While water bottles are great for staying hydrated, they aren't so great once you're hydrated and they're empty. Lugging an empty bottle around is rarely convenient, especially if you're doing something athletic like running – and there isn't always a recycling bin or garbage can around to ditch it in. HydraPak's new SoftFlask helps get the empty water bottle out of your way by collapsing into a tiny package.
Hydrapak's older generation of SoftFlask bottles was designed for energy gels, with the soft-sided construction acting like a tube of toothpaste in squeezing the gel out. The latest iteration of the SoftFlask applies that soft-sided construction to a hard-bottomed water bottle.
The soft body collapses into a package that could fit in a standard pants pocket (though not the tiny key pockets on some running shorts). So when you're finished drinking, you can collapse the bottle and get it out of your way. If you don't have a pocket, you can also carry it with the included hand straps, which sound similar to Salomon's.
The design is similar to the Bubi bottle that hit the market recently, but it comes in a sport-specific design, as well as a lifestyle version. The Sport 0.35- and 0.5-liter (12- and 17-ounce) models include a large-diameter cap with shut-off valve and hand straps.
The bottles do look easier to carry than average water bottles, but it's strange how they use such a large bottom for a design meant to collapse. The design could also benefit from a depressing drink valve, similar to the blow valves used on some inflatables. If you're going to collapse, why not make it as flat as possible?
HydraPak won an ISPO Award for its design and plans to get the 0.35 and 0.5-liter bottles to market by the Northern Hemisphere summer. They'll retail for US$24 and $26, respectively.