Best Water Bottle of 2021
|Price||$39.99 at Backcountry|
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|$44.95 at REI|
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|$31.99 at Amazon|
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|$8.73 at REI|
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|$29.95 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Durable, easy to carry, wide mouth for easy cleaning, lid insert for easy drinking||Simple, durable, easy to use||Stylish, well-insulated, easy to clean, simple design, durable||Light, durable, resists flavors, simple design, wide mouth makes for easy filling||Lightweight, well-insulated, simple design, reasonable price tag|
|Cons||Expensive, heavy||Very expensive||Heavy, expensive||Diameter too big for cup holders, wide mouth makes it difficult to drink from when walking or driving||Carrying handle is an odd size, rim of bottle is a bit sharp|
|Bottom Line||Our favorite choice for daily use because of the size, shape, and ease of use in an insulated stainless steel bottle||A solid and straightforward vacuum insulated bottle that is easy to use and clean and weighs significantly less than similar options||This hip bottle is a simple, easy to clean vacuum insulated bottle with a narrow mouth and a portable size||A tried and tested classic, this model is versatile and reasonably priced||This bottle offers the lowest weight among insulated stainless steel bottles that we have tested|
|Rating Categories||YETI Rambler 26||Hydro Flask Lightwe...||Hydro Flask Standar...||Nalgene Wide-Mouth||GSI Outdoor Microli...|
|Ease Of Use (40%)|
|Specs||YETI Rambler 26||Hydro Flask Lightwe...||Hydro Flask Standar...||Nalgene Wide-Mouth||GSI Outdoor Microli...|
|Body Material||18/8 stainless steel||18/8 stainless steel||18/8 stainless steel||Eastman Tritan co-polyester||Stainless Steel, Polypropylene, Silicone|
|Empty weight (oz)||22 oz||10.5 oz||12.9 oz||6.4 oz||10.5 oz|
|Volume (oz)||26 oz||24 oz||24 oz||34 oz||24 oz|
|Bottle weight (oz) per fluid oz capacity||0.85 oz||0.44 oz||0.54 oz||0.19 oz||0.43 oz|
|Mouth diameter||3 in||3 in||2 in||2.5 in||2.25 in|
|Base diameter||3.25 in||3.2 in||3 in||3.25 in||3 in|
|Height||10 in||10.2 in||11 in||8.25 in||9.3 in|
|Free of Materials||BPA-free||BPA, BPS and Phthalate Free||BPA-free||BPA, BPS and Phthalate Free||BPA-free|
|Cap/Lid Type||Wide-loop cap||Screw cap||Wide-loop cap||Loop-top screw cap||Screwtop|
|Volume Options||18 oz, 20 oz, 36 oz||24 oz, 32 oz||18 oz, 21 oz||16 oz, 48 oz||17 oz, 24 oz, 34 oz|
|Warranty||3 or 5 year warranty||Lifetime Warranty||Lifetime Warranty||Lifetime Guarantee for normal use||Lifetime warranty|
Best Overall Water Bottle
YETI Rambler 26
The Yeti Rambler remains our favorite all-around water bottle this season, despite tough competition from Hydro Flask. The Rambler's impressive insulating abilities, perfect size, wide mouth, and innovative Chug Cap make it our top recommendation. It's portable, yet easy to fill and clean due to its wide mouth. We found it easy to fill the bottle with ice cubes, allowing cold drinks all day long. The updated Chug Cap is essentially a spout insert that eliminates any spillage that occurred with the old wide-mouth design, making drinking on the move more convenient.
Though the list of positives is long, we should also mention a few hang-ups we have with this bottle. Like most things Yeti makes, this bottle is far from lightweight. Its durable, bulky design includes significant weight compared to its competitors, making us far less inclined to lug this model up a mountain with us. The spout is awesome for cold drinks but should be removed when drinking hot liquids. Additionally, the Rambler costs a pretty penny. However, we believe it's a good investment because the bottle lasts a long time and works in a wide range of situations. For daily life, this is our favorite bottle to keep us hydrated throughout the day.
