Hydration, Right at Hand

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To a former bicycle racer, the aluminum water bottle cage seems like a quick and easy solution to the biggest challenge of staying hydrated on board-keeping bottles from rolling away. If wire cage bottle holders could secure a bottle on a mountain bike, it could manage a few waves. Built of anodized aluminum rod they do not corrode, and if they get bent they are easily bent back into shape.

Standard cages can be bolted to any surface, and with the help of a few hose clamps, mounted to a vertical rail. We’ve used Blackburn and Forte cages and never broken one. Handlebar mount cages are just the thing for horizontal rails, featuring a sturdy clamp that typically adjusts from – to 1-inch, although we suggest measuring the rail and checking the bottle specifications.

Cages are available in many materials, including anodized aluminum, stainless steel, and composite. We find the traditional wire cages most versatile, holding cans and 12 ounce bottles reasonably well, and locking solidly on to 16-ounce sport drink bottles.

Simple and rugged. Just the way we like it. Costing $6-$10 through bicycle retailers and on-line, they are a small fraction of the price of marine holders. If you prefer more conventional holders, Practical Sailor reviewed bottle and cup holders in April 2010.

Practical Sailor has been independently testing and reporting on sailboats and sailing gear for more than 45 years. Supported entirely by subscribers, Practical Sailor accepts no advertising. Its independent tests are carried out by experienced sailors and marine industry professionals dedicated to providing objective evaluation and reporting about boats, gear, and the skills required to cross oceans. Practical Sailor is edited by Darrell Nicholson, a long-time liveaboard sailor and trans-Pacific cruiser who has been director of Belvoir Media Group's marine division since 2005. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license, has logged tens of thousands of miles in three oceans, and has skippered everything from pilot boats to day charter cats. His weekly blog Inside Practical Sailor offers an inside look at current research and gear tests at Practical Sailor, while his award-winning column,"Rhumb Lines," tracks boating trends and reflects upon the sailing life. He sails a Sparkman & Stephens-designed Yankee 30 out of St. Petersburg, Florida.

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