Product Review #1: Water Bottles

I have decided to begin some product reviews.  So manufacturers, feel free to send some samples!! 

First off, water bottles.  

 They are greatly over-looked but they are immensely important to the cyclist.  I have always been a huge fan of Specialized’s bottles.  they have great valves, they clean easily and you drink tastes like your drink, not plastic.  However, we had our first 100 degree day a couple of weeks ago and my bottles were boiling hot within 20 minutes.  Not cool.  At all.  I decided that was enough and I needed to find something that kept my drinks cool.  After all, maintaining a cooler core temp improves performance, even if it is only in perceived exertion.  see the following: http://www.sportsci.org/jour/0201/jpm.htm; http://www.nielsbogerd.com/files/Bogerd2005ICEEexcooling.pdf 

Thus, I decided to try some insulated bottles.  I had tried Polar Bottle in the past, and really didn’t like it.  I still have two in my bottle bin that I don’t use.  They didn’t fit in cages unless you got them just right, and they really didn’t keep the drink cold.  Plus, they are just big.  However, I noticed that they had updated their design, so I bought a new one.  I had also read about the new CamelBak Podium bottle with the Chill Jacket.  So, I bought one of those as well.  Here are the links to the two products.  I bought the 24oz in both bottles.  I’m a thirsty guy.

http://www.camelbak.com/sports-recreation/bottles/podium-chilljacket.aspx

http://www.polarbottle.com/

I filled the bottles up with ice and my preferred sports drink and set out on a long ride.  The first thing I noticed was the size difference.  The CamelBak bottle was much shorter than the Polar Bottle (I later realized this may be partly because mine measure out at 26oz.).  The Polar was much more cumbersome in getting it in and out of the cages.  There was hardly any clearance from my seat tube cage. On a frame smaller than 56, in sloping geometry, it may not fit at all. 

The second thing I noticed was how soft the CamelBak was compared to any other bottle, and how hard the Polar is compared to other bottles.  This has two consequences.  First, being stiffer means it’s not going anywhere.  Second, stiff bottles are hard to squeeze.  I was worried that the CamelBak would get ejected on the first little bump I hit I was also concerned because it has a non-traditional shape that appears as if it will not hold as snugly (is that a word?).  However, the CamelBakperformed admirably.  The Polar bottle is going nowhere.  Ever. (Performance here could also be attributed to my Arundel cages.  www.arundelbike.com) In the squeeze test, the Polar is tough, but not has hard as one would expect.  The CamelBak on the other hand, will shoot a stream of liquid to the back of your throat with just a little pressure.  This brings me to the next point of observation, the valve. 

Both bottles have quite a standard to live up to, given my fondness for Specialized’s bottle.  I even tried to make my Specialized lids fit the two test bottles before I gave them a chance.  It didn’t work.  The Polar bottle has a pretty standard valve that works well. No leaking when closed, and liquid comes out like one would expect when open.  It says it is removable for easy cleaning, and it appears to be designed to some out, however actually getting it out is a different story.  The CamelBak valve is in a class all its own. It is a pressure valve that does not leak at all. It has a close position, but it really isn’t needed.  The only way liquid is coming out is if you squeeze it, hence the jetstream referenced above.  I wasn’t real sure about this at first, because I usually put the bottle in my mouth instead of squirt the drink in the general direction of my pie hole.  I thought it would only be good for water, since I don’t mind getting that all over my face, but I got used to it. 

So that brings me to my last point, the most important for this little test: How well did they insulate the contents?  As for the Polar bottle, it did a good job of keeping my drink from getting hot, or even warm, but it didn’t keep it that cold.  By the end of a 3 hour ride, the liquid inside was about the same as water out of the tap.  The CamelBak, however, was cold.  Not just cool, but cold.  Of course, there are several factors that could affect this.  Being that the CamelBak was on the seat tube, it may be more shielded from direct sunlight. Also, rate of consumption could affect the results.  However, in the last couple of weeks of riding, I’ll take the CamelBak Podium Chill Jacket , hands down.

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~ by Velosophy Esq. on May 27, 2009.

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