CamelBak All Clear Microbiological UV Water Purifier (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2009)

CamelBak introduces a complete and easy to use UV water purification system, marking the adoption of this proven technology by a big company.

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by Rick Dreher | 2009-07-22 00:30:00-06

Editor's Note: This article was opened to the public on July 22, 2010. To subscribe and see Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2010 articles as they are published, click here.

CamelBak, the hydration folks, break into the water treatment business with the All Clear Ultraviolet water purifier. The All Clear design (9.2 oz/$99) combines a UV-C discharge lamp into a screw-thread bottle cap that contains the electronics and batteries. The cap is threaded for the familiar 63 mm wide-mouth bottles and water containers known to backpackers everywhere. Powered by two CR123 cells, the All Clear has an 80-second cycle time for 0.9 liters of water. An LCD display communicates treatment time, battery health, etc. The All Clear is due in stores in October 2009.

CamelBak All Clear Microbiological UV Water Purifier (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2009) - 1
The basic CamelBak All Clear UV Water Purification system (right) uses two CR123 batteries; the deluxe system (left) uses a rechargeable battery pack and comes with a USB cable.

Operation is simple: Fill a 1L or .750L bottle, screw in the purifier, press and hold the start button, and wait for the timer to count down while agitating the bottle. Batteries are accessed via the top-mounted battery compartment.

CamelBak claims a set of CR123s will treat 70 to 90 liters and the optional rechargeable Li-Ion battery pack can treat 32 to 36 liters between charges. No mention is made of cold water's effect on battery life (a common portable UV purifier hurdle). Lamp life is claimed to be 8,000 or more cycles.

The All Clear will be offered in two versions: standard ($99 for CR123 battery operation) and deluxe ($129 for rechargeable Li-ion battery operation). Both include a bottle imprinted with instructions, and the Li-ion battery pack can be purchased separately for $30.

Ultraviolet light inactivates viruses, bacteria, and cysts, qualifying the All Clear as a purifier under the EPA's definition, as compared to most filters and chemical treatments, which are less effective against viruses and cysts, respectively. UV has no effect on water's taste and does not treat chemical contamination. Besides cold water, UV's other Achilles heel is turbid water. The CamelBak All Clear literature does not address it; presumably, filtering or settling will be required for cloudy source water. There's no mention whether CamelBak supplies a prefilter for straining debris out of the source water.

Beyond some cosmetic differences and the LED display, the All Clear looks remarkably similar to the Meridian Design UV Aquastar, a proven design I've been using with success for several years (success is defined as me not getting sick). If they are indeed similar, the All Clear will offer hikers a simple, relatively quick way to treat water, both in camp and on the go. UV's ability to scoop, treat, and drink quickly and easily while on the go is matched only by filter bottles, and filter bottles don't lend themselves as well to treating large volumes in camp.

UV is still a niche outdoor product, and it's gratifying to see a company Camelbak's size jump in. If their design has improved cold water performance of UV units, and if they can really wring out 80 or 90 liters from a single battery set, they'll provide a welcome option for hikers.


Citation

"CamelBak All Clear Microbiological UV Water Purifier (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2009)," by Rick Dreher. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/orsm09_camelback_UV.html, 2009-07-22 00:30:00-06.

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CamelBak All Clear Microbiological UV Water Purifier (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2009)
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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
CamelBak All Clear Microbiological UV Water Purifier (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2009) on 07/22/2009 23:06:39 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

CamelBak All Clear Microbiological UV Water Purifier (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2009)

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: CamelBak All Clear Microbiological UV Water Purifier (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2009) on 07/22/2009 23:16:45 MDT Print View

Warning: feeling cynical this evening:

Nine Point Two Ounces.

That's the wrong direction.

This is a classic example where "a company with a name" appears* to get into a product market because they can (by leveraging their name) rather than because they should, or can offer innovation. *Note that I am not questioning CB's motivation, only perception ;)

The advantage to this system is that it's neatly integrated, or appears to be (reminds me of "Jetboil" integrating pot + stove.

Now if somebody would just make a darn 2 oz UV light integrated with a Nalgene wide mouth lid so we can use it on the 2.1 oz collapsible Cantenes...

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: CamelBak All Clear Microbiological UV Water Purifier (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2009) on 07/23/2009 00:05:52 MDT Print View

You darn ounce-counting folks and your darn scales :-)

I'll speculate the CamelBak works weight doesn't differ much from the UV Aquastar's, which is 3.4 oz avec batteries. 9.2 oz for the CamelBak hopefully is mainly due to a nukeproof bottle, not the works. The threading spec is the same as the Aquastar (the Nalgene "standard") and should fit typical wide-mouth soft-sided containers. I immediately ditched my supplied heavy Aquastar lexan bottle and use it in either a bike bottle or Nalgene Cantene. I cycle it twice for 2L, 3x for 3L. My presumption is the All Clear offers similar options.

