Bilt Vite Plus Stainless Steel Water Bottle
Test series by Sophie Pearson
Initial Report - October 13, 2008
Field Report - January 5, 2009
Long-Term Report - February 18, 2009
Name: Sophie Pearson
Height: 5' 8” (1.71 m)
Weight: 179 lb (81 kg)
Email address: sophiep3 at gmail dot com
Location: Tampa, Florida USA
I first started backpacking as a teenager in England. I did a month-long trip in the Arctic
but most of my backpacking experience has been weekend to 10-day trips, in a range
of terrains and climates. I am a volcanologist so I also do day hikes carrying
loaded packs over intense terrain. Nowadays I am nearly always in sub-tropical or
tropical climates. I am heading more and more towards ultralight packing, and unless
I am sharing I use a bivy rather than a tent. I try to pack under 20 lb (9 kg) for long
weekend trips but have carried over 50 lb (23 kg).
The bottle when it first arrived. The finger grips really help to screw the lid on tightly. The cap does not sit totally flush on the bottle.
The small plastic knob in the lid can be pushed in to increase the flow of water.
The plastic knob can be pushed out from the inside to reduce the flow of water.
There is a lip on the top of the bottle's body that may make cleaning difficult
The top of the bottle is the same size as my water filter, so they cannot be used together.
October 13, 2008
Year of manufacture: 2008
List price: CAD$15.00 (CAD$17.00 with colored body)
|Height of lid||2 in (5 cm)||              ||Weight of lid||1.25 oz (35 g)|
|Height of steel bottle||8 in (20 cm)|| ||Weight of body||5.75 oz (163 g)|
|Height of plastic thread||0.75 in (20 cm)|| ||Total weight empty||7 oz (198 g)|
|Total height assembled||10.25 in (26 cm)|| ||Total weight full||32.5 oz (921 g)|
The bottle is offered in silver with a blue, green, purple or black lid, or with body and lid both a shade of blue, purple or green. The capacity listed on the website is 730 ml (26 oz), but on the bottle the label says 730 ml (24 oz). When I filled it up it took 26 fl oz (769 ml) of water. According to the label, it is made of premium 18/8 stainless steel, which is BPA-free. It is single-wall stainless steel.
The bottle came with three sets of information comprised of a peelable label on the outside, a piece of paper inside and a bar-code sticker on the bottom. The one on the outside simply describes the material of the bottle; the one on the bottom says do not use with hot liquids and do not microwave; and the one inside describes how the lid works. This is the funky thing about this bottle, as it has a small, opaque plastic knob in the lid that controls the air intake. If it is pulled all the way out no air can get in and there is no flow, if it is pushed all the way in there is lots of air flow in and therefore water flow out. The sheet explains this clearly and simply, and it really does work.
I thought I was getting the purple Vite Plus bottle, which has a stainless steel body with a purple lid, but the first (and most obvious) thing that I noticed was that the bottle itself was purple too. Checking the website I discovered that this is the Vite Plus Color, which has a purple lid and a lighter, pinky-purple body on the outside (the inside is silver). I think the purple lid looks much better with the colored body, so that is great! The bottle seems very sturdy and the lid is made of thick plastic that looks tough and durable. It is a tall, thin bottle that still stands up well, doesn't knock over easily and is slightly skinnier than my car cup-holder so fits in it fine. The body has 3 finger-shaped indents on each side which give a great grip when screwing the lid on. The plastic on the top of the body has a slight lip on the inside that may make it hard to clean thoroughly. The lid has a loop that fits my finger really well, making it easy to carry even when the bottle is really cold. One potential issue that I noticed straight away is that the snap-on cover was not on, and when I put it on it didn't sit totally flush with the bottle because of the loop that attaches it to the lid. I will be keeping a careful eye out to see if the snap-on cap comes off when it is not supposed to.
After washing this bottle I filled it with water and tried to drink from it. With the knob pulled all the way out there was hardly any flow. If I pushed it half-way in there was enough that I could drink from it easily if I sucked in, and with it pushed all of the way in there was free-flowing water when tipped upside down. I like this feature, because it means that I can really control the flow, making it much easier to drink from than this style of lid normally is. Holding it upside down when it is full and the knob is closed did not show any leaks. I put the bottle on ice for 30 minutes and it and the contents got very cold very quickly. I found it a little too cold to hold for a long time comfortably, so I held it by the plastic top, and in the Florida sunshine it was not a problem for long. Unfortunately, when I tried it with my Katadyn Hiker Pro water filter they are exactly the same size and so cannot be used together, although the website says that it fits most MSR and Katadyn water filters.
January 5, 2009
This bottle has been everywhere with me over the last 2+ months. It has had two serious backpacking trips plus some day hikes around central Florida with temperatures between 50 and 95 F (10 and 35 C). The first backpacking trip was to Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. We hiked 16 miles (26 km) with elevations between 1700 ft (518 m) and 5850 ft (1780 m), and temperatures between 35 F (1 C - our tent was pitched in snow one night) and 75 F (24 C). The other trip was two days hiking in Withlacoochee State Forest, again over 16 miles (26 km), but the minimal elevation changes and more moderate temperatures of 55 to 75 F (12 to 24 C) made this a much more laid-back trip! The bottle also went with me on a 5-day kayaking trip to 10,000 Islands in the Everglades, and on a Christmas Road trip to Montreal and around the northeastern USA. Temperatures got down to 6 F (-15 C).
