I’ve gone through a lot of water bottles since the 1980s, when I first started cycling. Back then, water bottles were pretty much all the same, for years and years. A really small top connected to the bottle with a piece of plastic, which made it hard to clean the bottle and hard to add any ice to the bottle if you liked to keep things cool in hot weather.
One of the more recent advances in water bottles was when Camelbak came out with their first traditional water bottle (as opposed to hydration packs). Named the Camelbak Podium, it was a bottle with an extremely wide mouth, and a terrific valve that you could twist to keep completely shut (and leak free). The valve was also very soft and easy on your teeth.
That first generation of Podium bottles was perfect except for two fatal flaws, in my opinion. The first flaw was that the plastic was too slippery, so it was very easy to drop the bottle out of your hand. And the second fatal flaw was that the flow rate was much too slow. The plastic was quite hard, so you’d really have to squeeze it to get much water out of it at all. I think this is also part of the reason it was so slippery. I think they have probably resolved those issues with subsequent generations of that bottle, but I wasn’t willing to spend the money to try them again. I will say that their lid and valve design is world class!
I picked up my first redesigned Specialized water bottle a couple of years ago, at Bicycle Sport Shop in Austin. It was a 26 ounce Purist water bottle, which was the best water bottle I had ever used at that point in time. I bought five or six of them over the next year.
The plastic was a good thickness so that you could get plenty of water. It was also a good type of plastic that wasn’t too hard to squeeze, and would easily stay in your hand without getting too slippery. And it had a new type of lid and valve called the Watergate, with the self sealing “Heart Valve.” Those two terms are a bunch of marketing speak, but they do describe a truly better design. You can keep the valve of the water bottle open and turn the bottle upside down, but water would not leak out until you actually squeezed the bottle.
If the way the valve worked wasn’t awesome enough, they also made it so that a generous stream of water came out when you did squeeze it. This was a terrific bottle, and I didn’t think that you could really make anything better than the Purist.
But I was wrong.
Because a year or so after I discovered the Purist and was using it exclusively, I spotted a DIFFERENT Specialized water bottle at the bike shop. It was slightly smaller than the Purist. It had the same amazing lid and valve. But when you picked it up, it felt rubbery and soft and awesome in my hand. It was even grippier than the Purist, and it could squirt water out even faster with the softer material.
This new bottle, of course, is the Specialized Purist HydroFlo 23, which holds 23 ounces of liquid instead of 26 ounces. Although I’d love to have 3 more ounces of liquid, I am willing to settle for less to use this terrific bottle.
An unusual feature about this bottle is that it isn’t round. It is a three sided bottle, sort of like a rounded off triangle. You don’t really notice that it isn’t round, except that the rounded corners fit really well in your hand, giving you a superior grip.
The reason that Specialized calls these bottles “Purist” is because they supposedly have some kind of coating or plastic design or something that keeps them from getting that disgusting “funky water bottle” taste that you sometimes get with older water bottles.
I’ve found that they clean out pretty well. When I use them with Hammer Nutrition HEED or Perpetuem, I typically just rinse them out with cold or hot water as soon as I am finished with my ride, and then leave them upside down to drip dry before my ride the next day. If I fill them up with water the next day instead, they are typically taste free unless I did a bad job of rinsing them out.
Every few weeks I’ll run them through the dishwasher, just to make sure they get a real cleaning every once in a while.
I’m going to quote some of the stuff that Specialized says about the bottle.
FLEX: Thanks to ultra flexible walls, Hydroflo delivers a tidal wave of water. The secret is our next generation resin, engineered to be durable, super flexible and ultra clear. A fine-tuned design provides increased leak resistance and ensures the bottle stays in your cage, even on the toughest roads
SAFE: Hydroflo is 100-percent recyclable, FDA approved, BPA free and indpendently tested and approved by SGS.
FIT: Hydroflo’s unique, three-sided shape fits perfectly in your hand for a solid, controlled grip. The design reduces the chance you will drop your bottles through a perfect ergo hold.
PURE: To deliver a pure water taste, Hydroflo is infused with Purist. Using technology inspired by nature’s lotus leaf, Purist shields the bottle from odor, staining and mold buildup, so all you taste is pure water every time.
I want to make it clear that I paid full retail price at a bike shop for all of my Specialized water bottles. I am not writing this because someone asked me to, or because someone gave me free bottles in exchange for a review. I genuinely love the Purist HydroFlo 23!
You should go buy a couple right now, and then leave a comment on the blog after you have tried them for yourself. My guess is that you’ll be thanking me in the comments.