Guide to the Best Portable UV Water Sterilizer

Have you ever been offered a questionable glass of water? When you’re thirsty, it’s a tough proposition. There’s the water you crave, right in front of you, ready to drink. On the other hand, it might not be totally safe. How do you ensure that you’re not going to give yourself food poisoning when you’re slaking your thirst?

We’ve done our research over time, and we know a thing or two about water purification. For instance, we recently looked at the best whole-house water purification systems. These are a great way to ensure that your home water is safe to drink. But that’s not much help if you’re on the go. In that case, you’re going to need something a bit more portable.

To that end, we’re about to look at three of the best portable UV sterilizers on the market. First, we’ll review the SteriPEN Ultra UV Water Purifier. This is a handheld fob with an internal rechargeable battery. Next, we’ll look at the SteriPen Adventurer Opti.

This sanitizer has a similar design, but has replaceable batteries instead. Last, we’ll examine CrazyCap 2.0. This is a different beast altogether, a water bottle with a built-in sanitizer. So, which one of these portable UV water sterilizers is the best? Let’s find out!

How is a UV Water Purifier Different Than a Water Filter?

Before we move on, it’s a good idea to understand what we’re talking about. After all, most people are familiar with ordinary water filters. What makes a UV water purifier different? The main difference is that UV sanitizers kill germs, while purifiers remove material. Let’s break this down a bit.

A normal water filter, like a Brita filter, uses activated charcoal to remove contaminants. Charcoal is good for a lot of things. It will basically eliminate heavy metals, such as arsenic, that contaminate your water. It will also remove any particles that are large enough to be seen by the naked eye. Dirt, mud, pollen, and other particles will be removed. The problem with charcoal filters is that they don’t actually kill pathogens. If a virus or bacterium slips through the filter, it’s still alive and ready to make you sick.

uv water sterilizer

A UV water purifier, on the other hand, is designed to kill these microbes. UV purifiers produce ultraviolet radiation, which destroys DNA. This radiation turns germs into a harmless blob of chemical goo. As a result, you don’t have to worry about waterborne pathogens. You’re also protected from mold and algae, which can make ordinary water hazardous to drink.

That said, it’s important to remember that UV purifiers only kill germs. They don’t remove particulates or heavy metals. As a result, you have to use them intelligently. Did someone share a water bottle with you, and you’re hesitant about germs? A UV purifier will make it perfectly safe to drink. On the other hand, if you fill your bottle from a creek or pond, there may be other hazards. The water may be full of toxic chemicals that can only be removed by a charcoal filter.

As you can see, the distinction between filters and UV purifiers is straightforward. If you’re worried about toxins or heavy metals, use a filter. If you’re worried about germs, use a UV purifier. If you’re worried about both, use both. Exercise common sense, and you’ll get the most out of your UV water sterilizer.

SteriPEN Ultra

SteriPEN Ultra UV Water Purifier

The SteriPEN Ultra UV Water Purifier is a handheld purifier that’s designed to carry in your pocket. It almost looks like a key fob, both in size and in shape. However, it has an extension tube that protrudes from the bottom of the unit. This is the active part of the purifier, which goes into your water. The entire size of the unit, including the tube, is 7.3 inches long, 1.3 inches thick, and 1.6 inches wide. It also weighs a mere 4.8 ounces. This makes it suitable for carrying in your pocket. It can also be carried in a backpack, purse, or laptop bag. Point being, you don’t have to worry about portability.

SteriPEN Ultra

The SteriPEN sanitizer is rated to remove 99.9 percent of microorganisms. Why not 100 percent? The reason is strictly legal. Viruses and bacteria are microscopic, and they exist in the billions. There’s no way anybody could prove that every last germ in a water bottle was dead. As a result, manufacturers typically advertise 99.9 percent efficiency. This is an industry standard, and it’s about what we’d expect for efficiency.

SteriPEN Ultra

The SteriPEN is easy to use. You just stick the tube in your water, press the button, and wait about 10 seconds for the sanitization cycle. Because of the small dimensions, the SteriPEN can easily sanitize just about any container of water. It can fit through even a small opening with no trouble. Keep in mind, though, that 1.6 inches is your limit. You’ll be able to sanitize any Nalgene bottle or similar reusable water bottle. But you won’t be able to fit the SteriPEN into a disposable commercial water bottle.

