Camelbak All Clear UV Water Purifier

Camelbak All Clear

I’m really note sure what to make of the Camelbak All Clear UV water purifying bottle. It strikes me that this must have been one of those genius ideas on paper that managed to make it through development, testing and into production only to find that it kinda doesn’t fit the need of the customer – at least, not me.

Camelbak All Clear

Camelbak make some really great products, and to be fair the All Clear purifier is a beautifully manufactured product – it’s just not very practical. Firstly it’s heavy, a whopping 1lb, 1oz compared to the SteriPEN Adventurer UV purifier that weighs 3.6oz (with batteries).

Camelbak All Clear

The All Clear is rechargeable via a USB port and able to deliver 80 cycles of UV purification on a full charge. That sounds great, but if you take it out on the trail only partially charged and run out of power you’re going to be hard pressed to charge this back up. The SteriPEN on the other hand uses replaceable lithium batteries that can be swapped out if you are carrying spares. At least you have that option.

Camelbak All Clear

I want to like the all-in-one design of the All Clear purifier but I’m just not feeling it. The sad thing is that despite some of it’s design flaws it’s incredibly simple to use.

You start by charging it up via the USB port and the supplied micro USB cable. It takes about four hours to fully charge and the LCD display on the top indicates when the charging is complete.

Camelbak All Clear

When you need to purify dirty water to make it safe to drink, you unscrew the large top cap/unit and fill the bottle up from what ever water source you have available making sure not to fill it above the maximum fill line, clearly shown just below the neck of the bottle.

Camelbak All Clear

You then replace the cap and tighten it. To begin the UV purification cycle, you press and hold the blue button on the top of the cap for two seconds. The LCD screen will blink and a 60-second count down timer will begin.

Camelbak All Clear

This is the clever part and something that still amazes me when I use UV purifiers. Just like the SteriPEN, the All Clear uses proven UV light to effectively neutralize viruses, bacteria and protozoa in the dirty water to make it safe to drink.

As soon as the 60-second count down begins the LED indicator light in the underneath of the bottle lid (real UV light is invisible) turns on and the water bottle will need to be agitated for the full 60 seconds to ensure that the UV light has had enough time to penetrate all of the water and contaminants in the bottle.

Camelbak All Clear

Outside on the trail in full daylight it can be quite hard to see when the LED indicator light is on, but I was able to find a shaded spot by the stream to get this photo. The bright white/blue LED light glowing through the water is very cool. After the 60 seconds are up the water is safe to drink.

I’m very comfortable using UV purifiers like the SteriPEN and even the All Clear for water sources that are free flowing and already very clean looking. However, UV filters are not my preference for cloudy or murky looking water because they do nothing to clean out all the guck that is in the water – I like my water to look somewhat clean when I drink it.

Camelbak All Clear

If you’re like me and prefer to have clear looking water for drinking I would recommend you consider a water filter/pump like the Katadyn Hiker Pro or the MSR MiniWorks for murky water or some form of pre-filter.

The Camelbak All Clear does come with a standard plastic bottle cap that can be used once the water has been purified. It’s a nice touch that allows you to store the heavier UV lid in your pack when you don’t need it and use the lighter one on the bottle instead. Either way you’re still carrying the weight, but it sure does make the bottle lighter to carry.

Conclusion – Suggestions
I think the All Clear has huge potential in the Camelbak product line-up and hope they continue to develop and improve the idea. It’s just that this first version is heavier than most people (backpackers) would expect. Clearly it would not be targeted at lightweight backpackers (yet). For day hikers, campers, and families I can see this slotting right in and being a great option.

I’d like to see Camelbak enhance this product/concept with particular attention to reducing weight. I’d like to see some other battery options, like replacing the batteries with AAA lithium ones. I’d like to see improved water-proofing of the bottle head (lots of electronics) as I was concerned about how thoroughly I washed it out when I got home after my hike.

What do you think about UV water purifiers in general? Do you use one and if so what’s the best and worst thing about it?

