SOL Water is a curious new product by Tortoise Gear, a California-based designer of survival gear. It’s a hydration bag that the company claims doubles as a water-purifying device, harnessing the power of the sun to kill microbes in your water. Tortoise Gear, run by a husband-and-wife team, has launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter to produce three sizes of the bags. So, would you trust the sun to clean your drinking water?

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As an experienced backpacker with more than a few backcountry miles under her belt, I’m pretty familiar with the need to harvest and treat drinking water. In some areas, boiling water is all it takes to make it safer to consume, or some people use a chemical approach like iodine tablets. However, in most places where hikers and wildlife venture, more aggressive treatment is needed to rid your water of nasty pathogens like giardia, salmonella, and cryptosporidia, so lots of hikers turn to a method that includes a filter of around 0.2 microns in size. The SOL Water bags don’t have a filter of any kind, though; the bags are collection devices without filters. So if you should happen to get any organic material – leaves or silt, etc – in your water, they’re going to stay there. Tortoise Gear did, peculiarly, make the SOL Water bags compatible with most portable hiking-style water filters, though, so you can filter water as you fill your bag. I’m not sure why you wouldn’t just use a standard hydration bladder in that case.

Related: 6 Water-purifying devices for clean drinking water in the developing world

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The Kickstarter page explains that a SOL Water bag can purify its contents in three to 24 hours of sunlight, depending on the rays available. However, there is no way to measure the intensity of the sunlight beaming down on your dirty water, and the SOL Water bag doesn’t have any kind of indicator or test that enables you to be sure that your water is microbe-free before consuming. At least other UV-based water purifiers are combined with a standard filter to aid in the cleaning process. This would make me a little nervous about the risk of giardia, a common parasite that results in a wicked attack on the digestive system of unsuspecting hikers – or those who might be traveling in areas where water treatment is not the best. Tortoise Gear calls the SOL Water bags “microbe killing powerhouses” but I’m not entirely sold.

In addition to the water purification claims, the campaign notes that the SOL Water bag has a dual purpose. They can carry water but they can also seal it out, making the bags a good option for packing dry goods like cameras, cell phones, and food items that need to be protected from dampness. The bags can also be filled with clean water at home and frozen to be used as ice packs in a cooler, which is convenient. Considering that a minimum $3 pledge will score you a 1-liter bag, that’s not a bad investment for that purpose alone. I just don’t know if I’d drink the water, personally – what do you think?

+ Sol Water Purifying Bag on Kickstarter

+ Tortoise Gear

Via Cool Hunting

Images via Tortoise Gear