Water-carrying vessels have followed a simple formula since the beginning of civilization: A watertight apparatus plus a cap to secure and provide access to the oft-precious content within.
Well, I am not here to lecture about the history of water bottles, nor am I writing a punchy “OMG this is the must have bottle of 2019” clickbait.
Chances are you already have a few favorites lying around, and let’s be real for a second here: Finding the right bottle isn’t all that difficult these days since everyone seems to be making a few of their own. There are 385 search results under “water bottle” at REI.com.
My current bottle situation consists of a glow in the dark Nalgene, an insulated Camelbak, a screw top Sigg bottle plus a stash of frequently replenished cycling-specific bottles. My latest addition, and the purpose of this rambling, is the $20 HydraPak Stash 750ml flexible water bottle.
Initially, I thought the idea of a flexible bottle was more of a novelty. Rigid bottles have served me and civilization well for years. So I wondered, is it going to be like putting water in a Ziploc bag?
It’s been three months since I started using it and though without it quirks, I am finding myself liking it for what it is.
Upon arrival, the most obvious feature is its compact size. Measured at 2.6” inches tall, 3.6” in diameter and weighing 84-grams in its compressed setting, the Stash 750ml is about the size of two hockey pucks stacked on top of each other yet is some 50% lighter than its rigid compatriot.
To use, simply unscrew the 42mm cap and pull using the soft pull tab at the bottom of the rigid bottom. Instead of using the pull tab, I find it easier to just unscrew and push the bottom out from the inside – just make sure your hands are clean, though. Once the rigid bottom is released from the top cap assembly, the radio frequency-welded, PVC and BPA-free thermoplastic polyurethane body, imprinted with capacity marks, is liberated from its protective casing to hold fluids on demand. The bottle is approved to be frozen and contain hot fluids up to 140F.
Once filled, the bottle becomes semi-rigid within the TPU wall in such that it will stand fully-extended on its rigid bottom. I would advise strongly against holding anything but the hard top while operating. Putting the bottle inside a pouch/holder does take some time to get used to because you can’t just brute force it into submission given it soft sides. I also can’t seem find a cup holder that can fit the bottom cap. So for those few road trips, the bottle basically lived either on the passenger seat (during normal driving), or, for the most part, the front passenger floor during *spirited* driving.
Forget about drinking out of one while driving, too. Yeah sure it’s entirely doable, but it’s also a giant pain in the ass.
The space saving aspect, though, is unbeatable. I wish I had this when I flew to Asia for a work trip earlier this year as more room in my carry-on is always appreciated. I’ve gone on a few more flights, a couple of hikes with a backpack full of camera gear, kayaking in Channel Island and on a dune buggy trip that left my body all banged up, but I am happy to report that there were zero leaks, no unintentionally loose cap (could use a built-in tether) and that TPU body I was unsure about was in fact, durable with proper care (i.e. sharp objects). My Stash is by no means a direct replacement of a hard-sided bottle, but it is a godsend, a valuable tool, in instances where space and weight are at a premium. I am planning to also add the 1 liter version to my troupe of bottles, and you can say that I am infatuated with it.