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review

Camelbak Podium Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle 530ml (18oz)

7
£35.00

VERDICT:

7
10
A nice no-splash easy-drinking thermal bottle that keeps your drink cold for ages, though it does scratch easily
Easy to drink from
Keeps drinks cold for hours
​Scratches easily
Not cheap
Mud cap is extra
Weight
Weight: 
304g

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The Camelbak Podium Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle is a sturdy, spill-proof way to carry cool drinks on long rides. The unique nozzle is easy to drink from and you can bung it in the dishwasher to stay fresh. If you can get around the weight, price and scratches, it's a good shout.

> Buy now: Camelbak Podium Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle for £35 from Camelbak

Camelbak has an enviable reputation for its hydration products, and the Podium Insulated bottle sits in the second tier of its metal bottle range. The most expensive is the £100 Titanium version, saving you 60g. That's a weight-loss premium of £1.67 per gram, but at least you'll be pretty much guaranteed the bottle will live out its life looking pretty much as it started.

This is more than can be said for this painted steel version, which after its first outing looked as scratched as a three-legged racehorse after a hard night on the windfalls. Camelbak says 'Podium Steel ... will likely eventually show some light wear'. Replace 'likely eventually' with 'certainly immediately' and you'll be closer to the truth. Camelbak should look to a Cerakote ceramic finish for future versions.

2024 Camelbak Podium Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle 530ml - opening.jpg

But beauty is only skin deep. Function, in the form of its no-squeeze drinking technology, is at the core of the Podium steel bottle. When you unscrew the lid the standout tech is the long blue rubber straw going all the way down the bottle. Counterintuitively, you don't use the straw to suck the water up – rather that's the return path for air to enter the bottle as you suck fluid out the nozzle with the bottle inverted.

2024 Camelbak Podium Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle 530ml - nozzle and straw.jpg

Plastic bottles rely on you squeezing water out, then releasing your grip and your mouth seal to allow air to bubble back into the bottle, slosh forward and repeat. But squeezing isn't an option with a metal-walled bottle, so Camelbak came up with the straw to allow free flow of liquid. It just works, and is most perplexing at first – what is this new drinking wizardry before me?

All you need to know is that it's very easy to drink from, and it won't slosh out as you ride along. The nozzle locks with a 90-degree twist so it won't dribble when thrown into a bag, but when you're riding you can leave it unlocked.

If like me you frequently ride in mucky or dusty conditions you'll want to splash out on the £7 Podium Series Dirt Cap to keep the trailside muck at bay.

The bottle is a double-wall vacuum construction. I'm not sure of Camelbak's claim of '14 hours cold' as there are so many real-world variables – initial content temperature, direct sunlight, ambient temperature, windspeed, groundspeed, consumption rate – as to render the road.cc Thermal Gradient Liquid Analyser redundant.

2024 Camelbak Podium Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle 530ml - lid off.jpg

But in the real world, ice cubes stayed icy for an hour or so when I was riding in 20°C heat. If you didn't drink anything, so weren't introducing ambient air to the interior, the contents would stay colder for longer.

As a pseudo-scientific test I pre-chilled the bottle with cold water, then filled it with ice cubes, then topped up with more chilled water and left it on the kitchen bench at 22°C. Twelve hours later there was still a huge chunk of ice inside, so the claim of '14 hours cold' isn't unreasonable – as long as you're not actually drinking from the bottle.

Camelbak says it's 'not intended for hot liquids' – but I can attest to the fact that 530ml of Yorkshire Tea will stay perfectly drinkable for several hours.

The fact there's no give in the bottle means it may or may not work with your cages, but I had no issues on rough rides with either carbon or alloy cages. The rubber Dirt Cap was easy to remove and refit one-handed to keep drinking a dirt-free experience, and I'd say is a must-buy for the Podium bottle.

2024 Camelbak Podium Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle 530ml - base.jpg

Now £35 (or £42 if you go for the Dirt Cap) is Not At All Cheap for a 530ml bottle; the 650ml version is a fiver extra, if your frame will take it.

There are a wide range of plastic 'insulated' bottles out there (including from Camelbak) for not much more than a standard bottle, but I've never found any provide meaningful cooling to be worth the loss in fluid capacity due to thicker walls.

Value

The main bike bottle-shaped competition for Camelbak is the Elite Deboyo Race that comes with both a cycling-teeth-squeezy-bottle top and a screw cap more like a thermos. It's also a fiver cheaper than the Camelbak and as it's raw stainless steel, it will probably look nicer for longer. I've personally had issues with Elite's plastic cover hinges failing after a while, so there's that to consider.

