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Tested: CamelBak Podium Chill Bottle

camelbak podium chilljacket bottle

While I was trying out a Camelbak Podium bottle, I couldn’t resist also trying a CamelBak ChillJacket Podium bottle, which is the insulated version.

The ChillJacket bottle has all the features of the regular Podium bottle, but the insulation is supposed to keep drinks hot or cold for hours. It’s a lot like the popular Polar bottle, but with Camelbak’s new twists.

I used to use the Polar bottle, but that was many years ago, so my memory is kind of fuzzy on how well it worked. However, I do remember it broke eventually, and I didn’t bother buying any more Polar bottles after that.

But once another insulated bottle option is out, I’m happy to test it. So let’s get going…

To start with, this is virtually identical to the regular Podium bottle. The pros and cons are nearly identical.

To recap, I really like the ease of use of the Podium bottle, thanks to its JetValve. It’s like having a bite valve from a hydration pack on your water bottle. No need to pull the valve open with your teeth then hip slam it closed – you just squeeze the bottle and it squirts water into your mouth. The valve opens and closes automatically, which is very convenient.

The downfall is the fact that the valve takes more effort than usual to clean out. If you carry sports drinks in this bottle, you’re almost guaranteed to get some nice mold growing in the crevices! Then you have to pull the valve apart and clean it with Q-tips and toothpicks.

Another downfall is that, unless you are extremely careful, you’re going to spill some. While the bottle is leakproof if you don’t mess with it, it’s virtually impossible not to spill some fluid if you’re using the bottle while riding.

One difference is that the ChillJacket is a 21oz bottle while the regular Podium will hold 24oz. This is usually the case with any insulated bottle because insulation takes up space. So the slightly smaller 21oz capacity isn’t a big deal.

But the redeeming factor here is that the ChillJacket bottle might just keep our drinks colder for longer periods! I love cold water on a long, hot ride, so I’m excited about this bottle!

I like the squeezeability of this bottle as well. I remember the Polar bottle being way too stiff and hard to squeeze. However, Camelbak’s Chilljacket bottle is just as easy to squeeze as a standard water bottle. (It’s even softer than my regular Podium bottle… possibly because I used it more often and it’s now broken in? Hmm.)

camelbak podium chilljacket bottle

Testing the Insulation

How does this bottle hold up in hot and cold weather? Let’s test it to see just how long this bottle will actually keep your beverage warm or cold, depending on the outside temperature.

In Cold Weather:

camelbak podium chilljacket bottle

For this test, I took the regular Podium bottle and the ChillJacket bottle and filled them with warm green tea. I then placed them outside in 25 degree F weather. I sipped from each bottle about every 15 minutes (starting at 1:00 PM.)

The tea started out comfortably warm in both bottles. At the 15 minute mark, things remained the same.

At 30 minutes, I was able to notice that the tea in the ChillJacket was slightly warmer than in the regular Podium bottle.

At 45 minutes, there was a noticeable difference. The tea had become cool in the regular bottle, while in the ChillJacket, the tea was still warmer than room temperature.

After one hour, the bottles started to even up. The tea in the regular bottle was cool, and in the ChillJacket bottle, it was room temperature (no longer considered warm.)

After an hour and a half, the teas were both cooling off slightly, although the ChillJacket’s tea was still hovering around room temperature. Finally, at the two hour mark, the teas were both cool.

At three hours, both bottles had cooled off. The difference is that the regular bottle’s valve had frozen shut. I had to blow warm breath on it, and squeeze it really hard to break through the frozen part so I could get some liquid.

Now it’s been four hours! Both bottles contain cool, but not quite cold, liquid. The only real difference is the regular Podium bottle had the valve freeze shut completely. The ChillJacket bottle functioned much better, but the valve was starting to freeze a bit.

For keeping drinks warm, the ChillJacket definitely helped. However, the difference wasn’t as much as I expected.

Also, there is another issue in cold weather. It’s not that the water in the bottle will freeze fast, it’s that the valve itself will freeze shut. The valve can easily freeze shut in 15 minutes, even if the drink inside stays liquid for a couple hours.

This problem plagued even the ChillJacket bottle. Water droplets coat the soft part of the valve, freezing it shut. With enough pressure, you can usually break it free though. Unfortunately, the material becomes less flexible in the cold, so the valve will no longer seal properly. It is much less likely to close completely in cold weather.

I’ve actually had the valve freeze in the open position! If this happens, the trick is to squeeze the bottle a few times. Eventually the air pressure should result in the valve pulling closed again. But watch out because it might not lay back down fully sealed!

In Hot Weather:

For this test, I took the regular Podium bottle and the ChillJacket bottle and filled them with ice water. I then placed them outside in the sun, in 80 degree F weather. I sipped from each bottle every 15 minutes.

[True test results coming when I can find hot, sunny weather!]

What I can say in the meantime is I did find some benefits to the ChillJacket’s insulation on hot days. It definitely kept my drinks cooler for a little longer than a regular bottle.

I don’t have any hard numbers (and they’d vary so much based on heat, sun, humidity, etc.,) but if you’re riding in super hot weather, anything helps! So definitely look at the ChillJacket bottle.

My final verdict is…

Over the past six months, this bottle has been getting used more than any others in my collection. I use it almost every day, whether it’s in my car, in the gym, or out on the ski trails. I even take it on some road bike rides, but like I mentioned before, my Specialized bottles still get used most often on my bikes.

That said, I highly recommend you try this bottle. You might just like it for bike riding, and if not, you’ll still find many uses for it.

Official website: www.Camelbak.com

Buy online: www.REI.com

Product Review Details
Company: CamelBak
Product: CamelBak Podium ChillJacket Bottle
Reviewed by: Coach Levi
My Rating: 4.2 out of 5
Date last updated: 2015-07-16
Obtained Product: Purchased at retailer.
CoachLevi.com Advertiser: No.

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2 Comments
  1. Is there a replacement part for that has the crevices that collect mold? I like this bottle except for the the issue of getting mold and how difficult it is to clean. It certainly can’t be healthy.

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coach levi
Hi, I'm Coach Levi. I'm a USA Cycling Certified Level 3 Coach as well as Level 1 Certified with Precision Nutrition. Want to feel better, ride faster, and look great? Let's work together!

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Coach Levi is my favorite child and favorite cycling coach. I'd choose him over Christoper McCarmikael even. Did I mention that Levi can coach you to a healthier lifestyle where you look and feel your best?
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