CamelBak has a history of innovation, beginning with their first hydration pack for cyclists. They have become so ingrained into the outdoors lexicon that “CamelBak” is frequently used as a generic term for a hydration pack. But they produce more than just hydration packs. CamelBak also offers an extensive line of water bottles for biking, hiking, and every day use. At the very top of the sits the All Clear, which is unlike any of their previous offerings.
What makes the $99 All Clear so special? It’s all about the lid. Inside is a rechargeable battery that powers a UV lamp, the kind that neutralizes water-borne pests. On the back, below the handy carry loop, you’ll find a USB port for charging the battery. Up top, there’s a blue power button, and a reasonably good sized LCD display.Â All this comes together in an easy to use purification system that’s almost as convenient to carry as a standard water bottle, if not somewhat heavier. The lid will even fit other CamelBak bottles, but you won’t want to do that, since the included BPA-free Tritan bottle has the instructions printed right on the side.
Like many other UV purification devices, the engineers that designed it went to great lengths to simplify use. Fill the All Clear with 750 ml of water from whatever source is available, and hold the blue button down for two seconds. That will activate the lamp, along with the countdown timer on the top of the lid. Agitate your water as it counts down 60 seconds, and you’re done. It’s that simple. You’ll need to wipe the threads clean before drinking, as water on them should not be counted on to be safe. For really murky water, pre-filter it through a piece of cloth (CamelBak offers a filter) or something similar – the UV lamp is less effective in cloudy water. Note that UV light disrupts the DNA of the microorganisms, rather than killing them outright. You’re still drinking them, they just can’t reproduce inside you and ruin your trip.
Expect the battery to last through 80 treatments between charges. That’s 16 gallons, which could be about two weeks for a single user. Charging time takes five hours or more, depending on the source you’re using. A solar device that charges a battery will be faster than directly from most backpacking solar panels, but topping up the battery every few days would probably only require an hour or so. As mentioned the bottle is BPA-free, as well as dishwasher safe, and we’ve abused the Tritan bottles thoroughly, so you know they’re rugged enough for outdoor adventure. If there’s a downside, it’s that the whole unit is rated for 10,000 cycles, then it needs to be replaced, as it’s not user-serviceable.
The All Clear represents a compromise of sorts. It’s bulkier and weighs more than devices with a similar function, and it’s probably more expensive (average retail is $79-$99) than some as well. But it does come with its own bottle, where the pen style devices require the addition of some sort of vessel for holding the water to be treated. While not the best choice for a large group, it would work well for a single person, couple, or even a small family for hiking, camping, vacations, and emergencies. If convenience is more important than physical size and weight, it’s a clear winner, pun intended. CamelBak.com
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