I really liked the Hydroflask Bottle a few years back – the cap design has been changed and there's no option for a dirt cover, but the price is right. You'll need a friction-fit cage mind, as there's no indent.

Conclusion

Stainless steel double-walled vacuum bottles are not quite a dime a dozen but you can find them in pretty much any outdoors shop for less than a tenner. The Podium Steel bottle is cycling-specific, with features you'll appreciate like ease of drinking, dirt covers and secure locking. Yes, it weighs over three times more than a normal bottle, so you're really paying about three times the price and carrying about three times the weight over a normal bottle, to have a cold drink. If that's your jam, then the Camelbak Podium Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle is a good – if easily scratched – shout.

Verdict

A nice no-splash easy-drinking thermal bottle that keeps your drink cold for ages, though it does scratch easily

road.cc test report

Make and model: Camelbak Podium Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle 530ml (18oz)

Size tested: 530 ml

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?

Camelbak says:

"When you're pushing your limits, you need a bottle that's strong as steel. Combining rugged reliability with a sleek and innovative high-flow design, the hydration you need will never be too far out of reach."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Double-Wall Vacuum Insulation: Temperature defying chill

Lightweight Design: So lightweight you might forget it's there

Hours Cold: 14 hours

No Squeeze Required: Just grab, lift, and sip

18/8 Stainless Steel: Tough as nails, but doesn't taste like them

High-Flow Cap: Logic-defying sipping ease

Leakproof Lockout: No spills, all thrills

Optimized Cage Fit: Fits most bike cages

BPA Free: Ride dirty, drink clean

Easy-to-Clean: Made for that post-ride convenience

Compatibility: Universal Cap System

Wears In, Not Out: Built tough enough to endure the scrapes and scratches that are inevitable with bike cages, both Podium Steel and Titanium will likely eventually show some light wear that doesn't sacrifice the integrity of the bottle itself.

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10

The only aspect that disappoints is the paint finish, which scratched much more easily than I'd have liked.

Rate the product for performance:
 
9/10

Keeps water ice-cold, doesn't spill, easy to drink from.

Rate the product for durability:
 
9/10

Seems very robust, excluding the paint job.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
6/10

About the same as other metal-insulated offerings.

Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
 
8/10

Very comfy to use/easy to drink from.

Rate the product for value:
 
4/10

It's pretty pricey compared with similar bottles.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

If the aim is to keep liquids cold, it is a winner. Box ticked.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The ease of drinking, and the dirt cap – though that really should be included for the price.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

The way it scratched so easily.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

It's expensive compared to the Elite Deboyo and the Hydro Flask.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes-ish

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes – but with caveats.

Use this box to explain your overall score

I've marked it down because the Elite Deboyo is cheaper and the way the metal shows scratches.

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 47  Height: 183cm  Weight: 77kg

I usually ride: Sonder Camino Gravelaxe  My best bike is: Nah bro that's it

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: cyclo cross, general fitness riding, mtb, G-R-A-V-E-L

Living in the Highlands, Mike is constantly finding innovative and usually cold/wet ways to accelerate the degradation of cycling kit. At his happiest in a warm workshop holding an anodised tool of high repute, Mike's been taking bikes apart and (mostly) putting them back together for forty years. With a day job in global IT (he's not completely sure what that means either) and having run a boutique cycle service business on the side for a decade, bikes are his escape into the practical and life-changing for his customers.

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13 comments

Avatar
hawkinspeter | 2 weeks ago
1 like

Aren't Camelbak still owned by Vista Outdoors (the ammunition company), so giving them your money ends up funding the National Rifle Association in the U.S.?

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to hawkinspeter | 1 week ago
0 likes
hawkinspeter wrote:

Aren't Camelbak still owned by Vista Outdoors (the ammunition company), so giving them your money ends up funding the National Rifle Association in the U.S.?

Vista is selling/has sold (online sources aren't entirely clear whether the deal has been finalised yet) its firearm and ammunition divisions to a Czech conglomerate.

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to Rendel Harris | 1 week ago
0 likes
Rendel Harris wrote:
hawkinspeter wrote:

Aren't Camelbak still owned by Vista Outdoors (the ammunition company), so giving them your money ends up funding the National Rifle Association in the U.S.?

Vista is selling/has sold (online sources aren't entirely clear whether the deal has been finalised yet) its firearm and ammunition divisions to a Czech conglomerate.

Let me know when that happens. I recall reading somewhere that they had changed their mind about the deal.

