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Reviews > Water Treatment > Filters > Camelbak Groove Portable Filtration > Test Report by Derek Hansen

CamelBak - Groove - Portable Filtration System

Portable filtration system in a CamelBak bottle.

Test Series by Derek Hansen

Groove and Nalgene Compared

TESTER INFORMATION

Me
NameDerek Hansen
Age34
GenderMale
Height5' 10" (1.78 m)
Weight165 lb (75 kg)
Email Address derek·daught·hansen·at·mac (without cheese)·dot·kahm
City, State, CountryFlagstaff, Arizona, USA

BACKPACKING BACKGROUND

I am a lightweight backpacker with a typical weekend pack weight of 15 lb (7 kg) and a multi-day weight of 20 lb (9 kg), which includes food and water. Because I pack less than 20 lb (9 kg), I prefer lightweight trail-running shoes. I prefer backpacking with a hammock as part of my sleep system.


PRODUCT INFORMATION

Manufacturer CamelBak Products, LLC. (Petaluma, California, USA)
Year of Manufacture 2010
Manufacturer’s Website camelbak.com
Listed Capacity 0.6 L
Measured Capacity 0.63 L (2.6 cups or 21.3 oz)
Listed Dimensions N/A
Measured Dimensions 3 dia. × 9 in (7.6 dia. × 23 cm)
Color Vareity of colors available in Titan plastic; stainless steel (I'm testing a black Titan plastic version)
Listed Weight N/A
Measured Weight 6.65 oz (188.5 g)
Listed Features

"The new CamelBak Groove is a portable filtration system in a CamelBak bottle with a contemporary design that's easy to use and carry. It's a convenient way to drink delicious, refreshing filtered water anywhere, helping consumers break free from home or office water filters and reduce the waste and expense of disposable plastic bottles. The filter is integrated into the straw, making CamelBak Groove more stable than top-heavy designs with filters in the cap."

"Replacement filters are available for a suggested retail price of $10 for two filters and $25 for six."

Warranty

"CamelBak Products, LLC provides a full warranty for its products with regard to manufacturer defects in materials and workmanship. This warranty does not cover damage caused by normal wear and tear, accident, combat damage, improper care and cleaning, non-standard usage or negligence."

"CamelBak Products, LLC warrants backpacks, bottles, and accessories for a period of two (2) years."


INITIAL REPORT

13 Sep 2010

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

Groove lid

The CamelBak Groove water bottle, hereafter “Groove” or “bottle” comes in either a rigid Titan plastic model or stainless steel. I am testing the plastic bottle, which has a translucent bottle and a screw top lid. The lid has a rigid loop, suitable for clipping to a pack or holding. The loop is not detachable. Also on the lid is a flip-top CamelBak Big Bite Valve, which is a reusable mouthpiece made from a silicon material.

The bite valve has a slit running down the center so I have to bite down in order for any liquid to come through the nozzle. No water readily leaks through the valve, whether open or closed.

Attached to the inside of the cap is a straw that reaches almost to the bottom of the plastic bottle. The straw portion can unscrew from the cap to be removed. Inside the straw is a long cylindrical carbon filter that slides out to be removed.

The bottle and bite valve work fine without the straw.

The Groove bottle came alone with no hang tag or additional product description.

The filter does not filter water born viruses or bacteria, but is reported to reduce "chlorine, mercury, copper, cadmium, and lead" in drinking water.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

I was surprised to find no additional product information attached to the Groove. I wrote to the manufacturer but have not yet heard back regarding any information on how to care for the bottle, how to replace the filter, or any other information about the product. The press release from the company states that the filter can be used up to 200 times or 2 months of use. Replacement filters were mentioned, but no additional information about where to obtain filters is presently available.

Groove on Nalgene

The Groove looks about the same size as a Nalgene water bottle, and true enough, the lid on the Groove fits the Nalgene perfectly. This is good to know, because the Groove bottle only holds 0.6 L, and I can get a little bit more capacity with different bottles and still take advantage of the Groove filtering. The narrower bottle on the Groove is easy to hold, however, and I like the streamlined look and feel.

Carbon Scoring

I noticed I could easily “unhook” the straw portion (it doesn’t have regular threads) to detach it from the lid. I saw some carbon on the inside of the lid and I worried about carbon getting into the water I would drink. I flushed out the carbon from the lid and spit out the first few sips of water after re-filling the bottle, checking for carbon bits. Thankfully, I didn’t see any, but I am a little worried about getting some flakes in my system.

