Best Overall Water Bottle
YETI Rambler 26
: 18.5 oz | Body Material
: 8/18 stainless steel
Works well for hot and cold beverages
Sturdy, comfortable carrying handle
Wide mouth is easy to clean and drink from
Doesn't hold onto flavors
For another year in a row, the Yeti Rambler was neck in neck in competition to the latest Hydro Flask model vying for our Editors' Choice Award. The Rambler narrowly took the cake due to its insulating qualities, wide mouth, and perfect size. The Yeti is small enough to be portable, yet has a wide mouth that is easy to fill with ice cubes or drink hot tea from. The wide mouth and simple lid also make the bottle easy to clean. The mouth is specifically designed so that your nose doesn't hit the rim of the bottle — which can be very annoying! The Yeti provides a smooth and pleasant drinking experience no matter what you fill it with.
We could go on and on about the many positive features the Rambler has to offer, but we better mention the few hang-ups we had as well. This bottle is far from the lightest in the fleet, and its durable, bulky design add significant weight in comparison to its competitors. Additionally, the Yeti costs a pretty penny. We found it to be a good investment since the bottle lasts a long time and works in a wide range of situations. For hot and cold beverage diversity in a bottle, this is the one.
Read review: Yeti Rambler 26
Best Bang for the Buck
: 6.25 oz | Body Material
: Eastman Tritan copolyester
Lightweight yet durable
Easy to fill
Large for standard cupholders
Wide mouth causes spillage
For the best option for very little cash, look no further than the Nalgene Wide-Mouth. It is a bonus that this bottle is also the top scoring for plastic bottles. This simple, iconic bottle has been a staple of the outdoor world for years for many a good reason. The Nalgene is durable, lightweight, and easy to clean, and is a useful measuring tool when you're in the backcountry with the graduations labeled on the side.
Also, because Nalgene has been around for so long, many water bottle accessories (i.e., water filters, insulators, and backpack bottle sleeves) have been made to fit the Nalgene's particular mouth size and shape. This award winner deserves its popularity. If you want to switch up this classic bottle, the Nalgene comes in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors.
Read review: Nalgene Wide-Mouth
Best Budget Buy for an Insulated Bottle
Simple Modern Summit
: 12.4 oz | Body Material
High scores in insulation
Wide mouth makes cleaning and filling easy
Interchangeable lids keep flavors separate
Shape makes bottle portable and easy to clean
Flip cap risks leakage and retains flavors
We have tested a wide variety of stainless bottles over the years, but one thing they all have in common is price — these insulated bottles tend to be fairly expensive. When we found the Simple Modern Summit, we were excited to see how it compared to the name-brand favorites on the market. The Summit is almost half the price of some of our longstanding favorites in this category, like the Hydro Flask or the YETI. We loved that the bottle came with interchangeable lids - one traditional screw cap and one flip cap used for hot beverages. Having these two options made it easier to keep the bottle clean and kept flavors separate.
The Summit did appear to have cosmetic drawbacks. It's pretty, colorful paint job became scratched up easier than the high-end insulated models we tested. And while the choice of lids is pretty sweet, we didn't always have the one we wanted on hand, and it became harder to keep track of the multiple lids. The flip cap also doesn't seal with confidence for a ride in a backpack, and it holds onto flavors more than simple lids. These drawbacks are minor, though, and for the price, we doubt you'll find a better insulated, stainless steel beverage holder.
Read Review Simple Modern Summit
Top Pick for Collapsible Bottle
Platypus DuoLock SoftBottle
: 1.6 oz | Body Material
: Nylon/ Polyethylene
Doesn't spill when drinking, or leak when not in use
Useful and durable carabiner clip
Hard to clean
Platypus holds it down in the collapsible category, and the DuoLock managed to hang on to the Top Pick Award for another year, despite competition from Hydrapak. The DuoLock is still the lightest bottle we've tested and its collapsed size is unbeatable, making it our top choice when space is limited, and weight matters.
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 and 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 were difficult to clean with narrow mouths and bag-like bodies. The DuoLock also remained our top choice because it is less expensive than its competitor.
