Introducing our resident triathlete, graphic design guru, and soon-to-be newbie cyclo-crosser, Shane. In his very first article for SLO Cyclist–he’s been the one in the background making things look legit around here–Shane reviews the BackBottle. Let him know what you think, and feel free to encourage his efforts in the written arena. He’ll be another new regular around here.
The BackBottle Reviewed
Size: 18 ounces
Materials: BPA-free, LDPE plastic
Made in the Good Ol’ USA
Dual climate control in our car is a must. As a large man, I tend to operate hot at all times. My wife, at roughly half my size, is always cold by comparison. So without AC for me and a heater for her one of us is always uncomfortable. This isn’t unique to the car. While riding, I often go with short sleeves to her long, shorts to her leg warmers and single layers to her multiple. Yet, still I seem to sweat gallons while she’s cool as a cucumber and looking like she just walked out of a beauty salon.
Warmer days offer even more of a challenge for me to stay cool and hydrated. I know what you’re thinking, “How hot can it get there on the Central Coast?” It’s not always low 70s these days (something about a drought, I hear), and we’ve had our fair share of 90-degree afternoons. Since I boil over at anything above 75, I’m pretty much the hottest dude out there on every ride (pun definitely intended).
If you’re hot too (and take that one however you’d like), you likely tend to drink more fluids on every ride. That’s where the BackBottle steps in to solve two of your problems: hydration and a cold pack. Built to fit against your back in a jersey pocket, this bottle lets you carry extra water on said blistering days or works great during race conditions where being handed a bottle will get you a quick disqualification.
The kind people at BackBottle (you might also know them as the makers of Fix It Sticks) sent us over one to put through the rigors of testing, and I have to say the simplicity in design that allows for a highly functional bidon is one of those, “why hasn’t anyone thought of this before?” things.
What’s so different about this design? With a flat side and tapered bottom, its shape is truly unique. Meant to ride in any jersey pocket, the tapered bottom makes sliding it past any pocket’s elastic quite smooth. It doesn’t catch, and it doesn’t stop up against other supplies you may have stashed in the same space. I’ve tried this before with typical bottles and it can be a trick to get the flat bottoms put back into a tight pocket while riding–often requiring two hands to pull back the elastic and squeeze the bottle back in. When I’ve carried other nutrition with a regular bottle (triathletes sometimes only have one pocket, mind you) it tends to stack on top and sit uncomfortably, making my gels next to impossible to retrieve.
But BackBottle solves this problem simply and efficiently. You won’t need two hands to replace it, and you can stuff it in with a couple of gels without an issue.
The Serious Upsides: My favorite feature, the fill-to line makes freezing water super easy and the Back Bottle becomes my personal AC for hot days in the saddle. We’ve already discussed the struggle to stay cool, and a chilled bottle in a middle pocket brings my temperature down while my radiant heat melts the ice and keeps the water relatively cold through a long ride.
Although you might think it would feel heavy and bulky, I actually forgot I was toting it around after a mile or two. It seemed to ride best in the center pocket, but the fact that I wear a large jersey kept it contained low in the pocket, so I didn’t notice it tipping to the sides. My wife also rode with it, and her smaller jersey still kept the bottle in snugly, though more of it did sit above the elastic line. Still, no troubles with it shifting or tilting or threatening to fall out.
A Few Notes: One small issue I had with the bottle is the relatively hard plastic mouthpiece. Being used to the fancy soft plastic strains around these days, I’m getting a bit spoiled. But the cap held tightly and didn’t leak a drop. Strangely, I thought the bottle would make for super warm water on long rides, but I didn’t notice much difference in temperature between the drink in the BackBottle and the drink in my bottle cage. But, as per my earlier comment, this one works great frozen.
The Verdict: Overall, the BackBottle serves a real need and delivers functionality. Whether you need it to carry extra water on a long ride, or you can’t sport bottle cages, this is definitely for you. I’ll be toting this one around with me for a good long while–properly chilled, of course. 😉
Back Bottle could be the solution for you too. We’re pretty impressed. If you’re ready to pick up your own, head over to the official BackBottle website to get one . . . or four. (And no, they didn’t pay us to say this. We really just like it.)