I purchased a CamelBak Podium Big Chill (750 ml/25 oz) in January 2011 from eBay seller, activelifestore for a landed cost of AU$19.50. The bottle is pricey for a water bottle but if this works as promised hopefully money it will be money well spent. This review reflects my usage of the CamelBak Podium Big Chill over a four month period, aka the BackpackGearTest.org approach.
I notice that CamelBak no longer no longer list the Podium Big Chill on their website but do list the Podium Chill. That said from the swing tag that comes with the bottle, CamelBak list the following features of the bottle:
- Keeps water cool 2x longer than standard bottles;
- Spillproof Jet Valve;
- BPA-free, taste-free TruTaste polypropylene with HydroGuard
- Hand wash.
The bottle looks well designed and has a fairly soft feel to it which suggests that it will be easy to squeeze. I must admit that looking at the walls of the bottle I do wonder how it achieves its chill effect if at all. The bottle also has a funny smell about it; a smell which is quite noticeable. Given CamelBak’s claims about being taste-free I will be interested to see how this goes.
The other aspect of the Podium bottle that has caught my attention is the cap and valve. As you can see from the photo it has a distinct locking system and according to CamelBak the valve is “always open, always shut.” Having had experiences with leaking valves with other bottles I will be interested to see how this goes.
In summary I will during the field testing period, the summer of 2011 here in Western Australia where riding temperatures on the bike can be in excess of 40 C / 104 F being looking to see if the Podium Big Chill is
- effective at keeping my liquids cool for two times longer;
- how effective the SpillProof Jet valve is at not spilling water and how easy it is to drink from on the go;
- is the bottle really taste free?
- Overall use of the bottle. Is the price justified?
LONG TESTING (Six months on the bike)
Well I have been using the CamelBak Podium Big Chill for six months now, in fact I have been using two as I was so impressed with the first one that I got a second one. In this time I have done around 8,000 kilometres and the CamelBak’s have been my go to bidon. In fact I can’t recall not using them on a ride.
Through the later part of summer and into autumn (average maximum temperature in January was 32.5 C, Februray 34.2 C, March 31.9 C, April 27.3 C) I found that if I left on a ride with one bottle straight from the fridge and second bottle frozen I had cold water for a good three to four hours of riding. The frozen bottle shows signs of thawing about about an hour to hour and half so it can be drank from. The water is seriously cold when I get to it. The bottle from the fridge stays cold to cool over the hour to an hour and half that I take to finish it.
In respect to the SpillProof Jet valve. Both bottles valves have peformed as per the manufacturer’s claims. There has been no leakage when in either position, locked or unlocked. They are also fairly easy to gulp from but can be noisey to drink from. Maybe that is just me but.
I have not found any odd flavours in my water, so I believe the bottle is taste free as claimed.
CamelBak Podium Big Chill compared to a High 5 750 ml bidon
On the downside I have a couple of minor gripes, well one really. The bottles scratch (I use carbon and aluminium bottle cages) but that is really expected I guess. My only other niggle is that the bottles are a little taller than other 750 ml bottles. This causes a tight fit on my Giant XTC 2 mountain bike if I want to use the bidon cage on the seat tube. The top of the valve interferes with the cables running under the top tube.
To put this into context, my Giant XTC 2 is a large frame (21″ / 53 cm) and the CamelBak Podium Big Chills are ~ 27 cm in height whereas the amount of clearance on the XTC2 is about 26.5 cm.