CamelBak Bottle Splash Guard with Water Filter

I’m a big fan of reusable water bottles. Ever since the days when Nalgene sport bottles started showing up, I’ve been carrying one with me. They are fun to toss around, easy to clip to bags and quite durable. I feel great about not using throw-away bottles—even though they can be recycled, they are a lot more wasteful in terms of shipping and packaging. Here are some more compelling reasons and factoids to justify the avoidance of bottled water.

These days you can get several different designs and colors in BPA-free bottles with various styles of lids. Bottles now fit in cup holders and backpacks, store different volumes of liquid and provide insulation for keeping your water cold. Some also feature bite valves, screw tops, wide mouths and one-handed flip tops. Wide mouths make cleaning and filling bottles much easier, especially when adding ice, and one-handed tops give you access to hydration even when your other hand is busy—like when you’re on a bike. Splash guards help to diminish the mess that wide mouths can create from the sloshing, splashing liquid inside.

If there’s one downside to drinking water from a reusable bottle rather than a disposable bottle, it’s taste. Or at least it can be if your local water doesn’t taste clean and pure.  Water filters like those from Brita or PUR can eliminate any unwanted chemical taste, making your water just as pure as bottled water. But using a filter system requires a little forethought and preparation, something that you don’t always have time for when you’re running out the door to work or the trail. And sometimes you have to fill up your bottle away from home, miles away from your ice cold Brita pitcher.

That’s where bottles and splash guards with built-in filters come in handy. There are a number of different designs from full bottles to bottle tops that provide this functionality. With a filter built into your water bottle, you have fresh, clean water no matter what sink or fountain you’re using. Never worry about mucky tasting water again (or the dehydration that could come if you avoid drinking water completely).

The TapGuard from Guyot Designs (shown above) attaches to wide-mouth bottles and provides carbon filtering from any safe source. I bought my TapGuard several years ago at REI for a cool $15 and have been very impressed with the performance. The TapGuard comes with the splash-guard unit in blue, orange, or black. It filters your water as you drink and includes two replacement carbon filters, which are enough for 200 liters of water – the equivalent of hundreds of disposable bottles of water! When those two carbon filters eventually run out, you can get two more replacements for just $7. That’s way more affordable and convenient than a pitcher filter, and it takes up less space in a refrigerator.

Since I take my bottle everywhere with me (and leave my fridge at home) this method of filtering allows me to use water from drinking fountains, friends’ houses, and garden hoses and still get cleaner water with a great taste. Compared to a regular splash guard, I had to suck a bit, but it’s not much different than the sippy cups of my younger days. This is a great product that is both healthy and environmentally friendly. Guyot Designs seems like a responsible, earth- minded company and has several other cool products, including the Fireflye—a lantern for your water bottle.

CamelBak’s BPA-free “Better Bottle” is my favorite model and definitely what I’d recommend for use with the TapGuard. CamelBak BPA-free bottles feature the same great properties customers have come to expect from “old fashioned” polycarbonate bottles: vibrant color, clarity, durability, dishwasher-safe design, and no residual taste. Additionally, none of CamelBak’s bottles have ever contained phthalates. Phthalates (pronounced thal-ates) added to some plastics to make them soft and pliable.

If you don’t want to buy a water bottle and filter system separately, consider purchasing the CamelBak Groove. The BPA-free Groove line features an integrated carbon filter that cleans chlorine, taste and odor from your water as you sip via bite valve. The filter lasts for three months, which according to CamelBak, is long enough to replace 375 disposable bottles of water. You get clean-tasting water straight from the bottle every time. CamelBak is expanding the Groove line next February with a larger, 25-ounce Groove model and an insulated Groove that will keep your water colder. The 25-ounce version will retail for $27 and the insulated 20-ounce model will retail for $30.

Carbon filters are effective for delivering cleaning out bad taste and odor, but sometimes you have much nastier things to fight—like when you’re only carrying three days worth of water on a five-day backpacking trip. Any water found from wilderness streams, rivers or lakes should be purified before drinking, no matter how clean and fresh it looks. Boiling is the old-fashioned, tried-and-true standby, but you can’t always stop, light a fire or stove, boil water and wait for it to cool before getting a drink. That’s when you need a purification solution.

Once again, CamelBak has your back. First shown two years ago as a prototype, the All Clear bottle is a Tritan Better Bottle that integrates an ultraviolet purification system into its top. The UV system destroys 99.99 percent of bacteria, protozoa and viruses, making 25 ounces of water safe to drink in about a minute.

All Clear is rechargeable via USB and offers 80 cycles worth of purification per charge. While CamelBak introduced the model in the summer of 2009, it subsequently redesigned it, and will be putting it on the market in February 2012. Retail price is around $100, which, while pricey for a water bottle, is solid for a rechargeable purifier + water bottle. A separate cap is included for drinking, and a filter to weed out larger objects like sticks and pebbles is available for $15.