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Reviews > Hydration Systems > Bottles > Bilt Vite Plus Stainless Steel Bottle > Test Report by Derek Hansen

Vite Plus Single Wall Stainless Steel Sport Bottle

Test Series by Derek Hansen

Vite Plus Single Wall Stainless Steel Sport Bottle

Photo courtesy www.bilt.ca

TESTER INFORMATION

Me
NameDerek Hansen
Age32
GenderMale
Height5’ 10” (1.78 m)
Weight165 lb (75 kg)
Email Address derek·dot·hansen·at·mac (without cheese)·dot·com
City, State, CountryAlexandria, Virginia, USA

BACKPACKING BACKGROUND

I began serious backpacking in 2005 after becoming a Scoutmaster for a local Boy Scout troop in Virginia. Our new troop started off base camping and now we integrate hiking and backpacking into all our trips. I’m out with the Scouts every month throughout the year, plus a few personal adventures in-between with family or friends. I am a lightweight backpacker, with a base weight of 15 lb (7 kg) and have nearly frozen myself on more than one occasion because I insist on using a hammock year-round.


PRODUCT INFORMATION

Manufacturer Bilt (of Canada)
Year of Manufacture 2008
Country of Origin China
Manufacturer’s Website www.bilt.ca
MSRP CAD$15.00
Listed Weight (empty) N/A
Measured Weight (empty) 6.95 oz (197 g) - lid: 1.2 oz (34 g), bottle: 5.75 oz (163 g)
Measured Weight (full) 32.3 oz (916 g)
Listed Capacity 26 oz (730 ml)
Measured Capacity 26 fl oz (769 ml)
Properties Narrow, single-wall stainless steel water bottle with a polypropylene wide-mouth opening.
Manufacturer Recommendations Do not microwave. Not for use with hot liquids.
Measured Size 10 × 2.7 in (25.4 × 6.83 cm)
Colors Stainless/Black (tested), Stainless/Light Green, Stainless/Hendrix Purple, Stainless/True Blue


INITIAL REPORT

22 Sep 2008

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

Measurements

The water bottle with lid detached. The small air intake valve is marked by the white arrow. The Bic-brand lighter and ruler are shown for scale and measurement purposes only.


Looking inside the container

The seams in the steel are clearly visible when looking inside the bottle.


The Vite vs Nalgene

The Vite has the same diameter opening but has a different thread count. My pre-filter fits on the Nalgene (top), but not on the Vite (bottom), unfortunately.


The dust cap

Inside the dust cap I noticed some plastic flaking on the drinking cap. I used my finger to scrape off the plastic before I washed it.


The o-ring

 

o-ring exposed

What is this? The o-ring was not seated correctly in my bottle and I had to use some force (a butter knife) to get it out and then back in correctly. The inner lip creates a ledge, trapping a small amount of liquid inside the bottle.


Inside the cap

There are lots of places for liquid to get trapped inside the cap. This may be a challenge to clean.

The Vite Plus Single Wall Stainless Steel Sport Bottle by Bilt (hereafter Vite or water bottle) is a tall, narrow steel water bottle with a plastic lid. The plastic lid is removable and has a pop cap, dust cap, and carrying loop. The top is made of food grade No. 5 polypropylene that does not contain Bisphenol A (BPA). There is also a small, white rubber nib/valve near the cap that allows air to be drawn into the bottle when drinking. Inside the plastic cap there is a rubber seal.

On the top of the steel water bottle there is another piece of plastic. This “lip” area attaches to the lid and is threaded. The plastic lip rolls over inside the steel bottle and forms a ledge inside the container. Inside this “ledge” is another rubber seal.

The metal container is basically a steel shaft, almost like a spent artillery shell. It has a smooth brushed appearance on the exterior and six dimples near the top: three on each side, for ease of handling. It appears as though the bottle is constructed out of two pieces that have been welded together and finely ground and sanded. The seams on the exterior are barely perceptible, but you can see the seams inside the bottle.

