Posts Tagged water purifiers
I recently reviewed the groundbreaking water bottle called the Camelbak All Clear, which takes tap water from places you’re not supposed to drink the tap water and makes it safe for you to gulp down. This Groove Insulated bottle has a filter in it, but it’s not meant to be taken that far. Rather, this is a bottle meant to wean people off their commercially filtered bottled water that’s dinging their wallet and destroying the environment. Picture the last time you had to dump out your water bottle before going through security at the airport, then were faced with the prospect of spending another $3 on the other side to duplicate it. With this Groove bottle, you just fill up at the water fountain (remember those things?) and you’re good to go.
I just spent three weeks in Eastern Europe and used this bottle daily, not once needing to pick up a bottle in the supermarket. You can drink the water there and sometimes it’s natural spring water that tastes great, but with this I could fill up anywhere and never get hit with the taste of chlorine.
The way it works is, a tubular filter in the middle is attached to the spout where you suck out the water. The force of that pulls it through the filter and it comes out the other end tasting neutral. The way the insulation works is, there’s a double wall of plastic. That’s not as effective as stainless steel, so don’t expect the kind of stellar “ice cold for hours” results I got with the Under Armour Thermos bottle I tried out last year, and it only holds 20 ounces (6/10 of a liter), but it’ll fit into most backpack pockets and water carriers.
Eventually you’ll have to replace the filter and the only way to know that time is here is when you can taste that it’s not doing the job anymore. The specs say it’ll go for 48 gallons on one, which is a good stretch. Replacement ones are $10 for two, $25 for six.
Camelbak has a good reputation for quality and they back up these bottles with a good replacement warranty. I did find this bottle to leak at the top sometimes, but overall I’ve been happy with it otherwise. It takes a lot less suction force than I expected to use it, so the filter part hasn’t been an inconvenience at all. I once bought a no-name brand bottle with a filter like this before a hike a few years ago and was ready to stomp it to pieces by the end of the trek: it kept coming apart where the filter meets the spout. No such troubles with this one as it’s much more intelligently designed.
The Groove Insulated bottles come in the color you see here plus a gray/black version and an aquamarine version. This one is easy to find in stores or shop for it online with these direct links to Backcountry, REI, Altrec, or Amazon.
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
The beloved SteriPEN water purifier keeps getting better. I loved my original Traveler and and the Steripen Opti was even better. I’ve lost count of how many international trips those two items have kept me healthy—dozens. But ever since I laid eyes on a prototype last January, I’ve been looking forward to checking out this new Steripen Freedom.
In case you haven’t heard of this product, it’s like a magic wand for tap water you don’t trust. You wave this around in clear water (not muddy creek water) and it’ll kill the nasties with ultraviolet light. I have yet to get the runs even once while using this and it has enabled me to drink tap water from all kinds of dicey places.
This one takes the best aspects of previous models (like the little LED lights from the Opti version that help you see that it’s on) and adds some very key new features.
The reason this Freedom version is smaller is because it doesn’t require two bulky batteries. Instead there’s one small one that recharges. It has a standard micro-USB female plug and the cord has a regular USB on the other end. So you can use the included cord and plug it into a charger or laptop, or you can use something like a Chargepod or iGo and leave the cord at home. Before you could buy a bulky solar adapter case for the batteries, which works, but under this new system you can carry something more compact and powerful along to harness the sun’s energy instead like a Solio or Brunton Restore charger.
Per the official specs you can purify up to 40 times on one charge, so figure you’ll get at least 15 liters out of it before you need to plug it in again.
2) It’s even lighter
This Steripen Freedom is not just smaller. It weighs in at 2.6 ounces (74 grams). This has gone from “I should have room” to “Help me find this little thing in my bag!”
3) It’s also a flashlight
The Opti model sort of has a flashlight…in a pinch if you didn’t need much light. But this one will really light up the path to the latrine. It’s kind of tricky to get it to come on as that involves some shaking and moving around your hand to make it kick in, but the light is a dedicated one on the opposite end from the purifier lamp. It works pretty well once you get it going and stays on for three minutes.
When you buy this travel gadget (list price $120), you get everything pictured in the right side photo here: purifier, USB cord, wall adapter, and the handy Neoprene case it all fits into. This is a worthy investment for yourself and a nice thing to do for Mother Nature: it can potentially keep 1,000+ single-use plastic water bottles out of the world’s landfills, streams, and oceans. Or if someone near and dear to you is about to depart on an international journey, this would be a very thoughtful and useful gift.
