Saturday, July 28, 2012

CamelBak EDDY 1L Water Bottle

When it comes to hydration, the water bottle is the ole standby.  It's cheap, reliable, in some cases disposable, and it is the unsung hero in the hiking, backpacking, fitness world.  Many people buy bottled water at great expense, and financial waste however.  Bottled water uses a lot of plastic that could be otherwise saved for use in other products.  In an effort to minimize my environmental impact, and cost, I switched over to reusable water bottles years ago.

But in recent years, companies have made great strides to make water bottles easier to live with and use.  Many years ago, my wife and I bought CamelBak and Kelty hydration bladders to use in our backpacks for hiking, and they are my number one way to hydrate while on the trail.  As an aside, I will have a review on CamelBak's Omega Water Beast 70 oz bladder later on.  Hydration bladders are great when you have a backpack, but for everything else, you need the bottle.  The problem is that the old Nalgene bottle, or my old Lifeline, are so passe anymore.  I don't know how many cracked lids I've gone through, or wet socks I've had to put up with because of leaks in my pack.  As for working out, I hate having to unscrew a lid every time I take a drink, and then spill some on my face because I'm running on the treadmill.  I like squirt bottles, but they start leaking over time.

So what's the solution?  Enter the CamelBak Eddy series of water bottles.  These aren't your daddy's old Nalgene bottles with screw on lids and ring retainers to break off when you use them as carabiner attachment points.  Oh no.  This water bottle is better.  It has features that other bottles can only dream of.  Now, of course, if you don't care about these features that you can go elsewhere.  But back here in the 21st century, these features actually mean something to a technical guy like me, and when you consider spending $10 on a 1 liter wide mouth bottle that will spill out the entire contents if you get bumped while drinking, or drop on the ground, then consider spending a few bucks more and get something that is actually worth the price of entry.  Nalgene, Lifeline, Aquamira, etc, have some serious competition here folks.  Read on.

Okay, let's start with the features that I like:

1. Bite Valve.  This little medical grade silicone valve flips closed when not in use, and flips up when you want to sip from it. The shape is such that you can hold the bottle with your hand, and use the thumb on the same hand to operate the valve.  This makes it truly one-handed.  It is spill proof and closes tight when not used, so I don't need to worry about closing this bad boy after I take a drink.  I have carried this upside down didn't lose a drop.  The silicone is durable, and will last.  But should you decide you want to bite through the valve, CamelBak sells replacement valves for cheap.  The advantage of a bite valve is that you won't guzzle your water.  Just take a sip every few minutes.  This is actually better for your body anyway.  The rule is 1 cup every 15 minutes of activity.  That's really not a lot of water when you think about it.  That means that this 1 liter bottle could last you 1 hour while hiking.  Try lasting 1 hour when you guzzle water.  Won't happen.

2. Straw.  Believe it or not, I like this feature.  You can remove the straw if tilting your head back is your thing, but there are many advantages to using the straw.  The first is that you don't tilt your head back.  This saves strain your neck, and keeps you looking forward when you drink.  When you are hiking, you don't want to tilt your head back.  Chances also are that you have a pack with a cargo area behind your head and can't tilt your head back very far anyway.  Additionally, if you are driving, the last thing you want to do is tilt your head back and take your eyes off the road, even if you are stopped.  I was cruising in the Jeep about 75 miles an hour and taking sips without taking my eyes off the road.

CamelBak Eddy in the gym bag with my workout clothes and towel. I would never attempt this
with my old Nalgene bottle because I've had them leak. Drying off with a wet towel sucks!
3. Shape. The bottle is tapered at the top, which allows you to get a good grip on it.  As wide as the body is, the tapered area around the top makes this bottle easy to use.  if you have smaller hands, you'll really appreciate this feature.

