Review: Infuze gives hydration packs and water bottles a downstream energy boost
While many outdoor athletes like to add a liquid energy supplement to their water, doing so can cause their hydration pack or bottle to retain that booster's taste and color, and to require more frequent cleaning. Infuze offers a solution, in the form of two products that introduce liquid pep down the line from the main water supply – I recently got to try both of them out.
The first product, the Hydro, is the result of a successful 2016 Indiegogo campaign.
It clips onto the shoulder strap of the user's hydration pack, with one hose/tube running from the end of the pack's existing hose into it, and another one running from it to a bite valve. A cartridge filled with Infuze's liquid "Elixir" – or refilled with a third-party supplement – gets plugged into the bottom of the Hydro, then covered with the device's lower housing.
When users subsequently take a drink, they use a dial on the Hydro to choose between drawing pure water straight from the bladder, or having the water mix with the Elixir before reaching their mouth. Twisting the dial allows them to control the water-to-Elixir ratio, with a backflow-prevention valve keeping the Elixir from getting into the bladder.
I found that the Hydro did indeed work as advertised, although it's important to prime the system before initial use. This is done by crimping the pack's hose while sucking on the mouthpiece, with the dial turned to maximum-Elixir (the #4 setting). I didn't do this properly the first time around, resulting in trapped air that kept the Elixir from being delivered consistently.
It's also worth noting that you will likely need to shorten the hydration pack's hose, meaning that you'll have to get a new one if you decide the Hydro just isn't for you. And on the topic of hoses, the one leading into the device did pop out a couple of times as I was putting on/removing my CamelBak. The water didn't come pouring out or anything, but it was still a slight issue.
Some users may also find the dial to be a little on the small-and-flimsy side. I would have preferred something larger, that clicked firmly between settings instead of just kind of sliding and popping. Additionally, I'm not sure that the Hydro really even needs all four of its settings – it would be simpler to use (and likely more robust) if it just had a two-way switch that let users choose between pure water and maximum-Elixir, which is what I'm guessing is all that most people would want anyway.
Infuze's other product, the Vessel, takes the same idea and applies it to a stainless steel, BPA-free, vacuum-sealed, double-walled water bottle.
In this case, though, the Elixir or other liquid supplement gets poured into the Vessel's reusable cartridge, which is subsequently slid into a receptacle in the top section of the bottle. Users then simply slide a big bottle-top lever to one side or the other, determining how much Elixir gets mixed with the water that they're sucking through the flip-up mouthpiece. Once again, an anti-backflow valve keeps the Elixir out of the main water supply.
Apart from the fact that pouring the supplement into the cartridge's small opening was kind of fiddly and messy, I didn't really have any complaints about the Vessel – it's solidly-made, and seems like it should stand up to a lot of abuse. Users should note, however, that they do need to suck relatively hard for full delivery of the Elixir.
And should you be wondering what that Elixir tastes like, the two flavors (of an available four) that I tried were fine. The supplement is naturally flavored, artificially colored, artificially sweetened with sucralose, and boosted with niacinamide along with vitamins B6 and B12. Infuze does offer a cartridge subscription service, although ecologically- and economically-minded users should probably just keep refilling a few of the things from one large bottle.
The Hydro and the Vessel both hit the market last month, and are available through Infuze's website (linked below). Prices sit at US$44.95 for the Hydro, $39.95 for the 18-oz (0.5-l) version of the Vessel, and $44.95 for the 32-oz (0.9-l) model. The Elixir cartridges range from $16 for a four-pack, up to $50 for 16.
Company website: Infuze