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Nalgene Wide-Mouth Review

A tried and tested classic, this model is versatile and reasonably priced
Nalgene Wide-Mouth
Photo: nalgene
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $12 List | Check Price at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Light, durable, resists flavors, simple design, wide mouth makes for easy filling
Cons:  Diameter too big for cup holders, wide mouth makes it difficult to drink from when walking or driving
Manufacturer:   Nalgene
By Jane Jackson ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Mar 25, 2019
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76
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 20
  • Ease of Use - 40% 8
  • Durability - 25% 7
  • Weight - 20% 8
  • Taste - 15% 7

Our Verdict

The terms "Nalgene" and "water bottle" are often used as synonyms, reflecting on this bottle's continuing popularity over the last decade and more. A time-tested classic, the Nalgene Wide-Mouth is as good as plastic gets for most folks getting active in the outdoors. It's simple, durable, inexpensive, and versatile. Given its high performance and affordable price tag, it earns its place as a high-value bottle. It's easy to clean and doesn't impart any funky plastic taste on its contents. It is so light and easy to use, we found ourselves carrying it around town, though it really shines as an outdoor adventure bottle.

Need more volume?
If 32 oz isn't enough for you, this design might still be for you. The Nalgene 48 oz costs only a dollar more while providing 16 more ounces of volume to keep you hydrated all day.

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Nalgene Wide-Mouth
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Nalgene Wide-Mouth
Awards Best Buy Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award  Top Pick Award 
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$20 List
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$10 List
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Pros Light, durable, resists flavors, simple design, wide mouth makes for easy fillingAffordable, insulates well, has interchangeable lids, portableInexpensive, passed our drop tests, easy to carry, easy to drink from, ergonomic designLightweight, portable, updated straw is an improvementUseful carabiner attachment, well-designed lid, lightweight, very collapsible
Cons Diameter too big for cup holders, wide mouth makes it difficult to drink from when walking or drivingPaint chipping after a few months of use, flip cap seemed to lack securityNarrow mouth makes it hard to clean by hand, heavy, inherently less durable than steel competitionStraw and bite valve still attract mold and dirt, flavors lingerTips easily, hard to clean
Bottom Line A tried and tested classic, this model is versatile and reasonably pricedThis is one of our top ranking bottles because it's easy to use, just the right size, lightweight and inexpensiveThis affordable bottle's no-nonsense, ergonomic design wins us over for the top glass option of all we testedFor those who like a built-in straw design, this bottle has survived the test of time as a proven modelThis bottle combines a collapsible design with a spout for convenient, easy drinking
Rating Categories Nalgene Wide-Mouth Simple Modern Summit Ello Pure 20 Camelbak Eddy+ Platypus DuoLock So...
Ease Of Use (40%)
8.0
7.0
9.0
6.0
5.0
Durability (25%)
7.0
8.0
5.0
7.0
3.0
Weight (20%)
8.0
4.0
2.0
7.0
10.0
Taste (15%)
7.0
8.0
9.0
5.0
5.0
Specs Nalgene Wide-Mouth Simple Modern Summit Ello Pure 20 Camelbak Eddy+ Platypus DuoLock So...
Body Material Eastman Tritan co-polyester 18/8 stainless steel Glass/ BPA-free silicone BPA-Free Polypropylene Nylon/ Polyetholyene
Empty weight (oz) 6.4 oz 12.4 oz 18.5 oz 7.1 oz 1.6 oz
Volume (oz) 34 oz 22 oz 20 oz 25 oz 34 oz
Bottle weight (oz) per fluid oz capacity 0.19 oz 0.56 oz 0.93 oz 0.28 oz 0.05 oz
Mouth diameter 2.5 in 2.25 in 1.75 in 2.25 in .75 in
Base diameter 3.25 in 3 in 3 in 3 in 6 in
Height 8.25 in 9.5 in 10.75 in 9.25 in 11 in
Body Type Hard-sided/traditional Hard-sided/traditional Hard-sided/traditional Hard-sided/traditional Collapsible
Free of Materials BPA, BPS and Phthalate Free BPA-free BPA-free BPA, BPS, BPF BPA-free
Cap/Lid Type Loop-top screw cap Screw Cap Screwtop Screw cap with straw Duo-Lock flip cap
Volume Options 16 oz, 48 oz 14 oz, 18 oz, 22 oz, 32 oz, 40 oz 20 oz .6 L, .75 L, 1 L .75 L, 1L
Warranty Lifetime Guarantee for normal use Limited Warranty Lifetime warranty Got Your Bak Lifetime Guarantee Limited Warranty

Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison


The ubiquitous Nalgene is at home in any outdoor scenario.
The ubiquitous Nalgene is at home in any outdoor scenario.
Photo: Jane E Jackson

Ease of Use


This bottle's simple design is a big advantage. It consists of a cylindrical body and a screw cap, with a retaining strap that attaches the two main components. This allows you to take a gulp while hanging off a cliff without having to worry about losing your cap. We used the retaining strap for clipping onto our pack, but this isn't necessarily recommended.


