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The Insider Pick:
A great refillable water bottle will help you stay hydrated while you’re on the go. Of all the water bottles we’ve tested and researched, the Hydro Flask Wide Mouth is the best one you can buy with its rugged construction and great temperature retention.
Reusable water bottles are a must for anyone who wants to quench their thirst without leaving a trail of landfill-clogging plastic in their wake. But just like travel mugs, choosing a water bottle isn’t as simple as picking the prettiest option or the cheapest one. If your bottle is mostly going to sit on your desk at work, your needs will be very different than if you want a lightweight companion for an epic weekend hike or a leak-proof bottle that can rattle around in your gym bag without soaking everything inside.
Experts have conducted a lot of water-bottle tests, evaluating criteria including weight, design, ease of use, and durability. We read through the most recent tests, as well as thousands of owner reviews on major retail sites to make our picks. We’ve also used a few of these water bottles ourselves.
Our favorite water bottles include a versatile stainless-steel option for the majority of buyers, an inexpensive but reliable plastic bottle when budget is a concern, and a sturdy bottle for glass lovers. We also include picks for anyone who wants a bottle with high-end design and a collapsible water bottle for situations when weight and portability are paramount. You should also check out our guide for the best travel mugs you can buy.
Updated on 05/03/2018 by Lulu Chang: Added a rugged water bottle pick and a collapsible option for travel. Also updated prices.
Read on in the slides below to learn why the Hydro Flask Wide Mouth is our top pick and why you might also like the Camelbak Chute, the Lifefactory Glass, the S’well Stainless Steel, the Vapur Element, the Bear Grylls Triple Wall Vacuum Insulated, and the Hydaway collapsible water bottles.The best water bottle overall
Why you’ll love it: The Hydro Flask Wide Mouth water bottle is durable, keeps water ice cold for hours on end, looks cool, and is easy to use.
Hydro Flask is a great choice if you hate gulping warm water in the summer. It also offers some much-appreciated versatility, with a wide opening that fits three lids depending on your needs: A flip lid with a loop, a flex cap with an even larger loop (included), and a straw lid for more convenient sipping. Users like having the option to switch out lids, and the wide mouth also makes it easy to load this bottle up with ice. You can choose between 18-, 32-, 40- and 64-ounce capacities and a number of fun colors.
During Outdoor Gear Lab’s testing, ice resisted melting for nearly a full 24 hours, and water was ice cold for more than a full day. Outside found that the bottle’s contents warmed one measly degree after 24 hours and noted that it kept a gin and tonic “ice freaking cold” after 14 hours in 90-degree heat. The insulated stainless steel also keeps drinks warm for several hours, so Hydro Flask can pull double-duty as a travel mug for coffee and tea.
This thing is seriously rugged, too. Like all stainless-steel water bottles, it can dent when dropped, but in Outside’s tests, it managed to survive being pelted with large rocks and getting backed over by a Toyota Camry and a Chevy Silverado. After all that punishment, it sustained a quarter-inch dent and one small scratch. It also has a loop on the lid that Your Best Digs says makes it easy to carry one-handed.
What’s not to like? The Wirecutter notes that it’s heavier than other bottles (the 18-ounce version weighs in at 11.6 ounces, the 32-ounce closes in on 1 pound) so serious hikers looking to save on weight might want to consider lighter options.
Some Amazon reviewers complain that the flip top is prone to leaks, so consider sticking with the flex cap if you want to toss your bottle in a bag without worrying. A few also complain of a slight metallic taste. Finally, this bottle is hand-wash only – steer clear if you live and die by the dishwasher. — Saundra Latham
Pros: Very durable, great at keeping drinks cold or hot, easy to use, compatible with three kinds of lids, comes in high-capacity options
Cons: Heavy, expensive, flip top may leak, not dishwasher-safe
Buy the 32-ounce Hydro Flask Wide Mouth from Hydro Flask for $39.95 and up
The best plastic water bottle
Why you’ll love it: If you prioritize price or weight over temperature retention, consider the inexpensive and easy-to-use Camelbak Chute water bottle.
