Because I’m in the over-50 crowd, I grew up during a time when the only water you drank came out of the kitchen faucet or the garden hose. No one — at least that I knew — bought bottled water. In fact, I don’t think grocery stores even sold it in the 1970s.
Of course, times change and now everyone, me included, buys 24-packs of plastic, recyclable water bottles from big box retailers and grocery stores. The water tastes great and it’s not overly expensive.
For decades of my adult life, I simply grabbed a plastic water bottle and threw it into a backpack or turkey vest before a day of bowhunting. That worked okay, except I hated the way a plastic bottle snapped, crackled and popped in my pack. And the more I drank and the emptier the plastic bottle became, the more noise it made.
Because I prefer to travel light, I never gave serious consideration to packing a high-quality vacuum bottle into the field. But that was before I had the chance to field test the Microlite series of bottles from GSI Outdoors.
Because any bottle is worthless if it leaks, my first test was a simple one, and performed in my kitchen. I filled a black-colored Microlite 500 Twist bottle with lemon-lime Kool-Aid and turned it upside down in a white bowl. I let it sit in the refrigerator for 2 days, and not a single drop of my favorite kid drink leaked from the Twist bottle. So far so good.
Next, I packed the 500 Twist in my turkey hunting vest for during several weekends of turkey chasing in the Midwest. I quickly noticed two things: Unlike a recyclable plastic water bottle, the Microlite 500 Twist was much quieter; it didn’t make a crunching sound when stuffed in the cargo area of my turkey vest. The 500 Twist is also super light, weighing only 7.7 ounces. I never felt the additional weight of the stainless-steel bottle.
Later during the day I noticed that my water was cold even though air temps had climbed into the low 80s. I know from experience that I would’ve been drinking warm water if I’d packed a standard plastic bottle that morning.
In addition to testing the Microlite 500 Twist this spring, last fall I carried a blaze-orange Microlite 500 Flip, which features a flip cap for easy one-handed opening and drinking. Both the 500 Twist and 500 Flip are constructed from high-quality, durable, 18/8 stainless steel; the walls of the bottle measure only 2mm thick, which is thinner than most single-wall plastic bottles. As I stated before, the 500 Twist weighs 7.7 ounces; the Flip weighs only slightly more at 7.9 ounces. Both hold 17 fl. oz. of water or whatever you wish to drink in the deer stand or turkey blind.
Confession: I didn’t run a rigorous test to see whether the Microlite 500 bottle met or surpassed the claim of “provides 8 hours heat and 16 hours cold retention.” Why? Because I drink fluids far sooner than that in the field.
To replicate a fall deer hunting situation, however, I conducted a simple heat test at home: I filled the Microlite 500 with hot tap water (still okay to the touch) and then placed the bottle in my 37-degree refrigerator. After 4 hours (generally the longest period I’ll sit on a deer stand), the water was still hot; after 8 hours, it was still warm. Enough said.
As for price, the Microlite 500 Flip has a MSRP of $25.95, and the 500 Twist is a buck less at $24.95. Currently, the Flip model is available in a wider range of colors, so if you have your heart set on blaze-orange, you’ll have to go with the Flip. At times it’s nice to “go bright” on smallish gear items because they’re easier to find after setting them down on the forest floor, especially during low light.
This summer I’ll use the Microlite 500 bottles on fishing adventures and trips to watch my two sons play baseball. My drinks will still colder, and I’ll save some money by not having to buy bottled water. That by definition is a win-win.
Images by Dave Maas