Compared with a simple bottle, the Skratch Labs Camelbak Podium has a host of clever additions, including a Jet Valve nozzle for fast delivery, a sealing twist-lock mouthpiece, and a wide top for easy filling. The overall width means it's not great with all bottle cages, though.
There are so many little nuances to the humble bidon that can either elevate one to greatness or sink it to the average. Camelbak's Podium has a few key features that make it stand out, mostly revolving around the technology in the nozzle.
The design means that a squeeze of the bottle delivers a jet of fluid, allowing you to get liquid fast without needing to suck at the bottle or tip it excessively to get some flow. Sure, it's a bit of a marginal gain, but when there's little to differentiate products in the bottle market, it makes quite a difference.
Another key feature of the nozzle is that the mouthpiece can actually be pulled out in order to clean it effectively, meaning that you can actually drink your chosen fluid and not some gunge that has accumulated in the mouthpiece. The wide opening also helps with cleaning, as you can get a brush or sponge into the bottle itself easily if washing up by hand.
And the nozzle-tech goes on, with the twisting valve closure. A simple twist of the nozzle seals up the mouthpiece, preventing any liquid escaping. It works really well; when the nozzle is locked, there's absolutely no chance of you losing any precious liquid. Personally, I find this slightly unnecessary for when you're riding – I've never experienced a bottle that leaks water from the nozzle as I pedal. However, it does come in super-handy for transport, when you're travelling to an event or the gym and throw some filled bottles in a kit bag.
The Skratch Labs bottle is 710ml, bridging the gap between typical small bottles of around 500ml, which I find a bit too small, and 800-1000ml bottles, which feel too big. The see-through plastic is useful for seeing how much liquid you have left – I dislike bottles where the outer is filled in with colour and you cannot truly tell how much is inside.
You can pay a lot less than £7.95 for a water bottle, but I'd say it's a fair price given the technology and the Podium's robust build. It's not alone at eight quid – it's virtually the same as the Zefal Z20 at £7.99 – and there are plenty more expensive ones.
However, there is one major flaw to the bottle: the extra width of the main body is great for cleaning, and easy filling with fluid and powder, but it doesn't agree with all cages. I tried the bottle in a few different bottle cages and in some – the worst case being the Elite Vico – it was simply too wide. So before investing in one of these otherwise extremely good bottles, I recommend you check that you can actually transport it.
An excellent bottle with great technical features, and robust build, just a few mm of width from greatness
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Skratch Labs CamelBak Podium Waterbottle
Size tested: 24oz (710ml)
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
The bottle is per all of Camelbak's Podium bottles, but with Skratch Labs branding. It has a high flow rate and self-sealing cap.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Camelbak markets its bottles with the following features:
Innovative, self-sealing Jet Valve™ eliminates splatters and spills
Lightweight, easy-squeeze bottle delivers the right flow to quench your thirst
TruTaste™ polypropylene with HydroGuard™ lets you taste your water, not your bottle
Removable nozzle for easy cleaning
Positive lockout for leakproof transport
Wide-mouth opening is easy to fill with ice and water and a breeze to clean
The bottle is sturdy and thick-walled, unlike some on the market. The lid is also robust and well made, and screws on positively and securely. The removable nozzle also works well, and clips back into the lid with a firm and reassuring action.
The bottle is excellent for holding and delivering fluid, and the locking mouthpiece is definitely watertight, with no leaks coming from it when closed, even when squeezing. The bottle delivers a good jet of fluid when squeezed, and provides a large volume of liquid in a short space of time. One thing to be aware of, though, is that the bottle is slightly wider than the majority and doesn't fit in all bottle cages.
After several washes in a dishwasher there is no sign of damage. The Skratch logos get a little, erm, scratched by rubbing against bottle cages – an ironic design statement perhaps...
At £7.95, this bottle is more than many on the market – you can pick up a 500-750ml bottle for £2-£3 on Wiggle, for example. However, given the robustness and quality of the bottle and design features, I'd say it's worth the extra.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The bottle performed very well, the lack of universal compatibility with all bottle cages the only potential stumbling block.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The jet valve, with its fast release of fluid is excellent. Being able to get liquid by squeezing the bottle rather than tipping it up is a real bonus if you're drinking in a rush or under effort. The twist-lock mouthpiece is a big win for some, though I didn't find it of use when riding; it is excellent for transporting the bottle in a bag or the car though.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The lack of compatibility with all bottle cages.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
The bottle is excellent in numerous ways, boasting several technical features that elevate it beyond being just any other bottle. However, the extra width and problem this causes fitting it into some cages is a bit of an issue. Overall, a really good bottle but check it fits into your cages before buying.
About the tester
I usually ride: Giant TCR / Cannondale Supersix My best bike is: Giant TCR
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding