The Platypus SoftBottle caught my attention as something practical for excursions requiring lightweight, tightly packed gear. I admit that I really thought I could get the bottle to leak. As it turns out, the bottle soared to the top of my list of water bottles to carry for any excursion.
- It passed all my tests and I'm not going to make up something—there are no cons.
One liter equals about 34 ounces. In a Platypus 1L soft bottle, weighing in at a hefty 1.2 ounces, the total weight tips the scale at a little over two pounds. I suppose you could go lighter, like carry water in a plastic sandwich bag, but you will get wet.
I bought the 1L Platypus (I’ll simply call it the 1L from here on out) for a mission trip to Alaska, wanting to pack a carry-on as lightly as I could. After handling it a bit and rolling it up, I wasn’t so sure that I could trust the keeping of water in it.
So I bought another that I could “test.” Actually, the testing became more of intentional abuse. The abused 1L was purchased at a local sporting goods store. It was the last one on the rack and was marked down as a result of what might be rough handling marks by some novice stock boy. Also, the lid was missing. I haggled for an additional 20% off and walked out of the store with a $3 Platypus.
Finding a cap was no problem. The lid from a rubbing alcohol bottle fits perfectly and, of course, is pre-sterilized. I also discovered that the sip cap from one of my vintage Bota (of Boulder) bottles fits perfectly. I guess I could simply buy a replacement cap but that would cost more than what I gave for the 1L.
I was really more concerned about how the bag itself would hold up. Fitting an alcohol bottle cap, I filled the bag with water and put it through some very rough handling exercises, with a few 1L selfies to document the proof:
First, I snugged the cap and let the bottle rest on its side overnight. No leaks. I set it in the sun for a couple of days (which included some cool nights). No leaks. Not being satisfied that natural forces were doing a good job, I squeezed the bottle hard numerous times—too many to count. In fact, hard squeezing was routinely performed between other test procedures. No leaks.
Next came some really rough handling (more than the stock boy who put some dings in the surface). I dropped the full bottle on the cap over 25 times from about four feet high. No leaks. Next, to simulate field use, I threw the bottle around… way around. I tossed it into the air; I threw it as if throwing to someone (who would miss it). I spun it up and let it bounce on the ground. I tossed it onto the work bench and other places I carried it: concrete floor, grass, outdoor chairs. No leaks.
I thought that the true test would come in work-hardening the plastic material, so I emptied it and wrung it out (rolled up as one would carry it), first one way 25 times, then the other way 25 times. Then wrung it across the body, trying to work the top of the bottle. I wrung it hard enough that it held the shape, as pictured. I then filled the bottle with water, snugged the cap, and squeezed it. No leaks.
Now filled, I let it rest on its side day and night. No leaks. I propped it upside down on the cap in my garage. No leaks. I squeezed it, toss it around a bit, and removed and replaced the cap numerous times. No leaks. Nowhere. Not in the beat up body, not in the area of the cap.
The 1L now clearly bore some wounds, but nothing that leaked, oozed, or otherwise failed. I fully expected that at some point the bottle would fail—a pinhole leak, broken seam, cap failure, or cracked surface. It showed no signs of abuse, just signs of what I would call normal handling. And for what it's worth, I have no problem drinking from it: I've read that some people claim that it's easier to use two hands but I have no problem using it one-fisted.
Under normal circumstances in most outdoor adventures, the Platypus 1L soft bottle doesn’t need to be babied. I don’t know that it would hold together if dropped from the edge of a cliff by a rock climber. Not sure it would survive being run over by a four-wheeler. And I suppose an animal could chew its way to a refreshing drink of clean water. Outside of these instances, which would damage pretty much any water container, the 1L will get you there and back again.
The nice thing is, you can carry one for clean water and one for filtering water. Some after market filtration systems fit Platypus bottles; and Platypus markets one specifically for their products. Filling the bottle from a shallow source might be tricky though, but outdoorsmen are reasonably resourceful people.
The only downside I’ve read about might be cleaning the bottle. But I had no problem simply rinsing it out, draining it, leaving it “inflated” with the cap off, and setting it upside down on the counter. Next day, it was still a little wet inside so I placed it on the dash of my truck in the sun. It dried out well.
I plan to store it open and “inflated” until convincingly dry, but from experience I can state that I see no problem in this regard. As for long term storage, I'll store it with the cap loosely fitted, as I do all my cleaned and dried bottles.