Read review: Yeti Rambler 26
Best Bang for the Buck
If you are looking for a simple, affordable, easy-to-use bottle, look no further than the Nalgene Wide-Mouth. It's no wonder this classic bottle is ubiquitous in the outdoor world. It is durable, light, straightforward to use and clean, and together these attributes combine to make it one of the top-ranked plastic models we tested. The mL and ounce measuring markers on the side are an added bonus for backcountry cooking and keeping tabs on your hydration. Because these bottles have dominated the market for so long, many backpacking accessories are designed to fit the Nalgene perfectly — think water filters, insulators, and backpack water bottle pockets. It also comes in an endless variety of sizes, colors, and shapes, so you can choose one to match your style.
Not everyone wants to drink from plastic. If that's you, look elsewhere. However, for those who spend time in the outdoors, it's hard to imagine a more classic piece of gear than the Nalgene. Simply put, it works well.
Read review: Nalgene Wide-Mouth
Great Value for an Insulated Bottle
Simple Modern Summit
Each year, there seem to be more and more choices for insulated stainless steel bottles. Most of them cost a pretty penny, making insulated bottles the most expensive drinking vessels out there. When we came across the Simple Modern Summit, we were thrilled to finally see an affordable option out there. This bottle retails for almost half the price of the name-brand staples. We were excited about the interchangeable lids (a classic screw top or a flip cap for hot beverages) and how useful they were at keeping the flavors separate and the bottle clean.
The lower price tag, however, seems to come with a few drawbacks. Though it comes in a plethora of fun color options, we noticed that our test model became scratched and chipped fairly quickly. We also found it challenging to keep track of the two lids and often didn't have the right one when we wanted it. The flip cap is not confidence-inspiring for tossing the bottle into a backpack, and it held onto flavors more than the simple screw top. That said, these flaws are fairly minor, and at this low price, we have yet to find a better insulated, stainless steel bottle.
Read Review Simple Modern Summit
Best Collapsible Bottle
Platypus DuoLock SoftBottle
Platypus holds it down in the collapsible category, and the DuoLock remains our favorite bottle of this type. The DuoLock is still one of the lightest bottles we've tested, and its collapsed size is really small, making it our top choice when weight matters and space is limited. The nifty, two-part lid design makes for a secure lid and a narrow spout that eliminates spillage, especially with such a floppy bottle.
The Hydrapak Stow came in a close second to the DuoLock. We loved the Stow's carrying handle and bottle shape. It is much shorter and squatter than the Platypus DuoLock, which felt more compact in our packs when full. Both bottles have narrow mouths and bag-like bodies, making them difficult to clean. The DuoLock remained our top choice because it is less expensive than its competitor, weighs less, and is better to drink from.
Read review: Platypus DuoLock SoftBottle
Best Glass Bottle
Ello Pure 20
The Ello Pure is a portable, affordable addition to the fleet of glass models we've previously put to the test. Like most glass options out there, the Ello has a plastic cap, a silicone sleeve, and a stylish design. During our testing period, we consistently found ourselves reaching for the Ello bottle as we headed out of the house — or as we stayed indoors. Its shape made it easy to carry on short walks when we didn't want to bring a backpack. Best of all, this bottle is one of the least expensive in the review, bringing affordability to the glass bottle game.
Though the Ello has plenty of features that warrant praise, it is not entirely perfect. Our biggest hang-up with this bottle is that it's tricky to clean by hand, although a trip through the dishwasher does the trick nicely. The lid has two crevices that are challenging to access, and the mouth of the bottle is too narrow to fit a brush or sponge into easily. The silicone sleeve is also a bit thinner than others, but it still survived our drop test without any issues. Drinking out of glass feels great and tastes the best, and this bottle fills the niche best at a very reasonable price.
Read review: Ello Pure
Best Filter Bottle
Brita Stainless Steel Filter Bottle
Even if this bottle didn't have a filter, it would have still received our praise. The Brita Stainless Steel Filter Bottle is super sleek, leak-proof, and durable. We love the color options and the shape and design of the lid. The silicone straw is a nice texture and doesn't impart flavors too much. That said, this bottle is best used with water only because of its filter. The flip cap is the most effective and functional of any bottle with this feature. This bottle is lightweight and portable, with a great design, and is reasonably priced to boot. We are big fans and didn't even realize a filter bottle was something we needed in our lives until testing this bottle.
