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Reviews > Hydration Systems > Bottles > SmartWate 1L Water Bottle > Owner Review by joe schaffer

SmartWater Bottle empty

by Joe Schaffer
April 15, 2021

NAME: Joe Schaffer
EMAIL: never2muchstuff(at)yahoo(dot)com
AGE: 73
HEIGHT: 5'9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 175 lb (79.4 kg)
HOME:  Bay Area, California USA

    I frequent California's central Sierras, camping every month; about 75 nights a year, half the time solo; moving nearly every day. As a comfort camper I lug tent, mattress, chair, etc. Summer trips last typically a week to 10 days; 40 lb (18 kg), about half food-related; about 5 miles (8 km) per hiking day. I winter camp most often at 6,000' to 7,000' (1,800 to 2,100 m); 2 to 3 nights; 30 lb (13 kg) backpack a mile (1.5 km) or so on snowshoes, towing a 50 lb (23 kg) sled.
The Product:
   SmartWater empty bottle
                        granite walking
   Web site:

Received: May, 2014

Specs for 1L bottle:
   Weight: 1 3/8 oz (39 gm)
   Length: 11 1/2 in (29 cm)
   Diameter: 2 13/16 in (7 cm)

MSRP: About USD$1.69-$2.49 when purchased full; free as a cast-off from someone else.

Product Description:
   The SmartWater bottle is a tall skinny plastic bottle with a screw cap.

Field Conditions: 
    I've used the Smart water bottle on hundreds of days of backpacking in all seasons and terrain.


    I marvel at the ingenious inventions, designs and applications of exotic materials over the last six decades of my backpacking endeavors. But still I find no perfect trail hydration delivery product.

    1) Back in the good old days a fellow got thirsty and stuck his face in the next stream or pond. Not any longer is that the most efficacious watering for a number of reasons, not the least of which would be ergonomic past a certain stage of life.

    2) Sierra cups made dipping water out of the source much easier, but then you see what you’re drinking, which could easily prove less satisfying than not knowing.

    3) Belt canteens harken back to boot camp, and I don’t need to be reminded of the humiliation suffered at being the only guy in 55 that couldn’t think fast enough to know which way to go on ‘left turn—harch!’ And where do you put it that it doesn't get in the way?

    4) Notwithstanding the outstanding marketing success of hydration bladders, they just don’t suit me. First, if I’m going to sip, I’m at home with a silky scotch--in the outback I want a gullet gusher. I’ve yet to find a system that has no taste, even if only a slight rubbery hint from the bite valve. I don’t like clamping my maw over something that’s been on the lips of so many rodents seeming to have an overnight and overwhelming compulsion to chew the valve. In chillier temps the system freezes up and I don’t need salt to urge on the aneurysms building up to blow anyway. When I’m tipsy from heat exhaustion, a tepid dribble from the hydration hose doesn’t help crank down the thermostat. On occasion the brush gods have snatched the valve off the hose, leaving the bladder to drain in an unwelcome glimpse of my future. In a moment of severe anxiety in my more adventurous granite scrambling days my toes lost traction in a belly crawl, the rock having gotten wet not from what I initially feared, but the bite valve finding the precise spot for compression between belt buckle and stone. The system requires maintenance with special tools. Toting water inside my pack in soft plastic makes me nervous--liquids simply do not belong in proximity to clothes and sleeping gear.

    5) Nalgene (and type) bottles work pretty well, but they don’t present readily. I’m not going to ask anyone for help, if anyone even be around. I’m not going to take my pack off. Gregory tried tilting the pocket, which only made the bottle fall out so easily they added a retaining loop making the process all but impossible—left arm isn’t long enough and right arm won’t chicken wing enough and fingers can’t hold the pocket open and find the loop to restore the bottle if even extraction is (almost miraculously) achieved.
The lid takes too long to unscrew and vice-versa. I don’t trust the bottle loop to stay attached at the lid. The bottle is too fat to my liking. I’ve seen folks hang it from the chest strap, but I wonder about the concentration of weight--I’m already hanging camera and GPS; and bear spray in those areas where dogs are allowed.

    My imperfect solution? Seven years ago I started hanging a SmartWater bottle from a load lifter strap and over the back of the shoulder. (I question the intellectual calculus a person conjures to be willing to cough up $2 for a quart (L) of tap water, but I've no compunction at relieving them of the need to recycle the bottle.) Getting the right length of cord is critical, as too short the bottle won’t reach the mouth and too long it too often pendulums in the way. But just right, the tall skinny Smart bottle tucks in between back and pack and for the most part behaves. I can’t drink from it and walk at the same time, but can easily fetch it for a quick slug. It’s held by a slip loop, so comes free of the pack on demand but won’t tear loose. I could lose the lid going for a swig, but the bottle stays attached. It weighs little and lasts a long time with minimal maintenance using mostly LAM (locally acquired materials).
On rest days there’s time to stuff a few little pine cones and a handful of red needles in the bottle and swish the stuff around with soapy water to scrub out the muck that does grow, especially with protein drink or chocolate cake mixes.

    Yes the bottle could break open when I lean forward and slam it into a granite edge, but so far it just bounces off unscathed.
I have also tried a different and lighter brand of tall skinny bottle but it failed after only a hundred uses and a split-open trail bottle is a problem that defies mitigation. Sure, I’m aware of the scare over BPA and while poisoning myself in the outback my pickles and mayo and olives and almost everything else back home in the fridge goes on marinating in it 24/365. (Not that I believe calling some replacement chemical by a spiffy new name is likely any improvement.)

    My green directive feels served knowing I’m using a relatively small amount of plastic hundreds of times over. That’s better for the earth than the otherwise once-and-done for this type of product. And if it puts me in the earth, there’s a double bonus for the planet.

Hanging the SmartWater bottle makes for quick, easy access.

    a) Light
    b) Durable
    c) Practical

Read more reviews of SmartWate gear
Read more gear reviews by joe schaffer

Reviews > Hydration Systems > Bottles > SmartWate 1L Water Bottle > Owner Review by joe schaffer

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