When road.cc covered the successful funding of BackBottle's Kickstarter campaign way back in April
To cut'n'paste from Dave's initial article, here are the benefits offered by the creator:
* ride long – don't plan your day route based on refills
* take a drink from your jersey pocket as quickly as a regular cage
* stay aero longer and avoid slowing down for refills in triathlons
* keep riding – don't click-clack through gas stations with your bike outside waiting to be stolen, just keep hammering
* allows your eyes to stay on the road
* be your own support team (or support a teammate)
* reduce your waste by not buying refills on the road
* freeze the bottle and enjoy a cool drink while keeping your core cool
See me, squeeze me
The BackBottle certainly feels premium. The fit of the lid and the action to open and close the stopper is spot on for me; if you are used to very soft stoppers you might find it a tad hard. Held upside down it takes quite a squeeze to elicit a drip from the closed stopper, and I'd have no qualms chucking it full into a kitbag.
The bottle is squeezable for fast drinking, and can be held either way up in the hand depending on how you like to retrieve and replace bottles.
The BackBottle is curved in two directions to lie as flat as possible against your back on the bike, with two raised curved ridges running down its length lifting it clear to allow some ventilation. It's top-shelf-of-the-dishwasher-proof, made of recycled materials, is BPA-free and, like The Boss, born in the USA.
The ins and outs
On the bike it works, and works very well. The act of pulling the bottle out is simple, as would be expected – the key selling point of the BackBottle is getting it back into your pocket in one go. The pointed design makes this a breeze – most of the time, in most jerseys, the BackBottle went back in with one hand, in one go. With a particularly tight jersey I had to hold the pocket open with the index finger of the hand holding the BackBottle, then let it slip down. This was both intuitive and fast, certainly less faff than some attempts at getting a bidon back into a bottle cage can be. I never felt the need to use two hands, or that the BackBottle was at risk of not being held securely – there's a lip that the elasticated pocket hem pops over to hold it in place.
Riding with a frozen BackBottle wasn't an issue. I was aware of the cold, but through a jersey and with the elevated contact points it wasn't unpleasant. If you feel the need for cold water, it's perfectly do-able.
Fit for purpose
Putting over half a kilo of water and bottle into a jersey pocket might seem like it's going to be both uncomfortable and annoying, but this simply wasn't the case. I frequently forgot the bottle was there, the fit is so good. It certainly works best in the centre pocket – as you would expect, using a single bottle in an outside pocket does make things slip to one side, particularly if your jersey is lightweight and loose-fitting.
The jersey pockets tested ranged from super-lightweight summer-only models through to the wetsuit-esque Castelli Gabba – it was only individual centre-pocket tailoring on one very snug jersey that made the fit too tight to be practical.
You can either use the BackBottle by itself, or in conjunction with bike-mounted bidons. You then have the option to drink the BackBottle first to lose the weight from your pocket if it bothers you, or if for whatever reason the removal and replacement is tricky (for example, under a jacket or gilet) you can drink the bidon first, then refill it from the BackBottle in one go.
Begging to differ
For every person who sees a benefit to the BackBottle there's another who sees it as a solution in search of a problem. The creator's website hosts a number of videos highlighting use cases, for example where carrying a BackBottle means you can avoid the four-minute mid-ride clacky-shoed faff of stopping at a petrol station to purchase a bottle of water, tip into a bidon and dispose of the empty, while leaving your pride and joy handily nickable. Maybe not that much of an issue in the temperate UK, but in places where water procurement facilities can be few and far between and summer temperatures extreme, being able to carry an extra half-litre or so of fluid comfortably could be a major boon. Likewise people riding with others - maybe children, or smaller partners - where the frame clearance may preclude carrying a second or even first bottle. Or in a cyclo-cross race where bike-mounted bottles or feeds may be banned outright – even if your bike had the bosses for a cage or two, which dedicated cyclo-cross bikes often don't.
The BackBottle lids won't fit normal bidons and vice-versa – the design is slightly smaller in diameter as the average jersey pocket is a bit smaller than a normal bidon. What BackBottle creator Brian Davis has done is a lot of homework to deliver a product specifically designed to work in jersey pockets, one-handed, instead of taking a standard bottle and making it pointy. Yes, we see domestiques carrying half a dozen bidons back up to the bunch all the time under their jerseys, but they hardly look comfortable.
As noted there are many valid reasons for using the BackBottle, and just as many opinions from naysayers who don't share the same value judgement. But these are irrelevant to this review. Fundamentally, for its intended use of carrying water in a jersey pocket while being easily retrievable/replaceable, the BackBottle has it nailed.
The BackBottle lets you carry your drink in a jersey pocket. If you need to do so, there's no better option
road.cc test report
Make and model: BackBottle Water Bottle
Size tested: 18 ounce, clear
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?
It's for people wanting to carry more water than their frame or activity allows, without resorting to a hydration pack.
BackBottle says: "The BackBottle is designed to allow easy access in and out of jersey pockets for endurance cyclists.
"The goal was to find a solution between hydration packs and typical bottles for specific situations such as:
"Going for long rides and not worrying about having enough water
"Cyclocross races and practice - having hydration allows you to go a little harder
"Shorter mountain bike rides/races
"Filling hydration packs with drink mix and having to clean them out after the ride
"Racing triathlons - avoid slowing at aid stations, hydrate when you choose
"Not having support at a race and needing to carry extra fluids
"Accessible like a pack, easy to carry, clean and affordable like a bottle
"The design is mission specific. It was created to do exactly three things very well.
"Fit comfortably in the back of a cycling jersey
"Allow quick entry/exit while riding
"Stay in the pocket and not eject unexpectedly"
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
18 ounces of capacity (.53L or 530mL +/-)
3 ounces / 75g in weight when empty
8.5 inches long and 3 inches wide
53mm diameter opening (easy to add ice)
wedged and ergonomic for easy one-hand operation
manufactured from squeezable LDPE plastic
made from recyclable components (packaging #3, bottle #4, cap #5)
100% BPA free
100% Made in the USA
flat back minimizes roll when climbing or sprinting
raised ribs on the flat back allow airflow
top-shelf dishwasher safe
It's very nicely made, from quality materials.
It's a waterbottle. It's easy to drink from.
Over a few months' use, it's looking and drinking the same as new.
It's not the lightest bottle, if that matters. It probably doesn't.
As you are 'wearing' the BackBottle, this does apply – and it's comfortable. Often you can't tell it's there.
At £10 a go it's probably the most expensive bottle you can buy without getting into the insulated variety. Whether it's worth £10 probably depends on your use case.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It does the job very well.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The thought that's gone into it – it just works.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing. Okay, maybe that if you are riding without mudguards, there's a risk that you'll ingest some pathogen-bearing roadside splatter, as there's no way to cap the BackBottle unlike some shielded bidon designs.
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 score
The BackBottle does what it sets out to do – allows you to carry extra water in a jersey pocket, for what could be various reasons. The overall experience is very good.
About the tester
Age: 42 Height: 183cm Weight: 71kg
I usually ride: Charge Juicer My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: club rides, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking, and Dutch bike pootling