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Hands-on Gear Review
Nomader Collapsible Review
Cons: Collapsible design is not effective, expensive, not very durable
Bottom line: The Nomader bottle attempts to solve the problem of being both collapsible and easy to drink from, but falls short on its ability to collapse effectively.
Collapsible bottles are always an engineering experiment, and the Nomader proved to be a creative approach to the collapsible conundrum. Unlike the Platypus Softbottle that has a stripped down, simple design, this competitor keeps a bottle shape when full and has a sport cap for easy drinking. The problem lies in its ability to collapse. It is difficult to get the bottle rolled up, and hard to stow it in the way that the manufacturer recommends. The Nomader falls short in our review because of these issues.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Nomader Collapsible is a sports bottle made of soft rubber that is meant to roll up and collapse into a small ball for easy storage. It is lightweight and provides for an excellent drinking experience from the sports cap, but its collapsible features fall short.
Ease of Use
Concerning drinking and filling, the Nomader is easy. It has a wide mouth lid that makes it easy to fill with water or ice. The lid, similar to the CamelBak Chute Vacuum Insulated, has a smaller drinking spout inset to make drinking easier and to eliminate spillage that occurs when drinking out of a wide mouth bottle. It is constructed of soft rubber, so you can squeeze it to get water out faster when you need to hydrate. For us, problems arose when we finished drinking and wanted to collapse the bottle and stow it away.
The bottle is meant to be rolled up, but it feels like wrestling an alligator to get the bottle rolled up and secured with the carrying handle/clasp. When stowed away, the bottle is still bulky due to the sport cap and hard plastic sleeve. The other collapsible bottle we tested was the Platypus SoftBottle, which was much easier to stow away and collapse than the Nomader. While the Hydro Flask, Nalgene Wide-Mouth, Miir Slate, and Avex Brazos are not collapsible models, they did all score near perfect 9 out of 10s for ease of use, compared to the Nomader's 4 out of 10. Consider if a collapsible model is the best choice for you and go from there.
Because it is made of soft, flexible plastic, the Nomader did well in the drop test. It merely bounced on the floor a bit before rolling away, completely intact. As with most bottles, the plastic lid is the weakest point and would probably need to be replaced after significant use. The carrying handle also started to show signs of wear since it is made of fabric webbing. In many of the bottles we tested, the carrying handle seemed to be the first place that a lack of durability would show. Many of the insulated bottles struggled in the same way the Nomader did regarding the carrying handle being the first place for failure in the design; see the Contigo Thermalock Glacier or the Avex Brazos Autoseal Stainless for bottles with similar levels of durability. If a higher standard of durability is something that is necessary, we would recommend the Hydro Flask, Klean Kanteen first and foremost, followed by the Nalgene Wide-Mouth, Klean Kanteen Classic, Yeti Rambler, and bkr Glass.
Ease of Cleaning
The matte rubber material attracts dirt and dust like no other bottle we tested. If dropped on the ground, the bottle will become coated in dirt that is more often than not, difficult to remove. That said, the wide mouth does make the inside easy to clean with a bottle brush. Similar, easy to clean bottles include the Contigo, Avex Brazos, and of course the Yeti Rambler (with over-the-nose technology), which all have wider mouths.
The material this bottle is made of is definitely its most unusual feature. It influenced the bottle's scoring in all the metrics, including taste. For some reason, the rubbery plastic left a distinct rubbery taste in the water that was hard to remove, even with soap and water. The material also seemed to retain flavors, and we had a hard time getting rid of the flavor of sports drinks, even after rinsing the bottle a few times. Like the rubber straw of the CamelBak eddy, the rubbery material seems to hold flavor more than other types of plastics.
The beauty of collapsible bottles is in their lightweight, compact design, and this model is no exception. The bottle is very light, similar to the Citrus Zinger or the Platypus Softbottle in weight.
For short hikes or bike rides, this competitor is a good option. It does collapse, which makes it easy to stow in a small bag or backpack. It is also lightweight, making it easy to carry by hand. The collapsible feature was difficult to use, and we found ourselves often just sucking all the air out of the bottle and stowing it that way, which still gave the bottle a sleeker profile for fitting into a bag.
This water bottle is almost triple the price of the Platypus Softbottle, the other collapsible bottle we tested this year. At $25 for a 22oz bottle, the Nomader is a bit steep for the drinking experience it provides.
The Nomader Collapsible has one of the most unusual designs of all the bottles we tested this year. Unique does not always mean most effective, though. This model was not able to perform the collapsible function very effectively and thus scored relatively low in our metrics. It is also expensive for the low level of durability and versatility it provides.
— Jane Jackson
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