Review: New CamelBak Relay provides pure, great tasting water for every ride

Great tasting water clear enough to read through.

Great tasting water clear enough to read through.

Let’s talk water.

Whether you ride with a water bottle or backpack-style hydration system, every bike rider needs some source of hydration for all but the shortest rides. Especially on those hot summer days just round the corner.

Let alone those hot spring days like last week.

But how much thought do you give to what goes in them?

No offense to my fellow Angelenos, but I’ve never been a fan of the water that comes out of our local taps.

Whether it’s a product of what leaves the filtration plant, or what it picks up from pipes along the way, LA water has always tasted a little off to me. And too often, there’s a noticeable chlorine smell that makes me feel like I’m drinking from the local swimming pool.

So ever since I returned to the city of my birth over a two decades ago, I’ve relied on bottled water. An average of eight gallons a week between my wife and I, at a cost of $1 to $1.50 a gallon.

The Corgi, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to care where her water comes from, as long as she doesn’t have to share it with anyone else.

And yes, we recycle the bottles, while realizing that doesn’t begin to negate the environmental impact of packing and trucking all those bottles.

We’ve tried various filtration systems over the years, but always found it more convenient and better tasting to get our water off the market shelf once again.

So when a representative for CamelBak asked me to try out an new countertop filtration pitcher, I agreed to give it a try, expecting to use it for a couple of day, write a quick review, and toss it in the closet to gather dust.

But six weeks later, we’re still using it.

The 10-cup CamelBak Relay is a simple, compact pitcher that fits easily in the refrigerator, taking up less space than a comparable water jug.

And when I say simple. I mean exactly that. Even taking time to read the instructions for a change, I had it assembled, filled and filtered in just a couple minutes.

Innovation filter works as you fill and as you pour, in real time.

Innovation filter cleans the water twice, as you fill and as you pour, in real time.

The company claims it filters 10 times faster than any competing product. But in my experience, the Relay filters and pours in real time, with virtually no delay at first, and none at all after the filter breaks in. And it filters the water twice, as you pour fresh water in and again as you pour it out.

More important, though, is the taste.

I’m happy to report it’s good.

Okay, great.

There’s none of the charcoal smell or taste I’ve found with other filters, and no hint of cloudiness or other unpleasant odors. In fact, the company claims independent tests showed it removed 97% of chlorine taste and odor. So all you get is crisp, clear water that compares favorably with the water found on the grocery shelves.

If I was to rank it — and why not, since this is my review — I’d put it just below Arrowhead Spring water and a step above Sparkletts, at a fraction of the cost. And way beyond the generic jugs on the supermarket shelf.

It also pours easily, allowing me to fill even narrow containers with ease. And since it filters in real time, I can fill the container, then pour it directly into the coffee maker or ice tray for better tasting coffee and ice.

It’s also BPA-free and dishwasher safe, and comes with a lifetime guarantee.

Bottom line, we’ve gone from buying eight gallons of water a week to just one, at most. And then only to rotate the stock of water we keep on hand in case of earthquake or zombie apocalypse.

Which means, at an average bottled water cost of $10 a week, the Relay paid off its $36.99 retail cost in about four weeks, tax included.

Better yet, the filter lasts for four months; new filters cost just $28.50 for a three-pack — a full year supply — or $12 for a single filter, and can be found at, Target, Bed Bath and Beyond, and

That’s just $65.49 for a full year of clean, great tasting water, compared to the $500 or so we would otherwise pay. And until I wrote that last sentence, I never realized what a waste of money that was.

I’m sold.


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