Bite Valve

The bite valve works when I bite down, opening the slit and letting the water run through. The press release claims the CamelBak Big Bite Valve “enables a high flow rate for easy sipping — no squeezing or tipping required.” My initial impression is that the bite valve doesn’t allow a “high flow rate” in my opinion, in fact, I felt like I was sucking a baby bottle. However, I did try the bite valve without the straw and filter and found that I can get a LOT of water with just the bite valve. It makes sense that the flow would be more restricted with the filter engaged, but it doesn’t seem to allow as much as I would have hoped.

The bite valve is listed as reusable, and I cannot find any way to remove it, so I'm guessing it is not replaceable, and therefore permanent to the cap.

Using the straw does mean I don’t have to tip or squeeze the bottle, which took a bit of remembering since a lot of the bottles I use in the field don’t use straws, even those with bite valves or pop-tops.

Filter in Straw

I have been using the Groove for a few days now and I was trying to find out how to replace the filter. I wondered if I had to replace the entire straw because I didn't find any instructions on removing any other components (everything was trial-and-error). On closer inspection, I found that I could remove the cylindrical carbon filter from the straw. This wasn’t as obvious as I thought, although it makes sense now.

In my initial trial (about five days now), I have used the bottle dozens of times, including a few car trips and day hikes. I am also using it at my desk at work, so I’m confident this bottle will see a lot of use, and I’m sure I’ll need to get replacement filters soon. So far, however, I haven’t noticed a big difference in taste between the tap water and the Groove filtered water. Taste is subjective, but this will be something I will monitor over the field report period. To my knowledge, the filter does not eliminate any backcountry viruses or bacteria such as cryptosporidium and giardia. According to the press release, it only "reduces chlorine, mercury, copper, cadmium and lead in drinking water," purportedly "improving the taste as it freshly filters each sip."

The bottle itself is a bit heavy for me when I compare how much volume it holds -- 6.65 oz (188.5 g) bottle for only 0.6 L capacity. On occasion, I may put the Groove lid and filter inside a larger Nalgene bottle for increased storage when I need the additional capacity. The straw does take up some of the available capacity.

PRO—No leaks on the bite valve. Bottle is small enough to get a good grip. Replaceable filters. Rigid loop for holding and cliping.

CON—Heavy for low-volume bottle.


FIELD REPORT

23 Nov 2010

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

I have refilled the Groove approximately 200 times in the last 70 days. Part of this high usage has been that I use the Groove almost daily at work and I have kept track of refills, averaging three per day. The Groove has been a great travel companion as well as I've taken it on road trips and events around town.

I've also taken the Groove on several day hikes during this period. I've highlighted a few trips below:

Oct 15-17 ~ Snow Canyon State Park, St. George, Utah. We had an opportunity to visit family and took a few trips into Snow Canyon and went on a few day hikes, including Pioneer Names Trail, Johnson's Arch, and Whiterocks Trail to name a few. Elevation was around 3200 ft (975 m) and daytime temperatures around 75 F (24 C). We experienced some light rain this weekend.

Nov 10 ~ Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah. On a recent family trip we stopped for some day hikes in the Grand Staircase to the Paria Rimrocks and Toadstool Trail. Elevation was around 4400 ft (1340 m) and daytime temperatures around 50 F (10 C).

I always filled the bottle with regular tap water of varying sources and I would wash the bottle by hand occasionally using hot water.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

At Grand Staircase

One of the unexpected advantages of the Groove has been when sharing this bottle with my kids. I often backpack and hike with my family and the Groove is a hit with the kids who will suck down a lot of water with this bottle. I think they really love sucking on the straw. With the straw and bite valve, I never lose water due to spilling, and the valve keeps out backwash “floaties.”

In the office, where the Groove has seen the most use, I’ve found that I do drink more water than when I’ve just used a cup at my desk. I find I can also multitask by biting the Groove in my mouth, drink, and type on the computer all at the same time. The valve has held up very well.

Day hiking in Snow Canyon

I haven’t noticed any major leaking with the bottle, as long as I have the valve turned down. I’ve carried it in backpacks and messenger bags without incident.

I attempted to bring the Groove on a recent bicycle commute to work but found that the bottle doesn’t fit any standard bottle cage, so the Groove went into my messenger bag instead. While inconvenient during my ride, I was able to drink when I stopped at lights; the bite valve was much easier and more pleasant to drink from than my standard pop-top bicycle water bottles.

