A clear water bottle. Emerging from the top is a blue tube that winds down the bottle, with an orange and black mouthpiece at one end

Source Convertube

Source Convertube £25, amazon.co.uk

The Source Convertube is a drinking system that connects to existing plastic bottles. If you’ve encountered hydration bladders (e.g. camelbak or similar) as used by cyclists, walkers etc, where a bag of fluid is hung in a backpack with an extended straw to drink from it, then you’ve seen the concept. The Convertube has a bite-and-suck valve with a cap and a long tube, but then instead of using a water bladder, it simply connects to most sizes and shapes of water bottle. I tend to buy litre bottles of flavoured sparkling water from the supermarket, fill them with squash, and then use this straw to enable me to drink from them. I wash and reuse the bottles a number of times, then eventually replace them.

I prefer it to using hydration bladders because when the bottle I’m drinking from is empty, we can just unscrew the lid and straw, then screw it into a new bottle. With hydration bladders they were difficult to sort and refill without covering the person doing them in squash. It will also screw onto most bottles of drink as I buy them from the supermarket – so if I want to get a bottle of fruit juice I can drink it easily. I find hydration bladders difficult and unwieldy, this is a far more manageable solution for me.

You can then use a safety pin and some fabric or velcro to clip the tube to your shirt, meaning the bite valve is within mouth reach at all times. This means from my wheelchair I then have access to a drink without having to ask a PA, but also without having to be able to comfortably and safely lift the bottle of drink, which is amazing. I was without one of these tubes for a few months recently, and I found that I drank so much less of what I needed as a result. Since buying a new one I’m far better hydrated, without triggering nearly as much of my nausea.

I’ve tried lots of cheaper drinking tubes, but have found that with most of them they required more ability to suck than I could manage, whereas this is a lot easier for me. An honorable mention here goes to this hydration bladder cleaning kit, which has a long enough brush to clean the whole way down the inside of the straw, helping me keep the tube clean.