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We have tested nearly 60 unique water bottles in the last 7 years, with 21 top contenders in this review. We purchased these bottles so that we could compare them all side-by-side at the same time. We've filled each with water, electrolytes, smoothies, tea, and coffee. These bottles have been used in numerous situations — from keeping us hydrated as we got caffeinated at a coffee shop or helping us fill up with spring runoff in the mountains. We've stuffed each into backpacks, slid them into pockets, and analyzed critical components like handles, spouts, threads, and lids. After months of both field and controlled comparative testing, we offer our unbiased recommendations to help you find the best water bottle for your hydration needs.
Empty Weight: 20.1 oz | Body Material: 90% recycled 8/18 stainless steel
REASONS TO BUY
Very well insulated - keeps ice for hours
Well-designed carrying handle
Wide mouth for easy drinking and cleaning
Doesn't hold onto flavors
Made from recycled materials and has a stainless steel straw insert
REASONS TO AVOID
Though there has been tough competition for our top award over the years, our go-to was clear this season. The Klean Kanteen TKWide Recycled Insulated is our favorite all-around bottle this year. It is impressively well insulated, made from almost entirely recycled materials, and has the best feature set of any bottle we've tested. We were highly impressed by the revamp of this vacuum-insulated favorite. The wide mouth and "beads" (rather than threads) make the Klean Kanteen super easy to clean. We love the straw cap, stainless steel straw, and sleek, stowable carry handle.
There is little to complain about with this bottle. Our biggest issue is actually very minor: the fact that the straw cap can't be used for hot liquids. This makes the bottle a little limiting, but luckily, Klean Kanteen makes an assortment of lid options, so this issue can be easily remedied. Also, as is the case with most stainless steel bottles, the TKWide is a bit heavy. We didn't mind toting it around town and even on day outings, but it will be a bit overkill for backcountry use.
Empty Weight: 7.1 oz | Body Material: BPA-free plastic
REASONS TO BUY
Lightweight yet durable
Straw style promotes hydration
Easy to fill
REASONS TO AVOID
Large for standard cupholders
Made from plastic materials
For folks who are looking for a simple, affordable bottle that is lightweight and encourages hydration, the CamelBak Eddy+ Tritan Renew is a fantastic choice. This bottle is portable and light, making it easy to carry around on workdays or weekend camping trips. Its plastic body is durable and made from 50% post-consumer recycled materials. We love the spill-resistant straw, which doesn't leak when stowed or deployed (some straw bottles squirt water when the straw is taken out). Its lightweight and durable build make it a great option for your growing pile of trustworthy hiking gear. Its classic and effective design should not go unnoticed.
The biggest downside to this bottle is that it is made of plastic — which is not for everyone. Especially for an around-town bottle, the Eddy+ Renew may not be everyone's first choice because of the materials used in its construction. However, for folks that spend a lot of time outdoors and are looking for something both lightweight and durable, this is a great option that won't cause sticker shock when you checkout.
Empty Weight: 15.7 oz | Body Material: 18/8 stainless steel
REASONS TO BUY
Wide mouth makes cleaning and filling easy
Lots of color options
REASONS TO AVOID
Straw flip cap risks leakage and retains flavors
Each year, there seem to be more and more choices for insulated stainless steel bottles. Most of them cost a pretty penny, making them the most expensive drinking vessels. When we came across the Simple Modern Summit, we were thrilled to finally see an affordable option. 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 we love how useful they are at keeping the flavors separate and the bottle clean.
However, the lower price tag seems to come with a few drawbacks. Though the Summit comes in a plethora of fun color options, we noticed that our test model became scratched and chipped relatively quickly. The flip cap is also not confidence-inspiring for tossing the bottle into a backpack, and it holds onto flavors more than the simple screw top. That said, these flaws are relatively minor, and we have yet to find a better insulated stainless steel bottle at this low price.
Empty Weight: 13.9 oz | Body Material: 18/8 stainless steel
REASONS TO BUY
Leak-proof flip cap
REASONS TO AVOID
Even if this bottle didn't have a filter, it would still have 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, and this bottle is lightweight and portable, with a great design and reasonable price. 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 20-ounce size also goes fast if you're big on hydrating like we are, though this bottle is also available in 32-ounce. The second is its lack of versatility. Because it's a filter bottle, we were hesitant to put any flavoring into it to avoid contaminating the filter. We put electrolyte mix in for our taste test, but we 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.
