In forty years of camping I’ve seen the canteen replaced by the plastic water bottle. Canteens (remember them?) were opaque, narrow mouthed, heavy and had a metallic taste with overtones of whatever drink mix one last used. Washing them out thoroughly was hit-or miss because you couldn’t see inside. I did not like canteens.
My first wide-mouthed Nalgene bottle was really kind of miraculous. I could see how much water it contained; I could wash it out thoroughly, and it never ever leaked. Most of the folks I know use ‘Nalgene’ as a generic name for water bottle the same way people call cellophane tape ‘scotch tape’.
Scouts pioneered the use of Nalgene bottles for camping. In the 1970’s someone at Nalgene had a son who was a Scout. He and the Scouts in his Troop started using Nalgene lab ware bottles for camping and the rest is history.
At one point, when I wasn’t paying attention, water bottles became fashion accessories and lifestyle statements.
I’ve carried the basic wide mouth Nalgene for at least thirty years and I can’t imagine how anyone can improve on its simple design. The folks at Nalgene sent me a three of their newest products to review. I was skeptical when I unpacked the new Nalgene Glow, OTF (On The Fly) and Multi-drink. Are the Nalgene folks just gilding the lilly here or are these actually useful innovations?
One minor failing of the standard Nalgene bottle is dribbling when you try to drink from the wide mouth. I have a wide mouth myself, so it’s not a big problem for me but I do need to stand still or I am going to wear some of what I am drinking.
The multi-drink lets me choose form a retractable, lockable spout with an internal straw, a smaller screw-top and the standard wide mouth top. This is helpful when riding my bike (the Multi-drink fits in a standard water bottle cage on most bikes) and the spout locks and unlocks with one hand. The smaller screw-off cap is just a little bigger than a standard disposable water bottle cap and gives me the option of slugging down a bit faster. The wide mouth cap facilitates filling, cleaning and adding drink mixes. Like my other Nalgenes it is well made, solid and won’t leak.
Nalgene MultiDrink available from Amazon
GLOW Do I really need or want a bottle that glows in the dark?
Turns out I do.
The Glow is not going to replace my flashlight, not by a long shot, but it does give off an oddly reassuring green (or blue) luminescence. Is this practical? Yes, I suppose so: but that’s not the point; it’s just kind of cool.
Is it odd that I find the glow is endearing and reassuring? Is it odd that the guy that Tom Hanks played in Castaway befriended a volleyball? I haven’t started talking to my Glow bottle and it doesn’t have a face( a few moments with a Sharpie would take care of that) but I really do like it. It’s nice to wake up in your tent in the middle of the night and have a reassuring glow nearby. There’s also the practical aspect of being able to psot my water bottle in a dark campsite. What’s not to like?
So the Glow is a welcomed addition to my gear for reasons that transcend practicality. It’s the same quality and function of my standard Nalgenes but, well, it glows.
Nalgene Glow available from Amazon
OTF (On The Fly)
The OTF did not impress me at first. It looked finicky and had a kind of toddler sippy cup vibe. I was pretty sure I would not like it.
I was wrong.
The OTF has an integral lid and handle that locks closed and opened very positively with one hand. In the open position the stooper/handle locks so it doesn’t flop around and hit you in the face when you are drinking. As a woodworker I use lots of different hand tools and I appreciate a good ergonomic design like that of the OTF
The spout is just slightly bigger than a standard water bottle; it seems to me to be the perfect size. The stopper/handle sports a wire bail to double lock it securely. It opens with the push of a button and a firm push on the stopper handle results in a leak-proof seal. The thin 22 oz bottle slips into water bottle pockets on my briefcase and lumbar pack and fits most cup holders.
I like the OTF enough that it has become my everyday water bottle.
Nalgene OTF available from Amazon
Disposable plastic water bottles are an environmental scourge. Of the estimated 26 billion sold annually less than half of them get recycled. That, my friends, is a straight up pity. Get a reusable water bottle, please.
Nalgene is minimally packaging their products, the glow has a label, the Multi-drink and OTF a recyclable plastic sleeve. I don’t know how many tons of cardboard and plastic this saves but I appreciate it. In the unlikely event you wear out a Nalgene bottle the three I have reviewed here are made form recyclable plastic. Finally Nalgene offers replacement lids so your bottle should last a lifetime.