Although this bottle is not insulated, unless it has been in the freezer for hours it is never too cold or hot to hold. Even when the water inside was totally frozen after leaving it in the car in Montreal overnight, the outside was still not too cold to touch. I love the finger grips - I can tighten the bottle as much as I want and get a really good grip on it even when it is wet. The finger loop is a great addition - I swing it from one finger while I am walking and don't have to worry about breaking anything like I have done with Nalgenes. I can also use it with a novelty carabiner to strap it to my chest strap on my backpack for really easy access. Initially I worried that the lid not being attached might be a pain, but it is actually nice because I can put the lid to one side and it doesn't get in the way when I am refilling or washing the bottle. The cap on the mouth-piece helps there too as it really keeps it clean. The bottle fits in all of the bike racks that I have tried it in too, and has never fallen over despite being tall and skinny. I like the shape of it because it fits in the mesh pockets that a lot of backpacks have which are a tight squeeze for a Nalgene. The 75 cl (25 fl oz) capacity has also grown on me because it turns out that is almost exactly how much I drink during one sitting in the office. The mouthpiece is so much easier to drink from than a standard wide-mouth bottle, which proved particularly useful when we were kayaking in rough weather and I was the only one not throwing water over myself rather than drinking it! The little plastic knob allows me to get really good control of the water flow, which is particularly nice when I want a trickle of water, for example when I am cleaning my teeth in the backcountry.
Although the bottle has lasted well, the paint job is a wreck.
The cap for the mouthpiece is nice in that it stops grit getting caught up in it, but it does get in the way when I am drinking from the bottle. I usually have to twist it out of the way, but then it can't go past the finger loop so I have to hold it out of the way with one finger and use the other fingers to hold the bottle. The cap has popped off once or twice too, but much less than I was expecting. The lip on the inside of the body does make it harder to clean, although I fill it with hot water and shake it and that seems to do the trick. The little plastic knob that controls fluid flow is also a bit hard to clean and feels a bit slimy so I generally give that a bit more of a scrub. I have tried the bottle with my water filter and a friend's. It doesn't work with either. They mention it fits with some sort of adapter so I don't know if there is another piece you can get, but I fill up a wide-mouth bottle and then move it across. Although the bottle does fit in my bike rack and those of my friends, it is long and skinny so it rolls about slightly and if I had to brake REALLY suddenly I am worried it might fall out backwards. It has never happened yet though!
The downright ugly
With the plastic knob closed the water does not flow at all. However, when it is open even part-way it makes a really loud whistling sound. Everyone I have drunk in front of has commented on it, and it means that I have to either take really small sips, or make sure that I am not somewhere where I need to be quiet! The sound has variously been compared to a dolphin, a squirrel, a chipmunk, someone whistling, the wind, etc. I have to make sure to take the lid off and push the plastic knob all the way in too when I am not drinking from it, otherwise it leaks. If it is upright, for example in a cup holder, it is not a problem, but if I forget and put it in my bag, or I lay it on the seat in the car between sips, I have had some pretty bad leaks. I have kicked myself a few times for forgetting to close that knob! The bottle also scratches easily and shows the marks badly. Although that is purely cosmetic, it is a shame and makes me think that the silver body might be a better option. The bottle seems very durable, but the paint job not so much!
February 18, 2009
I continued to use this bottle every day in the office. I also used it on the 7 mile (18 km) bike ride to the office and the 1 mile (1.6 km) walk to the bus to the office on a few occasions. I used it on 4 day-kayaking trips in west central Florida, where it was strapped to the top of my kayak. The trips ranged between 3 and 11 miles (5 and 18 km). In all cases temperatures were between 35 F (2 C) and 75 F (24 C). My proper hiking trips were unfortunately canceled due to car trouble, and then weather.
The paint was looking so bad that I sanded the worse side to see if that looked better. It did!
Unfortunately when I accidentally dropped the bottle from waist height in a parking lot the mouth piece broke, even though the cap was on as it fell.
Other than the paint job, the only thing that has weakened since the field report is the little plastic knob, which is now easier to push in or pull out. So far it has fallen out while I was washing the bottle, but not while I was using it.
I am getting the hang of drinking with the knob pulled half out, so that I get enough to drink but with only a tiny whistling noise, if at all. I started to scrape off the paint to make the bottle look better and currently one half is purple and the other silver. It's a shame because I really liked the purple, but by the end it did look pretty horrific. The silver isn't bad though, and other than that the bottle has lasted well. I haven't noticed anything else to add since the field report.
I am truly torn with this bottle because I love the control of fluid flow, especially when I am cleaning my teeth in camp, kayaking in waves, or hiking on paths with lots of roots, but the whistling noise is definitely annoying. I am pretty sure that I will continue to use it, but maybe not when I am out with complete strangers!
Really easy to control flow rate
Doesn't spill or dribble like wide-mouth bottles
Cap keeps the mouth-piece clean
Lid comes all the way off, making it easier to clean and fill
Finger indents provide a good grip
Finger loop provides sturdy attachment for carabiner or finger
Sturdy and durable
Tall and skinny so fits in all sorts of backpack pockets and bike racks
Paint job is flaky (excuse the pun!)
Makes a whistling noise when drinking from it
I am worried little plastic knob is working loose
Cap gets in the way when drinking
Doesn't fit with my water filter
Have to push the knob in when drinking, but pull it out when transporting to prevent leaks, which means taking the lid off each time
Unfotunately the day after I wrote this I had the bottle strapped to the top of my kayak when I was walking it to the water, and the bottle fell off. It was about 2 feet (0.6 m) from the ground and the cap was on but apparently came off in mid air, because the mouth piece broke in half when it hit the concrete. I am going to try to glue it back together, but I think it is game over for this bottle! I hadn't realised until I broke it how much I prefer that type of mouth piece for drinking, but it is clearly the weak point of the bottle, both structurally and
with the noise.
If they could fix the quirks associated with the mouth piece though I think this would be a great bottle.
Many thanks to Bilt and to BackPackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test the Bilt Vite Plus Stainless Steel Water Bottle
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Read more gear reviews by Sophie Pearson