The two main problems with this bottle are its size and lack of versatility. The bottle has a fairly small capacity — it only holds 20 ounces of liquid, which goes fast if you're a big water-drinker like us. Second is its lack of versatility. Because it's a filter bottle, we were hesitant to put any flavoring into it, for fear of contaminating the filter. We did put electrolyte mix in for our taste test, but wouldn't recommend doing this. One should note that the charcoal filter in this bottle doesn't remove bacteria, viruses, or heavy metals. Instead, it reduces chlorine and particulate matter. This is a great bottle to take to work, the gym, or use at home for tasty, filtered water.
Read review: Brita Stainless Steel Filter Bottle
Why You Should Trust Us
Everyone drinks water, but not everyone takes it as seriously as our lead bottle tester, Jane Jackson. Jane has spent months of her life assessing the performance of the most popular bottles on the market. First and foremost, Jane is a climber, a hobby that forms the foundation of her life and has led her to cliffs, big walls in Yosemite, and valleys around the world. Most of the testing of these bottles took place at the crag, in boulder fields, on long hikes, or on rest days at cafes and coffee shops across the globe. This wide array of situations has provided great opportunities to test the portability, durability, ease of use, and overall performance of the water bottles seen in this review. With nearly all her time spent traveling, Jane rarely takes a drink from a traditional drinking glass in a kitchen, which makes her an expert at drinking on the go.
To make sure we got plenty of varied input, we also passed these bottles around to our friends and family. Water bottles are as much about personal preference as they are about holding water. We filled them with flavorful liquids and then rinsed them to see if any flavor lingered. We left them on their sides wrapped in paper towels overnight to look for any signs of leakage. We even intentionally dropped them all off our desks to test durability. We combined this feedback and field testing with some objective tests to provide you with extensive information so your next water bottle purchase can be an informed one.
Related: How We Tested Water Bottles
Analysis and Test Results
We used four different rating metrics to assess each bottle in this review. Although the type of bottle (i.e., materials used) greatly dictated the bottle's overall performance in each metric, the overall review compares bottles of different types side-by-side. That said, use your discretion when reading this review. Obviously, a stainless-steel bottle will be more durable than a glass one, while a collapsible bottle will get a higher score in the weight metric than a bulky insulated model. The metrics we used to assess each bottle's performance are as follows: ease of use (which includes ease of cleaning), durability, weight, and taste.
Today, some of the most popular bottles seem to be stainless steel bottles, including vacuum insulated and uninsulated. Next, there are the classic plastic bottles, almost all of which are made from BPA-free plastics these days. We also tested collapsible and glass bottles. Each bottle has its intended use(s) — and we discuss which situations work best for which bottles in the individual gear reviews.
Related: Buying Advice for Water Bottles
No matter what you're shopping for, you're likely to consider cost alongside performance. We stick solely to performance when we score products, but like anyone, we appreciate a good deal. The range in price for water bottles is becoming shockingly wide these days. Stainless steel and glass bottles, across the board, are typically going to cost you the most. That said, over the past few years, we have seen a growing selection of affordable bottles made from these materials.
The Nalgene is a clear value choice due to its high score and low price. It will suffice for pretty much any use, although it might be out of place in a professional setting. Following short behind is our runner-up for a budget option, the Simple Modern Summit. This bottle is by far the most affordable vacuum-insulated option. The Brita Stainless Steel Filter bottle is a great option for a professional setting and comes at a fairly reasonable price considering its overall design and feature set.
Another option in terms of price is the Platypus DuoLock, which is hard to beat value-wise but lacks versatility as well. Our top recommendation for a glass bottle is the Ello Pure, which stands out not only in overall performance but also as a very affordable glass option. This bottle is significantly cheaper than other glass products we've tested in the past and performs just as well.