4. Lid.  The screw on lid houses the bite valve, straw and carabiner hook attachment.  I also use it to hold onto the bottle with just one finger while transporting.  The threads are shaped to seal the bottle when it is screwed down.  Over time, this system eventually fails.  The advantage of the Eddy is that since you don't need to unscrew the cap every time you want to take a drink., the lid will last much longer, require less maintenance, and leak far less than the competition.  The carabiner attachment is built in and is made from some copolyester, and makes it not only durable, but flexible.  This is also what makes it comfortable to carry by the crook of my finger.  It's not so inflexible and rigid.  The lid makes the bottle feel expensive.

Now the bottle is BPA free.  Everything on this bottle is.  I didn't buy into the health side affects of it, but what I do know is that BPA free bottles don't take on odors or allow them to linger.  I've owned older CamelBak hydration bladders that would smell like lemonade long after you cleaned them out, or retained musty mildew smells that made the water taste awful.  Mind you, this was after proper cleaning.  The Eddy is dishwasher safe (top rack) and cleans up nicely.

The CamelBak Eddy is also compatible with most water filtration systems on the market.  The screw top opening of this wide mouth bottle is 63mm, so bear in mind that it will fit most systems, but not all.  This is my bottle hooked up to my partially assembled MSR Sweetwater Microfilter/Purifier system.  The setup is simple to get going.  If your filtration system has a water bottle adapter, like mine does, then you simply screw it on and insert the flexible tube into the top nipple and pump filtered water into the bottle.  CamelBak does offer a filtration straw, but from their own website, you are only supposed to use potable tap water.  It removes chlorine and foul taste from the water - not the microbes that a backwoods filtration/purification system, like the MSR can handle.  However, the advantage of the filter straw is that you can use regular tap water and still get the great tasting water that you'd only get through bottled water, which is simply filtered tap water anyway.  Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that the filter straw works with the Eddy because the filter portion makes the straw wider.  If you want filtration, get the CamelBak Groove.  The only downside is that the bottle is .75 liters instead of 1 liter.  I'm not sure if the cap from the groove will fit the eddy, but I'm going to find out.  I'm not sure that matters anyway because if you want to use the bottle in the backcountry, you need to filter it with a filter like the MSR anyway.  So I guess it's a moot point.  But for everyday living, it's better to filter the tap water at the gym rather than taste the awful deposits in the water around here.

I'm not big on drinking soda these days, but if you are, then there is something you need to be aware of - something that is inherent in any bottle that uses a straw.  if you put soda in the bottle and close the lid on it, first be sure to fill it only 3/4 full to allow for expansion of gases.  Second, remove the straw!  My wife and I had a hell of a time figuring out why the sippy cups for our kids were spurting cola out of them when we'd fill them up.  Well, that's why.  The pressure builds up in the straw and overcomes the spill proof slit on the nipple and you have a Mt. Coca Cola erupting, getting that sticky shit everywhere.  The fact that these CamelBak bottles are like adult sippy cups makes them have the same inherent qualities when drinking soda.  My recommendation is to avoid soda altogether, but if you want to read my opinions on that, check out my other blog, "100 lbs to Rainer."

All in all, I feel that the CamelBak Eddy, as well as the Groove, are a lot of bottle for the money.  The fact that you can forego the plastic PET bottles and just fill from either the tap or a water cooler make them worth every penny.  I've filled my bottle up from a water cooler at work to take with me on jobs all week.  With the money I've saved not buying 1 liter bottles of Aquafina, Arrowhead, Evian (Naive spelled backward, btw), Dasani, or (gasp) FIJI, the CamelBak has paid for itself over and over and will continue to do so as long as I fill it with water that my employer has to pay for.  If you use a filtration system in the backwoods, like I do, then you will save even more money because you don't have to hike in bottled water that you had to buy.

Stay hydrated!

-James

3 comments:

  1. Do the filter straw systems from the Grove fit into the Eddy?

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  2. The straw will not fit the Eddy lid because it is fatter to accommodate the inline filter. If I remember correctly, I tried to put the Groove lid and straw on the Eddy bottle and the bottom of the straw interfered with the base of the bottle. So if you want to run the Groove lid with the Eddy body, you'll have to trim the straw to fit. No big deal. The openings are the same diameter and thread pitch.

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