This column is part of a series of gear reviews based on tests in the 2011 Wenger Patagonian Expedition Race, a weeklong competitive event in southern Chile. The race stretched 300+ miles and included trekking, kayaking, climbing, mountain biking, and wilderness navigation. Team GearJunkie.com took second place.
For seven days in the wilderness, I drank straight from lakes and streams. I slurped water out of puddles. I tilted my head back and let spring water rain into my mouth at a cliff’s edge. In the purity of Patagonia, where run-off flows from glaciers, water treatment is mostly unnecessary. It is a rare thing.
For the Wenger Patagonian Expedition Race, a weeklong event, my team brought along water-purification tablets, and I used them exactly once. Otherwise, my hydration “system” for this race was as simple as it comes: I carried a pair of water bottles and dipped them for a drink at any of the abundant trickles or streams when thirst came.
Hand in hand with the pure water, I used a pair of water bottles that lived up to their location. The new Purist bottles from Specialized Bicycles are touted to have the “flexibility and safety of a sports bottle with the pure taste of drinking from a glass.”
In Patagonia, after drinking from these plastic bottles for a week, I can attest to the company’s claim. It is true, the Purist bottles do not harbor any aftertaste, and water tastes just like. . . real, pure water when poured or squirted from a Purist into your mouth!
The secret is in the bottles’ inner surface, which has an infused silicon-dioxide layer that the company says functions like a lotus leaf. The silicon dioxide — which Specialized says is a “safe, natural solution” — sheds water and contaminates via a low surface tension formula as seen on a leaf. In other words, things can’t readily stick to the inside of the bottle, and it easily washes clean.
Water tastes good from these bottles, no doubt. But the real test in Patagonia was how a Purist bottle could be used with multiple liquid mixes yet retain no taste.
Specialized says the bottles are impermeable to taste, odor and stain. In my test, they indeed are! I could make coffee in a bottle with a pack of Java Juice extract, a black and staining brew, drink it down for a jolt, and then wash out the bottle with a rinse in a stream. There was almost zero coffee taste and no color. After another wash out, the coffee taste was 100 percent gone. Impressive.
My team used these bottles to mix up Hammer Nutrition Perpetuem drinks, CocoHydro crystallized coconut water, and other formulas. All washed out clean after the drink.
The Purist bottles, which look and feel like regular 22-ounce plastic bike bottles, cost about $8 apiece on various websites.
Beyond the inner surface feature, Specialized also includes a great valve on the Purist bottles. The company’s “Watergate” cap has a self-sealing valve that lets you squirt water in liberally, but it can be closed and it does not easily leak.
Final notes on the “purity” of the Purist bottles: The bottles are made of a food-safe LDPE #4 plastic that is BPA-free. As per Specialized’s FAQ on the bottles, the silicon dioxide used inside is a safe compound and the company says it occurs naturally in fruits, vegetables and nuts. The compound is embedded or “infused” into the inner surface of the bottle, not sprayed on. It is not a coating, Specialized says, and therefore it cannot crack or “leach” into your drink.
On the bike — or for an extreme trek in Patagonia — the Purist bottle is a great choice. For me, the Purist has set a new standard that all bike bottles must now stand up and face.
—Stephen Regenold is founder of Gear Junkie. Read more on Team GJ’s experience in the Wenger Patagonian Expedition Race at GearJunkie.com/Patagonian-Race.