Nalgene Easy Sipper

[Short of time? Read the Haiku review instead]

Spillage - never a good thing, whether it be an environmental accident or a more embarrassing, private matter. If only Nalgene made a device for minimising either of those scenarios. Come on Nalgene! Get your act together! We shouldn’t be too hard on them though – at least they have addressed the spillage issue on their wide-mouth bottles, and very successfully at that. The easy-sipper is an ingeniously-designed plastic widget that jams into the aforementioned mouth making it possible to drink from the bottle without afterwards resembling the victim of a Songkran attack. Thai new year water-throwing festivals aside, try drinking from a WM in a moving vehicle and then calculate the proportion of liquid in your mouth vs. your clothing. And God forbid that liquid should be juice or *gasp* alcohol! Nalgene have good reasons for opening their mouths so wide (ease of cleaning, addition of ice cubes etc) and the Easy-sipper neatly enhances that functionality. Having said that, $4.95 (in Australia) seems a bit steep for a few grams of plastic that can’t cost more than 10c to mould. Of course, once Nalgene have paid for production in their Chinese factory and turned a profit, the local distributor and retailer must also profit. And it’s not impossible that same Chinese factory churns out the exact same unit on the night shift (minus the brand stamp) and sells it on to a 3rd party company to flog cheap on the internet. Speaking of drinking problems, I once spent 6 weeks driving around Namibia with my wife-to-be, Gerda, in an aged VW Golf – not the perfect vehicle for graded dirt roads through the Kalahari but the only one we had. On one particularly ill-advised expedition we set off to hike up the Spitzkoppe – a tall, smooth, granite inselberg stuck out in the desert miles from anywhere – with only a litre of water between us, in the hottest part of the day.

That reminds me, the roads around southern Namibia are often lined with extra-tall wire fences to prevent the passage of springboks between the surrounding farms. These agile antelopes can leap up to 4m in the air (‘pronking’) and thus normal cattle fences prevent no obstacle. On one remote back road we encountered a ‘bok in our path. Naturally he was concerned by our vehicle and began running, the high fences either side funnelling him forwards. We followed slowly but this was a very long, very straight stretch of road with few exits and we were making poor time. Rather than continue worrying him for hours I decided to overtake but the faster I drove, the faster he ran. I accelerated little by little, amazed it his speed and endurance as he kept pace ahead of us. Soon we were racing along at over 80kph, a dangerous speed on a rough dirt road. Fortunately he couldn’t keep that up forever and as we drew level the poor beast panicked and tried to turn too fast, stumbling head-first into the dust. Ouch. We felt awful (G even shed a tear) but he got up okay and trotted away in our rear-view mirror. Shame. Anyway, after getting lost a couple of times among the giant marbles littering the base of the Spitzkoppe, we finally found the correct path. By then we’d drunk all the water and the sun had reached its boiling zenith. We topped out a couple of hours later, already thirsty, and by the time we staggered back to the car we were dangerously dehydrated and still a long drive from any shops or other water sources. The situation was looking sketchy until G remembered the box of icy poles we’d stuck in the boot that morning at our last camp site. They had mostly melted during the day but were still sweet, colourful tubes of sticky, lifesaving fluid. After sucking down five each of those we had enough energy to drive the 35km to the general store at Usakos. At least, we did until we came bumper-to-horns with a game young springbok down the road!

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