I’ve been using regular Nalgene hard bottles for years now, and was curious to see how the Platypus SoftBottles and Platy Bottles from Cascade Design compared. I was attracted to these soft bottles because of their light weight and collapsible properties. My only real concerns before purchasing were the bottle’s small opening and durability. After using them for a few years now, here’s my updated review.
I first purchased the 17 oz SoftBottle, wanting to try the smaller bottle just in case I didn’t care for it. While a pint is a good size for a serving of beer, I found the pint sized SoftBottle just too limiting for carrying water. Even a small bicycle water bottle is 21 ounces.
Still interested in this design, I picked up the 34 oz (1 liter) SoftBottle a few weeks later. The dimensions of the 34 oz model are only slightly greater than those of the smaller bottle, but it holds twice the capacity. 34 ounces is a lot more practical for proper hydration.
Small Capacity: 17 fl. oz / 0.5 liters
Weight: 0.8 oz / 22 g
Width: 5 in / 12 cm
Length: 12 in / 29 cm
Large Capacity: 34 fl. oz / 1 liters
Weight: 1.2 oz / 35 g
Width: 6 in / 15 cm
Length: 13 in / 33 cm
Platy Bottle: 70 fl. oz / 2 liters
Weight: 1.3 oz / 36 g
Width: 7.5 in / 19 cm
Length: 13.8 in / 35 cm
Eventually I purchased the 2 liter Platy Bottle, and this has been the one I use the most. It goes in my pack for day hikes, and often serves as an auxiliary bottle for backpacking. It works great for hauling water back to camp for cooking or filtering for drinking water. It folds down to nothing when not in use.
According to the manufacture’s website, the bottles have a “Clean-Taste Guarantee” and they’re made without BPA. They’re definitely one of the cleanest, if not the cleanest tasting bottles I’ve ever drank from. Even water that’s been sitting in the bottle overnight tastes fresh with no plastic taste. I haven’t really done anything to clean them besides rinse them out with hot water (and sometimes a little dish soap) occasionally. It’s hard to air dry them completely with such a small opening, but it doesn’t seem to matter too much.
Light Weight and Compressible
What sets the SoftBottles apart from other water bottles are their incredible light weight and compressibility. An empty 1 liter bottle weighs just 35 grams (1.2 oz), and compresses flat or rolls up when not in use. By comparison, a Nalgene hard bottle weighs 179 grams (6.3 oz), and takes up the same volume whether empty or not. This weight difference may not seem like a lot on its own, but when you start being weight conscious with all the gear you plan to carry, significant weight savings can be attained. It all adds up. I’ve also found the flexible, compressible design of the SoftBottle to be advantageous when space is an issue.
- Great tasting water – no plastic taste.
- Super light weight.
- SoftBottle and Platy Bottle have the ability to compress as they empty, and even flatten or roll up small when not in use. Creates more room in your pack.
- Bottles stand up on their own when full.
- All bottles reviewed here work great with the Sawyer Mini Water Filter.
- Bottles are durable and don’t leak. Just be careful when using them as a squeeze bottle for filtering, and don’t squeeze hard up near the neck of the bottle to prevent tearing.
- Small opening makes the bottle harder to clean and fill in some situations, and may be hard to use with some pump style water filters or purifiers (like a Steripen). Less versatile than a hard bottle when it comes to filling with hot water.
- Probably not as durable as a hard bottle (although no problems have been encountered yet).
- Flexible design doesn’t stuff as well into the tight mesh side pockets on some packs.
- The half liter bottle is a bit small for adequate hydration.
While I won’t be giving up my trusty Nalgene hard bottles, I’ve really gotten to like my Platypus SoftBottles and Platy Bottles. I appreciate the light weight, and the slim design works well in my packs. The SoftBottle doesn’t even have to be empty to get smaller, since you can squeeze the air out of it as you drink. I like the versatility of the bottles, often using them for filtering water or as auxiliary bottles in camp.
As I stated above, I thought the half liter bottle was too small for carrying water, but I’ve found other uses for it. It’s made its way into my water filter kit, now used as a squeeze bag with my Sawyer Mini (reviewed here). The half liter bottle also makes a good backpacking flask for camp whiskey.
The SoftBottle isn’t a complete replacement for hard water bottles, though. It’s not as easy to use with some pump style water filters or UV purifiers, and filling the bottle with hot water would be a mess. But for most other uses, the lightweight SoftBottle and Platy Bottle are great.
Ready to buy?
- Purchase the 1 Liter (34 oz) Platypus SoftBottle now at REI.
- Purchase the 2 Liter (70 oz) Platy Bottle now at REI.
(Disclaimer: I’m an REI affiliate, and receive a small commission from the sale which helps to support this website. I purchased this product, and the opinions here are my own.)
Manufacturer’s website at cascadedesigns.com.
Related product reviewed here on The Path Less Beaten: PlatyPreserve Wine Preservation System