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  • http://twitter.com/vortex33 Vortex33

    I haven’t seen that bottle yet in our local REI. We use a SteriPen which I still get jumpy about because a pump filter seems more aggressively clean and swishing a stick around in my water bottle. I also worry about breakage with the pen. Although it was very durable when one of our dogs decided to use it for a chew toy… and the company was fabulous about repairing it for only the shipping cost (we still think they send us a brand new pen). This Camelbak bottle may be good for day hikes where the weight wouldn’t be so terrible.

  • http://twitter.com/vortex33 Vortex33

    I haven’t seen that bottle yet in our local REI. We use a SteriPen which I still get jumpy about because a pump filter seems more aggressively clean and swishing a stick around in my water bottle. I also worry about breakage with the pen. Although it was very durable when one of our dogs decided to use it for a chew toy… and the company was fabulous about repairing it for only the shipping cost (we still think they send us a brand new pen). This Camelbak bottle may be good for day hikes where the weight wouldn’t be so terrible.

  • Scott Erwin

    You could recharge it using the Biolite Stove USB output! Woot! Both would make a for a nice heavy pack though.

  • Scott Erwin

    You could recharge it using the Biolite Stove USB output! Woot! Both would make a for a nice heavy pack though.

  • http://www.appalachiaandbeyond.com Tim

    I thought the bottle looked a little small. Not even a full liter eh? I’ve not used a UV Purifier before, come to think of it, I’ve never had to purify water before, but when the time comes for me to have to, I’ve really liked the looks of the Steri Pen.

  • http://www.appalachiaandbeyond.com/ Tim

    I thought the bottle looked a little small. Not even a full liter eh? I’ve not used a UV Purifier before, come to think of it, I’ve never had to purify water before, but when the time comes for me to have to, I’ve really liked the looks of the Steri Pen.

  • Rob

    Where I hike, I don’t have many “free flowing” streams just stagnant lakes and ponds. The few creeks I do get to are filled with leaves and debris. I’ll keep the weight of my MSR Miniworks for now. I do need to get a longer suction hose for it though as I hate staring down the gators from shore. :-o

  • Rob

    Where I hike, I don’t have many “free flowing” streams just stagnant lakes and ponds. The few creeks I do get to are filled with leaves and debris. I’ll keep the weight of my MSR Miniworks for now. I do need to get a longer suction hose for it though as I hate staring down the gators from shore. :-o

  • Henry Mitchel

    Wow! This is epic man! These could save great lives. :)

  • Henry Mitchel

    Wow! This is epic man! These could save great lives. :)

  • http://miljokemi.dk/ Morten

    Usually water purification is not necessary in the more remote areas in Scandinavia but I prefer water purification tablets based on sodium dichloroisocyanurate eventually combined with sodium thiosulphate to remove the chlorine odour.

    The problem with UV disinfection is that the efficiency will be greatly affected with UV-absorbing substances in the water and you can’t see UV-absorbing substances since they are colour less and coloured substances might also absorb in the UV area.

  • http://miljokemi.dk/ Morten

    Usually water purification is not necessary in the more remote areas in Scandinavia but I prefer water purification tablets based on sodium dichloroisocyanurate eventually combined with sodium thiosulphate to remove the chlorine odour.

    The problem with UV disinfection is that the efficiency will be greatly affected with UV-absorbing substances in the water and you can’t see UV-absorbing substances since they are colour less and coloured substances might also absorb in the UV area.

  • John

    I have used the steri pen for a few years now and I totally believe in the power of uv. Beats my miox pen for backpacking purposes for sure. Like rob said I have a lot of ponds and lakes that have a lot of leaves and bio matter. I have to use my katadyn vario to get the water clear enought to use the UV. For me backpacking UV Light purifiers are way better than chemicals.

  • John

    I have used the steri pen for a few years now and I totally believe in the power of uv. Beats my miox pen for backpacking purposes for sure. Like rob said I have a lot of ponds and lakes that have a lot of leaves and bio matter. I have to use my katadyn vario to get the water clear enought to use the UV. For me backpacking UV Light purifiers are way better than chemicals.

  • Cal

    We had a Steri-Pen (original version I think) but our first trip out it stopped working inexplicably. Fortunately, we had our MiniWorks with us, so everything was fine. Didn’t instill a lot of confidence though, LOL.

    I am planning on picking up a Platypus GravityWorks, since we need to filter a lot of water in a short amount of time, and it’s a bit lighter. Since it isn’t effective against pollution, we will only be able to use it on some trips, but between it and the MiniWorks, we should be covered.

