Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: Varies from $75 - $99 | Compare prices at 6 resellers
Pros: UV cap can be used on other CamelBak bottles, can be charged with a solar charger, treats viruses
Cons: Lamp and battery are non-serviceable, charging takes a long time (5 hours for complete charge), whole system is heavy, does not treat water on threads of bottle
Best Uses: Hiking, international travel
For a UV purification method, the CamelBak All Clear is unique in that it treats water directly in your bottle and takes a tiny bit less time than a SteriPEN. It has an advantage over pump filters in that it treats for viruses, but like other UV methods, it does not strain out particulate or treat water on the threads of the bottle. Compared to both SteriPEN models in this review, the whole system is heavier but it is a plus that it can be recharged through a mini USB cable or a solar charger. The downside is that the lamp and battery are non-serviceable and non-replaceable, so once it maxes out (after 10,000 cycles), you need to get another one. This is a handy and safe treatment method for a single person on a day-hike, but it would be difficult to treat large quantities of water at camp.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
A water bottle with a UV light built into the cap, the All Clear bottle purifies water, meaning it treats for viruses as well as bacteria and protozoa. It does not filter out particulate though. A little heavy for backpacking and limited to only treating small amounts of water at a time, it is an excellent choice for day hikers who want to combine their water storage and treatment method into one.
The CamelBak All Clear uses UV light technology to incapacitate harmful organisms such as viruses bacteria and protozoa, similar to the technology used in the SteriPEN Journey LCD and the SteriPEN Adventurer Opti. The way UV light works is that it does not actually kill pathogens, but instead scrambles the DNA of the organisms so that they cannot reproduce, rendering them harmless to you. One thing to note is that since the organisms remain alive in your water, if the treated water is exposed to visible light for a length of time before drinking, it is possible for the microbes to heal and reactivate.
The drawbacks to the CamelBak version is that is still does not treat the water on the threads of the water bottle, and with this specific method, it only treats .75 liters at a time, making it difficult to treat a large quantity of water for multiple people or for use around camp.
One of the draws of a UV light purification system is that it can be very lightweight. This is one main reason the SteriPEN is so popular. However, the All Clear is not the lightest system. The cap by itself weighs 7 ounces, roughly the same as the SteriPEN Journey, but if you weigh the whole system with cap, bottle, case, and charger it weighs 12.51 ounces, which is average for a pump filter, yet this system is not as versatile.
Time Before Drinking
At 60 seconds treatment time for .75 liter, the All Clear is slightly faster than the SteriPENs, which take 90 seconds. It is quick for this amount of water, but would be difficult to use to purify large quantities.
Ease of Use
This method is very simple: scoop up some water, screw on the cap and hold the button for 2 seconds. Once the UV light comes on, agitate until it goes off. It is much simpler than a pump and as a bonus, the UV cap can be used on other camel bak bottles, so you can bring along extra containers that you already own.
Durability/Uses Before Maintenance
The maintenance that needs to be preformed on this model is charging the battery in the light cap. If it is completely dead, it takes 5 full hours to recharge, and usually longer if using a solar charger. If you are in the backcountry for an extended period of time, you could maintain the battery charge decently well with a solar charger.
The lamp and battery are not serviceable or replaceable. The All Clear is programmed to stop working after 10,000 cycles, after which you need a whole new one.
As with all UV treatments, particulate such as silt, sticks, and dead bugs are not filtered out of the water, so you may have to drink around the floaters. Otherwise the taste of the water is unchanged and chemical-free.
This treatment method would be best used car camping, on short hiking trips, and while traveling. It is on the heavy side, which is not as conducive to backpacking, but it does treat viruses, which makes is a great option for traveling internationally.
At $99, the All Clear is average in price for a UV water purification system, and slightly more expensive than most filters. For such a hihg-tech gadget, the price is reasonable, but if you are on a budget look into something like the Sawyer Squeeze or a more standard filter like the MSR Sweetwater Microfilter.
The CamelBak Classic, $65, is still one of our favorites and wins our Best Buy award.
The CamelBak Octane LR, $100, is great for light mountain biking and is a running workhorse because it's very versatile.
Check out the women's specific Camelbak, the Camelback Women's L.U.X.E., $100.
The CamelBak Racebak, $100, is the only hydration pack integrated into clothing that we tested.
If you're looking for a durable bottle that will filter tap water while you drink, then the Camelbak Groove, $22, is for you.
CamelBak Cleaning Brush Kit, $10.
The CamelBak Antidote Thermal Control Kit, $20, can help keep your tubes from freezing when temps dip down.
— McKenzie Long
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: August 23, 2014
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