If you are serious about getting a superb IronMan time then you will have some form of hydration system that is integrated into your bike frame to both improve aeroness and lower the centre of gravity (hmmm!).
99% of us are faced with the less aero choice of standard frame/seat mounted bottles/cages or an aerobar system that is FAR cheaper than an integral frame solution.
I’ve used the Profile Design system for years and have to confess that whenever a race looms I dread having to fasten it to my bike. BUT I know that the ease of use during the race and the possible time gains will more than outweigh that annoyance.
For longer races you will typically re-fill the aerobar mounted device from ‘normal’ bottles, as needed.
Positives: Both systems work. They are both probably equally as aero – it’s impossible and pointless to try to measure differences in aeroness. The Nathan appears to have a smaller frontal profile but the disturbed airflow in that specific position is complex.
Both systems are equally as good at refuelling ie they both have a very similar straw! The Nathan has an end cap that stops liquids coming out inadvertently; although to be fair to the PROFILE, the straw never leaked there for me.
The NATHAN is much more easily cleaned out as the top-end screws off giving easy access to the full interior of the bottle – unlike the PROFILE where you need some form of brush on a handle.
At 200g (empty) the PROFILE is lighter than the NATHAN (280g). Newer PROFILE models appear to be advertised as being over 400g.
Emptying the contents of the PROFILE into the NATHAN it is clear that the PROFILE holds more liquid – measured as approx. 750ml (PROFILE) vs 650ml (NATHAN). If you allow for the need to avoid overfilling the PROFILE to avoid leaking then they are practically about the same.
Negatives: The PROFILE has a mesh inside it that is supposed to stop the liquid sloshing about and coming out. In my experience, coupled with the inadequate filling hole, this never works and sugary liquids go everywhere.
The Profile is a pain to fit to the bike; my aerobars are quite close together and the bracket is a little too wide for the gap so I have to get creative with insulating tape. Maybe if your bars are a bit wider apart you would be Ok.
On racking my bike in a race, a full PROFILE container tilted at an angle invariably leaks everywhere.
Both units are prone to leaking when refilling during the race, the PROFILE is worse. Both units do not make the job of mounting a cycling computer easy. Alternative products that incorporate a watch mount are usually NOT aero – so you often revert back to a stem mount and all the difficulties with easily seeing the display.
Comments: If you are looking to compete in AG triathlon or duathlon races above the sprint distance then you will probably need this type of system in some shape or form. From a personal standpoint these will save me 30 seconds over an Olympic distance as I find it very hard to drink from a hand-held bottle whilst racing and have to slow down and sit up.
This is almost a no-brainer. The Nathan is better or the same in just about every respect you want to consider. The only material aspect where the PROFILE wins is capacity, unfortunately for NATHAN that is an important aspect.
However this additional capacity will not dissuade me from a permanent switch FROM PROFILE TO NATHAN.
To be fair to PROFILE, this is an old design and they have since produced several variants.
Alternatives: I would look at other products from these two vendors as well as considering ones specifically recommended for your frame/bars.
Detailed Review: n/a
The UK price is higher than it should be but still reflects better value as it’s still cheaper than the profile!