Perhaps trying to clean dirt and debris from the inside might be a little more problematic. But all I need to carry is water. Clean water. And the Platypus 1L Soft Bottle will perform this task admirably.
PRODUCT UPDATE 8/2017!
As I write this update, I've had my "abused" Platypus 1L everywhere. It survived a week in Alaska, full of water and in the pocket of my cargo pants. I dropped it a time or two, and accidentally knocked it off a table. It also accompanied me to a camp for children where I was camp pastor. Same story: knocked around, on the ground, in my cabin, and in my hip pocket (yes, when the 1L is full of water, it'll fit in the hip pocket of my size 36 jeans).
While in Alaska, I stopped and shopped at an outdoor supply store. They had Platypus caps on sale: two for $1.50. I snatched them up. My well-worn 1L now wears its own brand push/pull cap. Stored, I keep it rolled up in a small drawstring pouch but I also carry the alcohol bottle cap just in case I lose or damage the factory cap, which at this point seems unlikely since it, too, has seen a fair amount of dings and knocks.
Just an added reminder about drying the Platypus. After rinsing it out with clean water, I place it inflated on the dash of my truck in the sun. It dries out in less than a day. Perhaps direct sunlight will one day deteriorate the material but that, too, will factor in with my product testing. So far, after several drying sessions, it's fine.
So, even at the regular price of around $9, the Platypus 1L Soft Bottle is well worth owning...and using without much care.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $3
Platypus introduces a lightweight, flexible, and foldable alternative to heavyweight and rigid waterbottles. 80% lighter than a Nalgene bottle of a comparable size, not only are these bottles lighter, they're much more packable, and can be rolled-up once they're emptied. Flexibility doesn't come without some problems, and these bottles do take some time to get used to drinking and pouring from them.
- Incredibly lightweight (80% lighter than Nalgene bottles!)
- Can be folded flat and rolled-up when not in use
- Inside lining does not retain flavors or taste like plastic
- Fits both pockets and drink holders
- Can be used to replace Sawyer Squeeze water bags
- Reusable with a longer life than disposable water bottles
- Narrow opening
- OK for cold beverages, not recommended for hot beverages
- Shallow threads on screw-on cap
- Needs push-pull cap to regular flow
- Not as stable as a rigid water bottle
- Could benefit from a lanyard or carabiner hole
Like any other hobby, backpacking can become very expensive very easily, and making the transition to lighter gear often comes with a matching price tag. Sure, the easiest places to cut weight are the largest items you carry (shelter, sleeping bag, pack), but these are also the most expensive piece to replace.
When I began backpacking, I couldn't afford to upgrade any of my "Big Three."
That left me two options: A.) leave at home anything I wasn't 100% sure I needed, and B.) spend the little money I had as smartly as I could.
A friend from Trailspace advised me to reconsider packing a Nalgene bottle. It was an unnecessary amount of weight, and something as simple as a store-bought, recyclable, plastic Gatorade bottle could get the same job done — without the extra weight.
Only trouble with Gatorade bottles is that they retain their shape, and are as bulky empty as they are filled.
For under $10, you can pick up a Platypus Soft Bottle from pretty much any major gear retailer.
These were so inexpensive, I actually bought a couple: a half-liter, and a full liter.
The 0.5L (17 fl oz) bottle measures 5" x 12" and weighs 0.8 oz.
The 1.0L (34 fl oz) bottle measures 6" x 13" and weighs 1.2 oz.
The smaller was for drinking, the larger, for storage. I kept the small one 100% filled, and would drink from it until the larger one ran out, at which point, I'll fill both and begin all over again. This system worked well for me, and I was able to keep hydrated all day.
I like to start my day out with a cold glass of water, so I pre-filled these, left them in the fridge overnight, and put them in the car cup holders for the drive to the state park.
Yep. Cup holders.
The bottoms are sized to fit not only round or square pockets, but drink holders, too.
The interior lining is made from food-grade polyethylene so, even without an initial rinse, these didn't taste like plastic. If you fill them with another kind of beverage, they won't retain the flavor from one and transfer it to another, either.
I was able to stuff both, filled, into one of the side mesh pockets of my Kelty Coyote 4750. Here I could access them both without taking my pack off, even keeping them on the same side and freeing-up the other mesh pocket completely.