Empty Weight: 1.6 oz | Body Material: Nylon / polyetholyene
REASONS TO BUY
Doesn't spill when drinking or leak when not in use
Useful and durable carabiner clip
REASONS TO AVOID
Lacks overall durability
Hard to clean
Platypus holds it down in the collapsible category, and the DuoLock SoftBottle remains our favorite bottle of this type. The DuoLock is still one of the lightest bottles we've tested, and its collapsed size is wonderfully small, making it our top choice when weight matters and space is limited. The nifty, two-part lid design makes for secure closure, and the narrow spout eliminates spillage, especially with such a floppy bottle.
The Hydrapak Stow came in a close second to the DuoLock. We love the Stow's carrying handle and bottle shape, and 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.
We've tested nearly 60 individual bottles since 2015. We constantly have an eye on the market for new and innovative designs and have seen many trends come and go over the years. First and foremost, we want these products to be easy to use, and we rated our ease of use metric based on factors like carrying handles, ease of filling and cleaning, and whether they fit in a car cup holder. To ensure 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 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 well-informed.
Our water bottle testing is divided across four rating metrics:
Ease Of Use (40% of overall score weighting)
Durability (25% weighting)
Weight (20% weighting)
Taste (15% weighting)
Everyone drinks water, but not everyone takes hydration as seriously as our lead bottle tester, Jane Jackson. Jane has spent months of her life drinking from and assessing the performance of the most popular bottles on the market. First and foremost, Jane is a rock 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. These varying situations have provided excellent opportunities to test the portability, durability, ease of use, and overall performance of the water bottles seen in this review. Because she is constantly traveling, Jane rarely drinks from a traditional drinking glass in a kitchen, making her an expert at hydration on the go.
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. 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.
Today, some of the most popular options 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.
You're likely to consider cost alongside performance no matter what you want. We stick solely to performance when we score products, but we appreciate a good deal like anyone. The range in price for water bottles is becoming shockingly wide these days, and stainless steel and glass bottles across the board will typically cost you the most. That said, over the past few years, we have seen a growing selection of affordable bottles made from these materials.
This year, the CamelBak Eddy+ Renew takes the cake as our go-to in terms of value, though the Nalgene Wide-Mouth remains a top consideration as well. The Eddy+ Renew is sleek and versatile, plus its straw-style lid promotes hydration more readily than a standard wide mouth. That said, if you aren't a fan of a straw-style lid, the Nalgene's simple and classic design is a fan favorite for a reason. Another option in terms of price is the Platypus DuoLock, which is hard to beat value-wise but lacks versatility.
A great value option if you do not want plastic is the Simple Modern Summit. This bottle is the most affordable vacuum-insulated steel option in our lineup. 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. The Iron Flask Insulated is attractive and also very affordable for a stainless steel option.
Interested in the environmental value of long-term 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 eliminated the purchase of up to 111,743 pounds of PET (plastic), prevented the emission of up to 141 metric tons of carbon dioxide, and saved up to 419 cubic yards of landfill space per year. The report is available online. Unfortunately, this ban on plastic water bottles was rescinded in 2017.
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 be 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. 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 and the overall ease of use of a bottle.
Overall, simpler seems to be better for ease of use. We found some of these bottles to have too many features, and it was challenging to learn how to use them effectively. The Nalgene Wide Mouth and Simple Modern Summit are a few favorites due to their simplicity. The top-scoring Klean Kanteen TKWide also excels here because of its simple and solid build. Wide-mouth contenders tended to score well in this metric because they are easier to fill and clean.
The Yeti Rambler 26 and the Klean Kanteen TKWide vied for the top spot in this metric, but the Klean Kanteen won due to its awesome lid design, sleek carrying handle, and stainless steel straw. Plus, its wide mouth and modern thread design add to the overall allure of this stylish bottle.
In terms of filter-style bottles, the Grayl GeoPress Water Filter and Purifier has a different filtration system, which is noteworthy. This bottle used a press-style filter rather than a straw, which is easy to use but requires quite a bit of force to press out. This bottle is also bulky and heavy, making it less ideal for backcountry missions where it would be the most useful. For a filter bottle, we continue to prefer the Brita, which we found to work seamlessly, though the Grayl is a great option for traveling.
