The beloved SteriPEN water purifier keeps getting better. I loved my original Traveler and and the Steripen Opti was even better. I’ve lost count of how many international trips those two items have kept me healthy—dozens. But ever since I laid eyes on a prototype last January, I’ve been looking forward to checking out this new Steripen Freedom.
In case you haven’t heard of this product, it’s like a magic wand for tap water you don’t trust. You wave this around in clear water (not muddy creek water) and it’ll kill the nasties with ultraviolet light. I have yet to get the runs even once while using this and it has enabled me to drink tap water from all kinds of dicey places.
This one takes the best aspects of previous models (like the little LED lights from the Opti version that help you see that it’s on) and adds some very key new features.
The reason this Freedom version is smaller is because it doesn’t require two bulky batteries. Instead there’s one small one that recharges. It has a standard micro-USB female plug and the cord has a regular USB on the other end. So you can use the included cord and plug it into a charger or laptop, or you can use something like a Chargepod or iGo and leave the cord at home. Before you could buy a bulky solar adapter case for the batteries, which works, but under this new system you can carry something more compact and powerful along to harness the sun’s energy instead like a Solio or Brunton Restore charger.
Per the official specs you can purify up to 40 times on one charge, so figure you’ll get at least 15 liters out of it before you need to plug it in again.
2) It’s even lighter
This Steripen Freedom is not just smaller. It weighs in at 2.6 ounces (74 grams). This has gone from “I should have room” to “Help me find this little thing in my bag!”
3) It’s also a flashlight
The Opti model sort of has a flashlight…in a pinch if you don’t need much light. But this one will really light up the path to the latrine. It’s kind of tricky to get it to come on as that involves some shaking and moving around your hand to make it kick in, but the light is a dedicated one on the opposite end from the purifier lamp. It works pretty well once you get it going and stays on for three minutes.
When you buy this travel gadget (list price $120), you get everything pictured in the right side photo here: purifier, USB cord, wall adapter, and the handy Neoprene case it all fits into. This is a worthy investment for yourself and a nice thing to do for Mother Nature: it can potentially keep 1,000+ single-use plastic water bottles out of the world’s landfills, streams, and oceans. Or if someone near and dear to you is about to depart on an international journey, this would be a very thoughtful and useful gift.
Tim Leffel is founder of the Practical Travel Gear blog, as well as the Cheapest Destinations blog and the narrative webzine Perceptive Travel. He is the author of The World's Cheapest Destinations (now in its 4th edition), Make Your Travel Dollars Worth a Fortune, and A Better Life for Half the Price.
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