by Milo Pierwola
OUTDOOR RESEARCH WATER BOTTLE PARKA
$29.00 at OutdoorResearch.com
My first thought was, “why do I need this?” but since I got it, my Nalgene has not come out except for cleaning. Originally, I purchased this because it was on Eric Larsen‘s gear list for my Polar Expedition Training. I was reluctant to buy it because I believed that a base layer wrapped around the bottle would do just as well; nope.
For reference, this testing took place during the record setting low temperatures of the Polar Vortex and dropped well below -40F.
COLD to -40F: In the mornings we would fill our bottles with hot water, then wrap them under a tarp on our pulk to sip from for the rest of the day. The OR Water Bottle Parka did not freeze. In fact, even when mostly empty, the water certainly got cold, but I did not notice any ice forming inside. For comparison, another participant brought a bottle with the neoprene sleeve accessory that I would measure at 1mm at best. Admittedly, his bottle was half the size of mine, but it froze solid the first day on the ice and, despite keeping it overnight in his sleeping bag, did not thaw until we got home.
HOT for tea: It works well, but not as well as a thermos. I like to make tea and a full 32 oz. bottle in this sleeve will stay hot at least three hours, and warm for about 6. If you drink from the bottle, the time drops much more quickly, but your beverage will stay warm enough to enjoy.
DRINKING: This sleeve fits very snugly around my Nalgene and is a bit tricky to drink from. It has a non-removable lid and you have to pull the bottle out just slightly for a sip. I have accidentally yanked the bottle cap-fastener off several times if I unscrewed the cap before pulling. The lesson being, pull before you unscrew the bottle.
Not only does this sleeve stand up without falling over, this Water Bottle Parka is built like a tank. It has been dropped in a fire, ran over by dog sled, thrown into the dirt, and abused attached to the outside of my pack - surviving uncompromised. It is EVA-Molded on the lid and base and the body is made of polyester knit lining that covers about a half an inch of open-cell foam insulation. The zipper has not failed me even with double gloves ripping at it, and both the zipper and body construction is water-resistant in the event the cap screws on wrong and leaks.
One particular feature that I like is the wide and adjustable Velcro strap that allows this to attach to pretty much anything. Besides being comfortably wide, it works by peeling back a top layer with Velcro on the underside, then peeling back another fully Velcro-ed strap that you adjust for how wide you want the opening to be. This has allowed me to attach this bottle to my pack, belt, dog sled, banana, bike handlebars, etc., you get the idea.
Yes. I would recommend this to anyone as it is versatile enough for hot and cold beverages, hot and cold environments, and if you want a simple Nalgene; just take the sleeve off. Plus, it doubles as a pillow.