The collapsible bottles lost points since they are awkward to drink from and easy to knock over, though they are great for the backcountry. The DuoLock has a few features that push it a step above the others, though, like its flip cap and included carabiner.
Durability is a major concern for water bottles, especially when 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 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 develop 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.
We dropped each bottle from 3.5-feet onto a cement driveway for our first durability test. Each bottle passed this test, though some endured more damage than others. The Hydrapak Stow and Platypus DuoLock both scored high in this metric because their soft bodies came out from our drop tests entirely unscathed. The Klean Kanteen TKWide and Yeti Rambler also earned high scores, surviving with barely a scratch.
The biggest surprise in our drop tests was that the Lifefactory Glass Flip Cap glass bottle came away intact. The silicone sleeve and plastic cap absorbed the impact force sufficiently and prevented the glass from shattering. Remember, glass bottles always have a chance of breaking, so if durability is a significant factor for you, consider a stainless steel bottle instead. That said, if you love drinking from glass, this is a great bottle to consider.
Stainless steel bottles can handle a beating, but they tend to show scratches on their paint (though some companies now employ a powder coating method, which is far less prone to paint chips and scratches). The burly Klean Kanteen TKWide and Yeti Rambler both excelled in this metric due to their solid build and stainless steel components.
Our second test within the durability metric was a leak test. We felt that a lid's performance and its tendency to leak (or not) played into a bottle's overall durability and longevity. We filled each bottle with colored liquid and shook it vigorously to see whether any would spray out droplets from crannies in the lid. Thankfully, all bottles passed this test without incident.
Although less significant for casual use, an empty bottle's weight is an important 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 own scale and divided them by volume to determine how heavy each bottle was per fluid ounce.
The Platypus models weigh in as the lightest, barely tipping the scales at just over a single ounce. This low weight alone is why they are long-time favorites in the backcountry. The HydraPak Stow is nearly as impressive weight-wise, though it costs a little more. No surprise, the other plastic models also scored well in this category.
In this metric, the glass and insulated stainless-steel models fell to the bottom of the pile, indicating they're more useful for casual day use than multi-day use outdoors. However, the backcountry skiers among us like to bring an insulated bottle along on long day tours or overnights.
It's essential 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 do not appreciate. And if you store beverages 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.
We combined the results from several separate tests performed on each model to assess our taste metric. 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 fresh water before conducting taste tests to see if we could detect any residual flavors from the sports drink.
If your bottle retains flavors, soak it in a mixture of 1 tsp baking soda and 1 tsp vinegar, then fill with water. Let it sit overnight, and follow it up with a thorough rinse in the morning.
In our experience, 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. 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. Of note, however, is that the spout on the Lifefactory bottle is a place where flavors get trapped. If you are especially sensitive to this, we recommend choosing a simpler flat lid as complicated straw lids have more crevices where flavors can get trapped.
In these tests, many of the stainless-steel models fell in the middle of the pack, neither soaring nor flailing. Insulated bottles are more likely to hold hot liquids like coffee or tea, which are notorious for leaving behind intense flavors. That said, the Simple Modern, Yeti, and Klean Kanteen seemed less inclined to retain flavors from things like coffee. 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, we recommend only filling it with water due to this feature, so retaining flavors from sports drinks shouldn't be an issue. The same goes for the Brita. The Nalgene surprised us with a stronger performance in this metric than the other plastic bottles — one of many reasons this bottle is as widespread and popular as it is.
We've been there. If you're going to use a collapsible bottle as a backcountry flask, we recommend dedicating the bottle to this purpose. Otherwise, you'll have a strong, "spirited" flavor in your water bottle for potentially months. Of course, you do you.
Most other plastic bottles did not fare as well here, with the collapsible bottles retaining strong flavors of sports drinks and even soap. The Hydrapak also left a rubbery taste in the water the first few times we used it. Surprisingly, the silicone straw on the Brita didn't give us a rubbery taste at all.
We've gone through the gamut with our water bottle testing over the years. And, in such a simple category, we've 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 or activity. Models for long hikes, bike rides, or climbing trips will 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 wherever you go.
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GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.