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Tested: CamelBak Podium Ice


brand new camelbak ice bottle

It took me a while to get used to the idea of these Camelbak water bottles, after being a die hard Specialized fan, but I did eventually come around and became a huge fan of this CamelBak Podium series.

So I was excited to hear that they launched a brand new version of the CamelBak Podium Ice even better than the last!

If you haven’t made the switch to these bottles yet, here’s the low down:

  • The Podium ($9.00) is the regular, non-insulated bottle.
  • The Podium Chill ($13.00) is the insulated bottle that keeps water cold twice as long as a regular bottle.
  • The Podium Ice ($25.00) is the fancy one with Aerogel Insulation that keeps water cold 4x as long as a regular bottle.

If you just want to get CamelBak’s patented spill-proof Jet Valve, you can get that on the $9 Podium bottle, but I’d highly recommend paying a little extra and getting the insulated Podium Chill for $13.

The big price jump is when you upgrade to the Podium Ice! At $25, this is just as, if not more expensive than, most insulated stainless steel bottles.

I reviewed the original CamelBak Podium bottle when it was released, and it was alright, but didn’t “wow” me. But then I reviewed their first insulated Podium bottle, the Podium ChillJacket. That bottle was awesome!

Eventually, CamelBak released the Podium Ice, which was the best one yet, but still not perfect. So as of June 2014, they have a new Podium Ice, and we’re going to see if this one is perfect!

camelbak podium bottles

First, let’s review what I didn’t like about the older Podium bottles:

  • Some were stiff and hard to squeeze.
  • The shape took some getting used to.
  • The lids can make gurgling noises.

So, for the most part, there was nothing inherently bad, just different. And the noisy cap was only noticeable if you had the bottle sitting on a desk in a quiet room – not exactly the environment these bottles were intended for!

And here is what has always been good:

  • When the valve is locked, it’s leak-proof.
  • Valve makes it unnecessary to pop the cap open and shove it closed each drink.
  • The insulation works very well.

The self-sealing Jet Valve is just plain awesome! When it’s open, the bottle is spill proof (as long as you don’t accidentally squeeze it). When you close the lockout, the bottle becomes totally leak proof. If you need a bottle to carry in a gym bag, this is the one! You can toss the bottle in among your gear with absolutely no worries of leakage.

I’ve been beating the crap out of the original Podium bottles for nearly five years now, and none of them leak!!

camelbak bottle

The top of the valve is removable (it sort of peels off), so you can easily clean the inner surface. You definitely do need to do this occasionally, but it’s simple enough to not be a big deal. Just don’t lose it!

Other caps don’t offer this cleaning option, so you just have to toss the whole thing. These bottles, as long as they’re properly cleaned, should last for many, many years.

The bottle is BPA-free and uses TruTaste polypropylene, which means you taste the water, not the plastic. So far, so good; I haven’t encountered any “plasticy” tastes or smells.

That is one big water bottle!

The Ice uses Aerogel Insulation to keep water cold 4x longer than a normal bottle. That also means it keeps water cold 2x longer than the Chill.

brand new camelbak ice bottle

So, with both bottles being a 21oz capacity, how do they squeeze in the extra insulation?

Well, the Ice is 1″ taller!

It’s a fairly tight squeeze on the seat tube and I found myself hitting the nozzle on the top tube a few times when removing the bottle from the cage. Sort of like the 32oz Gatorade bottles I carry sometimes.

So it does fit, but it’s easiest to access when on the down tube.

If you have a really small or unusually designed frame, be careful.

I should also point out that there is a weight penalty as well.

Total weight for the 21oz Ice bottle is 163 grams. The Chill, just 113 grams – a 50 gram difference.

Of course, if you consider the super heavy insulated stainless steel bottles that you’d need to buy to get better insulation (~ 450 grams), this thing is light as a feather!

The Insulation Test: Podium vs Podium Chill vs Podium Ice

I did my first test in a somewhat controlled manner. On a hot July afternoon, I filled each bottle with 5 ice cubes and some cool filtered tap water. Then I placed each bottle on the porch railing in direct sunlight (well, as direct as the partly cloudy skies would allow…)

I tasted the water from each bottle at 30 minute intervals.

At the 30 minute mark, the regular Podium had no ice left and the water was warm. The Chill had small ice cubes intact, and the water was cold. The Ice still had big ice cubes, so obviously the water was still cold.

At the 60 minute mark, the Podium water was still tolerable, but if the sun was any brighter, that would not be the case. The Chill was still sort of cool but nowhere near cold. The Ice was noticeably cooler, just about cold, but not really – and no more ice cubes.

90 minutes in, not much had changed. Fortunately, the Ice was still cold enough to hit you with a “wow that’s almost cold” sensation.

Two full hours in, the Podium and the Chill evened out so that both were lukewarm. The Ice was still cooler than the others, but no longer on the verge of “cold” – just sort of cool.

Then at the three hour mark, when the Podium was disgustingly warm, the Ice was basically as cool as the Chill was at 1.5 hours – which would mean their calculations with “2x colder” and “4x colder” were spot on.

Based on this more controlled but not quite realistic test, I’m sold on the Chill, but not sure I’d pay extra (double) for the Ice. The Ice does really well in the infamous 2-3 hour time frame though.

camelbak bottle

On the bike: CamelBak Podium Chill vs Podium Ice

The next tests were conducted during real rides, and the results should come as no surprise. When I was out riding with a Podium Chill and a Podium Ice on my bike, I reached for the Ice.

