CamelBak Bottle Range Review

CamelBak's big new range of drinks bottles includes both insulated models and plain plastic bottles. With spring in the air I thought it best to keep it simple, with a selection of the plastic ones. Here I'm looking at the Chute Mag 1L, Eddy+ .75L and Eddy Kids .4L

For details of the full range see camelbak.com

Meet the family  © Dan Bailey
Meet the family
© Dan Bailey

These robust plastic bottles are BPA , BPS & BPF free, and dishwasher safe. The quality and toughness feels on a par with a Nalgene bottle, my usual choice, though these are made in China rather than the US (if that matters).

The caps are interchangeable, so if you bought a couple of different models/sizes you could swap between the bite valve of the Eddy+ and the more open neck of the Chute Mag.

Chute Mag 1L - £18.99

This comes in a range of sizes from 1.5L down to 0.4L; I think 1 litre is a good capacity for a sunny day out. The vacuum insulated version looks good for winter or alpine use, and will set you back £34.99 (fair, for what looks like it might be a decent flask).

The Chute Mag on Stob Coire nan Lochan  © Dan Bailey
The Chute Mag on Stob Coire nan Lochan
© Dan Bailey

Having done a quick home test, it looks like the Chute Mag will happily hold boiling water, so whether you're boiling to sterilise or to create an improvised hot water bottle in a chilly tent, you can be confident it won't leak. I would not suggest trying this with the bite valve models though.

I like a wide mouthed bottle for easy filling from streams, and for topping up with snow. Take off the lid and the Chute Mag is easily wide enough. The spout itself is much narrower, fitting neatly in the mouth for easy spill-free gulping (with my wide-necked Nalgene you have to be a bit careful not to dribble).

photo
Chute Mag 1L
© Dan Bailey

The lid itself is a bit unusual, and I have to say I'm not a fan. Its notable feature is, believe it or not, a magnet, which holds the lid neatly open to avoid it getting in your way when drinking. So far, so harmless? Well not really. I think this is a solution in search of a problem, but worse, the magnet is easily strong enough to deflect a compass needle. That's a borderline safety issue in Britain's misty hills, and certainly something to be aware of. I do wish outdoor brands would stop sticking unnecessary magnets in things (jackets, gloves... now a bottle). What's wrong with simplicity? At least the magnet doesn't seem to add much weight, with the 1L bottle weighing barely more than my 1L Nalgene.

I think the magnetic lid is more gimmicky disadvantage than positive selling point!  © Dan Bailey
I think the magnetic lid is more gimmicky disadvantage than positive selling point!
© Dan Bailey

Other than this, I like the Chute Mag. It's robust, the carry handle feels sturdy, and the price - while a few quid more than a Nalgene - seems OK for something that'll probably last years.

Eddy+ .75L - £18.99

With 1L, .75L or .6L bottles, plus a .6L insulated version, the Eddy+ offers plenty of choice. I went for the 3/4 litre bottle, which is marginally more compact and packable than the full litre, and probably all you need for a quick crag session or half-day hill.

A warm Skye day with the Eddy+  © Dan Bailey
A warm Skye day with the Eddy+
© Dan Bailey

Its sucky bite valve makes this more of a sipper than a gulper, which is good for the car when you don't want a lap covered in Ribena. The valve has a good flow, and doesn't taste too plasticy. It is leak-proof when closed, won't spill if you knock the bottle over, and because it can be disassembled it's easy to keep clean. I really don't like hydration bladders/tubes (and say so at every opportunity), but find I don't mind this valve. It's nothing special, but it's good quality and justifies the price tag.

The Eddy+ is for sucking/sipping rather than gulping  © Dan Bailey
The Eddy+ is for sucking/sipping rather than gulping
© Dan Bailey

Eddy Kids .4L - £15.99

This comes in just the one capacity, and I think it's a sensible size for a smaller child - enough for a day out, without being too big or heavy. Ideally, kids should carry at least some of their own weight on walks.

As a scaled-down Eddy+ this has the same bite valve, which makes sense since nippers are forever spilling things.

There's too much plastic in our lives, and we could probably all do with buying fewer quality products rather than loads of rubbish. I've lost count of the number of cheapo plastic water bottles we've bought our girls over the years. In my experience budget bottles soon get scuffed, and things like carry handles can easily break off. It's not a budget option, but the Eddy Kids is good and tough, and should last for ages. Now we've just got to make sure our two don't misplace theirs!

