The best thing I took RTW: my SteriPEN

plastic waste

I was inspired to write this post thanks to a recent article on Globetrotter Girls, about the environmental impact of plastic water bottles.

The article mentioned the SteriPEN and I was quick to comment that taking one around the world with me was one of the best decisions I made.

First stop was India and long before we’d left I’d read the shocking stats on plastic bottle use and abuse. I resent drinking bottled water at home and I’m the kinda girl that turns off the tap while I clean my teeth. I’ve never taken it for granted that I’m lucky enough to live in a country where tap water won’t make me ill. To be honest, watching people buy bottled water in supermarkets really aggravates me. Sorry for being so judgmental.

In 40 degree heat, over a period of 2 months, I figured that I’d get through a good 180 litres of water – the equivalent of 360 small plastic bottles. I’m a geek. So I knew that there had to be a decent alternative to drinking bottled water.

A bit of interweb research found it. Forget the long wait and the tang of iodine tablets, my salvation seemed to be in the SteriPEN Classic.

SteriPEN specs

I was dubious but I read so many reviews and papers on the technology that I decided to give it a go.

And I came to trust it so much that just a few weeks later, I was drinking the water from an Indian railway station bathroom. I drank from mountain streams on my trek to Machu Picchu, I drank from campsite taps in New Zealand. In fact, in ten months of travel through Asia and South America, I’ve not reason not to believe that the water it provided me with was perfectly safe every time. I got sick once in India, but I’m pretty sure that was more to do with the food I purchased towards the end of a 2-day-long train journey… my bad.

In short, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to other travellers. Quite a few of the reviews had suggested that the pen ate batteries like the Hungry Caterpillar, but actually, I think that even with daily use, I only had to change them once in 10 months (buy some top quality lithium ones to start with). You can’t argue with that. And despite the initial outlay, it saved us money over the whole trip.

Other useful applications were that when you woke up desperate for a drink in the night after a boozy evening out, you could just get some water from the tap in your room. Also, people loved it. I never once met anyone else with one, so it was a real talking point with other travellers and locals alike. The way it gave off a spooky violet UV glow, the way I had to tell people not to look straight at it, the way it killed bacteria in a minute: It was my rucksack witchcraft.

I loved it. But some people aren’t going to like it. They aren’t going to like that you don’t get icy cold, refreshing water. They aren’t going to like that it doesn’t always look clear and sparkling. They aren’t going to like that it’s ‘only’ 99.9% effective (hey – it’s a lot better than condoms). I’d like to remind those people about those who walk miles every day to get water not nearly as clean or as pleasant as the water you get from the SteriPEN.

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