Read review: Platypus DuoLock SoftBottle
Top Pick for a Glass Bottle
Lifefactory Glass Flip Cap
: 19.2 oz | Body Material
: Soda Lime Glass with Silicone Sleeve
Simple, useful carrying handle
Ergonomic bottle shape
Grippy, stylish silicone sleeve
Easy to clean
Redesigned flip cap is easy to use
Year after year, we bring in the latest glass bottles to see if anyone can out-perform Lifefactory in the glass bottle market. Once again, we have yet to find a bottle that we like better than the Lifefactory Glass Flip Cap. This spring, we tested the Purifyou Premium alongside the Lifefactory. The Lifefactory came in ahead with its wide mouth, ergonomic shape, and updated flip cap.
We have yet to find a glass bottle that completely eliminates the use of plastic, but the Lifefactory
is close. If used at work or commuting, your water should rarely come into contact with the plastic lid. Its shape and size are reminiscent of drinking from a glass in the kitchen, which is more pleasant for everyday use than some of the sportier models out there.
Read review: Lifefactory Glass Flip Cap
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 has directed her life path and led her to cliffs, big walls in Yosemite, and valleys around the world. Most of the testing of these bottles has taken place at the crag, in boulder fields, on long hikes, or on rest days at cafes and coffee shops around the world. 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, making her an expert on drinking on the go.
We also passed these bottles around to our friends and family, making sure we got plenty of varied input. 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 see if we could find 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 the most information we could to help you make an informed decision about your next water bottle purchase.
Related: How We Tested Water Bottles
Analysis and Test Results
For this review, we broke down our assessment of each bottle into five different rating metrics. We assessed the ease of use, ease of cleaning, durability, weight, and taste of each bottle and scored them accordingly. In addition to breaking up the review in this way, we also divided the bottles up into categories based on the materials used in their construction. The most popular bottles these days seem to be stainless steel bottles, both vacuum insulated and not. Next, there are the classic plastic bottles, almost all of which are made of 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
An array of different bottle types is shown above, from glass, to collapsible to stainless steel.
No matter which gear category you're currently shopping in, you're likely to consider cost alongside performance. We stick to performance in our scoring of products, but we are no strangers to a good deal. The range in price of water bottles is becoming shockingly wide these days. Stainless steel and glass bottles, across the board, are typically going to cost you the most. For low-cost, reusable hydration vessels, plastic is your go-to.
The Nalgene is clearly the value choice as it scores incredibly high but is one of the least expensive bottles in the review. It will suffice for pretty much any use, although it might be out of place in a professional setting if you care about that. 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. Another option is the Playpus DuoLock, which is hard to beat in terms of price as well, but is limited in its versatility.
Interested in the environmental value
of using longterm use over single-use water bottles? Sip on this — When the National Park Service banned the sale of single-use plastic water bottles in just 19 parks, they reduced up to 111,743 pounds of PET (plastic) being purchased, prevented up to 141 metric tons of carbon dioxide being emitted into the atmosphere, and saved up to 419 cubic yards of landfill space per year
. Get the report here
(this ban on water bottles was rescinded in 2017).
Ease of Use
Since these bottles end up being our every-day companions, this metric is fundamental. Something small, like a carrying handle or mouth diameter, can end up being a significant factor when using a bottle day after day. So, we took care to assess the ease of drinking from and filling each bottle. The likelihood of spilling when drinking and potential for leakage were also noted in this metric. Additionally, we evaluated the lid design and the carrying handle.
Overall, simpler is better when it comes to ease of use. We found some of these bottles to have too many features and were difficult to learn how to use effectively. The Nalgene Wide Mouth and the Yeti Rambler 26, both winners in their respective categories, are a few favorites due to their simplicity. The Simple Modern Summit was also up there in this category, with its simple body design and thoughtful, interchangeable lids.
Simplicity wins with the Yeti Rambler.
