Steripen Sidewinder First Impressions

The Steripen Sidewinder is a hand powered unit that purifies water with UV light.  Being hand powered means you can use the unit when there is no electrify, and no batteries required.  The SteriPen website claims the UV bulb is supposed to be good for 8,000 one liter treatments.  8,000 liters is an estimated 2,116 gallons.

Fill the included water bottle, then crank the handle for 90 seconds.  If you are not cranking fast enough, there are two LEDs that will flash red.  When the 90 seconds of cranking has been achieved, the LEDs will flash green.

Steripen Sidewinder Water Purifier

Instead of cranking for a full 90 seconds, you can crank for 30 seconds, swirl the unit, crank for 30 seconds, swirl the unit, crank for 30 seconds, swirl the unit.  the SteriPen website says not to pause between cranking for more then about 6 or 7 seconds.

Difference between water filter and water purifier:

Water Filter – removes most waterborne pathogens, but does not remove or kill viruses.

Water Purifier – removes or kills everything, including viruses.

First Impressions

The sidewinder seemed well packaged in a simple cardboard box.

What I did not like, was having to flip through all of the different languages in the instructions.  If you ship the package to the USA and England, include English instructions.  If you ship the unit to Germany, include instructions in German.  If you ship a unit to France, include instructions in french.  Why does so much useless paper have to be included in every box?

The quick tips was nice.

I never did get the cap figured out.

BPA free water bottle is a nice touch.

One of the first questions you may have, why would you want to use UV light to purify water instead of chemicals, and why not just put water into a glass jar and put the jar in direct sunlight for 8 hours.

Chemical Treatment

Chemical treatment is fine and dandy – if you know what you are doing, if you have testing supplies to make sure the chemicals are within a safety range for human consumption, and if you have the chemicals to treat the water with.

In order to use chemical treatment safely, you need to have an understanding of what you are doing.  You can “not” blindly add bleach to water and expect the water to be safe to drink.

A few months ago a buddy of mine and I were talking about access to safe drinking water during some kind of long term SHTF survival situation.  My buddy knows a thing or two about water purification.  While we were talking, he was telling me how the chemical safety range needs to be tested to make sure its safe to drink.  What are you going to do, stockpile testing equipment along with all of your other supplies?

Then there is the issue with having access to stuff like bleach during a long term survival situation.  How are you going to stockpile enough bleach for cleaning, and water purification?

Lets not forget the taste factor.  Do you “really” want to be drinking water that taste like bleach?

Then comes the question of using bleach treated water with infants.  Do you really want to use bleach water in infant formula?  If I do not like the taste of bleach treated water, how do you think infants and children will like it?

UV light VS chemical treatment

UV light – no aftertaste, no chemicals, no allergies to the chemicals, short wait time.

Bleach – have to wait at least 30 minutes before the water is safe to drink. If the water is cloudy or very cold, you have to wait at least 60 minutes. Source: How to purify your water.

Would you rather wait 30 minutes for water that is going to have a funny aftertaste, or crank a handle for 90 seconds?

Long Term Storage

As soon as bleach is made is starts losing its effectiveness.  From the Clorox website about bleach shelf life.

Product life cycle information would suggest that from manufacture to store shelf to home is usually around 4-8 weeks. Thus, there is typically 3-5 months for normal home usage still available where the label strength is available.

So from the bleach website, after about 3 – 5 months bleach starts to loose its effectiveness.

Where does the Steripen Sidewinder fit in your preps

The reason I wanted the Steripen was for secondary level of water treatment.

First level – Run the water through a water filter, such as Royal Berkey at the Bug Out Location.

Second level – UV treatment with the Steripen sidewinder.

My plan is to take the sidewinder out of the box to make sure that it works, write up a review, then put it back in the box and put it in storage.

Ideally, I would like to have a Steripen sidewinder at my home and at the Bug Out Location.  That way if my family and I had to go to the camp we would have a Stripen sidewinder in place and ready to go.  We already have a Royal Berkey at the camp.  Having a sidewinder would provide an extra layer of water purification.


The unit seems to be made out of some kind of solid plastic which has a firm feel to it.

The water bottle has BPA free on the side.

There is not too much to say about the housing or construction, as its made out of plastic.

Has “[B]Made in china[/B]” stamped on the bottom. What is the problem with companies shipping their manufacturing off to china? Can’t we have anything made in the USA anymore? It rather pisses me off that everything seems to be made in china these days. But what are you going to do, live under a rock?

Redundant Systems

Depending on what kind of water filter you plan on using during a long term SHTF survival situation, the sidewinder might be considered a redundant system. Currently I have 4 black Berkey filters. With each filter being able to purify and estimated 3,000 gallons, that is 12,000 gallons of safe drinking water.

The Steripen is an added layer of security on top of the Berkey filters.