The weather was really warm (mid 80's, sunny, and clear) in the middle of summer, here, so I used these things from before I made camp well into the ride home.
They were in and out of pockets, cup holders, rolled, dropped, screwed, unscrewed, and dirtied - but they kept their original form, didn't dent or puncture, and were easily cleaned off.
The bottoms flatten when filled so these will stand on a flat surface.
Drinking and pouring from them gets tricky: you can't just grab them from the side and tip them back.
Although they've hourglass curves and a pin-up "waistline," I'd a hard time trying to drink from these with one hand.
It's a two-handed affair, and you have to be mindful of the force with which you're squeezing. This could probably be easily remedied by purchasing the "push-pull" caps they sell. Squeezing them in the middle without one will have the water come gushing out the front, since there's nothing to stop or regulate it.
When it comes to refilling them, hold them by the top opening and fill them that way. These stood strong against a hand-powered ground water pump with a LOT of water pressure coming out of it.
I know these are good for cold beverages, but I highly doubt they'd stand-up to anything hot, much less boiling, so these do lack the versatility of doubling as sleeping bag heaters in colder weather.
The screw-on caps have shallow threads, and may not work as well as they could with a Sawyer Squeeze filter. I've found out, though, that rubber garden hose washers (from your local hardware store) will tighten the seal and fix this.
These definitely could benefit from a reinforced hole for a carabiner or lanyard. I'd punch one in myself, but not being sure how it would affect the bottle structurally, I'm hesitant to.
All in all, there're far more benefits to using these than using a rigid plastic water bottle.
Heck, these even fit my Sawyer Squeeze filter so I've got back-up bottles in case the SS ones ever fail me. It's a built-in back up plan I didn't even have to think about.
Once I was done with them and my trip, I just rolled 'em up together, stuffed them back in the mesh pocket, and that's that. It's nice to know most the weight you're packing is water weight, with these.
4-and-a-half stars, because they offer way too darn much that it more than makes up for whatever few shortcomings it has.
Source: bought it new
This lightweight bottle is well designed with surprisingly nice features. It is a good replacement in terms of weight and flexibility to traditional hard sided bottles.
- Well designed
- Bottom catches on pack side pockets
Initially I bought the SoftBottle to further reduce weight of what I carry on the trail. After using it though, I have found it is very well designed product that is more than just lightweight. Here is what I like about the bottle:
- The bottle is light. At 1.2 ounces for a one liter bottle, it is one fifth the weight of a typical Nalgene one liter at 6.5 ounces.
- It is also nice that I can just roll up the bottle when it is empty and tuck it away. A hard sided bottle just takes up space.
- When filled, the bottom expands allowing it to firmly stand up on its own.
- The "waist" of the hour glass design allows one handed use while drinking.
- The bottle is made from a nylon/polyethylene material which seems very durable and will last a long time. Time and use will tell.
The only thing I find somewhat annoying about the design is that when filled, the edges around the bottom tend to catch on the fabric of my pack side pocket. This requires some extra effort to get the bottle into pocket and I cannot put the bottle away with my pack on by myself.
Overall this is a well designed product and for me, was a good purchase.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $8.95
Compact and easily packed when empty, a stronger than it looks one-liter water bottle.
- Strong materials
- Ease of use
- Very hard to completely dry for storage
- Compatability problems with Sawyer Mini
I have seven and love them: 2 blue, 1 red, 1 mountains, etc. The different colors help me keep track of water being purified. I'll pump or squeeze a couple of bottles of water around camp that night, and then use Katadyn Micropur tablets to purify in others overnight.
I carry a few when backpacking, especially if I carry wine in a couple .75 liter Camelbak Chutes. After the wine is gone the .75's replace the Platypuses.
First off the pros: unbelievably strong for their weight. Take up no room in pack when empty.
Cons: hard to fill in shallow water sources (I pour from another bottle into them). Cannot be tightly attached to Sawyer Mini filter; the filter jumps the treads when you try and tightly attach it. Do not try and squeeze water out one into a cup, you will have unfiltered water leak out around the Platypus' treads and into the cup with the filtered water.
I like to treat water overnight in them. I then use the water in one or two for cooking breakfast, and fill the bottle I have slept with with another (I sleep with and carry the Camelbak 1 liter new Chute with the screw top, the best water bottle I believe). The Chute 1 ltr I carry in my pack's bottle pockets while storing the Platypus softs empty in my pack until the next night.
