Camelbak Podium Bottle

[Short of time? Read the Haiku review instead]

There is no excuse nowadays for buying endless bottles of purified water when you’re travelling. If you’re still doing it – Stop! This madness has to end. Get yourself a SteriPen and a decent water bottle and cease contributing to the Pacific Ocean plastic vortex. The SteriPen I reviewed ages ago but I’ve yet to recommend a companion water bottle. To be honest I usually use a 1 litre wide mouth Nalgene but this seems like a good excuse to extol the virtues of Camelbak’s Podium bottle.

I nearly hit a cow once, in Zululand.

At 750ml the Podium is a little on the small side for regular travelling but it does fit perfectly into a bike’s bottle cage. The real advantage though is in the silicone Jet Valve that creates a perfect watertight seal until pressure is put on the bottle by squeezing. Then the valve opens to release a stream of pressurised water. Pretty neat. The valve can be locked with a simple twist of the lid so that unexpected pressure, say during transport or being sat on by an elephant, does not result in unwanted leakage.

I was driving a car, mind you, not in a bar brawl in a hick country town.

The bottle has plenty of other advantages too: it’s BPA-free plastic; it’s got some clever treatment so the inside never gets mouldy; you can squirt water at people you don’t like, girls you fancy or mangy dogs that see you as a mobile gnawing post. Stuff like that.

It was only a VW Golf; the cow would have totalled it.

Camelbak actually make a full size Nalgene equivalent called the Eddy but I’m not a big fan of the straw-sucking method of water delivery. If you tilt the bottle, the straw finds no liquid to deliver. Apparently they’re good for driving because you can keep your eyes on the road, and this is where the cow comes into the story:

I wasn’t drinking at the time of the incident but I was overtaking at 120kph. I could see the dumb beast crossing the road waaaay ahead of me, lumbering slowly across like an overweight man departing the all-you-can-eat buffet after a 3-hour binge. I calculated that it would be well into the next field by the time I got there and the damn thing would have been, except like the buffet bandit it changed its mind three-quarters of the way across and 400Kg of prime beef executed a 180° turn on a dime. It must have decided to squeeze in one more wafer thin mint or do whatever it is that cows do in one field that they can’t do in another. At any rate, the shuffling steak-to-be was soon directly in the path of my speeding vehicle.

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A home recreation of the moment of impact (actual size)

My brake foot turned to strontium (or some other suitably heavy metal), growing heavier by the millisecond as the car slowed exponentially and the distance between its bumper and the cow’s rump telescoped like the dolly/zoom shot in Hitchcock’s Vertigo. The corners of my mouth pulled down and outward in a grisly rictus mimicking the evil gestapo agent in Raiders of the Lost Ark when he melts alive. Even the cow looked worried, and managed a dainty flick of the back hoof to take it inches out of range of our bodywork. Seconds later, I screeched to a halt.

There are animals all over the roads in Africa. The general rule is that if you kill an animal you must pay for it, no matter how the collision occurred, and despatching a bovine by automobile would have put a greater dent in my budget than in the fender. I once saw a lady run onto a busy highway to retrieve a tiny chick that had scurried onto the tarmac and was being blown left, right and centre by enormous trucks. Amazingly, they all missed, but I wonder what would have happened had she been killed. Would the driver have had to compensate her husband? Nothing would surprise me on the maddest continent in the world.

Plus, all Camelbak products have a lifetime warranty!

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