CamelBak AllClear

‘All Clear’ UV Light Bottle Purifies Water in 60 Seconds


From GearJunkie By Stephen Regenold

On Friday afternoon, I plugged my water bottle into a laptop USB port for a charge. Saturday found me in the woods of Wisconsin, dipping the bottle into a lake then pressing a button to purify its contents for a drink.

The $99 bottle, called the All Clear UV Microbiological Water Purifier, is made by CamelBak. It uses UV light to render microbes harmless, letting you grab a drink almost anywhere.

Specifically, the UV light “destroys microbe DNA,” as CamelBak puts it. Bacteria, water-borne viruses, and protozoan cysts, including the troublesome cryptosporidium breed, are rendered benign by the light.

The full All Clear kit

This technology is not new. Municipal water plants have long used UV light to make mass quantities of water safe.

In the outdoors industry, Hydro-Photon has sold its UV-based SteriPEN product for more than 10 years. You dip the wand-like SteriPEN device in water and stir as UV light streams and purifies.

CamelBak’s All Clear is a similar concept but with a different design. The all-in-one bottle and purifier comes as a kit with two caps — one with the lamp mechanism, one a normal plastic lid.

The goal with All Clear is simple and quick purification. You fill the 0.75-liter bottle up to near the top then screw the cap on tight. Press a button and gently shake the bottle as light glows and a digital counter ticks from 60 seconds to 0.

Digital countdown on UV cap

That’s it. The water is rendered drinkable in a minute, CamelBak guarantees. You can pour it from there into another container or drink straight from the bottle.

The system is slick. But there are a few caveats. Make sure and wipe off the threads of the bottle, for example, so that you don’t ingest untreated drips.

Also, not all water works in the system. Water must be mostly transparent for the All Clear to function — it’s not a filter and any sediment or specs floating will remain. (The company sells a $15 optional filter cap if “chunky” water is likely on your trip.)

Comes with normal cap for water transport
Comes with normal cap for water transport

CamelBak recommends water that is “at least as clear as lemonade.” Anything funkier and you need a pump-filter or other product to work the H2O clean.

Personally, I’ve used UV purifiers around the world, from Patagonia to Nepal. My test this past month was not as exotic. But even water from a lake in northern Wisconsin can make you sick.

How do you know it works? CamelBak cites independent lab tests and EPA protocols. You can openPDF documents on the company website and read detailed reports on “ultraviolet light as a sanitizing agent,” stats about reducing bacteria by 99.9999%, and so on.

In the end, you need to trust that the brand is telling it straight. I drank a few bottles’ worth of lake water and am still standing and functioning fine.

All Clear is made for wilderness or travel use
All Clear is made for wilderness or travel use

As noted above, the All Clear costs $99. This is on par with some of the competition, meaning mainly SteriPEN, which has products that run between $49.95 and $99.95 depending on weight, size, and functions.

As for the All Clear design, I like the integrated form of the purifier and bottle in one. But it is heavier than SteriPEN products — the UV cap weighs 7 ounces.

Together, the bottle and UV cap measure 10.8 ounces on my scale. This may look heavy to a backpacker counting every gram.

Standard 0.5-liter bottle and CamelBak All Clear UV cap
Standard 0.5-liter bottle and CamelBak All Clear UV cap

However, my use of SteriPEN models, which weigh 2.6 to 5.5 ounces depending on the version, has usually been with a 1-liter Nalgene bottle. That extra bottle and the SteriPEN unit added together equal the approximate same weight of the All Clear system.

Despite the ounce counting, CamelBak made the All Clear more as a camping and traveling tool, not necessarily for the ultra-light crowd. You can use it in iffy hotel rooms or at water pumps in remote villages as well as at wilderness lakes and streams.

Its lithium-ion battery lasts for 80 purification cycles, CamelBak cites. You can plug it into a wall outlet or a laptop via USB for a charge.

The company notes 16 gallons of water can be made pure for each battery cycle. That’s a lot of liquid, a lot of Wisconsin lake water for me to drink.

—Stephen Regenold

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