Cycling Along The Way...

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Silver City, NM, United States
Riders of the wheel. Racers, Roadies, Mountain bikers, Touring cyclists, Commuters, and others. Diamond frames, recumbents, trikes, and more. Sharing a web of connections often misunderstood or unappreciated by those who don't ride. Herewith, my attempt to share some of the more rational thoughts that flit around inside my head while bicycling, knocking back a brew or three, or just thinking about life. Reviews of bicycles, gear, touring, and more, plus some unsolicited posts about people, politics, and philosophy. Other things, too. Me: retired, gave up my TV in 1988, avid cyclist, several cross country tours completed with more to come. Your thoughts?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

BICYCLE GEAR REVIEW: HydroFlask Water Bottle

Living in the Southwest can be, and often is, hot and dry.  Water is critical.  While living in Tucson, AZ, and working at Tucson Medical Center in the Emergency Room, I saw several people who died from lack of water while hiking in the desert.  What was seared into my brain?  Drink Water.  Drink Often.

Words to live by, literally.

An issue in this climate is dehydration.  Here, sweat (or perspiration, if you're a female) evaporates practically immediately.  In climates where high humidity is the norm, a person sweats, clothing gets soaked, and the need to drink some water to hydrate is more obvious.  In desert climates with low humidity as the norm, clothing stays dry while sweating.  Evaporative cooling.  The clues in a more humid climate aren't there to tell you that you're becoming dehydrated and that you need to drink some water.  Not sweating?  Must be doing ok.  Wrong.  A clue in dry climate--close your mouth for a few minutes and see if your mouth is dry.  If so, you're already on the way to becoming dehydrated.  Drink water regularly; drink it often.

The humidity in this area can range from a low of 2% to 85% or higher, but usually ranges in the teens.  Today, the humidity is 12%.  Dry.  People who live in this type of climate have acclimated and drink water regularly.  Sometimes, they adapt by wearing clothing that absorbs the sweat and acts to cool the body as the sweat evaporates.  When I lived in Tucson, I saw for the first time that people who worked outside, for a living or for whatever reason, often wore long sleeved, white, cotton shirts for this very reason.  While cooling your body in this fashion is good, it's not a substitute for drinking water.  Have you seen those bandannas where the advertising recommends soaking it and wearing it around your neck?  Wrong, again.  DRINK THE WATER.  That will keep you hydrated.  A wet bandanna might look good around your neck when you're dead, but it won't keep you hydrated.  Period.  Don't pour it on you; pour it down your throat.  Never waste water by dumping it on your body unless you're near a water source and can replenish your water supply.

An article I read emphasized how important it is to maintain your core temperature, particularly in hot weather.  Another article addressed hydration and suggested that, a few hours before riding, it's helpful to drink about 28oz of water.  The one on core temps suggested drinking cold water on hot days to help regulate the body's core temp.  So, what I do, since I'm a slug, is to drink the 28oz of water prior to a ride to hydrate, but not always a few hours before a ride because I'm still asleep.  On long rides on hot days, I bring cold water with me to drink while bicycling.  This has helped me.  While on my 2010 cross country tour to Upstate New York, I'd fill all six of my insulated, plastic water bottles (Polar and Camelbak) with ice, then add water, Gatorade, or maybe a sweetened, chilled, coffee drink.  Three of the bottles were stored in my insulated rear rack bag.  Mid-afternoon, I'd break these three out, which were still relatively cold and sometimes still had a little ice left in them, and then drink up as much as I thought I needed.  One was always filled with plain water.  They always helped and tasted great.  The other 3 bottles, that I had on the bicycle frame, which had been filled with ice and water and/or Gatorade at the beginning of my ride, usually did not stay cold long with temps in the 90's and the humidity in the 90's.

Combine a hot/dry climate with the need for cold water or cold whatever, the question arises...what to use to keep the stuff cold?  Or at least chilled?  HydroFlask Water Bottle.  These are great, IMHO.  Yes, they're made in China.  All the brands are.  The sole exception: Liberty Bottleworks  Liberty Bottleworks does not make an insulated bottle, however, so not helpful for me in this climate.  All of Hydroflask's bottles are insulated.  If insulation is not an issue for you, please, buy Liberty Bottleworks.  I like to support products made in America.