Edit: looks like CSG (Czechoslovak Group) has "committed" to the deal, but these things can take a long time. I'd much rather that the bike related brands have nothing to do with the NRA as I don't agree with their politics. (It's like Tunnock's and their support for the Tory party - I buy Aldi rip-off brands instead)

Avatar
Cayo replied to Rendel Harris | 1 week ago
0 likes
Rendel Harris wrote:
hawkinspeter wrote:

Aren't Camelbak still owned by Vista Outdoors (the ammunition company), so giving them your money ends up funding the National Rifle Association in the U.S.?

Vista is selling/has sold (online sources aren't entirely clear whether the deal has been finalised yet) its firearm and ammunition divisions to a Czech conglomerate.

Their corporate website still lists those divisions, so unlikely it's gone through as of yet.

Further muddying the waters, if that doesn't include Bushnell and Tasco, they will still have rifle scopes in their portfolio (unless they divest those products to add to the sell-off).

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to Cayo | 1 week ago
0 likes
Cayo wrote:

Their corporate website still lists those divisions, so unlikely it's gone through as of yet. Further muddying the waters, if that doesn't include Bushnell and Tasco, they will still have rifle scopes in their portfolio (unless they divest those products to add to the sell-off).

Personally, I don't mind so much that a company sells hunting equipment for non military use (e.g. archery equipment or even hunting rifles) even though I despise hunting animals for sport (there's also target shooting which I have no issue with). My issue is far more to do with them helping to fund the NRA as I see that as being very anti-democratic and I personally believe that the NRA acts against people (e.g. lobbying against laws to reduce the school shootings in the U.S.A).

Avatar
SimonS | 2 weeks ago
0 likes

Bought a couple of these on the basis of this review (you can pick them up online for c£25 if you shop around).  We use Podium bottles all day every day - on the road, in the car and while working.  Have one of the plastic insulated bottles and rarely use it - it's not that effetive and is more difficult to drink from.

Not sure I'll actually ride with it but these feel like a game changer as a drink bottle. We have chilled water from teh fridge and t's a really pleasant surpise picking up a bottle after an hour and finding it still cold (with an uninulated bottle or glass you'd know when you picked it up).  I'd say drinking from them is actually less effor than with the plastic bottles.  However - you do need to shut it when carrying or it will spray a lot more than the plastic ones. 

Other stuff i didn't pick up form the review - the 'universal cap' means Camelbaks other rigid bottle caps fit  - you can get simple screw lids or one that lets you drink with the bottle upright (from the Eddy Bottle). Also looks like thier lifestraw filter caps would fit.  

Weights - plastic c80g, ti 240, SS - 300g. A nice quality SS uninulated screw top bottle i've got is 160

The paint on the coloured one feels substantial but bottle cages are hard on everything - all our plastic podium bottles are scratched to bits and you can feel that they're rough.

Avatar
OnYerBike | 1 month ago
0 likes
Quote:

Camelbak came up with the straw to allow free flow of liquid. It just works, and is most perplexing at first – what is this new drinking wizardry before me?

Clearly someone never tried a strawpedo in their youth!

Avatar
mdavidford replied to OnYerBike | 1 month ago
6 likes

I'm imagining something like this?

 

Avatar
Secret_squirrel | 1 month ago
1 like

They have one in a colour called stainless which appears to be unpainted..

 

Avatar
brooksby replied to Secret_squirrel | 1 month ago
2 likes

I've got a Kleen Kanteen bottle in unpainted stainless steel.  It's now badly marked with black paint which has rubbed off the painted bottle holder on my bike.

Avatar
andystow replied to brooksby | 1 month ago
4 likes

Even my stainless one that goes in a stainless cage is marked up from use. Stuff doesn't stay looking new when it gets actual use.

Avatar
KiwiMike replied to andystow | 1 month ago
5 likes

"Camelbak says 'Podium Steel ... will likely eventually show some light wear'. Replace 'likely eventually' with 'certainly immediately' and you'll be closer to the truth"

...if they hadn't claimed it 'might never show hard wear' (by inference), I probably wouldn't have made a deal of pointing out how quickly (ie first ride) it scratched up, badly. 

Avatar
brooksby replied to KiwiMike | 2 weeks ago
0 likes
KiwiMike wrote:

"Camelbak says 'Podium Steel ... will likely eventually show some light wear'. Replace 'likely eventually' with 'certainly immediately' and you'll be closer to the truth"

...if they hadn't claimed it 'might never show hard wear' (by inference), I probably wouldn't have made a deal of pointing out how quickly (ie first ride) it scratched up, badly. 

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