Best Overall Water Bottle
YETI Rambler 26
: 18.5 oz | Body Material
: 8/18 stainless steel
Works great for both hot and cold beverages
Well-designed carrying handle
Wide mouth is easy to clean and drink from
Doesn't hold onto flavors
The Yeti Rambler remains our Editors' Choice Award winner this season, despite tough competition from Hydro Flask. The bottle's impressive insulating abilities, wide mouth, and perfect size make it our favorite all-around bottle. It is small and portable, yet easy to fill and clean with its wide mouth. It's easy to fill the bottle with ice cubes, eat a smoothie out of it with a spoon, or sip on hot tea without burning your lips on the rim. Also, the mouth is specifically designed so that your nose doesn't hit the rim — a nice plus! The Yeti provides a smooth and pleasant drinking experience no matter what you fill it with.
Though the list of positives is long, we should also mention the few hang-ups we had with this bottle. Like most things Yeti makes, this bottle is far from lightweight. Its durable, bulky design adds 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
If you are looking for a simple, affordable, easy to use bottle, look no further than the Nalgene Wide-Mouth. This bottle is also one of the top-ranked plastic models we tested. It's no wonder this classic bottle is ubiquitous in the outdoor world. It is durable (unless dropped from great heights), light, and easy to use and clean. The mL and ounce measuring markers on the side are an added bonus for backcountry cooking and for keeping tabs on your hydration. Because these bottles have dominated the market for so long, many backpacking accessories have been designed to fit the Nalgene perfectly - think water filters, insulators, and backpack water bottle pockets. It also comes in an endless variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, so you can easily customize your look.
Not everyone wants to drink from plastic, though. If that's you, look elsewhere. However, for those who spend time in the outdoor space, it's hard to imagine a more classic piece of gear than the Nalgene. It works well
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
Each year, there seem to be more and more options out there 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 see an affordable option out there finally. This bottle is almost half the price of the name-brand staples. We were excited about the interchangeable lids (a classic screw top and a flip cap for hot beverages) and how useful they were in keeping the bottle clean and flavors separate.
Its lower price tag seemed to come with a few drawbacks, though. Though it comes in a variety of color options, we found our test model got chipped and scratched fairly quickly. We also found that it was challenging to keep track of two lids, and often didn't have the right one on hand. The flip cap is not confidence-inspiring when the bottle is tossed into a backpack and it held onto flavors more than the simple screw top. That said, these flaws are fairly minor, and we have yet to find a better stainless steel, insulated bottle for the price.
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. 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 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. 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 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
Top Pick for a Glass Bottle
Lifefactory Glass Flip Cap
: 18.6 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
Heavy for its smaller capacity
Year after year, we bring in the latest glass bottles to see if any 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. We dig its wide mouth, ergonomic shape, and updated flip cap. We've also dropped it multiple times without it breaking!
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 four different rating metrics. We assessed the ease of use (which includes 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 today 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 long-term 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. In this metric, we also considered how easy (or difficult) it was to clean each bottle. Wide mouth bottles are often easier to clean than those with narrow openings. Additionally, 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 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 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 Editors' Choice Award, 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, although its straw design is almost impossible to thoroughly clean.
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 has a few features, like its clippable carabiner and flip cap, that make 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 new 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.
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 Lifefactoryand 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.
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.
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 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.
On an international camping trip, the Stow is the ideal bottle to bring - it is compact, yet still has a large enough capacity to be useful.
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 TKWide 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 and the Purifyou 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. 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. 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!