Since I got my hydration bladder system a couple of months ago, I have grown to appreciate a soft-sided water carrier. However, I just don't always need three liters of water, and carrying around an entire three-liter bladder, even half empty, can be annoying. Over the last several weeks, I began carrying typical one-liter bottles like a Nalgene, a USGI canteen, and disposable water bottles for shorter trips. Toting the empty containers was annoying, though, because they took up the same space in my bag regardless of their ability to hydrate. So, when I came across the Platypus “Platy Bottle”, a soft-sided 1 liter bottle, I decided to give it a shot.
The Platy Bottle weighs in at a feathery .9 oz (24 g), making it about 1/8 the weight of a common one liter Nalgene bottle. Besides the weight savings, the volume of the bottle itself is a boon. When empty, it takes up hardly any space, due to the soft nylon/polyethylene construction of the bottle. The noise of a sloshing half-empty bottle is also nearly eliminated with these bottles, by simply squeezing the air out of the bottle before capping it. Platypus markets a version of this bottle specifically for wine, because the design allows nearly all of the air to be removed from the bottle very easily, which protects the flavor of the wine.
The bottle seems to be very solidly built despite the thin, flexible walls. The hard plastic insert that forms the opening appears to be heat welded to the soft walls, creating a totally watertight bond. All of the seams of the bottle are fairly wide and visible, leaving me without a doubt that it will stand up to plenty of use. The design of the bottle is such that, when filled, it will easily stand upright on its own. It is also slightly narrower in the middle, for the purpose of making it easier to grasp. I don't normally grab the bottle here, though, because then I would gush water all over my face. The shape of the bottle, when filled, is somewhat flatter than most normal bottles, almost like a flask. This makes it easier to slip into the side pockets of a full pack than hard-shell counterparts.
Drinking from the Platy Bottle is a little bit different than drinking from a hard bottle, as expected, but the technique is very intuitive. I grab the opening in one hand and direct it to my mouth, and grab the bottom of the bottle in my other hand, raising it until water flows through the opening at a moderate rate. The only drawback to this style of drinking is that it requires two hands, but since all of my hard water bottles require two hands to remove the cap anyways, I don't really consider it a disadvantage. With practice, it will become easy to simply raise the opening to my mouth, clench it between my teeth, and raise the bottle to force liquid into my maw, all with one hand.
So far, I have used the bottle as a bedside bottle, an exercise bottle, and for day trips around town. It will easily transition into use as a day hike or multi-day hike bottle, if I decide to use a bottle instead of (or in addition to) a hydration pack. I hesitated to place the bottle next to my bed, afraid that in my morning grog I would forget what sort of bottle I was dealing with. There was no need to worry, though, because the bottle is not nearly as tricky as one might think. After a long run, it is nice to be able to squeeze the bottle while drinking in order to cause it to overflow my mouth and spill onto my face and chest, to help cool me down. I often run errands on my bike, and it's nice that as the day progresses and my bag fills up with goods, my water bottle shrinks as I empty it, so that I'm not taking up precious cargo space with air.
The Platy Bottle is available in 0.5, 1, and 2 liter bottles, with either a typical water bottle screw cap, or a “sports cap”. Street prices for all of the models are very reasonable, with most being found under $10. There is also a new version of the Platy Bottle, slightly heavier, made from a “softer, more flexible” material and includes a carry loop. All versions of the Platy Bottle are made in the USA, which is a nice thing to know. There are various accessories that can be fitted to the Platy Bottle from Platypus, such as drinking tubes (for using the bottle in a hydration pack), gravity water filters, and alternate caps.
The only problem I have had with the Platy Bottle is that when inserted bottom-first into the external mesh pocket of a backpack, the edges of the bottle snag on the mesh. This is so easily solved, however, that it can hardly be considered a problem. The solution is simply inserting the bottle opening-first into the mesh pockets. Another possible drawback is that the cap doesn't fit the wide-mouth adapters (Nalgene style) that most water filters come with. However, Platypus does offer their own water filtrations systems that are compatible with the Platy Bottle. My suggestion to the company would be to offer a version of the bottle with a typical wide-mouth opening in addition to the standard disposable water bottle style opening.
Overall, I am really loving my Platy Bottle! It is lightweight, tough and takes up minimal volume in my pack. If I want to, I can accessorize it to become part of a filtration system or a bladder in a hydration pack. The size of the opening makes it easy to drink from in a moving vehicle, and it can stand upright for easily adding drink mixes on the fly.
Platypus Soft Bottle
By Tim Stetzer
I’ve been using Platypus hydration systems for about as long as I can remember knowing about hydration systems. When I first got semi-seriously interested in backpacking in college, hydration bladders and pockets were still relatively new. At least they weren’t standard in packs like they seem to be today. My buddies did end up with packs that included them, but my old EMS pack did not. After a trip or two I realized that I needed to jump on the bandwagon so I went shopping for a separate bladder and ended up finding a Platypus Hoser hydration bladder. I would just toss the bladder in the top of my pack and run the hose out the top and along my pack straps and it worked fine. I’ve been using that set up for over 10 years I bet. Same bladder and same tube! I’ve had two other bladders from other companies spring leaks since then and they aren’t anywhere near as old as my Platy Hoser is. Around the same time I picked up a 2 liter Platy bottle to use for supplemental water and that one is still going strong as well. I relate these stories just to say that I’m pretty familiar with the Platypus hydration systems and have a healthy respect for their durability and functionality from a lot of hard use over the years.
That brings me to the latest product at hand, the newest version of the Platy bottle, the Soft Bottle. I was glad to see Simon’s write up on the regular Platy Bottles because it provided a great segue for me to talk about the newest one. Cascade Designs took a proven concept in their bottles and further tweaked them to make them even more user friendly. The Soft Bottles use the same newer style wasp waisted, BPA free, bottle style and screw top fitting but rather than having the simple screw top like Simon’s bottle has, or even the push-pull drinking cap, they fit a HyperFlow Cap. The HyperFlow Cap is essentially a bite valve like they use on their Hoser and Big Zip bladders only without the hose. It also will lock by turning the bite valve about 90 degrees clockwise so that no water will come out even if you bite, or the valve gets squashed accidentally. What you end up with is a handy, compact, leak free bottle that you can easily grab with one hand and snatch a quick drink from without manipulating any caps, nozzle or other doodads. It doesn’t get much simpler than that.
The Soft Bottle is just the ticket to take care of some of the one hand use and spillage woes that Simon was concerned about! In hindsight fitting a bite valve to a bottle makes a lot of sense but I haven’t seen anyone other than Cascade Designs doing it so far. The end result is a lightweight, compact bottle that’ll stand up to hard use, pack small (and get even smaller as you drink from it), won’t spill your precious water out while on the trail and is easy to use. The Soft Bottle comes in .5 and 1 liter sizes and is available in a variety of colors. It’s also available with a standard cap if the HyperFlow Cap isn’t what you need. We don’t have a firm price on it as of press time here at Woods Monkey, but I suspect it will be very reasonable based upon the rest of Cascade Design’s Platypus line. The Soft Bottle is a great idea for adults but also an ingenious one for kids who don’t always tend to be as careful about spilling things as they should. I know I plan on picking up a couple more of these for my 5 and 6 year old for the next time we hit the woods!
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