I’ve raged and barked plenty on here about the need to carry a re-usable water bottle (and compact water purifier when necessary) in order to keep from soiling our land and oceans on a daily basis. Sure, you can point to your house recycling bin and justify that case of plastic from Costco, but reality is that some 3/4 of those single-use bottles—even in developed countries—just get drunk from and tossed. Here’s what happens to them.
There’s a tendency among many to drink bottled water because it tastes more neutral, with no trace of chlorine. So if we can eliminate that problem, will you stop buying disposable plastic?
CamelBak is hoping you’ll say yes, because they’ve solved that issue with this new Groove water bottle with a built-in filter. All you need to do is fill it up and drink. The built-in filter removes all the tastes you don’t want.
I’ve used a few different bottles with built-in filters before and have been less than satisfied. Either they made me work like a p0rn queen to get the water out or the filter would eventually fall into the bottle and fill it with charcoal.
This one, I’m happy to say, is a different story. CamelBak is one of the best-known manufacturers of water bottles and they seem to be trying harder than anyone to wean our population off their bottled water addiction. So they did this right. This Groove one feels like a regular water bottle, with a flip-top bite nozzle and a normal shape. You don’t have to suck on that nozzle any harder than you would normally.
It’s BPA-free, dishwasher safe, and comes in a variety of colors. (Mine is cool white, but I like this picture because you can see the filter.) It holds 20 ounces of water, or 0.6 liters. The list price is $25 for plastic, $35 for steel.
Alas, as with a hybrid car, eventually you’ve got to cough up more cash to be a good citizen of the planet. Here’s the official word on the filter: “Each Fresh Filter reliably reduces contaminants for 300 refills of the bottle, or approximately 3 months of use at 3–4 full bottles per day.” That adds up to 48 gallons or 180 liters, which even a constantly water-sucking/bathroom-going health nut like my wife will take a while to cycle through. When it’s time to get more, you’ll pay $10 for two filters or $25 for six.
Also, don’t expect to use this in countries where you can’t drink the water to start with, or to drink from a stream where you don’t know the source. This is a primarily a taste filter, not one meant to keep you from getting sick. Think of it as a Brita pitcher to go.
In my section of our best and worst travel gear of 2009 post I raved about the SteriPen, classifying it as the product I’d most likely be talked into doing infomercials for—that’s how much I like it. At the Outdoor Retailers show this past January I swung by the parent company’s booth and saw that they had a new model coming out: the SteriPen Adventurer Opti with a built-in L.E.D. light. They sent me one to check out just as it’s hitting the shelves, so here’s my pseudo-infomercial as a demo.
You don’t want to overhaul a product that’s already working well, so thankfully this new version is just an upgrade. The shape, weight, and functionality are the same. What has changed is the addition of a single L.E.D. light. That helps guide you when you’re purifying water in the dark or conversely if you’re having a hard time seeing that it’s working in very bright light. It also works as a flashlight in a pinch, if you hold down the single button for three seconds to make it stop flashing, so it now qualifies as double-duty gear.
The SteriPen Adventurer was already a wonder, enabling travelers to avoid chucking hundreds of single-use plastic water bottles into landfills or into the rivers that flow into our oceans. You can’t drink the water in some countries, but that doesn’t mean you can’t carry your own bottle and refill it. Just zap it with this—48 seconds for a half liter, 90 seconds for a liter—and you’re good to go. The ultraviolet light kills any and all microbes.
Everyone I know that travels with one of these raves about it. They may have been skeptical at first, but when you’ve traveled through nine developing countries like I have without getting one case of the runs, you tend to become convinced. My daughter drank water purified with a SteriPen in Mexico (four times), Guatemala, and Belize and stayed healthy too. So did my wife, so three for three.
This item is no trouble to pack as it only weighs 3.6 ounces including the batteries and it’s compact. It comes with disposable batteries that will last about 100 purification sessions. Once those wear out, you can be more eco-friendly by using rechargeable ones. In the video posted above I show off the solar charger accessory you can buy that also doubles as a padded carrying case. It takes about eight hours for the batteries to fully charge, but you can go for 50-60 sessions before you need to do it again.
This product retails for around $100, which is more than a bulky pump, but not unreasonable considering you never have any filters or parts to replace. Even putting aside the question of you personally wrecking the environment by buying throwaway water bottles your whole vacation, do the math on the ROI. You’ll see it doesn’t take too many trips for the SteriPen Adventurer Opti to pay for itself compared to continually buying liter after liter of water in convenience stores and restaurants. After all, tap water is still free most places.
Stop thinking about it and go buy one. The planet will thank you and eventually so will your wallet.
Get the Adventurer Opti at Backcountry.com
Get it at REI.com