Stainless-steel water bottles like the Hydro Flask have a lot of pros, but they’re heavy. A plastic water bottle like the Camelbak Chute is cheaper and a lot lighter. In fact, the largest 50-ounce Chute weighs a measly 7.6 ounces. If you’re not quite that thirsty, no worries: There are 20-, 25-, and 34-ounce versions, too.
Like the Hydro Flask, the Chute has a wide mouth that The Wirecutter says makes it easy to fill and load up with ice, and the large spout means you can gulp until you’re content instead of dealing with a valve that restricts flow, which is common on other water bottles. It also has a loop on the cap, making it easy to clip to a backpack or hook around a finger or two.
Though the Chute may not be as tough as stainless steel, it’s still relatively rugged for a plastic water bottle. It’s made of BPA-free, dishwasher-safe Tritan plastic that is engineered to resist cracking. Several Amazon reviewers say it has been dropped repeatedly on concrete without shattering or showing any signs of wear. Even better, most say the bottle doesn’t impart any funky plastic taste to their water.
A few minor issues: Testers with Your Best Digs say it can be tricky to lock the cap down onto the lid while drinking, though they still appreciate having the option to keep the cap from springing back and bonking them in the nose. Of course, plastic isn’t great at regulating temperatures, so if you need to keep drinks hot or want to keep them cold for longer, take a look at the pricier stainless-steel Chute. — Saundra Latham
Pros: Lightweight, inexpensive, durable, easy to carry, gulp-friendly spout, dishwasher-safe, comes in high-capacity options
Cons: Lid is tricky to lock down, won’t keep your water cold for long, may “sweat” with condensation on a hot day
Buy the 34-ounce (1 liter) Camelbak Chute on Amazon for $9.99 and up
The best glass water bottle
Why you’ll love it: The Lifefactory Glass Water Bottle is a better choice for the most discerning palates and a more eco-friendly choice for anyone concerned with green living.
If you hate that metallic or plasticy taste you get with other water bottles, you’ll love the Lifefactory Glass Water Bottle, which testers say keeps water fresh and untainted, even after a full day sitting in the bottle. As Outdoor Gear Lab notes, “There is a reason that upscale restaurants always serve drinks in glasses rather than plastic or metal cups. It just tastes better.”
The Lifefactory is also a good option if you’re worried about the chemicals in plastic and want something that is more readily recyclable.
No, glass bottles won’t survive as many drops as stainless steel or shatter-resistant plastic, but The Wirecutter says the Lifefactory still has “surprising resilience against casual abuse” because of its substantial silicone sleeve. Several Amazon reviewers confirm that they’ve dropped this bottle without incident, even on hard surfaces. The sleeve also provides a grippier surface for holding the bottle. Since glass “sweats” more than other materials, this is a feature most users should appreciate.
You have a few lid options with Lifefactory water bottles: A silicone flip cap (included), a straw cap and a leak-proof classic cap meant for those who want to toss the bottle in a bag without worrying. Testers with Outdoor Gear Lab say the wide mouth makes it easy to fill, though they do note it can be easy to misthread the cap, raising your risk of leaks. The bottle is dishwasher-safe, even with the silicone sleeve on.
Other issues are minimal: Your Best Digs cautions that the flip cap can pop off and doesn’t regulate flow well enough for users who may just want a sip. Of course, like all glass bottles, the Lifefactory is heavy — the 22-ounce bottle is just over a pound — so it isn’t the best pick when weight is a big concern. — Saundra Latham
Pros: Glass won’t alter taste of water, more recyclable than other options, silicone sleeve provides good grip and protection from bumps and drops, compatible with three kinds of lids, dishwasher-safe
Cons: Heavy, glass is less durable than plastic or stainless steel, flip top may not regulate flow well enough for sippers, may “sweat” with condensation on a hot day
Buy the 22-ounce Lifefactory Glass Water Bottle on Amazon for $24.99
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