Polar Breakaway Bottles: Quick Review – by Guitar Ted
Recently we told you about some Polar Breakaway bottles that we received for test and review here at Riding Gravel. While bottles for your bicycle are not one of those things you might think about as being important – They are ‘just water bottles’, after all– These utilitarian devices for cyclists are a detail that could be a key part of a successful run at your next event. The ubiquitous water bidon is a key for many cyclists training regimens as they carry our hydration and nutrition.
With that in mind we have decided to take a closer look at the lowly water bottle lately to see what, if any, options exist to make our experiences better on the unpaved byways we prefer to ride on. As it turns out, Polar offers a new range of bottles they call the Breakaway series. These are not Polar’s typical insulated, double walled bottles, (although the Breakaway series is offered in their traditional insulated construction), but rather, these are single walled bottles. These are probably easier to deal with while riding requiring less effort to squeeze for the cyclist. We received three sizes in the range to look at.
What It Is: The Polar Breakaway series represents single wall bottles which comes in four sizes. The traditional 20 oz, and 24 oz. sizes are represented along with two new, interesting sizes meant for different purposes. Here Polar has offered a smaller than usual size they call the “Session Muck”, which is a 15 oz bottle meant to fit under a down tube. Particularly a MTB bike’s down tube, but this makes a lot of sense for those gravel bikes with an under-the-down tube mount where dirt, dust, rocks, and mud pelt a bottle in that position constantly. The Session Muck also could be thought of as that bottle to fit on the seat tube under a top tube bag, or in smaller sized bicycles where the front triangle makes getting even 20 oz. sized bottles out a chore.
The other interesting size is the 30 oz. Breakaway bottle which expands water carrying capacity for those riders wishing to tackle longer events, routes, and areas where having plenty to hydrate with is important. The 20 oz., 24 oz., 30 oz., and the Session Muck all have Polar’s high-flow, self sealing “Surge Valve” while the three larger sized bottles feature Polar’s “Wave” grip. The Session Muck also features the “Muckguard” cap which flips over the valve to protect it from getting contaminated by dirt, dust, and who-knows-what that your front tire is flinging at it down there.
Prices and colors for the range are: Session Muck @ $11.00 which comes in Apex Forest, Apex White, Apex Charcoal, and Apex Navy. Breakaway 30 oz Wave @ $13.00 and it comes in Wave Charcoal/Black, Wave Charcoal Frost/Charcoal, Wave Ivory/Silver, and Wave Navy. The 24 oz. size @ $12.00 and this comes in Wave Blue, Wave Ivory/Silver, Wave Teal/Silver. Wave Frost/Charcoal, Wave Charcoal/Black, Wave Forest, and Wave Navy. The 20 oz. @ $11.00 and the same seven colors as the 24 oz. size. Finally, Polar bottles are made in Colorado, USA and are available online at Polar’s website or at many bicycle shops.
Ride Performance: When thinking about how a water bottle performs on the bike, I have three keys to success which I expect to be met for a bottle while riding. First: The valve cannot leak. If there is one thing I really don’t like when it comes to water bottles is a valve or bottle top that leaks. Especially so if I use a nutrition/hydration mix in my bottles. Water leakage is a minor annoyance, but the goo that results from leaked nutrition/hydration mixes is some of the worst stuff to get off a bicycle and can foul components as well.
Secondly, the valve must be easy to open and close while riding. I’ve had bottles where even a sharp jolt to the valve top against my chest doesn’t completely close the valve. Thirdly, I really don’t want to have to squeeze too hard to get a drink. “Squeeze-a-bility” is important, especially after many miles when I am fatigued. Working to get a drink out of a bottle is a no-go for me.
There is a fourth, bonus category I will use to judge a bottle, and that is ‘Extra Features’. If a bottle truly has anything beyond a valve, top cap, and bottle body that adds to my experience, or is there and doesn’t really do anything, I will call those things out. So, how does the Polar Breakaway range stack up?
In terms of leakage, so far, I’ve seen nothing, and that is a very good thing. But leakage sometimes creeps in after you’ve used a bottle a while. Particularly with regard to the valves, which when bitten and deformed enough times, can sometimes lose their original shape and begin to leak. This is the second point about the Breakaway series that I wanted to point out.