FIELD USE SUMMARY

Although I've used the bottle approximately 200 times, I haven't noticed any slowing of the water through the filter, but I know I am due for a new filter soon. I love that the bottle doesn't leak and the flip-top bite valve is easy to open and use.

I can tell a slight difference in water taste, but most of the sources I use don't have distinct chlorine problems so this aspect of the Groove has been difficult for me to test.

I haven't used the Groove, yet, on any backpacking trips because the capacity of the bottle is so low and in my area water in the backcountry is scarce so I need to bring a lot. I have a short backpacking trip coming up where I may use the Groove, but overall, I think it is best used for short hikes and around town, which is where I'll continue to focus my testing.

PRO—No leaks. I'm drinking more water. Easy-to-open lid.

CON—The standard bottle doesn't work on my bike.


LONG-TERM REPORT

21 Jan 2011

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

I have continued to use the Groove daily with nearly 150 more uses over the long-term testing period. In addition to uses at work, I used the Groove on a few day hikes and the following highlighted trips:

Nov 20 ~ Old Caves Crater, Flagstaff, Arizona. I took two of my kids on a day hike, approximately 2 miles (3.2 km), to explore some of the many trails around a cinder cone near our home. Elevation was 7100 ft (2164 m) and daytime temperatures around 40 F (4 C). A winter storm was approaching and we encountered some high winds, 30-40 mph (48-64 kph) with gusts up to 50 mph (80 kph).

Nov 26-27 ~ Snow Canyon State Park, St. George, Utah. Hiking the Red Mountain Trail has long been on my to-do list (because of the amazing views above the canyon) and I finally got a chance to do it, although it was a lot colder than I expected. The overnight low was in the teens (-9 C) with scattered snow drifts and a prevailing nighttime wind gusting from the south west. Elevation was 5000 ft (1524 m). I had the opportunity to bring my mother with me and my 7-year-old son. We backpacked about 6 miles (10 km) total.

Dec 17-18 ~ Two Guns, Arizona. I joined the Boy Scouts on an overnight camping trip to see the Canyon Diablo and Two Guns ghost towns, along with the Apache Death Cave. Our camp site was about as dull and nondescript as I've ever seen, but we enjoyed swapping stories around the campfire and doing day hikes and geocaching around the ruins. Overnight low was around 32 F (0 C) at an elevation of 5500 ft (1676 m).

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

Snow Canyon Panorama

Snow Canyon overlook via the Red Mountain Trail.

I think I’ve finally been able to tell a difference between regular tap water and the filtered water from the Groove; I can tell a difference, and the difference is good! My wife, who is much better at distinguishing between water sources, tells me that she can tell a big difference, so I feel confident in reporting that the filter works.

During this period I purchased a replacement filter set from REI online. The filter was easy to replace; no instruction reference necessary. There was no difference in water flow between the old and new filter, so I’m guessing that the old filter still had some “life” left in it; however, I decided to stick with the new filter for the rest of the testing period. I have had no issues with leaking, carbon dust, or flow. The bottle continues to work well.

During my trip to Two Guns I attached the Groove filter and top to a larger-capacity Nalgene bottle. I liked the additional capacity and had no issues with flow. Since most of my activities on this overnight trip were short day hikes, I was able to re-fill the bottle easily from my larger 2L storage bottle. While the Groove isn’t designed to treat backcountry water, I can imagine that I could bring it on longer hikes if water was plentiful and I could pre-treat and refill the Groove on the trail, or just refill it from another larger bottle.

FINAL SUMMARY

I can tell a slight difference between regular tap water and the filtered water from the Groove. My wife can tell a bigger difference, so I know that my own tasting ability is in question. I like the flip-top cap and the carry loop has been strong enough that I often carry the bottle from this loop with confidence. My kids especially like drinking from the bite valve and I like that it doesn’t leak!

Overall, a great drinking bottle.

PRO—No leaks. Nice bite valve. Filter works well. Fits Nalgene-brand bottles.

CON—None.


I would like to thank CamelBak Products LLC and BackpackGearTest.org for providing me with the opportunity to test this product.



Read more reviews of CamelBak gear
Read more gear reviews by Derek Hansen

Reviews > Water Treatment > Filters > Camelbak Groove Portable Filtration > Test Report by Derek Hansen



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