HydroFlask Water Bottle's website hype claims their insulated bottles will keep liquid hot for 12hrs and cold for 24hrs.  I've not tested them.  I'm not that anal.  What I can tell you is, from my experience, these bottles work well.  I have three different size Hydro Flask models...the 24oz, the 40oz, and the 64oz Growler.  I have two of the 24oz bottles that I use on my rides regardless of temps.  They are arctic blue.  The 40oz one is red; the Growler is black and is 64oz.  I love them.  These come in a variety of colors, sizes, etc.  Check their website for details: HydroFlask Water Bottle.  Below is a photo of all of them.  The arctic blue is a darker blue than it appears in this photo.  Likewise, the other two are a darker color than this photo depicts.

From L to R: 64oz, 40oz, 24oz
Here is a photo of the 24oz bottle on my Silvio:
Plastic Water Bottle Cage and Hydro Flask in Plastic Water Bottle Cage on the back of the seat on my Silvio.  I use plastic water bottle cages to eliminate/minimize any rattle.
This is the cap that I use on my 24oz bottles.
Sports Cap for narrow mouth Hydro Flask Bottles
For you hikers or off road cyclists, here is a water filter that fits the 21oz Hydro Flask bottle.  They don't make one for the 24oz bottle, unfortunately.  Hydro Flask sells replacement filters for this, too.
Revolve Water Filter for the 21oz Hydro Flask
Here is a "straw" that fits onto the Revolve Water Filter:
Revolve "Straw" fits on the Water Filter
Last summer, I filled the 40oz Hydro Flask with ice and cold water, put it in my insulated rear rack bag on my Cannondale touring bike, and took it out on a long ride on a 95 degree+ day.  Four hrs+ into the ride, I checked the bottle...still had all the ice in it and it was very COLD.  Loved it.  This was a test to see how it would handle the heat in this area.  I'd score it an A++.  The two 24oz bottles were mounted on my touring bicycle frame in their respective water bottle cages.  The water in these bottles was still cold.  I had been drinking this water during the ride.  Most of the ice had melted but the water was still cold.  Not as cold as the water in the 40oz bottle but definitely cold.  On a car trip to Albuquerque last year, I filled the two 24oz bottles with ice/cold water before leaving Silver City.  The next day, in our hotel room, I took a drink from the bottle that still had water in it.  It was still cold.  This was at least 24hrs after I had filled them.  Subjective tests, yes, but they work.  There are many other bottles out there that others swear by.  Here's a website to see what one reviewer thought: 2009 Review of Several Brands of Metal Water Bottles  If you know somebody who has a metal water bottle, see if they'll let you try one before buying any one brand.

One of Hydro Flask's biggest selling points is their 64oz GROWLER!!  How cool is that?  Bring your own growler to the pub, get it filled with your favorite brew, bring it home, and it's still as cold as it was coming out of the tap.  Damn.  I LOVE that!  I don't believe any other company sells this type of insulated growler or a growler, period.  In 2015, my plan is to do a 10,000 mile/6-7month bicycle tour around the U.S. and Canada.  On this tour, I will be using PubQuest to help me decide how to route my tour so that I can find a brewpub or two to help quench my thirst.  And this little puppy will come in handy.  (I'll review PubQuest and other websites in a future post.)  The 64oz bottle will also come in handy to carry cold water for those parts of the country where water can be scarce while on tour.

PROS:
-Keeps liquid cold or hot
-Good quality
-Attractive
-Affordable
-Durable
-GROWLER

CONS:
-Weight

SUMMARY:
Considering the type of rider I am and the type of bicycling/touring that I do, Hydro Flask is just about perfect for what I use it for.  Weight may be an issue for others, but, when touring or doing day rides like I do, these fit the bill and weight is really a non-issue.  What are a few extra ounces when touring?  I listed it as a negative because I don't want anyone to think it's lightweight, but it's not as if you're carrying something excessively heavy either.  My plan for touring is to use the two 24oz bottles (behind my seat) and two 40oz bottles (under my seat) on my bike and carry the Growler in a pannier, for beer or for extra water when needed.  Empty, the growler takes up space but is not particularly heavy.  Is this the bottle for everyone?  Advertising might want to make you believe that, but, no, it's merely one of several good products/brands out there.  Are all the bottles perfect? No, I'm sure (and some of the reviews say so) that some arrive defective.  Hydro Flask's customer service has been excellent.  Via email, I inquired why they didn't produce these in the U.S.  At the time, the owners stated that no company in the U.S. could manufacture these to the standard they wanted, so, like all other metal water bottle makers, they went to China.  As I said previously, only Liberty Bottleworks  produces their bottles in the U.S., but they're not insulated.  I have inquired if they have plans to make insulated bottles in the future.  They said no.  Go figure.

Enough for today.  Time to go for a ride.  The smoke has cleared and the sky is blue.  A tune to head out with.  How can you go wrong with one from Bruce?  Enjoy...