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  1. #1

    Default Steripen vs Filter. Are viruses an issue?

    I just bought a steripen today and as with many stories I hear, it was defective. The sensors were whacked and it functions out of water and it doesn't function in water, if I wasn't wearing sunglasses I might have been in trouble lol. Well anyway this got me thinking if I want to rely on such a device to clean my waters on my Cdt trip. I noticed that there aren't any filters worth taking that get rid of viruses but I'd rather use a filter then the ever faulty steripen. What are the chances of encountering a waterborne virus out there? Thnx

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    I would think if you've been properly vaccinated against polio and hep A, you'd be okay. Check out what wiki has to say under "viruses"
    …speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee… –JOB 12:8

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    Five years and a few hundred gallons of water with my steripen ain't been sick or dead yet

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    I used a SteriPen last year on my thru. Had it replaced twice, the company was real good about sending a replacement to the nearest PO.
    IThe SP kills everything but if you're worried about viruses a few drops of bleach will work.
    "Chainsaw" GA-ME 2011

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    I just used mine for the first time in the 100 MW. Worth every penny.
    Pain is a by-product of a good time.

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    Have not had a problem with mine. Several years old, and I use it on scout trips so it has had a workout.

    I have the original Adventure not the new opti.

    I don't think viruses in water are a big issue on the east coast if you are careful about where you get your water. Viruses are carried by people and animals and gennerally cannot reproduce wihout a host.

    If the water source is not downstream of a farm or a population of people I don't think viruses are that significant of a concern in most sources of AT drinking water. You have a much better chance of picking up a virus by using a privy or reading the shelter log.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Don H View Post
    The SP kills everything but if you're worried about viruses a few drops of bleach will work.
    Just being nit-picky, but the Steripen does not kill, it sterilizes, meaning it renders the critters "sterile," as in unable to reproduce.

    I've had a Steripen Classic for several years and the only problems I've had have been bad batteries or operator error (trying to use without dry contacts).

    However, I understand that hiking out west involves getting water from sources that cattle use and thus are actually dirty (muddy) with dirt and needs to be filtered for that reason.

    If a user plans to use bleach or any chemical purifier, it is critical to understand how long it takes for that to be effective (as in, up to 4 hours or more with some or in some situations).

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  8. #8

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    So basically don't use a filter on the Cdt then? Since most of my water sources are cattle buckets and what not. I'd assume a high probability for viruses.

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    Viruses are a potential concern -- hepatitis A, norovirus, Rotavirus, Adenovirus, Hepatitis E (HEV), Coxsackievirus, Echovirus, Reovirus, Astrovirus, Coronavirus (SARS) . http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-...hread_id=58170
    http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-...e_pagination=1

    Filters are good for removing protozoa (giardia, cryptosporidium) because they're big. The better filters will reliably remove bacteria, but not viruses. Sawyer makes a filter that they claim removes virus but it's not great for trail use.

    Chemical treatments work best on virus and bacteria, so a combination of a filter and chemical covers you. Chemicals take a very long time to treat for giardia and crypto(4 hours).

  10. #10

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    I thought chemical treatment took a long time also, but I just hiked with someone who used aquamira and said it was ready to drink in 15 min. Is this correct? Have they changed something that makes this possible?
    "Hiking is as close to God as you can get without going to Church." - BobbyJo Sargent aka milkman Sometimes it's nice to take a long walk in THE FOG.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by bfayer View Post
    I have the original Adventure not the new opti.
    Same here. I've been using the original (yellow trim) Adventurer for years without issue. Guess I've been lucky

  12. #12

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    I'm in vey deep thought whether I want to switch out steripen for a katadyn filter. Steripen ensures everything dies but I can't have it fail on me when I'm 100 miles from nothing. On the other hand katadyn filters are perfect except the fact they don't remove viruses. Hmmmmm much to ponder.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Timinator View Post
    I'm in vey deep thought whether I want to switch out steripen for a katadyn filter. Steripen ensures everything dies but I can't have it fail on me when I'm 100 miles from nothing. On the other hand katadyn filters are perfect except the fact they don't remove viruses. Hmmmmm much to ponder.
    I always carry 10 tablets of KATADYN in my FASK as a backup

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    Quote Originally Posted by Velvet Gooch View Post
    Same here. I've been using the original (yellow trim) Adventurer for years without issue. Guess I've been lucky
    I don't. Know if its luck. I use quality batteries, clean the contacts between uses and follow the instructions.

