The Most Influential Gear of All Time: Nalgene Plastic Waterbottle

1972

Nalgene bottle

Nalgene bottle     Photo: Kyle Leboeuf/Flickr

The Nalgene company of Rochester, New York, began making plastic pipette holders for lab work in 1959. Over the next decade, the company expanded to make a full line of plastic lab equipment. Around 1970, Nalgene President Marsh Hyman noticed that his bottles disappeared each weekend when the company’s scientists headed out to hike, camp, or fish. Hyman’s son was a boy scout, and when he forgot to buy enough canteens for the troop, he borrowed from his own stock of plastic bottles and sent them out on the trail with his troop. The scouts found the plastic bottles to be perfect for carrying water and powdered foods. Marsh, sensing opportunity, asked his company’s specialty department to start a broad publicity campaign to spread the word. The rest is history.

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