Battery Power Simplifies Water Filtering

Water Purifier:
Jo Ostgarden

Reviewed by:
On February 1, 2016
Last modified:May 13, 2016


SteriPEN’s Classic 3 is a dependable and easy-to-use water purifier that can be used for travel or backcountry use (or in your earthquake preparation kit) uses a germicidal ultraviolet light to kill any potential microorganisms in the water and make the water safe to drink. Compared to water filter pumps and chemical treatments, it gets the job done fast.


Field Test ★★★

There are good reasons this is the number one best-selling portable UV purifier of all time. It’s super efficient. But there are a couple of drawbacks to battery-operated water purification systems. One has to do with potentially contaminating the bottle you plan to use as the purification vessel. If you dip it in a creek or water source you could leave contaminated water droplets on the bottle’s opening. Bad microbes could potentially hang out on the lip of the bottle even though the water inside gets purified. Keep that in mind and use one bottle to dip and pour into the bottle you plan to purify and drink from. Supposedly, if you use the Classic 3s pre-filter system to fill your bottle, this is a non-issue. I don’t take the risk.


The other issue is battery power. During my field test, I discovered one of the four batteries I had inserted before I left on my trip was low on juice (Note to self: test all batteries coming out of their packaging before inserting into the device). The other drawback? This is by far the heaviest of the SteriPens I’ve owned because of the batteries. The Classic 3 can be powered by alkaline, lithium, or NiMH batteries. But the reason I wanted the Classic was the option to use those alkaline double AAs; I find lithium very finicky in some weather conditions. Remember to always check battery power in advance, unless you don’t mind carrying the extra weight. In that case, pack an extra set.

Functionality ★★★★★

The 7-ounce Classic 3 is super easy to use. Remove the cover, press the activation button, submerge it in water and stir. One button press tells the unit to purify a half liter, which it does in 48 seconds; two presses delivers a full liter of safe drinking water in 90 seconds.

The Classic 3 comes with a pre-filter to removes sentiment in especially turbid water, which can reduce the effectiveness of the UV light. The pre-filter features a 40×40 micron screen that fits perfectly on wide-mouth 1-liter water bottles (and can be stored on it). To use the Classic 3 with the pre-filter, insert the wand (lamp) into the tapered filter opening, turn the bottle upside down, and gently rock to circulate light throughout bottle.

One set of four alkaline batteries can treat 100 half-liters or 50 full liters of water. A set of lithium batteries can treat up to 150 liters.

Design and Aesthetic ★★★
Classic 3 has a sleek look with a tapered ergonomic feel and an easy-to-remove twist-off lamp cover. The lamp life is good for up to 8,000 liters, or more than 7 years of use. It’s also watertight, an important consideration for a tool that contains a battery compartment. LED lights indicate treatment size and power status of the lamp and batteries. The wand glows blue when it’s treating the water so you always know whether it’s working or not. It turns on and off automatically. It exceeds the U.S. standard for microbiological water purification, and it destroys 99.9 % of bacteria, viruses and protozoa. It does feel a bit bulky in the hand when stirring.

Durability ★★★1/2

It’s built to withstand getting knocked around but I wouldn’t set a brick on it.

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Jo Ostgarden

Jo Ostgarden is a freelance journalist who has traveled around the world by plane, train, thumb, bicycle and automobile. She bicycled across Canada, the Pacific Coast Highway from Oregon to British Columbia and throughout 14 countries abroad. Additionally, she's an enthusiastic longtime backpacker who calls the Grand Canyon her own personal energy spot. She's also expert on travel in the Pacific Northwest, Hawaii and Ireland. She edited and re-wrote the final edition of Best Places Northwest Travel Guide, and has written about travel, health, nutrition and endurance sports gear for dozens of magazines and newspapers, including Bicycling Magazine.

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