The Klean Kanteen Classic also got high marks here because of its redesigned sport cap, which was easy to drink from one-handed. In deciding our between the Hydro Flask Standard and the YETI Rambler for our Editor's Choice Award Winner, the Rambler won due to its wide mouth — which made it easy to fill with water or ice and easy to drink from with both hot and cold beverages. Wide mouthed bottles do require a bit more care, though, when drinking from while moving. It could be a recipe for a wet shirt.
The latest Sports Cap (their 3.0 version of it!) is their best yet. Very easy to use for gulping on the go.
The LifeStraw Go got downgraded here because it was difficult to suck water through the filter. The straw design on this bottle was 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 latest CamelBak eddy+ features a new and improved straw design that our testers found flows much better than its predecessor. This is another nice choice for grab-n-gulps.
Hydrating is easy with the Eddy+, even though the lid ran the risk of leakage.
The collapsible bottles lost points since they are awkward to drink from and easy to knock over. The DuoLock did have a few features, like its clippable carabiner and flip cap, that made it a step above the others, though. The Lifefactory Glass lost points because the shape of the spout sent water up our nose if we weren't careful when tipping it back to drink quickly. The carrying handle of the Contigo Thermalock was awkward to use and strangely shaped, discouraging us from using it when carrying the bottle around.
The carabiner on the DuoLock is substantial enough to clip onto a harness when rock climbing.
Durability is a major determining factor in value, especially if you're relying on only one vessel as your water source. Going from stream to stream in the backcountry, you need to know that your bottle won't break and leave you without water. Based on years of outdoor experience, the OutdoorGearLab 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.
Each bottle got two drop tests. We filled each with water and dropped them 3.5 feet onto a concrete surface, once on the bottom of the bottle and once on the cap. All of the bottles we tested survived the drop test with only minor cosmetic damage. The Platypus DuoLock and Meta bottles proved that their flexible properties allow them to take a serious hit, walking away almost entirely unscathed.
This was our one attempt to bring the Rambler climbing. The bottle was way too heavy to clip to a harness, but worked all right when carried inside a backpack. In the future, we would recommend a different, lighter-weight bottle for vertical endeavors.
The biggest surprise in our drop tests was that the Lifefactory, Soma, and the Purifyou bottles walked away intact. The silicone sleeves and plastic caps did a sufficient job of absorbing the impact force, keeping the glass from shattering. When reading reviews online, the Purifyou bottle received many negative reviews from folks who had the bottom of the bottle break. Luckily, this didn't happen to us, but be warned that it has happened before! The Nalgene Wide-Mouth, Klean Kanteen Classic, and Yeti Rambler all earned high scores in the durability metric, surviving without barely a scratch.
Each glass bottle has an silicone sleeve designed for grip and to protect the bottle from damage. The LifeFactory has a carrying handle, while the Soma bottle is slim enough to be carried in the hand comfortably.
Ease of Cleaning
Most folks don't wash their water bottles after each use, but every bottle deserves at least a rinse now and then. We did the dirty work and cleaned each of these bottles by hand, comparing how easy or difficult each one was to clean. We decided to do this comparison with hand washing as opposed to using a dishwasher for two reasons: 1) Not everyone has access to a dishwasher, especially in the great outdoors, and 2) Not all models (especially insulated ones) are dishwasher-safe. Further, we do not recommend washing plastic components in the dishwasher. Lastly, we also factored in the number of parts and their complexity into this metric.
In general, the wider the mouth of the bottle, the easier it was to clean. The Yeti, Summit, Nalgene, and Lifefactory bottles scored the highest in this category. They are all simple designs with wide mouths, allowing for quick and easy cleaning.
With the over-the-nose design, the Yeti Rambler looks more like a glass than a bottle. There are no hidden nooks and crannies in the bottom where gunk can get lodged unknowingly. The wide mouth is great for cleaning, filling and drinking from.
On the other side of the spectrum were the bottles with complex parts, narrow mouths, or both. The Mira was too tall and narrow to clean easily, and especially hard to reach into the bottom of the bottle where flavors tend to linger. It was also a challenge to clean the Hydrapak Stow with its narrow mouth and flexible body. We loved the Simple Modern Summit in this metric, because its interchangeable lids made it easier to keep clean — saving the standard screw top for water and using the flip cap for hot beverages kept flavors separate and the bottle cleaner overall.