INSTRUCTIONS

The package I was given did not include any instructions or directions but there was a small label on the bottom which contained two warnings. First, it warns not use the water bottle in a microwave; and second, the bottle is not intended for hot liquids. The bottom line is that this is a single-wall steel container and has no insulation one way or the other. Bingo!

It may seem obvious that a water bottle needs little or no instructions, but I was curious about the little plastic nib on the cap. Drinking out of the bottle revealed its use: there are tiny holes near the nib which allow air to flow into the container and make drinking easier. The bottle is similar to many bicycle bottles with the snap cap. To get any water out, I really had to suck on the mouthpiece and I could hear the air going past the small nib. Case closed.

WEBSITE

I visited the Bilt website to learn more information. The site is easy to navigate and provides a little extra information on the bottle. For instance, the website says, the “easy-grip indents on the main body thread pattern fits bottle adapters of most backcountry water filters including MSR and Katadyn.” I do not own a pump filter like the Katadyn so I cannot confirm this claim, but I did hold the Vite up to my Nalgene and found that the lids are the same diameter, but the thread pattern is not the same. I have heard that many pump filters and accessories fit the Nalgene, which is recognized as the de-facto standard in wide-mouth bottles. I have a pre-filter from another manufacturer that fits on my Nalgene wide-mouth bottle, but it does not fit on the Vite since the threads are different.

SETUP AND USAGE

The Vite came assembled and ready to use, but I first took some time to examine every piece for this review before I used it. Some of the things I noticed actually bothered me and I wanted to note them here. First, the bite cover had small pieces of plastic debris that were almost imperceptible under casual viewing. These remains from the molding process had not been cut or sanded off and were easily broken or flaked off. Simply rinsing with water did not remove them, but the friction from closing left some flakes on the pop cap. The plastic flakes had some attraction to the cap and did not just “blow” off, so had I just “rinsed, filled, and imbibed,” I would have ingested some plastic particles. Maybe not life threatening, but the construction quality bothered me.

The second thing I noted was on the o-ring inside the container. I noticed a small, white rubber piece protruding from under the lip. I guessed this must be the o-ring but wondered why it was poking out. Using my finger, I couldn’t “jam” it into place and I wondered about the quality of the bottle. I finally took a butter knife and pulled out more of the rubber ring to see what it was. I was able to use the knife to fix the ring back into place where no part of the ring was visible.

Once the interior o-ring was in place, I could see how much of an overhang was inside the bottle. After filling up the Vite and using it, I noticed that some small quantity of water was caught in this lip and would not come out by simply pouring. Only with vigorous shaking would this water come out. I worry about this lip harboring bacteria since it will be difficult to get under there and clean. This means that any flavor packets or food that may be stored in the Vite could get trapped in this lip. This will be an area I will need to watch during the testing process.

Once filled to capacity and after tightening down the lid, I could drink the water after opening the pop-top spout. It was more difficult than I would have thought and it required a little more “suck” than I was anticipating. With my finger pressed over the rubber nib, it is even more difficult to extract water using the pop-top bite spout. It was easier for me to get more water by just unscrewing the lid completely to get a drink. I considered using a spare Nalgene cap, but remembered that the threads are different anyway. The pop-top spout is usable, and I’ll be curious to see how it works over the testing period.

One additional minor complaint is the fit of the dust cap, which pops off a little too easily.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

This bottle is tough. It’s steel! But I do have some concerns over its manufacturing after I closely examined it for this initial review. I am worried about cleaning the bottle, since there are so many small places where moisture and food particles can get caught: the “breathing” valve/nib, the lid o-ring, the pop-cap, and the inner lip. I would prefer a simple lid without so many parts to clean and maintain. My backpacking style is to multi-use an item, and with water containers like this, I would like to use it with not just water, but energy packet mix-ins and even food items. With a steel bottle, I’ve even considered doubling the container as a “cooking pot” for soups or hot drinks. I want to see how well this bottle works with such versatile uses.

REMARKS

This concludes my Initial Report. The Field Report will be appended to this report in about two months from the date of this report. Please check back then for more information.


