One thing about this hot weather, man….you can go through a lot of water in a hurry. I was up at Glacier a couple weeks ago and found that for most of my needs, a Nalgene bottle hanging off my belt in a RolyPoly was good enough. However, I did bring along a Platypus ‘soft bottle’ to keep in my bag in case it looked like more water was called for.
Funny story – I was completely unfamiliar with these ‘tubeless’ water bladders that were being used in lieu of ‘hard’ water bottles. I was up in Alaska doing the touristy thing when I saw one of the park guides with the Platypus bottle. My curiosity being aroused, I asked her about a dozen questions about it. The newly-minted missus found this amusing and actually took a picture of me grilling the poor gal about this water bottle that I was unfamiliar with. Naturally, once I got back to someplace where internet access wasnt charged by the minute, I started doing some research.
While I’m a big fan of the CamelBak-style ‘hydration bladders’ there are times I just wanna have a small container of water that can be tucked into my gear or into a pocket. These things turned out to be just perfect for that task. The two big players are Nalgene and Platypus. One thing that really pushes the Platypus to the top of my list is that in addition to being used as a water bottle the threaded caps are interchangeable between a regular cap, a pull-to-drink spout, and a drink tube. That’s the sort of modularity that I find extremely attractive in a piece of gear. As an interesting side note, it appears that Coke/water bottle caps are threaded similarly that they can be used if the cap of the Platypus is damaged or lost. (And that’s really my only complaint about these things is the non-captive caps.) The larger capacity Platypus (Platypii?) also have reinforced attachment points so you can just clip a carabiner through them and hang them off your pack or whatever…that’s a mighty useful feature since on most Nalgenes all you can do is use the lanyarded lid for that task and that sometimes puts way to much strain on that part.
A local sporting goods store closed a few years ago and most of their stuff was marked down 50%. I cleaned ‘em out on the Platypus stuff. I’ve got a plastic tub full of these things in storage.
Nalgene, the folks that make those rugged drink bottles I like so much, also has a presence in the market for these sorts of products. Since I got such a good deal on the Platypus stuff, I tend to stick with them. However, the Nalgene does have some interesting uses…for one thing their large 48 oz version ( Nalgene Wide Mouth Cantene ) has the same size/threaded opening and cap as their hard bottles. This means that any of the accessories that thread onto the hard bottle mouth will work with the flexible one. More interestingly, in the book Six Ways In And Twelve Way Out it is mentioned that for a small survival kit the Nalgene wide-mouthed bottle is an excellent container to protect your small items from the environment. The idea being that you keep your little stash of matches, fish hooks, paracord, whistle, etc, etc, inside the Nalgene to keep them protected. An interesting idea except that once you decide to actually use the thing for it’s intended purpose of carrying water you now have a couple handfuls of small items you have to find a way to carry.
Anyway….in weather like this I usually take a hard Nalgene bottle, fill it 1/3 with ice tea, freeze it over night, and then fill the remainder with more iced tea. After that it goes in my bag (or on my bag, more likely) and keeps things cold most of the day. But I keep one or two of the Nalgene or Platypus soft-bottles in my bag ‘just in case’. Why? Well, you never know when you’re going to find yourself in a strait where you’re going to want to have as much water as you can carry. Remember those old movies where the guy is in the desert and he tilts the canteen to his lips and only a few drops of water come out? He looks at it and then disgustedly throws it away. What they don’t show is that when this genius eventually does come across a water supply he know has no way to carry the water. So..I carry an extra or two, empty and rolled up, in my bag. They take up far less space than a hard bottle and if, for example, it looks like a real killer of a day I can load up at the nearest water source and have extra water to carry…or to hand off to a less-prepared partner.
Another nice side benefit of these things is that as you empty them you can squeeze the air out so the things don’t make any sloshing noises like you’d get with a half full (or half empty) canteen. Don’t know about you but I hate hearing that sloshing noise every time I take a step when I’m out hunting.
Durability? I’ve read that the Platypus is a bit better than the Nalgene. The complaint with the Nalgenes seems to center on where the threaded neck is ‘welded’ to the pouch itself. Apparently they sometimes leak. I’ve had a bunch of the Platypus and have never had a problem. haven’t accidentally punctured one yet, although I suppose it’s possible…which is way i usually keep the full ones in something like a Maxpedition Rollypoly (which is what I use..great product) or similar cordura ‘holster’ to protect it from the rigors of life. And, nice thing is that when the Platypus is empty I can also roll up the RollyPoly to it’s compressed size and tuck it away.
If you’re only using the hard bottles you may wanna check these out.