I’ve cracked three nalgene bottles in the past two decades. The first was a classic 1 liter in milky plastic, before lexan invaded REI and college lecture halls. It was ancient and wrapped in duct tape, and split radially when I dropped it in the Sylvan Lake parking lot, which was sad. I think I was relegated to old juice jugs for the rest of that summers rock bumming. The second was a few years later, Elephant Butte in Arches, at the flat sandstone base of the exit rap. I got lazy, it might have been the third lap that day and the 40th that year, and let a single kink in the opposite strand rise 30 feet in the air. I spent 10 minutes trying to huck a partially full 48oz silo through that loop, tied to the other end, before it shattered into pieces striking the rock. The third was just the other week, when I gave Purple a stout whack on a tree, to split loose the ice which had layered inside after a 10 degree evening. Purple cracked, and functionally, was no more.
We found Purple on this trip seven years ago, in the midst of the talus along the west side of Norris Mountain. Purple has been around a lot, on my first successful elk hunt, most memorably. And this is why I’ve always like nalgene bottles. They aren’t invincible, but they’re close enough, in the face of accidents and hot water and intentional abuse, that over the years deep memories accumulate. Purple has the sticker from our Double Duck, and the one from that place with best coffee porter, and the stack Jamie sent me after I proofed their gorgeous map. I don’t quite have any ideas what I’ll do with it, but I’m certainly not ready to just put it in the trash.
Without Purple, we have perhaps nine or ten nalgenes in the house. Some are hiding in dark corners. A few sit in the mud room and are used daily. I believe, years ago, I bought one of them. Another was a gift. Several more were freebz at trade shows. The rest, a solid majority, were found in the wild, taken home, cleaned, sterilized, restickered as needed over time, and adopted. And for the pleasure of keeping fewer gatorade or smartwater bottles out of the wild, I’ll gladly keep hauling the ounces.