Tossing and Tortured 'Till Dawn

I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Product Reviews: Camelbak Podium Water Bottle; Visoda Energy Drink

Americans got hydration-obsessed at some point in my lifetime, and now it seems like everyone carries around a Nalgene bottle to chug on throughout the day. There are a zillion brands of these "next generation" water bottles running around.

Of course, none of them works really well for cyclists, who actually DO need a whole bunch of fluids. They have funky-shaped tops, you can't squeeze them, and who cares if you've got some kinda nifty dust shield over the spout if you can't even get the damned water out?

So then we're back to the generic cheapo plastic water bottles, which if you're a bike racer, you've got a whole closetful of. Oh, check out that bottle you're drinking from next time. Betcha whatever brand is painted onto it, it was made by Specialized. Of course, even if the jury is out on which types of plastic are going to make you get cancer and die,, I think we've all left a regular bottle in the sun too long and taken a big long swig of Fantastic Plastic.

Oh, and it's really annoying to clean that sticky sports drink residue off of everything that you own.

Camelbak, famous for its backpack-style hydration bladders, embraced the fact that road cyclists hated those things and tried to make a bike-specific bottle. The first one was far too fiddly, with a strange twist-and-bite valve that was inspired by their hydration packs. I guess someone told them nobody was buying those, and that half of every cyclists' bottle of water gets sprayed over their faces for air conditioning anyway.

Well, I got a couple of their brand-new Podium bottles, which seem to have all the answers. The valve has one of those membranes where nothing comes out until you squeeze the bottle, but you don't have to actually bite down on it. It looks pretty much like a water bottle, and you can rotate the top part to close off the valve entirely. The lid has no gasket, though, so I'm not sure whether I'd trust the thing filled with energy drink in my bag while traveling to an event.

The plastic is just #5, Polypropylene, as opposed to cheapo bottle's #4, Low Density or High Density Polyethelene, and certainly not the Polycarbonate that's getting Nalgene all of the bad press. Still, it seems to work well to keep nasty plastic taste out. I left a bottleful in my frame, and the next day it still tasted like water, so that's a good sign.

I'd try leaving it out in the sun all day, but, um, this is Seattle, folks. So what if it's June 5th? Today we've got a high of 54, and "scattered showers with a chance of light rain."

Downsides? Well, it's just a hair bigger than the Specialized widemouths, and the firmer plastic plus the sealing mebrane means that it won't conform to your bottle cage very well. That's fine if you've got flexible steel cages on your bike, but unless you're hipster enough to have some Nittos, I doubt you do. I have to fight them a little to get them into my Tacx Tao cages.

Their $8.95 price tag isn't so bad compared with full-retail normal bottles at REI or something, which cost about five bucks, but it seemed like a bit of a hit to yours truly, who's gotten all the other bottles he owns free (or, at least, included in the entry fees) from various events. I'm certainly not slinging a Podium bottle into the feedzone!

Overall: Recommend, if you're the sort of person who can keep hold of your bottles, and doesn't have some nonsense 6 gram carbon loop bottle cage.

Oh, I was going to talk about Visoda energy drinks, but I've chewed up all my space for now about bottles. Um, so, they're from Portland, they are non-carbonated, and they are tasty. 20 ounces for $1.99. Oh, and they have a LOT of caffeine.


  • At 6:03 AM , Blogger BAS said...

    I like the polar bottles. Keeps my drinks cooler, longer.

    At the max weight for my skimpy performancebike brand carbon cages. (Have cracked a couple).

  • At 8:44 PM , Blogger Eben said...

    Thanks for the review! I was wondering about the new bottles and now I can go buy some instead of cleaning the mold out of my old ones (everything molds in Japan during June). I'll hopefully be back in the NW sometime next spring and we'll have to go on a looooong ride together.

  • At 8:17 PM , Blogger Miriam. said...

    I have the super el cheapo bottle cages (which I've broken the welds on, but they are REI so I just keep getting new ones, yea). So they are pretty flexy. I have just purged my bottle collection...there were some scary assed ones in there, cytomax gone bad. Might have to get some of them thru the shop.


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