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Reviews > Water Treatment > Filters > Clear2o Personal Water Filter > Test Report by joe schaffer
Clear2o Personal Water Filter
Test Report by Joe Schaffer
INITIAL REPORT - November 7, 2020
FIELD REPORT - April 7, 2020
LONG TERM REPORT - May 18, 2021
NAME: Joe Schaffer
HOME: Bay Area, California USA
I enjoy California's central Sierras, camping every month with a goal to match my age in nights out each year. For comfort I lug tent, mattress, chair and such. Typical summer trips run 5-8 days; 40 lb (18 kg), about half food and water related; about 5 miles (8 km) per hiking day in the bright and sunny granite in and around Yosemite. I winter base camp most often at 6,000 to 7,000 ft (1,800 to 2,000 m); 2 to 3 nights; 50 lb (23 kg); a mile or so (1.6 km) on snowshoes.
Product: Clear2o Personal Water Filter
Manufacturer: Applica Water Products, LLC.
Features and claims from mfr:
Stage 1 filtration will reduce bacteria at the 0.1 micron level and Stage 2 eliminates unpleasant taste and odors.
Reduces 99.9% bacteria and microplastics
Drink directly from streams and lakes
Eliminate unpleasant odors, bad taste and discoloration
Filter water from any fresh water source.
Silicone caps makes it easy to keep spout clean
1 Liter collapsible durable 3-ply reusable water bottle with sport cap and carabiner included.
Warranty: 90-day limited; refund or replacement
Country of origin: unknown
MSRP: US $36.99
stage 1 filter 1 7/8 oz (52 g)
stage 2 filter 1 3/8 oz (36 g)
bag 7/8 oz (24 g)
cap 1/4 oz (6 g)
biner 1/4 oz (6 g)
TOTAL: 4 3/8 oz (124 g)
Stage 1 filter about 5 3/8 in (142 mm) x 1 3/8 in (32 mm)
Stage 2 filter about 3 1/4 in (81 mm) x 1 7/16 in (35 mm)
Bottle about 11 3/4 in (295 mm) x 5 7/8 in (150 mm)
Received: October 28, 2020
This water filter product markets to an individual user, as opposed to a system with capacity for more users. It removes pathogens and particulates from water in a Stage 1 primary filter using hollow fiber technology. The optional Stage 2 carbon filter improves taste and clarity. The two filters screw together with threading that matches (most?) small-mouth drink bottles. Stage 1 filter body has a small viewing window showing the filter medium, though I don't find any description of what to look for. An arrow on the body foil-wrap indicates direction of filtered water; and back-flushing. On each end of each unit in tiny pressed letters almost invisible to the septuagenarian eye is the admonition not to freeze the filter--more apparent in the attending directions.
Both stages have nipples with press-on covers on the clean water output ends. The covers are attached by means of an integrated plastic retainer. Nipples extend about 3/8 in (1 cm) from the body on each end of the Stage 1 filter and on the output end of the Stage 2 filter. Though in a significantly less exaggerated way, the nipples taper in a shape somewhat resembling a sharpened pencil.
System includes a collapsible 1 L (1 qt) bag with a sport cap and a carabiner. Either end of the Stage 1 filter will screw onto the bottle spout. The output end of the Stage 2 filter will screw on, but there would be no purpose in that; the inlet side intends only to connect to the Stage 1 filter.
The bottle and the Stage 2 carbon filter are available for purchase separately.
Directions are informative and operation appears to be reasonably intuitive. (Reading the directions--painful as that always is--may very well prove beneficial in avoiding contradictory assumptions made from experience with other products.) Neither filter tolerates freezing, a condition likely prevalent during the test period. It would be helpful to know if there is any way to tell if either unit has mildly frozen over night and then thawed before attempted usage. (I've never seen such help from any other product either.) I always expel as much water as possible before retiring a filter to the tent for the night. That should prevent any cracks in the casing, but I don't know if that makes fibers more or less likely to freeze at marginal temps. Frozen fibers can rupture (and therefore disrupt integrity) with no visible evidence to the casing. Freezing is bad for the carbon element as well, though I don't know if that refers to the carbon itself or only the casing.
Having the option to include the carbon element makes big sense to me. Sometimes water is just fine and sometimes it tastes too earthy to drink. Carbon option has potential to expand water availability--especially late in the season--and for me is definitely worth its weight and space, assuming it works. The carbon filter is recommended for replacement each season or after 50 L (12 1/2 gal), which in a normal year would be every 3-4 trips if I were to use it every time. Since this filter only matters to taste and clarity, I likely won't replace it until it seems not to be working. Back-flushing and decontamination are not recommended for the carbon element.
I would like to know what to look for in the Stage 1 filter window, which of course may become self-evident. Back-flushing the Stage 1 filter every 10 L (2 1/2 gal) does not seem particularly onerous, which for me would be about once every 2-3 days. I'll just have to remember to keep a supply of clean water for that purpose. I may or may not remember to sterilize the Stage 1 filter with bleach solution once a year.
