Gadling gear review: Camelbak All Clear water purification system

The Camelbak All Clear water purifcation systemFinding safe and clean drinking water while traveling can often be a real challenge, particularly if you’re visiting some of the more remote destinations on the planet. Wandering off the beaten path may be one of the more rewarding elements of travel, but it can also be detrimental to our health as many of the world’s water sources contain bacteria, viruses and even parasites. Fortunately there are a number of ways to treat potentially contaminated water, making it safe to drink, including water purification tablets, micro-filters and treatments of ultraviolet light. Of those, UV light is the most effective and has become a much more viable option over the past few years.

Camelbak, the company that practically invented the hydration pack, has recently introduced a new product called the All Clear that looks to marry a high-quality water bottle with a UV purification system. The company has cleverly integrated an ultraviolet light into a specially designed lid for the bottle that when activated will kill more than 99.99% of all bacteria and viruses found in water. That makes it an incredibly useful item to have in our bags when visiting destinations where clean water can be at a premium.

Using the All Clear couldn’t be easier. You simply fill the bottle with water from any source you have at hand, secure the lid on top of the container and activate the UV light by pressing the power button. That will initiate a 60 second countdown timer on the integrated LCD screen which serves as a prompt to begin slowly rotating the bottle back and fourth in 180 degree turns. That motion helps to ensure that all of the water inside the bottle receives equal exposure to the purifying light, which is vital for killing off the harmful bacteria. When the countdown has finished the UV light shuts off and the contents of the bottle should be ready to drink.The All Clear is powered by an integrated battery pack, which is recharged using an included USB cable. That means the device can be powered up by plugging it into your laptop, a USB battery pack or even a portable solar panel. This adds a great level of versatility for travelers but brings a bit of unevenness to the process. Recharging from my laptop took about 4 hours but Camelbak estimates that it will take 15-20 hours using the sun. When fully charged the All Clear is good for about 80 uses, which is enough to purify 16 gallons of water.

Camelbak has clearly taken great care to consider the needs of travelers and backpackers while designing the All Clear. For instance, they have included a second lid that is better suited for drinking from the bottle and have added a convenient carrying case for the UV lid to the package as well. They’ve also printed step-by-step instructions on how to use the device on the outside of the bottle making it nearly impossible to get the process wrong. Those little touches may not seem like much, but they are greatly appreciated when packing for a trip.

For many of us a good water bottle is almost a mandatory piece of travel gear these days and having one with an integrated UV purification system is a great option. That said, the All Clear’s UV lid is a bit on the heavy side – especially when compared to the competition – although it isn’t particularly large or bulky. The heavier cap does include a more powerful ultraviolet light, however, and is designed to work well in a variety of conditions including colder weather.

If you frequently find yourself traveling to destinations where the drinking water is suspect then the Camelbak All Clear is the kind of purification system you’ll want to take with you. It is an easy to use system that knocks out nearly all of the harmful bacteria and viruses that we could potentially encounter on our journey and it does so in a fairly compact and rugged package. The system comes with a $99 price tag and includes a good water bottle, two lids, a carrying case and a USB charging cable. That is a very good package for the price and one that I think you’ll appreciate on future excursions.