Sunday, July 27, 2008

Magic Wands for Water

I'm not really a big 'gear' person. (I'm not really a big person in general, but that's another story.) I don't rush out and buy the latest gadgets to take camping with me. I like to keep it simple out there. I figure the more gadgets I have, the less time I'll spend enjoying the simplicity of the wilderness.

However, I do recognize that certain technology can make life easier out there. I'm thankful that simple, reliable stoves have replaced open fires for cooking, and that water filters can save us from a nasty case of Giardia.

And now and then, the technology of camping changes significantly. Like the internal-frame backpack replacing the old clunkers. But it can be hard to tell sometimes whether the latest gadget is going to be one of those revolutionary changes. Two "magic wands" (my term, not the marketers') have recently joined the outdoors tech-fest. I find myself wondering if either or both will be standard-issue in the near future.

The first to appear was the UV water-purifying stick, the Steri-PEN. Just wave it around in your water for less than a minute and - presto! no nasty bugs. Faster than a filter and tastier than iodine (or chlorine). You can even recharge it with a solar cell. At around $100 US (without the solar charger) it's certainly comparable with the price of a filter. So, will it replace them completely?

The newest wand to wave is the Heatstick. Originally developed for the military (well, isn't everything? unless it came from a James Bond movie...) this wand heats water to boiling point without using an open flame. You just submerge the element in your water (it conveniently screws onto a Nalgene bottle) and it heats up and automatically shuts off when it reaches the right temperature. Then you can use the water to rehydrate meals, make a hot cuppa, or even wet your washcloth for a quick bath.
I don't think the Heatstick could really replace the camping stove with its limited purpose, but for the Freezer Bag crowd or the ultra-lighters, it could become the preferred option.

Has anyone out there bought themselves either of these? (Actually, I don't think Heatstick is on the market just yet - but maybe there's a soldier out there who tried one.) I'd love to hear your thoughts on whether either of these is the "next big thing" in camping gear!
(photos via and

1 comment:

Jules said...
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