Monday, February 27, 2012

Water You Talkin’ About

I don’t get too excited about water/sport/drink containers, but I can sure get pissed about them. Well not really, but enough to warrant attempting a 3-pointer toward the trash can.

When I say container, I don’t down mean coolers, jugs or thermoses. I am speaking of that basic in-a-single-hand bottle that you can chug from. The one (or two) you may carry to the courts in your bag to refill with the court-side available refreshment (that spouted water cooler you hope is cleaned and replenished often), the pro shop faucet or whatever.

Or, perhaps you are not playing in 80 plus degree like we are down here and you can stay hydrated on one bottle.  I have a difficult time finishing just one in cool dry weather over a couple of hours.

I had thought I was truly buying not the most expensive sport bottles, but making a wise decision based on design. After some six odd years in the fitness biz and tons of promotional bottles for a variety of other reasons, they all failed in some way and way too early. I was getting tired of cleaning out my tennis bag, wiping down the back seat or dripping and drooling on my shirt.

As serious as I am making this sound, I still wasn’t on a mission to find the perfect water bottle. I was willing to do what I always had – pick the next attractive, yet sad vessel for liquid and roll with it.

So I find myself in Walmart, usually a retailer I reserve for a visit when I need a lot of stuff (I am not slamming Walmart nor will I start that debate) because I don’t know how long this venture will be. I am here only for a few things and this is usually when I consciously (good business practice Walmart – imagine what’s going on subconsciously – they’re working me) tell myself I am here so let’s make the most of it. I am off to grab some tennis balls, looking at some cool bicycling stuff and just hanging out in Sporting Goods. 

Water bottle?! I don’t know if I even have one left at home, much less in my bag. I don’t know if I was in Camping or where, but I spot this clear bluish tint water bottle that looks like an elongated mason jar with a little sexy curve to it and a nylon retaining strap for the lid. It even has the level marks on the side that I can actually read in case I want to kick the water up with something.

It’s not insulated, but I like to see what I am about to drink, particularly if I am mixing some sport powder in there and I don’t mind drinking slightly warm water if need be – my body just needs wet. I usually know my environment and this is not some survival aid for the Serengeti or Amazon plains. Ice works.

I’m liking it, but I am back to the pure design decision. Well, it is not 4am in the morning, which in some Walmarts, can seem quite busy, and I truly don’t have anyone in eyesight so I toss this water bottle across one of the main aisles into another side aisle. It first takes this high bounce and then a few tumbles. I’m pleased, but I haven’t done the autopsy in case this little girl is dead.

SPORTLINE (Walmart still carries them and Amazon has other varities)

I run (somewhat of a shuffle as to not seem obvious) and pick her up. There is a small knick in the lid. I’m buying it. Not because I am convinced, but because I just took something they own and I damaged it. Trust me, I wouldn’t take a 5 piece set of fine china and throw it across the counter at Macy’s.

But I am impressed. I take this apparently rugged young tyke back to the water fountains near the back of the store, fill her up and give her another toss – no breakage, no leakage. Sold!

A few basic, but wonderful qualities here:

·         It is rugged.
·         I can actually drink from it, not slurp and nurse from it.
·         The ring that retains the retaining strap doesn’t come off – that’s the whole point of retention. I have never lost the lid.
·         I haven’t lost this water bottle in over 5 years. (Although, I know I will one day. It’ll be a sad day.)
·         It has never leaked. I knew how confident I was with this sports bottle when I put in the same compartment with my tennis racquets.
·         The lid and mouthpiece aren’t made of flimsy pliable rubber or gaskets which collect who-knows-what and they are easy to clean.

Tell us about or give us your own review of any tennis product or service you have used.

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