SteriPEN Sidewinder – No Batteries Required

SteriPEN SidewinderA SteriPEN water purifier that doesn’t require batteries? Cool, huh! SteriPEN developed a new model this year, the human powered SteriPEN Sidewinder.

Just like the handheld battery powered SteriPENs, the SteriPEN Sidewinder creates ultraviolet light that destroys bacteria, protozoa, and viruses. But unlike all of the other SteriPEN models, no batteries are needed!

Since I’m already an avid user of SteriPEN’s UV technology to make contaminated water safe to drink, my main focus when testing the Sidewinder was ease of use.

  • Size – a bit bulky! Best for home use and car camping. The Sidewinder is definitely bulkier than my favorite SteriPEN, the SteriPEN Adventurer Opti, weighing 16.6 ounces and measuring 8.6 x 5.5 x 3.8 inches. Therefore, it is a device that wouldn’t be practical for a backpacking trip, but would be fantastic for home use in emergency situations. It also could be used on car camping trips.
  • Easy to set up. The Sidewinder is definitely easy to set up – I simply screwed the included BPA free plastic bottle onto the device, placed it in my lap, and started turning the crank. Just like the battery powered SteriPENs, it takes 90 seconds of UV light to disinfect 1 Liter of water.
  • SteriPEN Sidewinder and bottle
    Getting ready to test the SteriPEN Sidewinder
  • Ease of use? You need muscles to operate the Sidewinder! I did find it to be challenging to maintain the required pace of 2 turns per second. My arms were fatigued!! A red light blinks slowly if you’re cranking too slow. Let’s just say I saw lots of slow red blinking! According to a little insert in the package, you can take a break for 5 seconds every 30 seconds, which I found to be helpful. Otherwise for the muscle men and women out there, cranking for 90 seconds straight will do the trick.

Bottom line? On backpacking trips I’ll be taking along my SteriPEN Adventurer Opti and pack some extra batteries. And I’ll be adding the SteriPEN Sidewinder to the home emergency kit. It sure is comforting to know that in a desperate situation when water needs to be disinfected I won’t have to be scrambling around looking for batteries!

Related articles on
Hiking 101: Water Treatment
SteriPEN Classic Review
SteriPEN Adventurer Opti Review & Video!

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  1. Hiking Lady says:

    Great comment, David. The UV light on this SteriPEN is the same as on the other SteriPENs that I frequently use in potentially contaminated water in the backcountry. Since I don’t want to risk getting giardia myself, I haven’t tried it known contaminated water. The company has done extensive field testing, so I take their word for it. Plus, I’m virus free to date, and I’ve been relying on SteriPENs on all my backpacking trips for the last few years. Admittedly I do select water sources that appear relatively clean and whenever possible are flowing.

    Here’s some additional info from their website: “SteriPEN is tested and certified by the Water Quality Association against the US EPA Microbiological Water Purifier Standard. This certification is based on the numerous studies conducted by 3rd party laboratories on SteriPEN.”

    I don’t know what kind of chemicals you’re referring to, but no, it works on water that is contaminated with bacteria and/or viruses. The primary use for SteriPENs is in the backcountry or in 3rd world countries. Hope that helps!

  2. David Bell says:

    Since you didn’t actually test the water for purity, I’m wondering how well it actually does kill bugs. Will it kill virus and bacteria? Are there any virus or bacteria that it will not kill? Any kinds of water found in any particular circumstances that should not be used with this UV device?

    And, I assume that this device is no protection for chemically contaminated water? Thanks.

  3. Hiking Lady says:

    Thanks for the comment, Josh! Yep, perhaps next year they’ll come out with an even lighter weight version!

  4. Josh Turner says:

    Very cool! Good to see a review of this. At 1 lb, it doesn’t seem like much…but all those pounds add up quick! It would be really cool to see them cut the weight down on this. The batteries are a bit of a bummer…I’m terrible with batteries. 🙂

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