It’s hard to sell me a water purification device. I’m a lifetime backcountry iodine tablet user, because of its simplicity: The only way it can malfunction is user error, it’s light enough to put in any pack, even if I don’t think I’m going to need water purification. Never have to worry about leaving other gear behind because I’m taking a bulky piece of water treatment equipment. I never have to worry about batteries or charging it.
But I tested the Camelbak All Clear UV Purifier on a backcountry climbing trip in Idaho this past August. What did I like? The taste of my water. The fact that the device itself is about the size of a small apple, and doesn’t weigh much. It’s hard to break. Also, it’s been four weeks since I used it, and I don’t have giardia. It’s a solid choice for backcountry travel, and for times when iodine doesn’t make sense, like traveling to developing countries with sketchy water.
The All Clear UV Purifier works in the same manner of other UV systems, using ultraviolet light to kill all the bad stuff that hangs out in alpine lakes and wants to invade your digestive system and give you beaver fever. Fill up the 24-ounce water bottle, push a button, gently shake the water bottle for 60 seconds (counted down on an LCD screen on the top of the device), and you have clean water. My partner and I used it exclusively on a 3-day backcountry climbing trip in the Sawtooths, and spent about 8 minutes twice a day treating all our water, no waiting.
Camelbak promises the bulb will last 10,000 cycles, or purify 3 liters of water a day for nearly seven years. The battery itself, which charges on a USB port (or attach the cable to your iPhone wall charger), is supposed to last 80 cycles — think two people drinking four liters each per day for a week in the backcountry. Is it better than the SteriPen? Definitely durable. I wasn’t exactly babying the All Clear, tossing it around in a pack full of climbing gear for three days, and it survived just fine — the design makes it seem hard to break the actual device, as the bulb is well protected. An optional pre-treatment screen ($15) will filter particulate out of the water before you treat it, if you don’t like floaties in your backcountry beverages.
The Camelbak All Clear UV Purifier will his stores in March 2012, and will retail at $99. Video from Trailspace.com here.
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