Gear Box

August 09, 2009|By Candus Thomson

You know a product is ingrained in the culture when consumers (and writers) use the name to describe all other similar products. Band-Aid, Kleenex, Jell-O, Frisbee, Gore-Tex - stand up and take a bow.

Yes, it makes the manufacturers grind their proprietary teeth and their lawyers write threatening form letters. But the bottom line is, consumers saying your name is better than their not saying it.

Hanging out with military and law enforcement professionals recently, I noticed that when they talked about hydration packs, they called all of them "CamelBaks," a tip of the cap to the company that makes all shapes and sizes of bladder-and-tube drinking systems and plastic water bottles. Granted, some of them were CamelBaks, but not all.

CamelBak has added two stainless steel "Better Bottles" to its line: a 25-ounce single-wall bottle and a 17-ounce double-wall insulated bottle. Both are made of medical-grade stainless steel, and both come with the company's superior "Big Bite" valve.

Stainless steel doesn't absorb odors or flavors, so you can switch out that zinfandel with Kool-Aid, no problem. The insulated version keeps ice cubes solid for hours in the summer. The only drawback is the bottles are not dishwasher safe.

Both versions run about $25, with online discounts available.

- Candus Thomson

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