Compact and lightweight, the Platypus SoftBottle is a hydration tool that's been in our backpacks for years. Carrying water without the extra weight of a bottle is a huge advantage when backpacking for multiple days, as well during single-day activities that involve transporting water over long distances. Upon finishing your liquids, it packs up as small as a candy bar for easy stowing in your pack or pocket. It was brought along on long backpacking expeditions without question. Many of the features that make it great in the backcountry, however, are drawbacks when using it as a lifestyle bottle. It's awkward to drink from, slow to clean, and retains flavors.Editor's Note: This product review was revised on March 28, 2022, with further comparisons of top water bottles and buying advice.
Platypus SoftBottle Review
Cons: Not very durable, difficult to clean, retains flavors
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|Pros||Lightweight, collapsible, simple design||Well-insulated, great carrying handle, easy to clean, stainless-steel straw||Simple design, inexpensive, lightweight||Light, durable, resists flavors, simple design, wide mouth makes for easy filling||Affordable, insulates well, has interchangeable lids, easily portable|
|Cons||Not very durable, difficult to clean, retains flavors||Heavy, expensive||Made of plastic, doesn't fit in all cupholders||Diameter too big for cup holders, wide mouth makes it difficult to drink from when walking or driving||Paint chipping after a few months of use, flip cap seemed to lack security|
|Bottom Line||With its lightweight design and packability, this is one of the best collapsible bottles out there||A thoughtfully designed bottle with an impressive feature set that works extremely well||This bottle is recommended because it is simple, lightweight, durable and has a solid feature set||A tried and tested classic, this model is versatile and reasonably priced||This is one of our favorite bottles because it's easy to use, just the right size, lightweight and inexpensive|
|Rating Categories||Platypus SoftBottle||Klean Kanteen TKWid...||CamelBak Eddy+ Trit...||Nalgene Wide-Mouth||Simple Modern Summit|
|Ease of Use (40%)|
|Specs||Platypus SoftBottle||Klean Kanteen TKWid...||CamelBak Eddy+ Trit...||Nalgene Wide-Mouth||Simple Modern Summit|
|Body Material||Polyethylene||90% post-consumer recycled 18/8 stainless steel||BPA-free plastic||Eastman Tritan co-polyester||18/8 stainless steel|
|Empty Weight||1.2 oz||20.1 oz||7.1 oz||6.4 oz||15.7 oz|
|Volume||34 oz||32 oz||32 oz||34 oz||32 oz|
|Bottle Weight per Fluid oz Capacity||0.04 oz||0.63 oz||0.22 oz||0.19 oz||0.5 oz|
|Mouth Diameter||1 in||2.6 in||2.3 in||2.5 in||2.25 in|
|Base Diameter||6 in||3.6 in||3.8 in||3.25 in||3.5 in|
|Height||13 in||10.36 in||9.25 in||8.25 in||9 in|
|Free of Materials||BPA-free||BPA-free||BPA, BPS, BPF free||BPA, BPS and Phthalate Free||BPA-free|
|Cap/Lid Type||Closure cap||Screw cap, twist top||Screw cap, flip top||Loop-top screw cap||Screw Cap, flip top|
|Volume Options||0.5 Ltr, Push-Pull cap||12 oz, 16 oz, 20 oz, 32 oz||14 oz, 25 oz, 32 oz||16 oz, 48 oz||14 oz, 18 oz, 22 oz, 32 oz, 40 oz, 64 oz, 84 oz|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Ease of Use
The SoftBottle has a collapsible plastic body and a screw-on cap. It has a simple design and only two parts, making it easy to operate. The lid is small and opaque, which definitely runs the risk of becoming misplaced, but as we found out during testing, if you do lose the lid, it is easy to order a replacement online for only a few extra bucks. Another plus for this contender is that it forms to the space available in your pack for easy stowing. The flexible body is also helpful when filling the bottle in shallow streams in the backcountry. It is leak-proof beyond any doubt, and easily rolls up and fits into your pocket when empty.
On the downside, hydrating with this collapsible bottle is a learned skill requiring two hands. Its soft flexibility means it flops around when you're trying to grab a drink, which will lead to spills if you're not careful. This is not a one-handed drinking bottle, so it's not ideal as a bottle for use in the car or for quick sips in the gym.
It also has a small mouth and tips over easily, two more downsides. The small mouth makes filling up from faucets with large or powerful water streams difficult. On this note, if you are planning on purifying your water, the Softbottle requires a different bottle for purification with a filter or a Steri-Pen, which should be noted if you're planning on taking this bottle into the backcountry. It works well as a backup but needs another bottle for filling and purification.
Additionally, this contender was challenging to clean. You'll need a specialized brush if you want to really get in there. Without such a brush, it took us an average of three minutes and 30 seconds to hand wash this bottle. Wide mouth bottles are generally much easier to clean. Though, you probably won't be filling this bottle up with coffee or flavorful teas, and a light rinse is enough to get it clean in the backcountry, so it cleans well enough for the settings it is most comfortable in.
The SoftBottle can easily handle your average tumble onto hard surfaces. It breezed through our drop tests, barely suffering a scratch (a minute scratch on the cap was all). However, you can't expect a collapsible bottle to last forever. It held up fine in our three-month test period, but in personal experience, we haven't had a collapsible bottle that held up much more than a year. For this reason, we recommend always having another water container as a backup. If you fold the bottle up for storage frequently, the bottle will wear more quickly along the fold lines and could risk having a hole form on the seam.
The SoftBottle weighs just 1.2 ounces. That works out to being only four-hundredths of an ounce per fluid ounce. You'll notice the water in your backpack, but not the bottle. It is in this category that the bottle really shines.
Drinking from this water bottle tasted fine at first. However, if you store your water in this bottle for over 24 hours, expect it to have a plastic-y taste. It also retained the taste of the flavored sports drink in subsequent fills. We recommend filling the SoftBottle only with water. This is the downside of the bottle being plastic, and collapsible as the mailable plastic seems to impart its flavor on the liquid more than rigid plastic bottles.
The SoftBottle also retained a strong taste of soap after washing it. This is common with plastic bottles, especially soft-sided bottles. Fortunately, we were able to return both bottles to a neutral taste after filling them with baking soda and vinegar for 12 hours and rinsing. The best way to use these malleable plastic bottles is to simply use them for drinking water and try not to get other flavors imparted into their plastic walls.
Should You Buy the Platypus SoftBottle?
We love the simplicity of the SoftBottle and find it ideal for backpacking. The lightweight design that makes it nearly perfect for this uses also adds to the drawbacks of the SoftBottle's use around town. The flexible body can collapse into the size of a plastic bag and stows away easily. On the downside, the bottle has trouble standing up on its own on a table and is nearly impossible to drink from using only one hand. However, for the backcountry or anywhere weight is a concern, it's a useful and inexpensive option.
What Other Water Bottles Should You Consider?
The SoftBottle is a bottle you want in your pack when going on long hikes and multi-day expeditions. We've recently been convinced, though, that the Platypus DuoLock SoftBottle is a worthy upgrade from the OG SoftBottle. It has a few nicer features, like a carabiner clip and a mouthpiece that's much more pleasant to drink from. We also like the Nalgene Wide-Mouth for backcountry excursions. If you need an around-town bottle, check out our top bottle, the Yeti Rambler 26.
— Jane Jackson
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