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When the specialist in hands-free backpack hydration systems decided to get into the bottle market three years ago, we knew it wouldn’t be a simple addition to the line just to say it had a bottle. Now the company has a wide range and it’s managed to shake up the concept with styles, colors and features (Click here to see our June 6, 2006, review of the first “Better Bottle,” and here for our May 19, 2008, review of the Podium Bottle, just two in the line.)
The SNEWS® team tested the 0.5-liter, insulated version of the Stainless “Better Bottle” for several months in cold and hot conditions and have decided, hands-down, we love it. Why? Primarily because its double-walled insulation keeps fluids cool – actually, it keeps them downright cold. Think vacuum-sealed container but with a sipper top.
It’s built and shaped just like the regular Better Bottle with a flip-up bite nozzle. When you flip up the nozzle it’s easy to sip, and it’s leak-proof when flipped down firmly. We say “firmly” because you must take care to push the nozzle into its cradle completely, or some fluid will dribble out if the bottle tips over. Even if this happens, you won’t suffer a flood like you would with other bottles or cups.
The wide mouth accommodates ice cubes easily, and allows you to pour in powders for personal drink mixes. The straw and sipper top come off in a snap for quick cleaning to make sure you eradicate sugars or stuff that bring on the bacteria.
It may be a tad heavy for schlepping on a backpacking trip, in a bottle cage (unless it was on an indoor bike, although even then the shape doesn’t fit cages so well) or other foot-powered outings, but it sits on desks, in cars, in workout bags or on exercise machines, and is easily carried with a finger by the top loop around stores, malls, or at outdoor events and on other meanderings.
On multiple occasions we filled it with a partial mix of ice (trying both smaller chunks and larger cubes) and water (of various temperatures) and left it for 24 hours or so to see what happened. We even left it in a warm car in the sun for about seven or eight hours on one test. Not only did the ice not totally melt (even after sitting in the car or indoors for 24 hours or more), but also the water stayed refreshingly chilled and yummy. What a great greeting when you return to the car after a long hike, run or bike!
One tester who always has a bottle on her desk (but finds that water is just less appealing once it warms up) is now addicted to the bottle and drinks more during the day because of it. And we love the fact that the double wall prevents ice from melting so condensation does not build on the outside to soak desktops or create puddles in workout bags and cup-holders. Whether you want to sip water while exercising in a club or while using home equipment, the bottle provides a great way to get chilly refreshment without making a mess.
The bottle, at retail since May 1, 2009, is made of a micro-welded, medical grade stainless steel, making it safe and BPA-free as well as tasteless since it has no liners or other coatings as in some aluminum bottles. There is a 0.75-liter non-insulated version as well as a smaller kid’s version coming out in July 2009.
We love this bottle. One tester won’t let it out of sight it’s so beloved. You’ll feel the same if you’re a lover of chilled fluids. The only drawback is its weight, and we’d love for CamelBak to produce a lighter insulated bottle that we could carry on adventures. Now that bottle would be beyond perfect.
SNEWS® Rating: 4.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested Retail: $30, 0.5 liter insulated ($24, 0.75-liter non-insulated)