There’s no doubt the Ice is very well insulated; however, the price is my sticking point. See, it follows the law of diminishing returns. Keeping water cold 2x longer is awesome, and keeping water cold 4x longer is a little more awesome (but not twice as awesome).

If you can’t justify the $25 price tag, the new Podium Chill is only $13, and it definitely keeps water cold twice as long as regular bottles. Plus it comes in more color options.

Now, keep in mind that I’m riding and racing in the Mid Atlantic and New England regions where we have lots of heat and humidity, but nothing like the hot and humid conditions you’d find down in Georgia or North Carolina, nor the dry desert heat in New Mexico and Arizona.

If you reside in those conditions, you might need to buy the Ice to get worthwhile results!

My final verdict is…

This is an amazing water bottle and I’d highly recommend switching to it if you do lots of longer rides (90+ minutes) in hot climates. Just check the fit on your bike before you buy two.

If you can’t justify the price, or don’t do many rides over an hour long, the new Podium Chill is going to give you more bang for your buck.

Official website: www.CamelBak.com

Buy online: www.Amazon.com

Product Review Details
Company: CamelBak
Product: CamelBak Podium Ice Water Bottle
Reviewed by: Coach Levi
My Rating: 4.7 out of 5
Date last updated: 2017-01-25
Obtained Product: Free sample from company.
CoachLevi.com Advertiser: No.

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12 Comments
  1. What if you freeze 21 ounces of water in the bottle overnight before a ride?

  2. @Stephen

    I thought about testing that but ultimately decided against it. I’ve had bad luck breaking frozen bottles doing that and didn’t want to take the risk with this one.

    Plus, you’d think it would take a long time to freeze the insulated water, right?

  3. Did you test it to keep a hot beverage in cold weather?

  4. @Nikki

    Not yet! Check back after Christmas. 🙂

  5. There are two keys to freezing water bottles:

    1) Do not fill them all the way up!
    2) Set them at an angle in the freezer.

    Details:

    1)
    Only fill them, at most, only 90%. Remember, H2O expands as it freezes. If you fill it all the way up, your bottle will bust. And for best results, 75% seems to be the practical limit.

    Another reason to not fill it all the way up is so you can top it off in the morning with water (or whatever), and have something to drink from the start, instead of having to wait for it to thaw/melt some.

    2)
    Set them at an angle in the freezer.
    (~45 degrees, depending on how full.)

    But, do NOT lay them completely flat, because the cap & nozzle will freeze.

    You want them tilted due to the narrowing of most water bottles where they fit in bottle cages. Remember, in addition to expanding, ice floats, so the surface freezes first. So, if you don’t tilt the bottle, as it freezes, the “ice cap” will get caught under the narrow part, and as the remaining water beneath it freezes, the bottle will get deformed (and possible crack). In the deformed state, it will not fit in your bottle cage until it thaws.

    Tilting them opens up the surface area (that freezes first) to the length of the bottle, reducing (or spreading out) any bottle deformation as it freezes.

    And for best results, at most, only fill them about 3/4 the way.

    Another tip is to stagger the amount of frozen water in each bottle. For instance, I carry four bottles in the summer (live in FL, and have lived in AZ). The first bottle I drink from is only frozen about 1/4 way. The last about 3/4 (but never all the way). The middle two, somewhere in between. Before the ride, of course, they’re all topped off. By staggering them, each subsequent bottle stays colder longer, but thawed enough to drink from when I get to it. Even by the time I get the to 4th bottle (about 2 hours later), it is still relatively cool (or, at least, not hot).

  6. @David

    Excellent tips, thanks for sharing!!

  7. I run/ bike in alaska in winter conditions where I reside. The marketing has been geared towards keeping cold beverages cold in hot conditions, wondering if it works vice versa. Curious if the insulation keeps beverages from freezing as well. Not concerned so much with water being cold or warm, just in maintaining a liquid state, so I can drink it on a long winter run or bike. I have had numerous handhelds and hydration packs freeze up on me. Curious if the chill would also keep liquids from freezing.

    • @Mike

      Indeed, the insulation will work to keep beverages warm.

      The bottleneck (pun intended) is the valve, which will probably freeze shut, just like the bite valve on a hydration pack would. You’ll likely have to warm it up using your breath, before the liquid inside flows freely.

  8. Yes, as a reformed physicist, I can confirm that insulation works in both directions! It will help keep liquid water liquid longer in sub freezing temps. Of course, the problem area will be the valve, where there’s no insulation and thin water, so it will work best if used frequently, at least to clear the valve.

    And yes, being insulated, they will take longer to freeze in the freezer. But overnight should do it.

    I absolutely love the Ice. I first used it on a very hot 95 deg July day; I filled it with ice, then topped with water, to use as my second bottle on a three hour ride. I still had ice left at the end of the ride. If ever ride in the hot and like your drinks cold, this bottle is a must have.

    • @Philip

      Thanks for sharing!

      Indeed – after using the Ice, I’m disappointed using any other insulated bottle.

  9. Thank you for a good review. You neglected to evaluate how the new bottle performs on the perameters you didn’t like before. Would you care to write a few words about it?

    – Some were stiff and hard to squeeze.
    – The shape took some getting used to.
    – The lids can make gurgling noises.

    • @Stefan

      Those issues largely vanished with the new bottle. The bottle shape and “squeezeability” are both excellent here with the Podium Ice.

      The gurgling and/or hissing noise is still there, but that’s what happens with every bottle that uses this type of lid (with the always-open, pressure-activated valve). It’s only a problem if you use this bottle on your desk, in a very quiet workplace or classroom. You don’t notice it if you’re on a bike ride.

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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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