    I am not saying it is a perfect product, but it works for me. Some people that have borrowed it could not get it working. I watched them and they pushed the button and stuck it in the water before the green light came on, or they waited till it went off before submerging the lamp. I have also had people that could not push the button when it was cold out. For me it works fine.

    Its too bad it does not work for others, because it is great knowing I can drink in less than 2 minutes and not have to worry about any of the critters the others miss. It would be great if they could get this thing to 100% for everyone.

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    Every system has its drawbacks.

    Filters don't get viruses.
    UV doesn't work in cloudy water and can malfunction (for some).
    Chemicals take time to work and can be also less effective with cloudy water.

    Nothing is perfect. So unless you want to carry all three, pick your preference.

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    Quote Originally Posted by atmilkman View Post
    I thought chemical treatment took a long time also, but I just hiked with someone who used aquamira and said it was ready to drink in 15 min. Is this correct? Have they changed something that makes this possible?
    I recommend you check with the horse's mouth ... go directly to the Aquamira folks and ask them. One thing I find by reading chemical treatment labels, fine print, and disclaimers is... that you have to read them CLOSELY.

    Sure, one might say 15 minutes, but then you find out that's only for one kind of organism and not for all organisms. It's definitely "buyer beware," in other words.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Timinator View Post
    .... Steripen ensures everything dies .... ... katadyn filters are perfect except the fact they don't remove viruses.
    Sorry, but you've said two things wrong there, I think. Steripen doesn't kill anything. It simply sterilizes them, so that they are sterile (cannot reproduce). The result is pretty much the same, i.e., you can safely drink the water. But you are drinking live organisms,... as you have all your life.

    And Katadyn filters are not perfect. They clog up with silt. They freeze in the winter. They are "heavy." Some users are clueless about keeping the intake (dirty) and the output (clean) water tubes completely separated at all times. And, I had a hiking buddy pull the plunger completely out of the cyclinger and lost the collar ring. I was able to order a replacement.

    Nothing's perfect. I have both a Katadyn and a Steripen (and chemical treatments).

    As Odd Man Out said, "every system has its drawbacks."

    So, you simply choose your poison. Pun intended.

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    Last edited by Rain Man; 06-07-2012 at 14:42.
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  18. #18

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    Just went out And replaced the steripen that had defective sensors and now I have one with a defective lamp. I'm going to give steripen one more try before I go buy a katadyn pocket. It's heavy and expensive but from what I read the other katadyn filters will need replacement in weeks if you don't filter already clean sources which is what I'm trying to avoid.

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    don't give up.... my first steripen (adventure opti) had what I consider a defective bulb

    there was a tint shift (blue to dull purple) in the bulb.... might not have been defective but my replacement is a solid light blue light and seems a lot brighter.


    I've been using mine for a little over 2 months at home with rechargeables and no issues AFAIK.


    I'll also be carrying a small dropper(2ml?)(weighs 5g filled, good for about 30 drops/5-6 liters) bottle of MSR sweetwater for backup

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    Quote Originally Posted by Timinator View Post
    Just went out And replaced the steripen that had defective sensors and now I have one with a defective lamp. I'm going to give steripen one more try before I go buy a katadyn pocket. It's heavy and expensive but from what I read the other katadyn filters will need replacement in weeks if you don't filter already clean sources which is what I'm trying to avoid.
    Timinator - Check out the recent threads about the Sawyer squeeze filter. There are many happy campers. If you don't like filters that are heavy, expensive, and tend to clog, note that the Sawyer is the least expensive filter (on REI - costs a fraction of the Katady Pocket). Also the lightest (a < 3 oz, not much heavier than Aqua Mira bottles). Also, the filter can be easily cleaned in the field and has essentially a lifetime guarantee. Squeeze filtering is also faster, easier, and more reliable than pumps. Most of the old objections to filters need to be reconsidered with some of the newer products out there.

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