By Terry Gardner, Special to Tribune Newspapers
7:58 PM EST, November 19, 2013
Name: SteriPEN Freedom
What it is: A pocket-size, rechargeable UV water purifier for cleaning questionable water whether you're traveling in Mexico or hiking beside a stream in the United States. The UV light kills 99.9 percent of all bacteria, viruses and protozoan cysts, including Campylobacter, cholera, salmonella, Giardia, E. coli, Legionella and Hepatits A, B, C and D, without adding chemicals to the water. It has an internal, USB-rechargeable lithium battery that can treat more than 40 pints of water on a single charge. The unit also has a built-in flashlight and comes with a carrying pouch and a USB charging cable and plug.
How it works: Lower the SteriPEN into your water bottle (wide-mouthed works best) or glass and stir the water. The UV light comes on only when the device is immersed, and a green light blinks for about 50 seconds until your water is clean. A red light flashes if there is debris in the water.
The good: The device offers piece of mind when traveling in areas with questionable water quality. Plus, the SteriPEN is great for travelers trying to minimize their environmental impact. I drink eight glasses of water daily and have fretted about using disposable water bottles when I visited Mexico.
The bad: The SteriPEN won't be any help with heavy metals. I used my SteriPEN to clean tap water in Peru but didn't dare clean water from the Tambopata River because it's polluted with mercury from gold mining.
Available from: steripen.com, amazon.com and rei.com.
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