BackpackGearTest
  Home Guest - Not logged in 

Reviews > Hydration Systems > Bottles > CamelBak Better Bottle > Owner Review by Kerri Larkin

CAMELBAK BETTER BOTTLE 0.5 Litre
BY KERRI LARKIN
OWNER REVIEW

August 07, 2009

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Kerri Larkin
EMAIL: kerrilarkin AT yahoo DOT com
AGE: 48
LOCATION: Sydney, Australia
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 284 lb (129.00 kg)

I've been a car-camper and bushwalker for thirty years. Mostly I do day hikes as my passion is photography, which means I walk very slowly! I've returned to walking after some years away due to injuries and I'm learning to use Ultralight gear (and my new hammock!). I've traveled most of eastern Australia, walking in landscapes as diverse as tropical rainforest, snow fields, beaches and deserts. My fortieth birthday was spent trekking in Nepal which was a truly life changing experience.

PRODUCT INFORMATION

Manufacturer: CamelBak Inc.
Year of Manufacture: 2009
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.camelbak.com
MSRP: $12.00 US
Listed Weight: Not Listed
Bottle Volume: 0.5 L
Measured Weight: 5.4 oz (152 g)
Height: 22 cm (8.6") to top of carabiner loop
Diameter: Base of bottle 6.5 cm (2.5"), top of bottle 7 cm (2.8")
Other details: The current range of bottles are now 100% BPA free, dishwasher safe, spill-proof, fit most cup-holders and reportedly attaches to most water filters. The bottle features a Bite-N-Sip valve made of silicone which removes the need for unscrewing a lid to drink.

FIELD USE

I've used the CamelBak Better Bottle virtually daily in a range of applications for over six months now. I've carried the bottle on a half-dozen day walks, shopping expeditions, travelled around 10,000 kilometres (6,000 miles) with it in my car, and used it during two week-long car camps. The temperature range was from a low of 4 C (39 F) to a high of 32 C (90 F) at altitudes from sea level to 1800 m (5900').

When I first saw the bottles in my local outdoor shop I thought it was a bit of a gimmick, but how wrong I was! The bottles come in seven colors and three sizes; 0.5 litre, 0.75 litre and 1.0 litre. This report is based on the 0.5 litre version but I also have the 1.0 litre version in my office.

So how did I come to choose the CamelBak? I was looking for a wide-mouthed Nalgene type bottle which I could use for day walks, would be suited to use as a hot water bottle in camp (Mmmm!), could be used to rehydrate food, and would be simple enough to use that it would actually encourage me to drink more water. According to the CamelBak website, researchers found that people using these bottles drink more water and I've found this to be true. In fact, I'm drinking so much I find the 0.5 litre bottle is getting too small for me now.

The compensation for using this small bottle is that it fits perfectly in the cup-holder of my car which means I'm traveling with perhaps the safest drinking bottle I've used.

IMAGE 1
The 0.5 litre bottle fits in a standard cup-holder.


Let me explain: a normal drink bottle needs to be unscrewed or have the lid popped, then tipped up to drink. This means I've got to take my eyes off the road to drink, or perform some contortions so I can see the road. With the Better Bottle's Bite-N-Sip valve there's no need to tip the bottle up. A straw reaches from the bite valve to the bottom of the bottle allowing fluids to be drained right down to the bottom without a single tip of the head.

IMAGE 4
The straw reaches to the bottom of the bottle.


For this function alone, I feel the Better Bottle is worth the money. When I travel long distances to reach a camping or walking area I refill the bottle from a tap rather than use bought bottles of water. Despite requiring me to bite down on the silicone Bite-N-Sip valve, I've noticed only minimal signs of wear from my teeth chomping down.

IMAGE 5
Silicone Bite-N-Sip valve


The silicone valve piece is so firmly attached, I can hold the bottle by this piece alone. Next to the Bite-N-Sip valve is a recessed pressure relief valve which allows air into the bottle as I sip, so unlike many 'sports' bottles I can drink continuously rather than having to pause to let air in. After a hot walk, that's a welcome feature.

IMAGE 3
L to R: Carabiner loop, screw, pressure valve, Bite-N-Sip


CamelBak advertise these bottles as being spill-proof and that's exactly what they are. Despite being thrown around in the back of the car, swinging from a carabiner on my hip during walks, or lurking in the mesh side-pocket of my pack it's never leaked a single drop. Next to the valve is a rather large, awkward looking loop which can be used with a carabiner, but is equally useful with a finger looped through it.

IMAGE 2
The bottle is easy and comfortable to hold


In fact, this has become my preferred way of carrying the bottle. Having it swinging from a finger feels very natural while freeing the rest of my hand to carry other things. Even when walking there's a kind of reassuring feeling to be carrying the bottle with a single finger: I can't articulate it, but it just feels right. In fact, there's an altogether (I hesitate to say it) sensual quality about the bottle and using the Bite-N-Sip valve. With cold water in the bottle it feels so calming to drink through the valve I find myself going through two thirds of a bottle in a very short time!

