Rob Dumouchel does a great series of high-tech reviews for open water swimming, so, never being too proud to steal an idea, I’m concentrating on the low tech stuff, like lights, goggles, ear-plugs and more to come.
I read a question online: “I need a water bottle. Not just any water bottle – the King of Bottles“.
The King of Bottles? I’ll show you a bottle. This bottle. The god of bottles. The god-bottle!
Let me tell about that bottle:
It survived an English Channel solo when its mate was lost (the whole getting run over by the boat extended episode thing).
It has been used for two years training that included a 24 hour pool swim, all my pool training and numerous open water swims and has outlasted and outperformed all other bottles.
This summer, it was my only assistance on my longest ever unsupported swim, of 3 hours and 5 minutes, in Force 3 onshore, when I towed it behind me on that string and a d-clip, on a completely new never-swum-before 10k. Just me, the Atlantic and the bottle. That bottle was a literal lifeline.
It’s an OTG (On-The-Go) 750ml Nalgene (but of the newer safe unleeching variety of Nalgene) that Ned Denison found in the States originally now available in the UK from Amazon. It has a wide screw off top so you can add anything in easily, including messy Maxim/maltodextrin. It has a wide flip-top. This means no sucking the liquid and adding air into your stomach, really important for endurance sports, especially distance swimming, for some people anyway, of whom I’m one. The top is secure in very rough water. Because it’s wide it’s easy to clean. It seems virtually unbreakable, it’s certainly taken a lot of knocks and emerged unscathed. Unlike the similar Camelbak bottle, it has no straw reaching the end. This makes it better, as the Camelbak therefore requires that the bottom of the bottle must always be below your mouth, not possible in open water. It’s bright yellow, which is the best contrast colour against a dark background. The tape and label on it were to mark that I owned it during a long pool swim with a few swimmers, and it was numbered in case I was using different feed mixes during a swim.
(Test and think about everything, even the colour of the bottle if possible).
That bottle, my friends, has been through more than many people. It’s been tested. Against all other bottles, it has come out on top. It was, in fact: The god of bottles.
Unfortunately less than a week after I took the photo and wrote the first draft of this article, the god-bottle was lost! Appropriately though, it was lost at sea, joining its mate, as I swam warily between all the reefs on the way from Ballydowane to Bunmahon on a dropping tide, dragging it behind me,at some point it must have snagged on seaweed or rock and the bottle came loose from the head.
Since the loss of the god-bottle, and since they are only available online (for Ireland anyway), and not cheap, I recently picked up a pair of Rubbermaid flip-top Chug bottles. 650 ml, plastic body rather than Nalgene, but a secure flip top. And much cheaper, (only £6) compared to almost $20 per bottle inc. shipping for the Nalgene.
You can of course just use a cheap squeezy sports bottle if you don’t have a problem with swallowing air over a long period.
Also a very cheap substitute, that works very well for feed bottles of a boat for long swims are simple plastic milk cartons, again with a wide neck, and easy to attach a string.