The Nalgene boasts one of the widest mouths of all the bottles tested in our review, which has its pros and cons. The wide mouth does make filling the bottle a breeze, virtually regardless of the water source. If you were desperate, it would, by definition be able to catch the most rainwater over a set amount of time. However, we found that the wide mouth also made it harder to drink from without splashing water down our chin, chest, and elsewhere. If you are moving at all, including sitting in a moving vehicle, you can expect to get a mini shower. On the plus side, the wide mouth also makes it a breeze to clean.

Pro tip — Get a bottle insert like this one to drastically improve the drinking experience from your Nalgene. It greatly reduces the chance of spilling on yourself while moving and drinking. Some of our testers have been using these in their Nalgenes for years.

The wide mouth is great for easy filling and filtering but sometimes...
The wide mouth is great for easy filling and filtering but sometimes causes spillage when trying to drink on the go.
Photo: Jane Jackson

Although its large volume reduces the number of times we had to fill it, the bottle feels substantial in hand. For folks with small hands, it can feel a little cumbersome to drink from one-handed. Furthermore, there isn't a cup holder we came across that could accommodate this bottle's wide girth. Since it's more awkward to drink from in day-to-day use, the Wide Mouth fell back from the top of the pack in this metric.

Leakage is not a problem whatsoever with our Best Buy winner. It passed our leak test with a score of 100 percent. We gave this bottle our complete confidence, and it did not fail us when being jumbled around inside backpacks while cycling and hiking. It is also reasonably quick to open and close, requiring only one cap revolution to screw/unscrew the cap.

Durability


This is a strong bottle. The plastic body and cap can endure many drops and tumbles and still maintain their integrity. In our drop tests, the Nalgene only suffered minor scrapes and bounced around like a football before coming to a rest on the ground. Even when dropped on its cap, it showed only small scuff marks. There's a possibility that the cap and (less likely) the bottle may shatter when dropped more than 10 feet. However, through regular use, we expect this bottle to survive much more often than fail.


Throughout our testing, we did not experience any problems in the durability of the retaining strap. Nonetheless, this is the weakest point of the bottle. During any activity where you depend on this bottle as your sole water source, we don't recommend hanging it by its strap.

The Nalgene is super leak-proof and withstood our drop test with...
The Nalgene is super leak-proof and withstood our drop test with little to no damage.
Photo: Jane Jackson

Weight


Taking OutdoorGearLab measurements, this one came in as our lightest bottle with a rigid body. After testing, the Wide-Mouth was the lightest and easiest to use, even beating out some of the collapsible competition. The Wide-Mouth also weighs only 0.20 ounces per fluid ounce. Its low overall weight and large capacity make it a common favorite for multi-day trips in the backcountry. It also pairs with several water filters.


The Nalgene, though not nearly as light as a collapsible bottle, is...
The Nalgene, though not nearly as light as a collapsible bottle, is one of the lighter hard-sided options out there.
Photo: Jane Jackson

Taste


This product scored as well as most other plastic bottles we reviewed in the taste metric. Although we did prefer the taste of drinking out of glass to any other material, the Wide Mouth performed admirably. It does not impart any plastic flavoring into its contents. Even after leaving the water to sit in the bottle for 24 hours, we couldn't distinguish any plastic-like flavor in our water from the Nalgene's body. It was no fresh spring water, but it also lacked any flavors imparted from the body. If you plan on using your bottle for liquids other than water, you need not fear the Nalgene. Each bottle was filled with a sports drink mix and left for 24 hours. Next, we hand-washed each bottle with warm water and dish soap before filling them with water and performing our taste tests.


Our taste testers noted that the Nalgene retained a faint smell of the sports drink mix used in the test. However, they could not detect any effect on the taste of the water. After cleaning with baking soda and vinegar, the smell disappeared completely.

Our human and canine testers confirm that the Nalgene doesn't hold...
Our human and canine testers confirm that the Nalgene doesn't hold onto flavors as much as other bottles we've tested.
Photo: Jane Jackson

The folks at Nalgene proudly say that their bottles resist flavor retention and our tests verified this claim.

Value


This product is exceptionally valuable and is our Best Buy winner of all water bottles we reviewed. It's impressive how much utility you can receive from this bottle. It won't cost a lot, is versatile to suit your needs, and will last for years.

The Nalgene is a staple in most outdoor enthusiasts' hydration...
The Nalgene is a staple in most outdoor enthusiasts' hydration quiver for good reason.
Photo: Jane Jackson

Conclusion


There is clearly a reason that the Nalgene Wide-Mouth has been so ubiquitous in the world of outdoor recreation for the past few decades. It delivers a durable bottle that is also lightweight and easy to clean. You can mix sports drinks in the bottle without forever ruining the taste of future water refills. It has a few tricks up its sleeve too that make campsite cooking and cold winter nights a little easier. We feel confident using this bottle in just about any backcountry activity. It isn't our first choice for an everyday bottle, but for the price, we feel that there's still money in the bank for a bottle more suited for that. If you enjoy the outdoors, you're going to find lots of uses for this bottle.

The unofficial wide mouth OG.
The unofficial wide mouth OG.

Jane Jackson