Thursday, October 4, 2012

Specialized Purist Water Bottle Review

Nasty, funky, water bottle.

We've all probably had one. That bottle that no matter how much you washed it just wouldn't seem to come clean or stop stinking like foot. If you're lucky its just that this bottle seems to always taste like that energy drink you used a while back. Whatever it is; your average water bottle has a tendency to become "funky".

The solution: replace it - you will likely never get that stain or stink out. However, while we used to have to settle for replacing the funk bottle with the same kind of bottle with the same propensity to get nasty. Specialized Bicycle Components has presented a solution though and I think it is a good one.

The Purist bottle uses an ultra thin (a few microns if that means anything to you...) layer of food grade silica to isolate whatever you're putting in the bottle from the plastic it is made out of. This coating is basically like a thin layer of glass and addresses several things;
  1. Isolates your beverage from the plastic of the bottle to keep it from tasting like plastic or whatever was in the bottle before.
  2. Isolates the bottle from the beverage so that the plastic will not pick up the flavor or color of that beverage.
  3. Makes the bottle noticeably easier to clean and keep clean.
Let's look at each of these points a little closer.

Your average plastic bike bottle often receives complaints about making water and other drinks taste like plastic. I don't recall noticing this; so perhaps I've been drinking out of them for too long or I'm not sensitive enough, but either way I can see where this is undesirable. Since the Purist is essentially glass-coated it is more like drinking out of a glass - not flavoring your drink at all!

Additionally, these bottles can pick up the colors and flavors of some of the drinks that were in them before. I've had a few bottles turn a brownish color after I used them for iced tea in the summertime. Additionally, the flavor from a particularly "flavorful" drink will sometimes stick around for a few wash cycles, influencing whatever you may subsequently put in the bottle. This thin glass-like layer also helps prevent these conditions.

Finally, just like things rinse right out of a drinking glass - Specialized says you should be able to simply rinse out the Purist bottle with hot water and be ready to go again. I can say that I tested this for a little while with the first bottle I got - drinking everything from tea, to Hammer Recoverite and Perpetuem, to water and lemonade from that vessel without a single scrubbing or trip through the dishwasher. Not the most scientific test (nor potentially the most sanitary); but I can attest that I had no lingering flavors or coloring and didn't even get sick! Good enough for me...
Let's talk quickly about the other new feature: WaterGate. (Will that get me some hits from political searches?)

The no-drip valve has been tried a few times with mixed results. Lately, the hydration system pioneer CamelBak probably had the best success with their Podium bottle. I tried the Podium, but found the valve action to be a little firm for my liking; taking too much effort to open resulting in a harsh stream of water with a similarly harsh closing action.

Specialized seems to have addressed this nicely as well. The WaterGate valve opens and closes more gently - a feature that I think cannot be truly appreciated until you compare the two. Additionally, it seems to live up to its no-drip promise. I have opened the valve and turned the bottle upside down and could seemingly wait minutes without a drip unless I squeezed the bottle. Push the valve down to its locked position and nothing is getting out - a motion that is identical to traditional bottles unlike the twist-lock motion of the Podium which requires you to learn a new habit to lock the bottle.

I also really like the "fuel gauge" - a streak of clear material that runs down the side so you can see how much and what is in your bottle (for those days when you have trouble distinguishing between the bottle with the water or energy drink...) For those of us who like bottles with some color as opposed to the clear ones; this is a nice feature I got hooked on with another bottle (which I'll discuss in a moment) and was happy to see Specialized adapt.

So, is the Purist the perfect bottle? Nearly. It addresses a lot of the issues many of us have had with our bottles for a long time. And, they're slowly becoming the majority in my bottle collection. But; with all of the thought that went into these bottles they seemed to miss one important item: grippy bumps.

When Trek re-vamped their bottles a few years ago and added these relatively big bumps to their bottles; I fell in love... and the Trek bottles quickly became my favorites. Truthfully, while working at a Specialized dealer - I would drive 10 minutes to the Trek dealer to buy those bottles at full price because of these bumps.  You see; on a cold and wet day those bumps make the bottle much easier to get out of the bottle cage without fumbling and potentially dropping it.

Specialized has had some tiny bumps - just shy of a lightly textured surface - on their bottles for some time but nothing on the scale of the Trek bumps. So - if you're reading; Specialized - the absence of even these little bumps is a mistake on the Purist bottle. If you think of adding them back; go a step further and make them bigger and you have the perfect bottle!

Do you have a Purist bottle? What do you think? Or, tell us about the nastiest, funkiest bottle you've had or seen...


  1. I have 5 purist bottles and the watergate valve is great for about a month, then it's worthless. Watergate was a scam and so are these bottles.

    1. First: Here is why I prefer readers to avoid commenting anonymously - because now we cannot find out more about the experience with the valves and perhaps come to a solution for the benefit of everyone.

      This reader will never see that I am interested in the rest of their story unless they happen to come back and read the comments (which - let's be honest: they won't).

      That said: I am interested in others' experience here. I've had several Purist Watergate bottles in operation for a while. Now, I don't know what kind of use the above reader's bottles are seeing; but in my household water bottles are used by everyone: ages 15 months to 34 years. And trust me: the 1,3, and 7 year old users are not easy on the bottles.

      I've had childrens' fingers and toys stuck into the Watergate valve, valves chewed on, and various other forms of cruel and unusual punishments with no problems. To say nothing of the water, tea, juice, and energy/recovery drinks they constantly have flowing through them.

      So; should you return (or should another reader have experiences they would like to share for everyone's benefit) - What would you attribute the untimely deterioration of your valves to? I'd love to know and have a beneficial discussion.

      Thanks for commenting!

  2. Unfortunately the WaterGate valve is crap. I was constantly annoyed with dirt and dust being collected in it until I exchanged it with the regular Purist valve. That one I can wipe clean on my shirt. No chance with the WaterGate.

    And the purist only works in moderate/cold climate. Put the bottle in the sun and it stinks like plastic just as every other cheap bottle. That was disappointing.

    Still it is the best bottle so far I have been using.

    1. Perhaps the fact that I'm only using my Purist Watergate valves on the road is the reason I'm not hating them. Even rainy Oregon fall/winter/spring rides haven't created nasty mucky junk to collect in my valves... I'll take one on my next (infrequent) MTB ride and see what happens.

      And, back when companies started trying to develop bottles that don't taste/smell like the traditional water bottle I was a hard sell...I've been drinking from bike bottles for about 25 years and I guess I'm used to it. Never bothered me; even on a hot 105 degree SW Idaho summer day...

      However, I am not all consumers - thanks for your insights.

      I will say though that I have had to sequester my Purist bottles so my boys can't use them. They chew on the valves and it deforms/wears them so that they're harder to open with your teeth. I now have one bottle I don't bother to close when riding because it is so hard to open again. Time may change my tune.

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