Having some way to purify water is a practical necessity whether you’re traveling deep into the backcountry and want to pack to light, or when something goes wrong, and your water system has been compromised. And while regular water filters and purifying tablets are effective and convenient in their own right, there is something to be said for UV purifiers, such as the SteriPen Ultra.

Why? UV Purifiers do not use any chemicals, such as chlorine, the way purifying tablets do. They are super easy to use; simply stick the device – similar to a pen – inside the bottle, hold it down for 30-60 seconds, and you’re done; purified, potable water ready for consumption.

The catch? They require batteries. So does the SteriPen Ultra, but took the opportunity to install a rechargeable battery – that be charged with any USB power source. Solar panel, laptop, cigarette lighter – anywhere you can plug in a USB cable, you can charge the SteriPen, making it a versatile tool for all kinds of adventures. When fully charged, the SteriPen Ultra will last for 50 liters of water treatment. The handy low-power indicator will let you know when it’s out of juice.

All you have to do is place the purifier into the water, press the button and give it a stir. Strong UV-C rays are beamed into your water, killing 99.99% of protozoa like the infamous Giardia and Cryptosporidia, bacteria, and viruses; SteriPen boasts of being able to kill botulism, cholera, dysentery and typhoid. 16 ounces will be done and ready to drink in under a minute.

The body is watertight and designed to keep the electronic elements from being damaged. And the tiny, compact size is perfect for stashing your pack either for long treks or light, ultra-fast day hikes. It goes wherever you go, and can be easily recharged.

The one downside to remember is that the SteriPen is not very effective on dirty water; it’s effectiveness can only be guaranteed on clear water with no sediment. Now, hopefully you weren’t planning on drinking really cloudy water anyway, as that is just nasty. And if you were, you’re better of getting a true water filter anyway.

Otherwise, this is a durable UV water purifier ready for carrying on all kinds of adventures. SteriPen guarantees the Ultra for 8000 uses, and if you register upon buying it, they will send you a replacement when it does go out; a nice show of good faith. Again, the trick here is to know when to use a water filter and when a UV purifier will come in handy.

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