbak water bottle, you're unlikely to be able to find a replacement, particularly if travelling in a rural place outside of Europe or the USA. (This backpacking water filter seems to have been discontinued).
- Although it is a real investment, the Steripen Adventrurer has been an excellent water filter for backpacking and more than paid for itself over the past two years and I'm still very happy with purchasing it. Ultimately, it depends on your budget and how much time you want to spend filtering water.
- As I've indicated, it doesn't work with visibly dirty water so it's the ideal solution for those looking for a hiking water filter where you're likely to be using puddles or still water sources. If this is your intended use, I suggest you look at the Sawyer Dual Bag Water Purification System instead.
The Steripen Adventurer is a reliable, fast and easy to use backpacking water filter, giving you access to safe drinking water in a matter of minutes and helps you to completely avoid relying on environmentally damaging plastic bottles - yes, by buying this filter you're doing you bit for the planet too!
It's almost at the top of its price point - the cheaper but more time-consuming and more breakable Sawyer Mini water filter is an alternative, while for more hardcore camping or hiking adventures, the Sawyer Dual Bag Water Purification System is the best alternative - but its ease of use and the fact that it's not let me down in the past two and a half years of travelling, make the Steripen Adventurer the winner for me!
Worldly Adventurer is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and affiliated sites. However, the products I recommend are only those that I have personally used and loved; I would never suggest products to my reader in which I don’t have full confidence and by clicking through one of the links you help keep Worldly Adventurer running - at no additional cost to you.