The valves are stout and I could see where these will seal up and not leak for a long time, but part of this is due to the stiffer, unforgiving ‘cap’ to these Surge Valves. The plastic is tough and stiff. That’s going to last longer in terms of keeping its shape, but in terms of ‘mouth-feel’ it is not as pleasant as some other, softer feeling valve caps. A trade-off here? Seems so. At least these valves are easy to close.
In terms of “squeeze-a-bility” these Breakaway bottles are not the softest, but they are far from the worst I’ve used. “Acceptable” is what I would come down as saying here. Keep in mind that during testing I was riding in sub-freezing temperatures, so that may have had some impact on my results. I’m not going to ‘ding’ the Breakaway for being too stiff then.
The “Wave Grip” is nothing to write home about. It’s there, but it doesn’t really enhance the experience, not in terms of anything I noticed. However, when it came to the Session Muck, I was impressed. That is because it is the perfect under-the-down tube bottle for many gravel bikes, especially smaller sized bikes where a regular sized bottle might come perilously close to grazing the front tire. Even on some of my size Large/58cm bikes a standard 20 oz. bottle can nearly graze a 43mm tire down there. So, having this stubby sized bottle could make that bottle placement a really useful one on many bikes whereas it maybe is not so with a standard bottle size. Of course, the Muckguard cap is a major factor in this as well. The Session Muck is just a really great idea, and lifts this range up to being one that I think makes a lot of sense for many of us long distance gravel grinders.
Add the 30 ounce size to my list of impressive things about the Breakaway range. That size may not work for a lot of bikes, but where it does, it fits well into standard sized cages and is not so ‘top heavy’ when filled that it will twist its way out of a cage. That said, anytime you use an over-sized bottle like this, you may want to choose your cages judiciously and look to features which will secure such a big bottle as the Breakaway 30 ouncer. (Here is a good example of an expandable cage)
A Quick Note: We were also sent some “Bottle Bright” tablets, which resemble those effervescent hydration tablets you sometimes see. (Don’t use the Bottle Bright tabs for that though!) The Bottle Bright tablets are to be used to clean your bottles. The packaging states that Bottle Bright tabs “naturally removes stains and odors.” Drop one in a bottle with warm water and let stand 30 minutes, and, supposedly, rinse and go.
I tried these after using my favorite hydration/nutrition drink mix from GU, a Roctane flavor called “Hibiscus”. It generally leaves a calling card in the form of odor for a long time afterward despite repeated washings. I tried the Bottle Bright after a GU usage and while it did not entirely get rid of the odor of that Hibiscus flavor, it greatly reduced it. And the bottle was clean, as far as I could tell, by the way.
At The Finish: The Polar Breakaway range of bottles is impressive from the standpoint of having a few things going on with the range that might be attractive to the self-supported, longer distance rider, or for anyone who just likes a well made bottle that doesn’t leak.
The highlights for me were the Session Muck, which again- I think is maybe the perfect bottle for those who want an under-the-down tube, extra water capacity solution for longer rides. Then you have those 30 ounce sized Breakaway bottles, which are well thought out and with that Surge Valve, shouldn’t be a problem from the standpoint of leaking. That makes it perhaps a good fork mounted bottle, or a bottle inside of a top tube bag for a long day or night, (or both!) in the saddle.
I think the cost is very reasonable for how nice these are, so value for the buck is really good here. The standard 24 ounce size I tested was good- maybe a touch stiff to squeeze- but that is reaching for a negative to offer you. Otherwise, I have no qualms with the Breakaway series of bottles. Get the Session Muck for under the down tube. That one is an easy recommendation. Its size and features make it a perfect choice there. If you like big, large capacity water bottles, and if you understand the challenges with regard to mounting them, I can easily recommend the 30 ounce Breakaway here. I know I’ll be utilizing both the Session Muck and 30 ounce Breakaway bottles on my future long rides this season.
Read more about the Polar water bottle offerings on their website here; https://polarbottle.com/
Note: Polar Bottle sent over the four bottles from the Breakaway range to Riding Gravel at no charge for test and review. We were not paid, nor bribed for this review and we always strive to give our honest thoughts and view throughout.