The bottle mouth is 63 mm (2.5") which means it is compatible with some water filters. The large mouth makes filling easy, and the bottle could be used without the detachable straw if I preferred to throw my head back to drink (the Bite-N-Sip does take a little getting used to and I sometimes found myself absent-mindedly tipping the bottle and wondering why nothing happened !). Because of pressure changes when flying it's also recommended to remove the straw when in an aircraft to prevent a spurt of water from the first mouthful.

The sides of the bottle are marked with very easy to see 'approximate' volumes in both millilitres and fluid ounces.

IMAGE 6
Volume is in millilitres and fluid ounces


I measured the bottle's marks for accuracy and found the 250 ml (8.5 fl oz) mark to be correct but the 500 ml (17 fl oz) mark was actually 520 ml (17.6 fl oz). I don't have any measures with fluid ounces so can't comment on those markings. For measuring fluids to rehydrate a meal, that's plenty accurate for me. So far, those raised, printed, numbers have shown no signs of wear, however, six months of use is far from the life expectancy I hope to get from this bottle. I have noticed some minor scratching of the surface where the bottle rests in the cup holder of the car, and where the lid rubs against things, but these appear to be minor cosmetic blemishes rather than signs of a serious weakness of the material.

Although many manufacturers are moving towards BPA free products, this was still an important decision point for me after reading about the potential health issues associated with extended use of both polycarbonate and aluminum. CamelBak markets the Better Bottle with a prominent sticker proclaiming its BPA-free status but it's important to note that early versions of this bottle were not BPA-free. The bottle itself is made from "Tritan", a copolyester polymer while the top is made of polypropylene. All materials used in the Better Bottle are said to comply with the California Proposition 65 guidelines and FDA standards.

Cleaning the Better Bottle is a simple matter: pull the Bite-N-Sip silicone valve off, unscrew the lid, detach the straw and put the whole thing in the dishwasher. Out on the track, I've found a simple swish under running water freshens the bottle after a few days continuous use.

Another interesting observation is that water seems to stay fresher in this bottle. Normally, if I leave a glass of water beside my bed for a couple of nights it starts getting a stale taste. There's been no such taste from the CamelBak after four to five days of sitting. I have no idea why that might be. Speaking of taste, if I leave the car parked in direct sun for a few hours the water in the bottle becomes warm but doesn't develop that classic plastic taste that other bottles get.

CamelBak states the bottle is safe for use with boiling water (but not to boil the bottle), freezing, and is microwave safe. I don't use a microwave so can't comment on that but have found there is a need to be careful when putting hot fluids in the bottle. Boiling water can cause a buildup of pressure within the bottle which can result in a short spray from the valve. I learned this lesson through a scalded hand.

I haven't been game to drop my bottle to test its strength but the whole unit feels very sturdy and has survived the occasional accidental whack.

If I were an Super-Ultralight backpacker, this would probably not be my bottle of choice as it seems quite heavy at 152 g (5.4 oz), however, for day hikes or short walks, visits to the gym and car camping it's not an issue. The only other drawback is that I'm now drinking so much I spend way more time in the bathroom!

SUMMARY

The CamelBak Better Bottle is ideal for short walks or car-based camping. The Bite-N-Sip valve makes drinking both easy and pleasurable, so encourages adequate hydration. The bottle is heavy for use in long walks but the trade-off is a multi-use item of gear. Cleaning the unit is easy. Construction using BPA-free materials may be important to some users.

THINGS I LIKE

Sturdy construction
Makes drinking and driving safer
BPA-free materials
Easy to clean
Approximate fluid measurements printed on bottle
One-handed operation
Fits most filters
Very comfortable to carry
Increases water intake

THINGS I DON'T LIKE

Caution needed with hot fluids
Heavy
Need to pee a lot!

SIGNATURE

Kerri Larkin
kerrilarkin AT yahoo DOT com

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

Read more reviews of CamelBak gear
Read more gear reviews by Kerri Larkin

Reviews > Hydration Systems > Bottles > CamelBak Better Bottle > Owner Review by Kerri Larkin



Product tested and reviewed in each Formal Test Report has been provided free of charge by the manufacturer to BackpackGearTest.org. Upon completion of the Test Series the writer is permitted to keep the product. Owner Reviews are based on product owned by the reviewer personally unless otherwise noted.

If you are an avid backpacker, we are always looking for enthusiastic, quality reviewers. Apply here to be a gear tester.


All material on this site is the exclusive property of BackpackGearTest.org.
BackpackGearTest software copyright David Anderson