Channeling Roger: UV won't really hit its potential until we have efficient UV-C LEDs. In the meantime, I find this design concept more user-friendly than the Plunge-and-Stir option. It requires less attention and I like how far the discharge tube extends into the water column. Battery life remains a chronic concern.

Cheers,

Rick

Edited by halfturbo on 07/23/2009 00:07:35 MDT.

Donna C
(leadfoot) - M

Locale: Middle Virginia
Re: Re: CamelBak All Clear Microbiological UV Water Purifier (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2009) on 07/23/2009 03:51:17 MDT Print View

So what do you do with the cap when you need to drink the water? Unless you can access the water thru a straw as in their non-treating models, I can see an accident waiting to happen each time you have to unscrew the lid, hold it away from the bottle, drink, recap. Chances increase of breaking the UV light.

Seems bulky to pack separately. Not to mention the weight.

Ashley Brown
(ashleyb) - F
Re: Re: Re: CamelBak All Clear Microbiological UV Water Purifier (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2009) on 07/23/2009 03:54:57 MDT Print View

I don't think the UV tube stays in there permanently... just when treating water.

Kevin Babione
(KBabione) - MLife

Locale: Pennsylvania
As an AquaStar User... on 07/23/2009 07:07:13 MDT Print View

The UV tube is attached to the cap and does indeed stay in the bottle all the time except when filling or emptying it.

Okay - I'm a diehard AquaStar user. Yes - it's 8.3 ounces (including the mesh prefilter/strainer) and, as such, is definitely one of the heaviest single items in my pack (weighing about the same as my GG Murmur).

Why? There are a number of reasons:
- Being able to drink cold water almost instantly when reaching a water source (scoop, push the button, and gently shake for 80 seconds)
- The ability to purify water for my entire hiking party in minutes while simply sitting next to the source and refilling their containers
- Although debatable (see other threads), I have confidence that the AquaStar is killing all the nasties that could ruin a trip

Primarily though it's the convenience of the operation. On my first backpacking trip in 2005 I carried three liters of water in my Camelbak and another in a Nalgene (on a trail that crosses good streams every 2-3 miles). I now know how ridiculous that was. Reducing water weight is one of the ways I've reduced what I have to carry. Part of that is the "tank up when you can" process and the AquaStar easily allows me to drink a liter of water very quickly (without even removing my pack) when I hit a water source.

One other thing to keep in mind...I do almost all of my backpacking in the mountains (hills to those of you in the west) of Pennsylvania. I'm usually near the headwaters of the streams from which I drink and don't have to worry about cloudy, silty, or livestock-tainted water. I carry a couple of coffee filters to use as a further pre-filter but have never had to use them.

I've often thought about using the AquaStar in one of my soft-sided Nalgene Canteens but, quite honestly, don't want to worry about being that careful with my pack when I set it down.

The CamelBak product looks suspiciously like the AquaStar (same batteries, same processing time, same battery life) and it makes the AquaStar look even better since it's been on sale from Meridan Designs for $69 for at least a year.

Aaron Patt
(apatt_tm) - MLife

Locale: Southern NH
Re: Re: CamelBak All Clear Microbiological UV Water Purifier (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2009) on 07/23/2009 07:16:11 MDT Print View

I recently bought the Nalgene canteen and, even though its been reviewed as not fitting the filter accessory that Sterilite offers, I found the filter fits fine. Need to continue the experiment with the UV and canteen but so far so good.... The CB version is interesting because of the surface area of the light to water, and the closed-lid-while-disinfecting approach.

Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Re: Re: CamelBak All Clear Microbiological UV Water Purifier (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2009) on 07/24/2009 13:18:20 MDT Print View

Nalgene makes collapsible water badders that should accept the top to this perfectly.

Charles Ruefenacht
(cwruefenacht) - F
Re: Re: CamelBak All Clear Microbiological UV Water Purifier (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2009) on 07/26/2009 08:53:34 MDT Print View

Amen Brother. These companies follow the auto industry paradigm of taking a great idea and improving it to the point of killing the original product = 'improvement obesity'.

Charlie Ruefenacht

Kevin Tjaden
(ktjaden) - F

Locale: West
What do you do with the cap? on 03/10/2010 23:09:40 MST Print View

Donna C said;




I didn't get if this had really been answered. So if the light stays in the lid it would seem highly susceptible to damage, shock, jostling, etc.