Directions indicate some solutions to avoid, but I don't find a reference to sugary drink mixes. The common way to unclog sugar is hot water, and directions warn against that. Evidently sugar will ruin it, then, which I've been told is not the case with certain other filters. I extrapolate from directions (and experience) that heavy particulates--mud puddle water--for example, will likely ruin it. Blunt force trauma will kill it, though no indication is given of what level of force that may be.
Both ends of the Stage 1 filter look identical in shape and color. One end has the nipple cover, which if I can remember means the input end. Wouldn't it be nice if maybe the output end was green as it is, but the input (dirty) end was red? The foil wrap with the direction arrows already shows signs of peeling loose. And if flow direction is all the foil is for, perhaps I should peel it the rest of way off and save a micro-gram of weight.
Apparently I can stick the dirty end of this product into water and suck on the clean end. My initial impression is that I don't think the nipple is very well ergonomically designed to suit that use profile; if ever the old joints would unlock enough to get the arthritic body in position to try. No doubt connecting from the bottle will be the order of the day. Look for more on that in a Field Report, but either way, sitting here at the computer I'm not getting much of a lip lock.
It's great that the product will screw to the kinds of bottles I like to use, but having no air vent it isn't going to work with them, with the exception of a foot-stomping power back-flush. A collapsible bottle is necessary, and indeed one is provided. That bottle will be 'dirty', so I don't get why there's a sport cap on it. I don't favor collapsible bottles with such small spouts as I find them too difficult to clean. (I use recyclable bottles until they get too nasty.) The bottle design allows the bottom to expand enough to stand upright, much in the fashion of a freeze-dried meal envelope; and I expect that will make filling the bottle easier. I don't yet imagine how the carabiner would be worth its (slight) weight.
The system is certainly light and compact; and in the cost spectrum for filter products it seems very attractively priced.
Oct 30-Nov 4, 2020: Yosemite/Emigrant Wilderness, California, USA. 6 days, 16 mi (26 km); leave weight 35 lb (16 kg); 35-70 F (2-21 C), mostly sunny; 7,200-7,800 ft (2,200-2,400 m); 4 camps.
The system is certainly light, compact and quickly ready for use. As it is for personal use I don't expect it to have high capacity. It works great for trail use and easily stows in an outside pocket or lid. I like that I can grab a nip right away after filling the bag, a bit like a bota and more fun in the warmer part of the day.
The bag feels sturdy and the hang loop being reinforced as it is should never break. Seems to me, though, that a better way to place the loop would be at the bottom of the bag, so that it could hang inverted and allow water to drip through the filter for more casual camp use. Water will drip through the filters, but at too slow a rate to sit there and hold it. The bag's small opening requires some degree of attention to aim a stream of raw water into it. I do like that the bag will fold open at the bottom and stay upright, but my feeble methods of pouring water from one vessel into such a small opening defy doing so without major spillage. Thus the bag has water trickling down the outside, which could then conceivably though perhaps not very probably dribble down the outside of the filter and into the receiving receptacle. Such a small nit.
I need different colors at the ends of the filter. I struggled to figure out which end belongs on the bag and which on the bottle. The arrow on the decal shows a clear direction, but smacks of having to read directions. Seems I cannot get sufficiently burrowed into the crags of the gray matter which end has the nipple. Similar whining would embrace the notion of somehow marking the carbon filter to go on the output end. I'm assuming that's where it goes, as there'd be no reason to clog the carbon with bug guts and tree goo.
A design element that seems odd to me is no way to vent the receiving bottle with either filter screwed to it. I found that even with the bottle relatively loosely attached, air pressure built up enough to inhibit flow. I only have two hands. One has to squeeze the bag; the other hold the bottle. This makes the system double jointed such that I found it necessary to hold the bag up rather than let it rest on the stack, especially as the bag depleted and especially with both filters in line. The degree of effort required to keep the bag almost aloft combined with having to squeeze it at the same time tires out an old arm fairly quickly. A flexible clean bag for a receiving receptacle would resolve this issue, but the product does not come with one and I generally don't carry one.
I did not have occasion to time enough usages to have a reasonably 'scientific' measure of flow rate. But as I did bother to some extent, I'll report that it takes me about 2 1/2 minutes to squeeze the bag empty through the primary filter; and when using both filters, a little shy of 4 minutes. Evidently I had no reading material or perhaps too great an ethic as tester, but I did hold the bag once without squeezing. For 9 minutes a steady stream came out; and then 7 minutes longer for a total of 16 minutes for the bag to gravity-empty.
At all four camps the quality of water had diminished to brownish puddle sludge frequently found at season-end in drought-prone California. With the charcoal filter the taste was neutral. Without it there remained a slight back-taste, says a fellow who survived college on Ripple. I did not have enough vessels of similar material and design to make a comparative sight test. It looked like thin tea going in and not any different coming out.