I'm told the bite valve can rip over time if your kid is prone to chewing it; but usefully, it's replaceable.

The 400ml capacity is a good size for smaller kids  © Dan Bailey
The 400ml capacity is a good size for smaller kids
© Dan Bailey

photo
This one's got unicorns on. Other designs available
© Dan Bailey

Then there's the chemical composition of the plastic itself. One cheap bottle I bought only last year from a well known outdoor sports bargain megastore has developed an unmistakeable chemical taint that's rendered it unpleasant (and possibly inadvisable?) to use. God knows what it's made of. I certainly wouldn't want my children exposed to potentially harmful chemicals if I can avoid it. BPA-free plastic, as used in quality bottles like these Camelbak models, does provide some measure of reassurance. BPA, which stands for bisphenol A, is an industrial chemical used to make polycarbonate plastics. Small amounts of the stuff can migrate into food or drinks stored in the container, and while nobody seems to know precisely how harmful it is to ingest, research indicates that it may interfere with hormones, while possible links with some cancers have also been widely aired. Playing it safe, particularly with growing children, seems like a no-brainer. How safe are the various BPA-free alternatives? I'll have to leave that question for another day.

Back to the more important fun stuff. The Eddy Kids comes in a number of bright, cheery designs. Our girls were sent the rather gendered unicorns and glittery rainbows - both went down well, though I'm pleased to say they would have been just as happy with UFOs or sharks. The main thing is that they like them, and actually want to carry their own when we go out. That saves me having to.




23 Apr

Another paid promotional nebulous UKC gear review, with basic mountaineering use not considered:

Can you fill them with boiling water (if you have been boiling to sterilize), or if you are improvising a hot flask wrapped in spare clothing.

Are they taint resistant enough not to retain an iodine smell/taste?

Will they resist being frozen.

Are they leak proof enough to fill with hot water and use as a hot water bottle in your most expensive down sleeping bag? and does that handle make it uncomfortable at the bottom of the bag?

Is the lid secure enough to withstand racks being pushed and pulled past in a rucsac.

How do they hang on a harness, and will the lid pop on a chimney pitch/thrutch.

Does the colour tint prevent spotting floaters or squirmers when filling from streams.

Can you piss in it easily? and with a stream quick rinse without hot water would you drink from it afterwards?

UKC must try harder, or is the target audience now a bunch of ramblers, this is a (or was once a) climbers website after all.

0/10

23 Apr

"Reviewed by Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com"

Paid promotional..? That's not how it works.

You want in-depth critical reviews? We've got plenty. Some products merit more attention to detail. These are water bottles. I was already surprised at how much I found to say about them.

You're asking some pretty specialist questions of what are very clearly mass market products for general outdoor use.

That's a fair question, and not one I thought about (it's spring, too warm for hot drinks. And I rarely streilize water in Scotland). I've just tested the Shute Mag with boiling water and it seems fine. I wouldn't suggest using boiling water in the models with a bite valve though. I'll add this to the review as it's useful info

Pass. Probably? I filter, when I treat water at all - iodine is foul toxic stuff

As in not crack, or pop the lid, when frozen solid? Will any bottle do this if it's full? I'll ask CamelBak

Clearly. But again, only the screw top.

That handle would be less comfy than a Nagene - that's obvious from the pictures, no?

Yes. But I'd normally take my bottle out before removing the buried rack as it's easier

They hang fine. I've literally never done this in anger, but go for it. I doubt the lid would pop: that'd have been hard to test for certain though

What do you think, from the pictures? No

If you can piss in a Nalgene then you can piss in these. I would probably want to wash it properly after, but sure why not have a go

The target audience is pretty wide, and includes many who sometimes go hillwalking, as well as all shades of climbing - plus of course this content is shared across UKC and UKH. Call us all ramblers if it makes you feel superior

You raised a couple of useful points, so 2/10

23 Apr

Can you post a photo of the view from up there on your high horse? I bet it looks amazing.

Seriously this level of elitist bile for a water bottle review? Not sure how you cope with life in the 21st Century if you can generate this level of opprobrium for a review. If it offends you then just skip it and enjoy taking the elements from UKC that you want for gratis.

Is your preference to consider asking Alan to create a subscription model and paywall to keep the ramblers out?

Piss Bottle Group Test, coming to a semi-reputable climbing website near you ;-)

In fact, maybe the word semi isn't overly appropriate within this context...

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