Gear

Gel-Bot bottles

No, not like Ro-bot, but like Gel-bottle. The Gel-Bot is truly one-of-a-kind: A bottle that has an internal flask, which holds close to two packets of sports gel, and a mechanism that allows one nozzle on the bottle to deliver either gel or water on demand. This is the kind of product that makes you want to give yourself a sharp whack on the forehead with the palm of the hand and say, loudly, "Duh! Why didn't I think of that?"



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No, not like Ro-bot, but like Gel-bottle. The Gel-Bot is truly one-of-a-kind: A bottle that has an internal flask, which holds close to two packets of sports gel, and a mechanism that allows one nozzle on the bottle to deliver either gel or water on demand. This is the kind of product that makes you want to give yourself a sharp whack on the forehead with the palm of the hand and say, loudly, “Duh! Why didn’t I think of that?”

Who hasn’t been out on a run, in an indoor cycling class, or on a hike somewhere and wanted to pop a sports gel for a bit of energy? First, you have to find the little packet, then you have to rip off the top, then you have to find someplace to stash the little top so you don’t litter, and lastly you have to squeeze it out into your mouth and hope you don’t get a gooey mess all over yourself too. But wait there’s more: Then you have to find your water and get a good slug of that since you need fluids to get this stuff down and properly digested. Here’s the kicker: When you are done, you have to find where you stashed the used packets and clean up all the residual gooey stuff that has invariable oozed out and all over the inside of a pocket or pack.

Why deal with a world of separate gooey messes followed by a liquid chaser? Because there hasn’t been a better way. Now there is, with the Gel-Bot.

We were a bit skeptical about delivery since we’ve tried those little gel bottle-like flasks that you carry separately. Those don’t work worth a hootenanny since they usually don’t deliver enough, are too hard to squeeze to get the stuff into your mouth when needed, and can leak on your clothes (triple yuck), and leave you with a horrid cleanup afterward.

But this bottle is a beauty. The flask inside (the company calls it the “energy core”) works on a piston-like system. Every time you squeeze out some gel, the plunger inside is pushed upward to eliminate empty space so the next time you need some gel it comes right out without air and without a battle. Works like a charm, over and over.

You also only need one nozzle for getting both gel and water. When the soft, rubbery, teeth-friendly nozzle is pushed in, you get gel. When it’s pulled out, you get water. And it’s a snap to change modes.

This means cyclists, indoor or out, can get gel easily and without taking hands off the handlebars or stopping. Runners need not break stride to struggle with tearing packets open. Fitness enthusiasts can get what they need no matter what their activity. Being able to sip at the gel is also an advantage for smoother energy levels. And clean-up is super easy since the plunger has totally scraped clean the inside of the core when you are done. A simple warm-water bath once home takes care of any residual goo.

We tried both the running bottle and the bike bottle. One caveat with the running bottle is its weight: It is designed with a grip so you can carry it in your hand securely without gripping (very well-done, we might add), but the core flask and two gels inside will increase the weight of a bottle WITHOUT water to about five ounces. That can add to the strain of hand-carrying a bottle. Normal bottles without water weigh no more than 3 ounces. We also calculated the amount of water you can carry and came up with about 16 ounces capacity, while the company’s product materials say 21 ounces. Hmm… The bike bottle is a nifty 24 ounces and, although long, fits nicely in waist-carried bottle packs too as well as bottle cages on bikes.

One other interesting bit of trivia — the core flask is designed to carry two gels, but wait…which brands? We tried three popular brands that vary from 32 grams to 41 grams per packet. We found you could fit about 73-75 grams into a core — not quite the 3.2 ounces (about 90 grams) the package materials say. We would suggest the core should be large enough to indeed fit up to 85-90 ounces so it can neatly hold two gel packets. We also had a slightly aged gel on hand and tried it only to find the slightly crystallized gel didn’t flow as easily (OK, so you shouldn’t keep this stuff so long, but it happens….)

All that nit-picking aside, we love the bottles and would recommend them highly depending on your preferences in workouts, hydration and cleanup.

SNEWS® Rating: 4.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)

Suggested Retail: bike bottle, $14; run bottle, $16; core flask alone, $10

For information: www.gel-bot.com