Ease of Use
After reviewing bottles for years, we have become total freaks about features. To the untrained eye, a carry handle may be a random addition, but to us, this is a make-or-break feature requiring scrutiny and deep analysis. Subtle details like flip-cap design and mouth diameters can end up being a significant factor when using a bottle day after day. So, we took care in assessing the ease of drinking from and filling each bottle. Also noted in this metric is the likelihood of spilling when drinking. Additionally, we considered how easy (or difficult) it is to clean each bottle. Wide mouth bottles are often easier to clean than those with narrower openings. Finally, we evaluated the lid design and the carrying handle — factors that also contribute to ease of cleaning in addition to the overall ease of use of a bottle.
Overall, simpler seems to be better when it comes to ease of use. We found some of these bottles to have too many features, and it was difficult to learn how to use them effectively. The Nalgene Wide Mouth and Yeti Rambler 26 are a few favorites due to their simplicity. The Simple Modern Summit is also up there in this category, with its simple body design and thoughtful, interchangeable lids.
The Klean Kanteen Classic also got high marks here because of its redesigned sport cap, which is easy to drink from one-handed. Both the Hydro Flask Standard and the YETI Rambler vied for the top spot, but the Rambler won due to its wide mouth, plus the convenient spout on the Chug Cap. The combination of these two styles made for easy filling and no-spill drinking.
The LifeStraw Go got downgraded here because it is difficult to suck water through the filter. The straw design on this bottle is quick to use but did not allow for satisfactory gulps. It's for sipping, not gulping, which we found annoying when we needed water the most (like during workouts). The CamelBak eddy+ features a new and improved straw design that our testers noticed flows much better than its predecessor. This is another nice choice for grab-n-gulps, although its straw design is almost impossible to thoroughly clean. The Brita is a new addition to the straw-style bottle, and we found it to work seamlessly.
The collapsible bottles lost points since they are awkward to drink from and easy to knock over. The DuoLock has a few features that push it a step above the others, like its flip cap and included carabiner. The Lifefactory Glass lost points because, if we weren't careful, the shape of the spout sent water up our noses when tipping it back for a quick drink. The carrying handle on the GSI Microlite isn't comfortable, and its thin rim feels unpleasant on our lips. The Takeya Actives Insulated bottle has a unique lid consisting of a wide mouth for filling and cleaning and a small spout for drinking. We liked this combination for drinking on the move.
Durability is a major concern for water bottles, especially when you're relying on one vessel as your continual water source. Going from stream to stream in the backcountry, you need to know that your bottle won't break and leave you parched. Based on years of outdoor experience, the GearLab team knows that collapsible models tend to be less durable over time than their rigid counterparts due to frequent stress on flex points. Meanwhile, the bodies of rigid contenders are usually very durable but often have failure points on the lids. To come up with a score in this category, we considered the type of material used for the bottle and cap. The stainless steel and rigid plastic models scored at the top of the materials test, with glass falling in the middle and collapsible bottles scoring the lowest.
For our first durability test, we dropped each bottle from 3.5 ft onto a cement driveway. Each bottle passed this test, though some endured more damage than others. The Hydrapak Stow and the Platypus DuoLock both scored high in this metric because their soft bodies came out from our drop tests entirely unscathed. The Klean Kanteen Classic, Nalgene Wide-Mouth, and Yeti Rambler all earned high scores in the durability metric, surviving with barely a scratch.
The biggest surprise in our drop tests was that the Lifefactory and Ello Pure glass bottles came away intact. The silicone sleeves and plastic caps did a sufficient job of absorbing the impact force and preventing the glass from shattering. Remember, these bottles always have a chance of breaking, so if durability is a big factor for you, consider a stainless steel bottle instead.
Stainless steel bottles can handle a beating, but they tend to show it with scratches to their paint (though some companies now employ a powder coating method, which is less prone to paint chips and scratches). The Corkcicle Canteen is one bottle that seemed particularly prone to its paint scratching off through regular, daily use. The sturdy Yeti Rambler seemed to handle knocks a little better than the others in our test fleet.
Our second test within the durability metric was a leak test. We felt that the performance of a lid and its tendency (or not) to leak feeds into the overall durability and longevity of a bottle. To test this, we filled each bottle with colored liquid and shook it vigorously. Bottles that did not pass this stage of the leak test either spayed colored water all over us or sent small droplets leaking out of crannies in the lid. All bottles passed this test without incident except for one — the Thermos Guardian, which has a flip cap design.
