I have to make an effort to drink water all day long. In the absence of some incentive, I tend to just forget, and then wonder why I feel like crap or am incredibly thirsty suddenly. I’ve tried flavor packets, sliced up lemons, and other things to make water more interesting, but they never seem to stick.
Cirkul knows lots of people have this issue, and they think their new Cirkul Bottle solves the flavor problem cleanly and easily.
Cirkul is a really intriguing way to flavor water. Instead of mixing powder or liquid directly into the water bottle, you fill the bottle with plain water then use a special Cirkul top that has a flavor packet inside. The flavoring never reaches the water; instead, the water and the flavor mingle in the chamber on their way to your mouth, so you can use a dial to control how much or how little flavor you want in each sip. If you want to keep the flavor on tap but not use it right away, just turn the dial to water, and if you want a full blast, turn it all the way to the other side. This is especially handy because Cirkul sells some flavors that are meant for post-workout, or to give you a boost of energy, so you can have plain water first and then flavor when you want it (and then go back to plain water again if you choose). Basically, you can have a flavor packet that never actually flavors the bottle of water, just the part you’re sipping.
The packets are predicted to last around 80oz at a medium setting, or roughly 4 fill-ups of the Cirkul Bottle. I found that if I kept the flavoring to medium-to-low this was about right, but it did deplete more quickly if you amped up the flavor. Then again, opening the flavor setting fully is really, really sweet, so you might not want to do that too often. I tested the fruit punch and berry flavors and found them to be pleasant if a bit on the sweeter side. I tend to prefer citrus flavors, but I did finish both packets and enjoyed them immensely once I had the flavoring dialed into my liking.
Cirkul Bottle itself is a pretty typical reusable bottle. It is clear, easy to clean, and light and portable. The top has a small hole for a carabiner or loop for easier carrying, and while I didn’t torture test it, the material feels quite sturdy and I have no doubts it could take quite a beating. My one issue with Cirkul is that the entire flavor delivery package is rather bulky and a bit awkward. Each package is the cylindrical chamber, the flavor packet inside, and a new mouthpiece, and the whole unit screws into the Cirkul top. On the one hand, this means there’s no dismantling or assembling required, just open, screw, and go. On the other hand, it means you can’t stash an extra flavor boost in your pockets (well, you could, but not if you wear skinny jeans, or it’s going to lead to a lot of questions.) It also feels really wasteful, even though Cirkul says the entire unit is recyclable. I took apart one of the units to see how the whole thing worked, and was able to reuse the mouthpiece, so the Cirkul Bottle is still useful as a plain water bottle even when the packet is depleted. I could have just left the packet attached, but that seemed silly if I wanted to wash and reuse the top. Also, I really, really wanted to look at the inside.
As a feat of engineering, I think this is pretty amazing. It solves several issues; you can easily customize the water flavor without ruining a whole bottle of water if you don’t like the taste or want it more/less sweet, you don’t spill powder and get everything all sticky, and you can hot swap flavors without dumping the water. On the other hand, I also feel like this is a niche product. It’s a touch too clunky for everyday use, and I think it should really come with at least one mouthpiece that isn’t for a flavor packet, just to make the bottle more universally useful. It’s also going to be tough to get people to wrap their heads around cost, since it seems like a higher upfront cost for flavor, even though it lasts quite a bit longer. Cirkul appears to price for roughly $39 for a bottle plus 8 flavor cartridges, though you can get it for $30 if you pledge via their Indigogo campaign. There’s definitely going to be some sticker shock on the individual refills-8 flavor cartridges runs $24, and while that could last you up to 32 bottles of water, it’s still a big upfront cost. Prices do drop the more cartridges you order, though, and to be fair it works out to between $0.56-$0.75 per bottle, so it’s best to look at the purchase as a bulk item, like buying toilet paper from Costco.
Cirkul may not be for everyone, however, for sports hydration and people who are addicted to flavored drinks, I think Cirkul is worth a look!