FIELD REPORT

5 Jan 2009

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

I have used the bottle on several bicycling commutes, a few soccer games, three day hikes, three overnight backpacking treks, and otherwise used daily at work and at home. Here are a few highlighted backpacking excursions:

26–27 Sep 2008: Appalachian Trail (AT), near Bluemont, Virginia. Drizzly rain and thick fog with an overnight temperature of 55 F (13 C). The next day was clear and warm with high about 75 F (24 C). This section of the AT was very rocky with several “pointless ups and downs” (PUDS) earning the moniker, “the roller-coaster.”

10–11 Oct 2008: George Washington National Forest, near Front Royal, Virginia. This was a beautiful overnight backpacking trek with a friend. I noted a high temperature of 74 F (23 C) and 45 F (7 C) for the low. The terrain was rocky as it climbed about 1,000 ft (305 m) up and down the signal knob. The forest is mostly deciduous with Virginia pine along the way.

21–22 Nov 2008: Prince William Forest Park, near Dumfries, Virginia. Clear and very cold conditions with a low of 15 F (-9 C) and a high of 42 F (6 C). Had some brand-new Scouts with us and we did a hike around the park. The trail was clear with about 500 ft (152 m) of elevation change. Lots of deciduous trees and Virginia pines.

27 Dec 2008: Pine Valley Mountain Wilderness, north of St. George, Utah. Clear and cold conditions with about two feet of snow on the ground. I was going to attempt an overnight camp, but I wasn’t prepared for the deep snow (no snowshoes!), so this solo expedition (I was determined!) turned into a painful 6-mile slog. The ambient temperature hovered around 40 F (7 C) with a slight wind. The rough mountain landscape was punctuated with red cliff faces, juniper, pine, and cedar trees. Elevation was 4,500 ft (1,372 m).

Filling up the Vite at a stream.

Filling up the Vite at a stream.

Warming up with a hot Vite.

Warming up with a hot Vite.

Dipping the Vite directly into a stream.

Dipping the Vite directly into a stream.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

So far, I am having mixed reviews about the bottle, especially for some activities. Here are the highlights from two major activities:

While Hiking/Backpacking

The bottle fits fine in my pack’s (Gossamer Gear Mariposa Plus) outer mesh pocket and it is easy to pull out while hiking. Much of this depends on the pack, of course. Using the bite cap isn’t so terrible while hiking, and it is just as easy to unscrew the cap to get a drink, as I have done with other bottles. I’ll admit, however, that the pop cap is still annoying and refuses to stay on the lid for any length of time.

During my backpacking trips with the Scouts, almost everyone complained about the whistling sound the bottle made as I sucked on the bite cap. I told them it was my bear whistle, but I was secretly annoyed too. The bite cap is convenient, but it’s noisy and doesn’t flow much water.

When I went out with the Scouts to the Prince William Forest Park, I used the bottle as a hand warmer by pouring boiling water into the bottle. A few of the Scouts were pretty cold and the bottle worked great at warming them up. (I wrapped the bottle in a fleece so it wouldn’t burn directly on the skin.) The bottle seemed to retain the heat for a very long time.

I’ve used a UV light pen to purify water in the bottle and that works fine. I cannot detect any “metal taste” from the bottle. So far, I have used the Vite for drinking liquids and I made hot ramen noodles once. I think that if the bottle didn't have the plastic lip on the bottle and only a plastic lid, I would use it more for direct cooking, but I get worried about heating up the metal and melting the plastic or adhesive.

I guess my big complaint about using this bottle backpacking is its weight-to-volume ratio: The bottle doesn’t hold a lot of water and the steel weighs a lot. For day hikes, I wasn’t annoyed too much, but for backpacking, I couldn’t help but think about the extra weight of the steel bottle.

While Bicycling

For secondary use beyond backpacking, I have taken the bottle with me as I commute on my bicycle to work. My commute is 12 miles, round trip, about half on trails and half on the street with a few large hills. I have a standard “classic” metal cage on my bike that fits a standard bicycle water bottle, and while the Vite fits in the cage, it rattles quite a bit. To date, it has not fallen out, but it is definitely not sturdy; I would not consider taking the Vite mountain biking. The Vite does not hook into the cage like a normal cycling bottle.