This time of year nearly all water has to be strained of muck before challenging a filter, and that was the case throughout this test. The Clear2o did not clog, being in use the full time for two people's hydration needs. I did backflush it several times, though whether it was actually necessary to do so could be questioned. I have the feeling that waiting until a filter is noticeably clogged is likely to embed particles permanently and unnecessarily shorten filter life or reduce flow rate. Backflushing requires clean water, of course, so the dirty bag can't be used. The other vessels I had were not very collapsible; and the amount of water that will squeeze out of a plastic bottle is fairly limited. Also I didn't have a white bowl into which to flush the filter and inspect the result.
May 12-17, 2021: Emigrant Wilderness, California, USA. 6 days, 18 mi (29 km); leave weight 35 lb (16 kg); 35-70 F (2-21 C), mostly sunny; 5,900-8,000 ft (1,800-2,400 m); 4 camps.
I would have enjoyed more testing on this product, and even under the circumstances that should have happened. I took the Clear2o on a solo snow camping trip to test its ability to manage the debris load in campfire-melted snow, but alas. In my zeal to wrest free of the grasp of the anti-camping gods they forced the fatal error of failing to pack the bottle, without which the filter could only lay useless as I guzzled bits of moss, needles and winter-killed spiders. I'm forced to say no solo outings tested this solo product, though beg as I do for credit that I carried it on one.
Nonetheless the complete test did cover 12 days of backpacking and all with two people relying on its output. Even solo I like to call it a night with a 2 L (2 qt) bottle of filtered water to begin the next day. With the Clear2o bottle full to start and then a refill, the time required to make this happen is about 8 minutes, without the charcoal filter which is unnecessary with clear water abundant. This time results from progressively folding the bottle down to keep pressure through the filter as waiting for gravity requires more patience than I have. This part of year water does not require straining. It is still pretty cold, and having to squeeze that cold bottle for so many minutes did not sit well with the old arthritis. The last evening provided enough sprinkles to cause patience to dissolve more quickly--I didn't want to bother moving the process to the tent but I didn't feel very bright sitting in the rain. My style of outing rarely requires adherence to any kind of time regimen, and though I can sit in my chair while making water with this product, there may be other tasks I might more preferably attend. I will definitely continue to use the Clear2o, but with post-test attachment modifications to convert it to static drip filter camp use. For stopping to water up one person on the trail it works fine as is. I would never carry a trail filter system and a camp filter system, though.
Remarking of the double-joint in the Field Test, it did finally occur to me that screwing the filter more loosely to the receiving bottle would help mitigate the wobbles while still allowing enough air to escape. That worked better (though a bit more slowly); and perhaps partly due to the shorter stack of no charcoal filter. A couple of times I didn't screw the filter tightly enough to the dispensing bottle and unfiltered water escaped down the side of the filter. I don't know if any got in the receiving bottle. Perhaps in a few days that possibility may reveal itself.
A slight amount of back-flushing can be achieved by alternately sucking and blowing on the output end--perhaps a teaspoon or so. Whether that does any good I couldn't tell as I did it each time I used the filter and the flow rate never seemed to change. The water I ran though it was clear on this second trip. When the filter has little water in it, I can't force air or the rest of the water through it.
The filter developed no working issues under the test load. The first trip was 100% on filtered water as no heat source was permitted and I don't tolerate chemicals. The second trip we made our evening swill over campfire. A reasonable estimate of usage would be 30 L (qts) on the first trip and 20 on the second, for a total of 50 L (qts). No diminishment in flow rate seems apparent. At home I attached a plastic bottle that I didn't care about abusing and easily backflushed 20 oz (0.6 L) into a white bowl. Two tiny specks immediately appeared in the water, but whether they actually came from the inside of the filter I wouldn't say.
The view window shows the filter leaves slightly compacted on the input end; and brown specks toward the output end. I don't know what this means if anything; and I don't remember what the window showed when the filter was new. I wish the website would provide some input on what to look for, but I don't find any FAQ for this product. Of course, if water won't go through it, that probably will indicate everything a person would need to know.
My experience with any collapsible bottle is that they defy filling in standing water; and the smaller the opening the more they resist the input. I have to 'scoop' the bottle, which then stirs up sediment for the next pass. A running stream, especially with a mini-waterfall works fine. Most of the time I filled the bottle from a gallon jug. Where in the Field Test I wasn't so enamored with the carabiner, turns out it's great when the hands are full and I'm toting water a ways to camp. It must be remembered that this product is remarked as 'solo', but even so, I find the 1 L (qt) bottle inconveniently small for camp use; and again, it would not suit me to carry one for trail and another for camp.
As dry as I can get the filter, it weighs 2 3/8 oz (67 g). That means there's 1/2 oz (15 g) of water remaining which needs some clorination through it at least once a year to prevent or kill any mold or pathogens that might otherwise grow in storage.
After studying the view window with all my visual might there was revealed the input and output markings on the filter. This is good news for me as I also discovered how easily the nipple cover becomes detached from the output end. The question would be whether in the outback not under a desk lamp will those markings be evident enough to cipher. The blue arrow on the foil wrap is clear enough, but sometimes I need all the help I can get.
SUMMARY: Quite light, inexpensive and compact system to make potable water; works well for one person's trail use.
c) no chemicals
Thank you Applica Water Products and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this product. Test reporting is complete.
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