Students need their bottles

Author: Tom Tiberio '05

The Nalgene craze has hit Notre Dame.

These virtually indestructible, techy-looking plastic bottles are showing up on campuses across the country and have become almost an extension of the student wardrobe. At Notre Dame they can be seen everywhere—nestled in mesh pouches of backpacks or dangling from a belt loop or backpack strap, often tethered by another trendy accessory, a carabiner, those D-shaped spring-loaded clips originally designed for rappelling.

What makes Nalgene bottles so popular? Fans say their translucence and lines marking off liquid levels in ounces give them an advantage over conventional sports bottles when it comes to mixing powdered drinks. And their Lexan plastic construction makes them both durable and resistant to absorption of flavors.

But students are mainly carrying water in their Nalgene bottles for quick sips during class. Lacking any kind of insulating sleeve, they don’t keep water cold especially long. Thus, it appears a herd mentality is at play: Students want them because they see other students have them.

The website of the bottle’s manufacturer, Nalge Nunc, says the containers are descended from a line of state-of-the-art polyethylene laboratory equipment. According to lore, scientists began taking the smaller bottles out of the lab to use when hiking and camping. Eventually camping equipment stores began selling them.

Today Nalgene bottles can be found at a wide range of stores, where they retail for about $10. The Notre Dame bookstore offers one with the ND logo for $15. They come in an assortment of colors, shapes and sizes. Some students personalize theirs with stickers of their favorite bands or other interests.