There are tipping points in technology where a seemingly simple innovation can have a huge impact on human behavior. I’m hoping this All Clear water bottle from Camelbak is one of these moments.
First their were iodine tablets, then less nasty purification tablets, then pump filter and cup filters. None were all that practical: they either made your water taste bad, they took too long to work, or they were bulky to carry around. Then came the SteriPen and suddenly we could purify water with a little battery-powered wand. It looked like magic, but it worked. The newest version is not much longer than a finger and recharges by USB.
This Camelbak bottle is the next stage in that evolution, using ultraviolet light to kill anything living in the water, but combined with the convenience of a water bottle that can be zapped pure with its own cap. Here’s a video demo on how it works:
What you don’t see in that video is that this UV cap is rechargeable by USB cord. After it runs out of juice (which is going to take a while—it’s supposed to go 80 cycles on one charge), you plug it into a laptop or just use an adapter and plug it into a 110 electrical socket. A few hours later you’re good to go again.
If you don’t want to watch the video, here’s a quick rundown on why this All Clear bottle is something special. You fill it up with tap water in a place where you normally can’t drink the water. You turn it on, shake it around a bit, and 60 seconds later you’ve got pure water you can drink straight from the bottle. A second cap comes with it (but without a drinking spout, unfortunately) that you can screw on, leaving the purifying one behind in your room for the day.
The bottle is a standard Camelbak size, so you can buy whatever kind of cap you want for the top or switch one from another bottle you have. It’s BPA free of course and fits into most standard water bottle holders or pockets, holding 3/4 of a liter.
And I’ll answer the inevitable questions: yes, I’ve been using this myself and yes, my digestive system is doing just fine. (But thanks for asking.) I’ve been traveling through Mexico for more than a week without purchasing a single bottle of water, in four cities. I just fill this up, hit the zap button, and I’m hydrating carefree.
It’s only available in the U.S. for now and just getting into the marketplace. It retails for around $100, which may sound a little pricey, but if you add up how much it would cost to buy 80 bottles of water in a convenience store or restaurant when you’re traveling, you’ll see you could have this thing paid for before the first charge runs out. After that it’s paying you back every week. On top of that, Mother Nature will thank you and your karma meter will rise significantly…
Related review: A Camelbak bottle that makes your water taste better
Tim Leffel is founder of the Practical Travel Gear blog, as well as the Cheapest Destinations blog and the narrative webzine Perceptive Travel. He is the author of The World's Cheapest Destinations (now in its 4th edition), Make Your Travel Dollars Worth a Fortune, and A Better Life for Half the Price.
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