Friday, February 3, 2012

@flexrsports Sports Bottle review

Did you check out the article on green running HERE?  It lays out 7 steps that you can take to reduce your impact to the environment when you’re out getting your workout in. Well, now there’s another step, FLEXR Sports Bottles.

You can’t escape training for endurance events without using sports bottles for fluids. Sure, during running you can get away with cups at aid stations and the fluid belts, but more often than not, sports bottles are a part of your routine.

Ever leave a bottle sitting out after you drank most of the drink? Ever try to get the dried crust out of the bottom when you remembered to clean the bottle a week later? Me too. I’m usually on point with washing a bottle out after a workout to place in the dishwasher for a final cleaning, but I do miss a bottle here and there at least once a week. Some bottles I can get clean, but some end up in the trash.

There are a lot of solutions in the sport bottle industry. Some have a screw-top and a screw-bottom where the bottom comes apart at both ends for easier cleaning access.

FLEXR takes it a bit further with disposable biodegradable bottle liners. They bottles are flexible and designed to use a liner that you simply take out, throw away and replace. Sure, you produce a little more waste, but the liners are biodegradable and in theory you should be able to use the bottles as long as they will last. This would eliminate tossing the bottle for dried crust you can’t wash off. The liners are BPA free so there’s no chance of getting harmful chemicals from the liners from your sports drinks, especially if they are somewhat acidic.

It’s all good in theory, but how will they stack up in the real world?

FLEXR shot me over a remote bike hydration kit, 21 ounce round bottle with sleeve and a 28 ounce flexible bottle with liners to try out.

From the slideshow pictures, you can see my bike setup. You can see on their product view how they set up their hose system, which may or may not work for your bike. I have my Garmin seated on the stem, which got in the way of how they used their kit. I was able to adjust and make it work. They provided zip ties that helped. After the initial setup, I hit the trainer for a 20 mile ride with variable drill sets. With a tri bike, you won’t always be in the position to get to the hose to take a drink. I set it for access while in the aero position which left me with extra hose. Not a real problem as you could cut it shorter if needed. It worked well and I didn’t have to sit up to grab a bottle during the ride, but the mouthpiece didn’t work as well as I hoped and I just removed it and used the adapter piece to drink from. It worked fine for me.

I’ve left the kit on my bike and I plan on using it this season. It will provide fluid access when on long aero stretches that normally I would have to sit up to grab a bottle. You do need to be careful when disconnecting the hose from the bottle. Make sure to get as much out of the hose as possible or you will end up with a nice puddle when it drains, just a heads up. It was nice just to take the bottle off and toss the liner and set it up for the next day on the counter by my Push Endurance for a refill.

A nice perk is the bottles come with an initial supply of liners so you don’t have to buy a bunch of liners to get you started. One drawback is you need liners to match the size of the bottle. They have 8, 16, 21 and 28 ounce sizes. Make sure you order the right refill!

With the flexible bottle, you cannot use them without the liner. The design allows air to flow out from between the liner and bottle when you squeeze to get your drink. If you were to not use a liner, fluid would squirt out of the hole unless you used some ingenuity and taped the hole shut. Not all is lost if you run out of liners.

I used the 28 ounce bottle at the gym for a few dreadmill runs. Nothing’s more mundane than a long run on the treadmill. I’ve always brought my drink with me in the standard sports bottles, so at least I had a baseline. It’s not a huge revelation of a difference when just using the bottle to drink from. An advantage is the FLEXR bottles are easier to squeeze and required less sucking than a standard sports bottle. You lose a little breathe with a standard bottle whereas the FLEXR you can just squeeze and drink.

With this system, it does require more setup time. You can’t just fill and go. You have to make sure you have a fresh liner in properly and then fill ‘er up. At times I reused the liner if it was only a day between uses, which works great until the liner bunches around the lid and you cannot get a proper seal from the cap. Then you get a leak. With new liners, that wasn’t an issue. I pushed the liners beyond their design. =)

It’s been great to bring them to work with a supply of liners to stay hydrated during the day. I’ve left the setup on my bike and will continue to use during the season. I’m not sure if I would go out of my way to purchase a bottle with a liner, but I’m also one of those people with a vehicle that gets 15 miles per gallon. I’m all about environmental friendliness, but I don’t live it in every aspect of my life.

If you are high on minimizing your carbon footprint, you found a good solution. You use less water to constantly clean bottles and the liners are biodegradable. You just pull the old, trash it and pop in a new liner. Fill and go. Repeat as necessary. I’ve left my 28 ounce bottle at work for two weeks and I’m not worried about remembering to take it home and clean it since I have a supply of liners to get a clean bottle to drink water from during the day.

FLEXR provides a good solution in the sports bottle industry.
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