They have become very inexpensive to add to your gear stash: many outdoor retailers have them discounted, so stock up.
They are difficult to fully dry for storage though. Inflate by blowing them up after cleaning, shake as much water as possible out, then dry standing one day, lying on its side the next, repeat until dry.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $4-8
Lightweight, compact design is perfect for minimalist backcountry camping, but durability is in question.
- Very light, weighs (.9 ounces)
- Leak in new bottle
First, let me start by saying that I absolutely love these bottles. I purchased three of them. I take two on trips with me and figured I would have a spare to bring on trips where water sources are more scarce.
When I received them, I was amazed by how light they really were. I always weigh my stuff on a very accurate postal scale and these come in at .9 ounces. I really love the drop in weight from my Nalgene bottles and the fact that they roll up into nothing is ace.
The first thing I do before assuming that something is going to work in the woods is test it. I'm really glad I did. BEWARE that out of the three new bottles I purchased, one leaked, and one was not far off.
The bottles are basically just a bag that has a plastic insert at the top that comprises the threaded section. This plastic insert has 4 ridges the bag is bonded to that seals the unit. Or at least those ridges are supposed to seal the unit. What I found is that they are not all completely sealed. Wherever there is an unsealed spot it allows water to pass and find another ridge that has an unsealed place until water is flowing out of the bag and you have a problem.
I really hate complaining to companies and mailing stuff to get things replaced, so I just repaired these myself with some silicon sealant. It is really easy to reach inside the opening and smear a small amount of silicon onto the faulty areas. I then place the cap on the bottles and give them a gentle squeeze to coax the sealant into the voids and make the repair as durable as possible.
I think this is a problem that is very uncommon and while I wouldn't expect this to be the normal experience, I do want people to be aware so they can know the possibility exists.
I think these are great bottles and I will probably buy more in the future.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: about $9
I got a .5 L Platypus SoftBottle to work with my Sawyer Mini water filter. The Platypus works great. I've had no problems with leaks, and the bottle fits my Sawyer perfectly. It seems like a higher quality bladder than the bladders that come with Sawyer Minis.
I recommend this setup to my backpacking friends who want a durable, easy-to-use filter system.
- Ease of use
I've had my Platypus for almost a year and have brought it on five different weekend backpacking trips. Although it's only seen moderate use, it's been crammed in crannies in my pack and somewhat abused on the trail, yet still does a stellar job of holding water and doesn't seem likely to fail any time soon.
My Platypus is lightweight and does an excellent job of holding water. It also fits my Sawyer Mini Water Filter like a glove, and seems to be a higher-quality product than the Sawyer bladders. Plus, the slight concavity of the sides makes it easy to hold when full.
I don't have any negative things to say about this bottle; it is well-made and does the job it needs to do. I would definitely say it's worth the money to purchase it, and I look forward to using my Platypus SoftBottle for many years to come!
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $7
Bottom line, doesn't flavor water and is easy to clean. What more do you want? Oh yeah, great price. This is firing on all cylinders.
- Doesn't flavor water
- Easy to clean
- Great price
I bought my first one in 1998. I probably shouldn't but I'm still using it. I have packs from other manufacturers but the bladder in them is a Platypus. The bladder is the most important thing and nobody makes a better one.
I have one from another company and I had to buy some expensive cleaning kit and a special thing to dry it out: not with the Platypus. I just wash it, blow it up like a balloon, and leave it on my drying rack and before you know it, I'm good to go.
I have one that I keep in an emergency pack, that's folded down to nothing, but will come in really handy if I ever have to get away from home due to an emergency like an earthquake. There is one other company that makes a bottle that is almost as good, but they are way expensive.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: Les than $15
Great for helping to filter water.
- Small pack size
- Pairs with Sawyer Mini
I use the soft bottle with my Sawyer Mini to filter unclean water. The top thread screws right into the Sawyer for a tight seal.
I modified the bottom end of the softbottle and attached some paracord so that I can hang it upside-down with the Sawyer Mini screwed on the end and let gravity push the water through the filter and into a Nalgene bottle I have.
It's not the fastest way but it will drip 1 quart (32 ounces or almost 1 liter) of water every 30-40 minutes or so. It's nice because I can let it do its thing while I'm setting up camp or packing up camp, eating, etc.
I haven't had it for long so I can't talk about durability though but for around $9 it's a great deal.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $8.95
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