A quick rinse in the sink keeps the Simple Modern bottle fresh tasting and clean.
Although less consequential in day-to-day use, the weight of an empty bottle is a major factor when considering which to use on long hikes and multi-day backpacking trips. In this sense, a lighter bottle provides the versatility that a heavier bottle does not. When scoring in this category, we weighed the bottles using our OutdoorGearLab scale and divided by the volume to find out how heavy each bottle is per fluid ounce (oz./fluid oz.), as shown in our table of specs at the top of this page.
Both Platypus SoftBottle models we tested weigh in as the lightest, barely over 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 just as impressive weight-wise, although its exposed spout lacks a cover like the Platypus models. The other plastic models also scored well in this category, as did the Klean Kanteen Classic.
We like the combination of a rigid and a collapsible bottle for multi-day backpacking treks. We prefer the rigid bottle as our primary drinking vessel and the collapsible as a backup reservoir.
The lightweight, compact Platypus gets stashed in Eric's back pocket after a ride.
The insulated stainless-steel and glass models fell to the bottom of the pile in this metric, making them more useful for day, not multi-day, use. However, the backcountry skiers among us like to bring an insulated bottle along on long day tours and overnights. For a hot drink on this type of excursion, the Klean Kanteen Vacuum Insulated works wonderfully, being lightweight and small.
Not only do we want to hydrate, but we also want the water to taste good. Some water bottles imparted flavors on the liquids they contain, a characteristic that we did not appreciate. And if you store liquids like flavored drink mixes and coffee for a day, some bottles retain that taste and pass it on to the next thing you put in, even after washing.
For our taste metric, we combined the results from three 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. Finally, we filled each one with a flavored sports drink mix, left them sitting for 24 hours, emptied the bottles, and hand washed each bottle with soap and warm water. Then, we filled each with tap water, and taste tests were conducted to see if we could detect any residual flavors from the sports drink.
If your bottle is retaining flavors, soak it in a mixture of 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp vinegar, then fill with water. Let it sit overnight, following up in the morning with a thorough rinsing.
Glass bottles typically reign supreme in this category and the Lifefactory, Purifyou, and Soma bottles delivered once again. They did not impart flavors to the water and kept water relatively fresh-tasting, even in our 24-hour test. Furthermore, these glass models 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 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 Purifyou came close to eliminating contact with plastic, but the lid still has plastic components, shown above. We have yet to find a bottle that completely eliminates the use of plastic.
The stainless-steel models fell in the middle of the pack in these tests, neither soaring nor flailing. Insulated bottles are most likely to hold hot liquids like coffee or tea, which are notorious for leaving behind strong flavors. The Yeti, Simple Modern, and Contigo Thermalock Glacier seemed less inclined to retain coffee flavors, but there aren't major differences here. While a few testers noticed some metallic flavors imparted on the water that was left in the bottles for extended periods, overall, the water came out tasting pretty good.
These insulated bottles receive high scores in both durability and taste. The stainless steel doesn't hold flavor as much as plastic and is durable to boot.
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 won't be an issue here. The Nalgene also surprised us with a stronger performance in this metric than most other plastic bottles.
Drinking filtered water from the LifeStraw. The filter is a nice feature for road trips when you are filling up water without having the option of filtered water out of the tap. The LifeStraw eliminates this issue.
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+ also imparted a strong rubbery taste to the water, and retained the flavor of the sports drink rather significantly.
We've been there. If you're going to use a collapsible bottle as a backcountry flask, we recommend dedicating the bottle for this purpose. Otherwise, you'll have a strong, 'spirited' flavor in your water bottle for, potentially, months. Of course, you do you.
We tested many water bottles in many settings over many years. In such a simple category, we found a relatively large performance gap. There is no "one bottle for all activities," unfortunately. Instead, we help you find 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!