While riding, I can easily pull the Vite out for a drink. I’ve found the loop is a handy holder making it easy to pull into the drinking position. The dust cover, however, is a nuisance and I leave it off and often have to hold it out of the way to get a drink.

The bite cap is the most trouble and I really struggle to get enough “suck” to pull water out. The steel doesn’t squeeze, so the only way to get the water in this way is to suck. After an hour of hard riding when I am breathing heavy, it is very, very difficult to pull enough water out of the bottle. On one commute, I stopped riding to unscrewed the cap to get a solid drink.


LONG TERM REPORT

17 Feb 2009

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

31 Jan 2009: Centennial Trail, Flagstaff, Arizona. Trail running in the Coconino National Forest. Bristlecone Pine forest at 7000 ft (2134 m) with rocky elevations with patches of snow on the ground. The temperature was 16 F (-9 C) with dry air and bright, harsh sunlight.

7 Feb 2009: Coconino National Forest, Flagstaff, Arizona. My son and I went backpacking around the San Francisco Peaks and had a glorious time. The temperature was around 30 F (-1 C), but it was a dry cold. We were lucky on our trip because two days later Flagstaff was hit with a major series of storms, dumping two feet of snow in as many days. We hiked to 8500 ft (2591 m) among Bristlecone Pine and other local vegetation.

Including the above field locations, I have used the Vite almost daily in a variety of activities.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

I continued to use the bottle backpacking, day hiking, at work, and at home throughout the remaining test period. While backpacking, I kept the bottle in a side mesh pocket. I continued to use the bottle for my primary drinking vessel and added drink mixes periodically. While backpacking in the Coconinio Forest, both my son and I shared the bottle (well, I carried most of the gear anyway). The built-in loop made it easy to pull the bottle out of my backpack’s side pocket, but I found that the dust cap continued to pop off, despite my best efforts to keep it on and “be careful.”

In spite of my initial fears, I haven’t noticed any problems with the plastic o-rings in the bottle. It is practically impossible to remove the inner o-ring, so I haven’t worried about that one. The lid has been reasonably easy to clean. I’ve washed the bottle multiple times in the dishwasher with no visible side-effects.

CONTINUED USE

Over the test period I have grown tired of carrying such a heavy bottle, especially for how little water it can carry for the weight. I tried using the bottle to cook with once, but because of the narrow shape of the bottle and the plastic threads, it was not the best use for this bottle. I think if the shape were different (e.g., wider, less tall), and if there was no plastic permanently attached to the top, it might be useful as a pot.

I also found it extremely difficult to drink out of the bite valve. Not only was it difficult to suck the water out, but the bottle made an extremely annoying whistle that seemed to catch everyone’s attention. More often, I try to take the lid off and drink from the wide-mouth opening, but the threading and the often-loose flip-cap made the effort annoying.

When I used the bottle in my bicycle, I was worried it would fall out. It never did, but it also doesn’t fit snug and it rattled a lot. I think it is just a little too tall for a bike bottle cage.

If I continue to use this bottle, I will likely use it at home or work, where I don’t have to worry about weight. I’ll also probably remove the flip-cap cover too.

Roses:

  • The built-in loop makes for easy holding and grasping
  • The metal resists dings and scratches
  • The bottle fits well in my backpack and reasonably well in my bicycle bottle cage

Thorns:

  • The bottle is heavy
  • The threads do not match other similar-sized bottles and accessories
  • I found it difficult to suck water out of the valve
  • The bite valve makes a high-pitched garbled whistle while I drink
  • The flip-cap pops off easily

I would like to thank Bilt and BackpackGearTest.org for providing me with the opportunity to test this product.



Read more reviews of Bilt gear
Read more gear reviews by Derek Hansen

Reviews > Hydration Systems > Bottles > Bilt Vite Plus Stainless Steel Bottle > Test Report by Derek Hansen



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