Although less consequential for casual use, an empty bottle's weight is a major factor when considering which to use on long hikes or multi-day backpacking trips. In this sense, a lighter bottle provides performance benefits that a heavier bottle does not. When scoring in this category, we weighed the bottles using our OutdoorGearLab scale and divided by volume to find out how heavy each bottle is per fluid ounce (oz./fluid oz.). Results are shown in our table of specs at the top of this page.
Both Platypus models we tested weigh in as the lightest, barely tipping the scales at more than a single ounce. This low weight alone is a large part of why they are long-time favorites in the backcountry. The HydraPak Stow is nearly as impressive weight-wise, though it costs much more than the Platypus models. The other plastic models also scored well in this category, as did the Klean Kanteen Classic.
The glass and insulated stainless-steel models fell to the bottom of the pile in this metric, indicating they're more useful for casual day use rather than multi-day use in the outdoors. However, the backcountry skiers among us like to bring an insulated bottle along on long day tours or overnights. For a hot drink on this type of excursion, the Klean Kanteen TKWide works wonderfully due to its low weight and small size.
It's important to stay hydrated, and you're probably more likely to do so if the water you're drinking tastes good. Some water bottles impart flavors on the liquids they contain, a characteristic that we did not appreciate. And if you store liquids like flavored drink mixes or coffee for a day, some bottles will retain that taste and pass it on to the next thing you fill it with, even after a thorough washing.
To assess our taste metric, we combined the results from several separate tests performed on each model. First, we filled each bottle and took a drink to check for any immediate effects on taste. Second, we left them filled with water for 24 hours before taste-testing them again. We then filled each one with a flavored sports drink mix and left them to sit for 24 hours. After this, we emptied the bottles, hand washed them with soap and warm water, and refilled each with tap water before conducting taste tests to see if we could detect any residual flavors from the sports drink.
Glass bottles typically reign supreme in this category. Both the Ello bottles and the Lifefactory all received nearly the same scores in this metric. The Lifefactory has a spout where flavors can get trapped.
On the whole, these glass bottles did not impart flavors to the water and kept water relatively fresh-tasting, even in our 24-hour test. Furthermore, they proved resistant to retaining flavors from other non-water liquids used to fill the bottle. None scored perfectly in this test, as the drink mix was still detectable in each model. However, the effect on taste was very minimal in the glass bottles, and after cleaning them again with baking soda and vinegar, they returned to "like new" tastes.
The stainless-steel models fell in the middle of the pack in these tests, neither soaring nor flailing. Insulated bottles are more likely to hold hot liquids like coffee or tea, which are notorious for leaving behind strong flavors. The Simple Modern and Yeti seemed less inclined to retain coffee flavors, but there aren't major differences here. The Klean Kanteen TKWide has a café cap that held onto flavors, but the bottle itself cleans easily — placing this bottle on par with the insulated bottles previously mentioned. The CamelBak MultiBev was the most disappointing here. We filled it with licorice tea once and haven't been able to get rid of that flavor yet, despite multiple soapy washings.
The Lifestraw Go also scored well in this metric, with its built-in filter. However, due to this feature, we recommend only filling it with water, so retaining flavors from sports drinks shouldn't be an issue. The same goes for the Brita. The Nalgene also surprised us with a stronger performance in this metric than the other plastic bottles.
Most other plastic bottles did not fare as well here, with the collapsible bottles retaining strong flavors of sports drink and even soap. The Hydrapak also left a rubbery taste in the water the first few times we used it. The straw of the CamelBak eddy+ imparted a strong rubbery taste to the water and retained the sports drink's flavor rather significantly. Surprisingly, the silicone straw on the Brita didn't give us a rubbery taste at all, especially when compared to the eddy+.
We tested many water bottles in many settings over many years. In such a simple category, we found a surprisingly large performance gap. There is no "one bottle for all activities," unfortunately. Instead, we can help steer you towards the ideal model for each use. Models for long hikes, bike rides, or climbing trips differ from the bottles used at work or taken to the gym. We hope this review helps you find the one(s) that best suits your hydration needs.
— Jane Jackson