The Dawn To Dusk Dirt Mask is a great way to keep your water bottles muck-free and yourself healthy. Single-handed operation means you don't have to stop to use it – but the Dirt Mask doesn't fit all bottles, so be sure to check first.
Whether you ride in urban or rural areas, keeping your bottles free of muck should be a priority. Unless you live somewhere that delivers mostly dry riding, you will inevitably be splashing water and filth up from your wheels and onto your bottles. So when you need to drink you're also ingesting whatever organisms were on the road in the last puddle you splashed through.
> Buy now: Dawn To Dusk Dirt Mask Spare for £5.99 from Multisport Distribution
Over the years I've tried a number of covered bottles but they've all failed pretty quickly at the plastic hinge. Sometimes the cap still works to cover the bite valve, but it's then a two-handed affair to remove it without it getting lost in the roadside as you trundle along – assuming you were happy to ride hands-free to take a drink.
I had lamented this situation for some time when I happened across US brand Dawn To Dusk and its 740ml Dirt Mask bottles. I'll review the bottles separately, here I'm just looking at the Dirt Mask itself, which is available in the UK for £5.99 plus postage from the UK distributor. With shipping (£6.95), a single Dirt Mask is £12.94 – so best order a few in one go or club together with mates.
The Dirt Mask fits onto your bottle over the threaded mouth and is held in place by the bottle top. Dawn To Dusk sells the Dirt Mask as a spare part for its water bottles, but I had about a 75 per cent success rate fitting it to other bottles I have kicking about the Drawer Of Cycling Hydration Requirement, including several Elite bottles.
As a rule, the bottle mouth needs to be less than 60mm across its widest part (ie threads) and the bottle cap itself must be less than 70mm across to fit inside when closed. Out of about a dozen bottles I tried, if they met those criteria the Dirt Mask fitted fine and covered the bite valve.
The party trick of the Dirt Mask is the 'spring-loaded' cap. It's not actually a spring – rather, it's a rubber O-ring that is put under tension with the cap closed. So when you remove the bottle from its cage and flick the catch, the cap pops open and stays wide open, allowing you to drink from a clean bite valve. You can then close the Dirt Mask cap single-handed as well, and the lock is very positive – in a year of riding, from rowdy gravel to pretty extreme mountain biking, never once did a Dirt Mask cap pop open.
I toured for days with Dirt Mask-protected bottles in cages under my down tubes – directly in the firing line of every rock, splash and splat of mud off the front tyre. Not a single issue.
The two parts of the Dirt Mask – the ring that goes under your bottle's cap and the cover itself – are hinged using a click-together indentation. Under twisting stress they simply pop apart, with the rubber O-ring in between. So should a bottle be dropped or fall out of a cage, the chances of the Dirt Mask actually breaking to the point of no repair is very, very remote, unlike other designs where the hinge wears out or would be broken in a fall.
You get a spare O-ring included with your purchase. Should they perish and snap in future, spare rubber O-rings are available in sets of two for 35p (plus £6.95 p&p, presumably, maybe order with your Dirt Mask) – a much more sustainable way to keep your muck-free bottle working than the other brands where, if the hinge breaks it's game over for the whole bottle. In a year of multiple-times-a-week use and regular journeys through the dishwasher (top shelf), all my O-rings are still working fine.
Jon really liked the mud-proof Elite Fly MTB 550 bottle – but that's the very covered bottle I purchased a number of and all the caps failed at the hinge within a few months of use. Ironically, the remaining capless Elite bottles work really well with a Dirt Mask fitted (Dawn To Dusk doesn't do a smaller 550ml version of its own bottles).
The Camelbak Podium Dirt Series bottles use a much smaller Mud Cap over the bite valve itself, which you can buy separately for £6. I haven't used one of these, but it looks like a bit of a two-handed faff to hold the bottle while removing the cap. Also, in her review Rachael thought the cap could get lost easily as it's not captive.
> How much should you be drinking during your ride?
I'm one hundred per cent sold on the Dawn To Dusk Dirt Mask. It costs the same as a coffee and cake, works brilliantly, covers the whole bottle top, does a critical cycling-health job without fault, is usable on the bike one-handed, fits many of your current or new bottles, is pretty much bombproof and is repairable in the unlikely event of damage. Result.
Ideal way to upgrade your existing bottles to be muck-free – if it fits...
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Make and model: Dawn to Dusk Dirt Mask Spare
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 stay healthy by keeping their bottles muck-free.
Dawn To Dusk says:
Enjoy The Dirt, Not The Taste Of It
Charge through puddles and speed through gravel without compromising your hydration. The DIRT MASK provides full cap coverage on bottles, allowing you to ride any style, on any terrain and still have a clean, refreshing drink. As a cool bonus, the DIRT MASK is also compatible with a few other brands of water bottles.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
From Dawn To Dusk:
Behind The Design
We believe the challenge is to conceive a design that fully covers the top of the bottle, can be opened with one hand, springs completely away from the face and can be closed with one hand. We wanted to keep out grit, gravel and mud for a very pleasant dirt-free drink. Notice the deep skirt overlaps the lower ring around the whole top of the bottle keeping out grit and mud. The top is made of fiber composite for superior rock resistance, and the hinge is a simple replaceable 'O' ring, and a spare is included. To open just pull the quick release with your thumb and the lid opens completely out of the way. To close the lid, simply push it against your body!
1. Tough rock resistant top
2. Quick release
3. Deep skirt protects whole bottle cap from dirt
4. Strong lid catch for all types of trails
5. Spring loaded hinge pops lid open 180° to keep it clear of your face
Midnight Black matte finish with embossed Dawn to Dusk logo
Rugged glass filed nylon composite construction
Dirt Mask Only, Dirt Mask with Aqua Flow, Dirt Mask with Ice Flow
Dishwasher top shelf safe
Top, bottom & (2) hinge o-rings (Includes spare)
Rate the product for quality of construction:
Rate the product for performance:
Can't fault the performance – if it fits your bottle.
Rate the product for durability:
A year on, the caps are all still working like new.
Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
It's only 26g. You won't notice at all.
Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
Rate the product for value:
There's no alternative generic aftermarket add-on for existing bottles. As an upgrade to make a normal cheap bottle mud-proof, it's well worth the money, even with shipping added (currently £6.95).
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Can't fault it.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The secure snap shut.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
There's no alternative generic aftermarket add-on for existing bottles. It's the same price, bar a penny, as Camelbak's Mud Cap, but that has its flaws and is limited to Camelbak bottles.
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 Dirt Mask is excellent. Over a year's testing, through truly awful rides and weather, it's worked perfectly. It won't fit all bottles, but if it doesn't fit with yours I'd suggest you find some that do, or buy Dawn To Dusk's own bottles.
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
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