Hands-on Gear Review

Vapur Element 1L Review

Price:  $14 List | $13.95 at REI
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Super lightweight, easy to use
Cons:  Short life span, Flavor retention
Editors' Rating:   
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Volume (oz):  34 oz
Volume (L):  1 L
Empty weight:  1.5 oz
Manufacturer:   Vapur

Our Verdict

The Vapur Element is a great bottle when you're on the go, be it air travel or around town by bus, car, or bike. The body of this lightweight bottle is collapsible, allowing it to form to the space in your bag when filled, and folds up to the size of your sunglasses when empty. What really impressed us was that it is still stiff enough to drink from easily. Its combination of super light weight and ease of use enticed us to use it in a wide variety of activities too, including most athletic endeavors. It does have some drawbacks in flavor retention and longevity; however, we still enjoyed using this high-functioning bottle.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Water Bottles for Hiking and Outdoors

Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Ross Robinson

Last Updated:
Tuesday
May 19, 2015

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The 34 fluid ounce Vapur Element was the most versatile collapsible bottle we tested. It costs $14, which we think is fair after seeing how applicable this bottle is. Its light weight and its stowing abilities make it a fantastic reusable bottle for travel, especially in airports. Our testers also enjoyed taking it mountain biking in Utah and rock climbing in Minnesota.

Performance Comparison


This bottle proved its worth on a mountain biking trip through Utah  Nevada  and California.
This bottle proved its worth on a mountain biking trip through Utah, Nevada, and California.

Ease of Use


We were surprised how easy it was to use this unique bottle. While rigid bottles are still more manageable, the Element proved much easier to use overall than its collapsible competition, the Platypus PlusBottle. Vapur has succeeded in creating a collapsible bottle that is still rigid enough to drink from single-handed, as well as stand up with reasonable sturdiness. Empty, it folds up small enough to fit into your pocket, with room to spare. We also liked the flip top. Its small spout allowed us to drink from it on the move, be it walking, driving, or cycling. By unscrewing the flip top, you get a mouth wide enough to fit most ice cubes. It was also easier to fill than the PlusBottle for this reason, but still more difficult than most other bottles tested.

The mouth of the Element was wide enough for ice cubes and our large cleaning brush.
The mouth of the Element was wide enough for ice cubes and our large cleaning brush.

If you're a cyclist, try filling the Element 3/4 with water, freezing it, and sliding it inside your cycling jersey pocket. Personal body cooler!

This water bottle comes with a plastic carabiner with a metal gate for attaching to packs. While it is not recommended to trust your water source to a plastic carabiner when rock climbing or mountaineering, we found it sufficient to clip securely to our bags and backpacks. Finally, the Element passed our leak test without a problem. We were surprised how well the flip cap stays attached to the spout. We can't promise that it will never pop open inside a bag, but it never did on us.

Stuffing a collapsible bag into a pack is much easier than a bulky  rigid bottle.
Stuffing a collapsible bag into a pack is much easier than a bulky, rigid bottle.

Taste


Out of the box, the Vapur Element doesn't impart any flavors on its contents. Unfortunately, after washing it with soap, it retained a strong taste of soap it passed on to several subsequent refills. It also held onto the taste of the sports drink mix we used in our flavor retention test. Even after soaking a baking soda and vinegar mixture in the bottle for 12 hours, we still caught a soapy after taste. This is the only metric where the Platy PlusBottle outscored the Element. However, it didn't win by much.

We used a flavor retention taste test and detail it in our Best-In-Class Review.

Durability


Due to its flexibility, the Vapur Element absorbs impact forces well. It passed our drop tests with only a minor scratch on the cap. Over the long haul, though, we expect this bottle to weaken at its flex points. It held up well in our tests, but we estimate needing a new bottle in about a year. We recommend packing along a back-up bottle if you take this product into the backcountry.

This bottle passed our drop test unscathed. However  we do expect it to have a shorter life span as the bottle continues to bend and flex. You can see several signs of previous flexing in this image.
This bottle passed our drop test unscathed. However, we do expect it to have a shorter life span as the bottle continues to bend and flex. You can see several signs of previous flexing in this image.

Yes, we dropped these and you can watch here:

Ease of Cleaning


Our generic bottle brush did squeeze through the opening of the Vapur Element, making cleaning easier than with the PlusBottle. We did need to rinse it several times in attempt to remove the soapy aftertaste (to little avail); this increased the average cleaning time to two minutes and 11 seconds.

Weight


The Element is super lightweight, coming in at 1.5 ounces. That calculates to just four hundredths of an ounce per fluid ounce. Its next-to-nothing weight could help you justify bringing some heavier items on your next trip.

Best Applications


We think the Vapur Element makes an exceptional water bottle for travel. Upon arriving at the airport, you can dump its contents, fold it up and slip it into your personal item, then refill it at a water fountain following the security check. It will also form to the available space in your bag, something a rigid bottle cannot do. Additionally, we found it convenient on daily commutes, workouts, cycling, and single-day outdoor rec sessions. While you could use it as a back-up water reservoir on multi-day backpacking expeditions, we think the PluBottle is a better choice for such use (especially in its larger volume versions).

The PlusBottle and the Element both fold up to about the size of a pair of sunglasses when empty.
The PlusBottle and the Element both fold up to about the size of a pair of sunglasses when empty.

Value


Coming in a $14, we think that this bottle offers very good value if you're looking for a versatile collapsible bottle for work, sports/workouts, and travel. In comparison to the Platy PlusBottle, it's $3 cheaper and more useful, in our opinion.

Conclusion


We were pleasantly surprised by the Vapur Element. We liked that it was collapsible, but not floppy. Its scores in our ease of use and weight metrics showed that it is a versatile bottle that can be used in a variety of settings. Of course, it doesn't have the long life-span of its rigid competition. Yet, for travel and play, this bottle has advantages the others do not.

Tim Cheesebro hydrates with this collapsible after a tough rock route at Willow Creek in Wisconsin.
Tim Cheesebro hydrates with this collapsible after a tough rock route at Willow Creek in Wisconsin.
Ross Robinson

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Most recent review: May 19, 2015
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