The Pen Is Mightier Than the Tablet


With spring fast upon us, it’s time to pack a basket with your favourite local organic produce and artisan cheese, herd the kids into the car and head for the hills. If you’re picnicking, bottled water is fine – but for camping or hiking in more adventurous and remote locales, you’ll probably have a few packets of water purification tablets handy.

Marvelous things: you can fill a jug with water from a running stream, drop a tablet in, and a few minutes later, it’s safe to drink – and tastes like weak detergent. Nothing like a mouthful of chemicals in the middle of Nature’s splendor to bring you back down to earth.

A tastier, greener option is the SteriPen. It’s the size of a flashlight, runs on rechargeable solar batteries and it works on a principle as old as the hills – that ultraviolet light is bad for living creatures (think sunscreen). You insert the end of the Steripen into your spring water, press the button, and 90 seconds later, it’s safe to drink, with no change in taste.

Read how it fared against Cryptosporidium – and the Ugandan domestic water supply!

The latest model is the JourneyLCD SteriPen available beginning April 2008 for about $130. You’ll also want to pick up the Solar Charging Case, which you can leave out in the sun to top up your spare batteries ($49).

Image: Nagyman

Mike Sowden

Mike Sowden is a freelance writer based in the north of England, obsessed with travel, storytelling and terrifyingly strong coffee. He has written for online & offline publications including Mashable, Matador Network and the San Francisco Chronicle, and his work has been linked to by Lonely Planet, World Hum and Lifehacker. If all the world is a stage, he keeps tripping over scenery & getting tangled in the curtain - but he's just fine with that.