Gel-Bot water/gel bottle

Energy gel and water are the preferred fuels for untold millions of aerobic athletes. Gel provides quick calories. Water hydrates. The two work well together.

The Gel-Bot, a new-age water bottle developed by ventureDESIGNworks of Menlo Park, Calif., integrates a gel-dispensing flask with a traditional plastic bike bottle. Essentially, the Gel-Bot has a multi-position valve that lets you suck water or gel from the same container.

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The bottle holds 24 ounces of water. A separate bottle inside the bottle holds 3.2 ounces of energy gel. Three valve modes — including water-only, gel-only and a water-gel mix — let you pick the sustenance you need without any fuss.

With fuel and water in one place, the hikers, skiers, runners and cyclists this bottle was built for are unburdened by a separate secondary container. The hassle and time of tearing open a gel pack is no longer a concern.

In addition to convenience, the Gel-Bot (www.gel-bot.com) can promote better performance. Athletes in the heat of the race often forego energy gel in order to keep up with the pack. This product lets you quickly slurp a bit of gel without slowing down.

Another habit of gel-consuming athletes is to take a whole packet of gel in at once, say one packet every 45 minutes to an hour. The Gel-Bot promotes constant gel intake. Every time you sip water, you can take a hit of gel. The stream of small doses of energy works to keep you going steady.

Set to its water-gel valve mode, the bottle dispenses gel and water at the same time. This is a brilliant idea. Many people do not like the stickiness or thick, sweet texture of energy gel while working out. But when water is mixed in the gel goes down easy.

My one design suggestion would be for a more distinctive valve position for the water-gel mix mode. On the run it was difficult to quickly pull the valve out just far enough, but not too far, to activate this setting.

After use, the Gel-Bot breaks down into four components that are easily cleanable in a sink with dish soap.

I tested the Gel-Bot during several recent training sessions, biking and trail running with the bottle. It performed as promised. Straight water with Apple Cinnamon Hammer Gel (www.e-caps.com) worked as a great combination. There were no malfunctions and little leakage of gel or water. Indeed, the Gel-Bot is solidly built and worth its $16 price tag in spades.

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