Saturday, February 4, 2012

VelEau LapelEau Review


The LapelEau is a magnetic tether reel system, which holds the tube of a hydration pack in place, but it allows to be freely pulled or retracted as desired, and retails for $12.00. The US made reels come from the originators of the classic badge reel, which have been used for many years to secure employee badges. I can't count how many times I have played around with my company badge, zinging it up and down like a yo-yo. The reel uses a military spec 3-strand nylon parachute thread, that has been cycled over 180,000 times, so it should have great durability.

I have used similar tube tethering systems from other hydration companies, such as Hydrapak's Quantum Clip, but I quickly became enamored with the LapelEau due to it's excellent functionality.


The LapelEau connects onto the shoulder harness of a hydration pack a couple of inches below the sternum strap or on the sternum strap itself, using a simple Velcro loop. The loop keeps it snugly in place, without any undue movement or creeping. There is a small clip at the reel end that clasps onto the tube, which might take some effort to install depending on the tube's thickness. To prevent the hydration tube from flopping around when your riding and bouncing along on the trail, they use a set of Neodymium ring magnets at the tube clip, which provides just enough force to keep the tube in place, but still makes it easy to pull it when desired. Neodymium magnets (Nd2Fe14B) are the most powerful permanent magnets on the market, and a few grams can lift a thousand times its own weight. Neodymium magnets are used in microphones, loudspeakers, headphones, guitar and bass guitar pick-ups, computer hard disks and electric motor for hybrid vehicles, like the Toyota Prius. Due to the strength of the magnets, they even warn you to keep cell phones, credit cards and electronics away from them, else some bad mojo might happen (not tested).


Whenever you want a drink, grab the bite valve and gently pull it towards your mouth, with the reel offering just a subtle amount of resistance. When you're done, let the bite valve go, and the cord retracts it back into the reel, and the magnets snap things down. On occasion, the magnets didn't completely lock together, but everything stayed close enough not to cause any issues. I really liked the system, as it was a breeze to use, and keep the tube out of the way, and prevented it from flopping around, which was especially nice on rugged terrain. Anytime, you wanted a drink, you knew exactly where the bite valve was located, so you never had to hunt around for it. Do you know where you hose is located? I never had any issues with bushes or branches grabbing onto the cord, so I can't comment much on that hazard.

Bottom Line
It's a great system, that is cheap, and offers excellent functionality, keeping the hose in place, and the bite valve in the same exact location with superb extension and retraction for it from the reel

Pros
  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to use and install
  • Prevents hose from flopping around
  • Always know where the bite valve is located
  • The reels extension and retraction work flawlessly
Cons
  • Cord might catch on things (never had it happen)
  • Sometimes the magnets don't completely close (very minor)
Overall Rating: 5 Flamin’ Chili Peppers
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