Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Product Review: Road Refresher Water Bowl

The Road Refresher is a no-spill water bowl designed for use in the car. It can also help keep messy drinkers from slopping quite so much water on the floor at home.
Photo by Erin Koski

I'm not great about making sure my dogs have enough water on outings. I usually make them wait until we have arrived home from the beach or trail before hitting the water bowl. I always feel bad about making them wait until we get home to get a drink, especially when they race for the water and spend several minutes drinking upon arriving home.

I have used a variety of travel bowls, and never liked any of them. They're ok for hikes, but usually end up with me toting around a drippy piece of fabric or vinyl. The dogs never drink all of the water either, so I am left dumping it out or trying to dribble it back into my Nalgene bottle to save for later. I used to keep a stainless steel bowl in the car for water breaks before heading home, but this too required me to both dump the leftover water and remember to offer it in the first place. I wanted a water bowl that could live in the car, full of water whenever thirsty dogs needed a slurp.

Enter the Road Refresher! This bowl was clearly designed by someone who had the same problems I did, and decided to solve them. The ring around the top keeps the water from splashing out on rough roads and when the bowl is accidentally kicked, but it also helps keep stuff from falling in. I can toss my purse full of electronics on top of that thing and it never gets wet.

The inner workings of the bowl are less obvious, but just as clever. There is a floating piece that covers the entire surface of the water and rises and lowers with the water level. The floating piece is concave and has small slots that allow a little bit of water to sit in the center, providing a good lap full of water without giving messy drinkers the opportunity to dunk their entire face. This system also helps avoid problems that could arise from having several inches of water sitting in a bowl on the floor of the car.

The last bit of genius design is the velcro pieces on the bottom of the Road Refresher, keeping it firmly attached to the floor of the car. It came with adhesive velcro bits that can be attached to non-fuzzy surfaces so the bowl can be easily attached and removed from these surfaces as well.

Pros: Allows convenient watering of dogs for absent-minded people like myself. Lets the dogs water themselves when they are thirsty rather than having me dictate when and where they will drink. Designed for use in a vehicle but also helps reduce mess at home. Keeps water off beards and does not allow face dunking or paw dunking. Does not spill. The whole thing comes apart for easy cleaning. Nobody who rides shotgun in my car has complained about having it down there by their feet, and I have never had anything accidentally get wet despite carelessly tossing groceries and other cargo atop it on a daily basis.

Cons: May be difficult to find, I think the distributor in the US has stopped carrying it. I guess if I threw a sweater or something on top of it, that might touch the water and wick it out of the bowl.

Bottom Line: I now have a bowl of water installed on the floor in front of my passenger seat. The dogs know where it is and often get a drink as soon as they hop in the car.

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