The internal battery is rechargeable, and can handle up to 50 treatments per charge. The battery is rated to last for 300 cycles, which works out to 15,000 liters of purification. That’s a lot of performance before you have to replace your sanitizer! A USB charger is included in the package. Moreover, the front of the unit has an easy-to-read display. You can see your treatment progress, the battery status, and other essential information. This makes operation about as straightforward as it gets.

SteriPen Adventurer Opti

SteriPen Adventurer Opti

At first glance, the SteriPen Adventurer Opti is very similar to the original SteriPEN. It’s compact and pocket-sized, designed for on-the-go use. However, it’s a bit smaller. It’s 6.1 inches long, 0.9 inches thick, and 1.3 inches wide. This profile allows it to fit into even smaller openings than the original SteriPEN. That said, it’s still not small enough for commercial disposable water bottles. Regardless, the Adventurer Opti only weighs 3.2 ounces. This means it can easily be carried anywhere, without weighing you down.

Even so, the Adventurer Opti is as easy to use as the original. It operates from a simple push button, which activates the cleaning cycle. That said, it doesn’t have the nifty LED display of the original. You’re flying by ear if you let your battery life drop too much. On the other hand, the Adventurer Opti uses disposable batteries instead of a rechargeable one. It comes with a pair of CR123 batteries, which can easily be replaced at any hardware store. A single set of batteries can sanitize up to 8,000 liters of water. Keep an extra pair on hand, and you can enjoy germ-free water for nearly a decade.

SteriPen Adventurer Opti

Like the original SteriPEN, the Adventurer Opti is rated to eliminate 99.9 percent of bacteria, viruses, and mold. As long as it’s used as directed, you won’t have to worry about infection from your water. Not only that, but the Adventurer Opti also doubles as a flashlight. Obviously, using it as a flashlight is going to drain your batteries. But this is a secondary use that’s designed for emergencies. Under most circumstances, you won’t even need it.

The Adventurer Opti comes with a neoprene case with a belt loop. The protective case isn’t strictly necessary, since the Adventurer Opti is already pretty durable. But it’s a nice added touch that completes the package. As an added bonus, it makes the Adventurer Opti easier to carry when your pockets are full!

crazy cap

CrazyCap 2.0

The CrazyCap 2.0 is a bit different than our last two options. It’s not a standalone sterilizer; it’s a complete water bottle! This does mean it’s a bit heavier. It weighs 1.1 pounds empty, which is a bit hefty for an empty bottle. On the other hand, it’s not just a sanitizer. When you factor in the weight of carrying an extra bottle versus an all-in-one unit, the CrazyCap 2.0 bottle is actually pretty light. Not only that, but it’s well-constructed. The CrazyCap 2.0 is made from stainless steel, so it can take a lot of abuse. It’s available in five colors: white, pink, blue, black, and mint. It’s also available in both 17 and 25-ounce sizes, so you can choose your capacity.

crazy cap

The CrazyCap 2.0 water bottle has an internal UV element that eliminates germs and odors. It will purify a full bottle of water in a mere 60 seconds, so purification is quick and easy. It also activates automatically every two hours. If your beverage is sitting out in the open, you don’t have to worry about it going stale. Not only that, but the CrazyCap 2.0 functions as a thermos. The walls are double-insulated, so cold water will stay cold for a full 24 hours. Warm beverages will also stay warm. Your coffee will still be producing steam after 12 hours.

crazy cap

The internal battery is rechargeable, and will work for up to a month on a full charge. It’s also water-resistant. The CrazyCap 2.0 water bottle carries a rating of IPX7, which means it can withstand full submersion. Washing it in the sink poses absolutely no risk to the internal electronics.

Final Verdict

Clearly, each of these sterilizers has its own benefits to offer. But which one is the best? To start with, we looked at the SteriPEN Ultra UV Water Purifier. This is a pocket-sized purifier that’s designed for easy transport. It’s easy-to-use, it’s effective, and it charges via a standard USB connection. It can even charge from a solar panel if you’re in a survival situation. This makes it an ideal choice if you want a sterilizer that’s ready to go on day one.

The SteriPen Adventurer Opti is similar in most respects to the original SteriPEN. What it lacks is a nifty display. On the other hand, the batteries are replaceable rather than rechargeable. This means you won’t have to throw it out when the batteries have reached the end of their useful life.

Finally, we reviewed the CrazyCap 2.0. This is a totally different animal, a full-sized water bottle with a built-in UV sanitizer. It’s not so good for impromptu use, but it’s a great choice for keeping your everyday water clean.

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