    I am totally in the same boat when it comes to murky water. I’ve pumped water through my MiniWorks out of some pretty unappealing sources, and I would feel uncomfortable drinking that water without at least pulling most of the gross bits out.

    I guess I am still on the fence about UV purifiers. I would like to be able to try before I buy in the future.

  • Cal

    We had a Steri-Pen (original version I think) but our first trip out it stopped working inexplicably. Fortunately, we had our MiniWorks with us, so everything was fine. Didn’t instill a lot of confidence though, LOL.

    I am planning on picking up a Platypus GravityWorks, since we need to filter a lot of water in a short amount of time, and it’s a bit lighter. Since it isn’t effective against pollution, we will only be able to use it on some trips, but between it and the MiniWorks, we should be covered.

    I am totally in the same boat when it comes to murky water. I’ve pumped water through my MiniWorks out of some pretty unappealing sources, and I would feel uncomfortable drinking that water without at least pulling most of the gross bits out.

    I guess I am still on the fence about UV purifiers. I would like to be able to try before I buy in the future.

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  • Mark Brandon

    If you think its not reliable for you. You should at least buy other purifier. Hepa Air Purifier Reviews

  • Cal 20 Sailor

    Water filters/purifiers have to be considered just like every other piece of equipment: Nothing is “one size fits all,” so you pack the treatment unit that’s approriate to the expected conditions. UV doesn’t work well in water that’s cloudy, heavy with particulate matter, or contains chemical contaminants; and it’s delicate, complex, and therefore prone to failure. Chemical treatment also does nothing about chemical contamination, and dosage must be increased if the water is cloudy or contains a lot of biological particulates, is cold, etc.; its taste is also objectionable, potentially harmful over time, and very slow in treating cysts. Pumps are often heavy, bulky, prone to breakage and/or clogging, slow to operate, and also generally do not remove chemical contaminants, bacteria or viruses.

    Of the UV systems, I note the following: A lot of complaints about SteriPen failures, even among those who actually READ the owner’s manual and understand how to use them; older units have lamps that offer 3,000 16oz treatments, while newer ones offer 8,000 16oz treatments. The Camelbak All Clear offers 10,000 24oz treatment lamp lifetimes, and a better protected UV lamp recessed into the unit cap, for an overall slightly heavier weight not including the recommended bottle. Further, I believe the furnished bottle is recommended for the same liability reasons that canister stove makers recommend only their own brand of canisters — my guess is that any 24oz bottle with the correct threads will work fine, and larger bottles with correct threading will do fine as well if treatment time is proportionately increased.

  • Cal 20 Sailor

    Water filters/purifiers have to be considered just like every other piece of equipment: Nothing is “one size fits all,” so you pack the treatment unit that’s approriate to the expected conditions. UV doesn’t work well in water that’s cloudy, heavy with particulate matter, or contains chemical contaminants; and it’s delicate, complex, and therefore prone to failure. Chemical treatment also does nothing about chemical contamination, and dosage must be increased if the water is cloudy or contains a lot of biological particulates, is cold, etc.; its taste is also objectionable, potentially harmful over time, and very slow in treating cysts. Pumps are often heavy, bulky, prone to breakage and/or clogging, slow to operate, and also generally do not remove chemical contaminants.

    Of the UV systems, I note the following: A lot of complaints about SteriPen failures, even among those who actually READ the owner’s manual and understand how to use them; older units have lamps that offer 3,000 16oz treatments, while newer ones offer 8,000 16oz treatments. The Camelbak All Clear offers 10,000 24oz treatment lamp lifetimes, and a better protected UV lamp recessed into the unit cap, for an overall slightly heavier weight not including the recommended bottle. Further, I believe the furnished bottle is recommended for the same liability reasons that canister stove makers recommend only their own brand of canisters — my guess is that any 24oz bottle with the correct threads will work fine, and larger bottles with correct threading will do fine as well if treatment time is proportionately increased.

  • Concerned

    What a useless review. This dolt doesn’t even realize that UV is invisible, and what he’s seeing is an LED indicator.

    • gwtx2

      Be nice.