Water is the source of life and has been carried in portable vessels for years, but it wasn’t until hikers and outdoorsman started to use Nalgene’s lightweight and durable scientific containers to carry consumables that water bottles caught on as an everyday and outdoor item.
The Rochester, New York-based company’s own scientists used its products for camping in the Adirondacks in the 1960s, and as the conservationist movement caught on in the 1970s, Nalgene started branding its products with the label Nalgene Outdoor — the modern day water bottle had arrived.
As the fight against single-use plastics continues, water bottles have expanded from the realm of camping and backpacking into everyday life. Today, no everyday carry kit is complete without a reusable, durable, leak-proof water bottle. Try one of these.
The Best Water Bottles of 2020
- Best Overall Water Bottle: Hydro Flask Trail Series 24oz
- Best Non-Insulated Narrow Mouth Bottle: Miir 27oz Bottle
- Best Non-Insulated Wide Mouth Bottle: Klean Kanteen Wide Mouth Water Bottle
- Best Insulated Narrow Mouth Bottle: Mizu V8
- Best Insulated Wide Mouth Bottle: Yeti Rambler 26oz
- Best Collapsible Bottle: Hydrapak Stash
- Most Affordable Bottle: Nalgene 32oz
- Best Flask: Platypus Platy Plus Bottle
- Best Bottle for Running: Osprey Duro Handheld
- Best Bottle for Cycling: Specialized Water Bottles Purist
- Best Growler: Hydro Flask Beer Growler
- Best Modular Water Bottle: CamelBak MultiBev
Hydro Flask Trail Series 24oz
Best Overall Water Bottle
Insulation makes drinking from a water bottle better — returning to a hot car to find cold water is all it takes to prove it. It comes at the expense of bottle size and weight, but in creating its newest line of water bottles, Hydro Flask figured out how to reduce the load by 25 percent. The result is a water bottle, available in 24- and 32-ounce sizes, that offers the best of both worlds. It's the only water bottle we found that strikes such a balance, making it worth the higher price tag. Learn more here.
Miir 27oz Bottle
Best Non-Insulated Narrow Mouth Bottle
Miir’s 27-ounce non-insulated bottle brings a design-forward approach to the simplest type of water bottle without using gimmicks or a fancy paint job. The bottle is made from 18/8 medical-grade stainless steel and doesn’t retain flavors; there’s no metal aftertaste either. The bottle’s cap is leak-proof and uses a unique handle design that makes it easy to grab and clip to bags, unlike those of many other small mouth bottles. The less-bulky body size means it’ll fit in a cup holder too.
Klean Kanteen Wide Mouth Water Bottle
Best Non-Insulated Wide Mouth Bottle
Klean Kanteen’s Wide Mouth Water Bottle is as fundamental as a non-plastic water bottle gets. Its body is made of stainless steel, which is flavor- and odor-resistant, easy to clean and BPA-free. Its lid is molded plastic, leak-proof, and nearly indestructible (meaning you can trust a carabiner won’t rip through it). The wide mouth can accommodate backcountry water filters too. Put a dent in it? Hammer it out and keep on drinking.
Best Insulated Narrow Mouth Bottle
Insulated water bottles are preferable for their ability to keep contents cold or hot, but adding double-walled technology can quickly make a bottle bulky, even at lower volumes. Mizu’s V8 gives the best of both worlds, with a 26-ounce capacity that betrays its size and insulating capabilities. The V8 also earns points for the availability of different lid styles, even though its standard gives the bottle a beautiful and clean aesthetic.
Yeti Rambler 26oz
Best Insulated Wide Mouth Bottle
Like Yeti’s coolers, its everyday water bottle, the Rambler, is an ultra-durable vessel that’ll keep a beverage cold or hot for longer than it’ll take to finish. Yeti’s double-walled insulation is constructed of high quality 18/8 stainless steel. The leak-proof cap features a sturdy and simple handle design that has room enough for more than just a single finger, and its wide mouth means your nose won’t get in the way when your thirst calls for a chug. The Rambler comes in a variety of sizes and there's a full collection of lids to suit your preferred drinking style, all of which are interchangeable.
Best Collapsible Bottle
Collapsible water bottles border on gimmicky, but a good one can stand up to the titanium-walled and insulated heavyweights with its unique utility. Hydrapak’s Stash is a good one. The main body of the Stash is made of soft and flexible BPA- and PVC-free thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), but its top and bottom are a rigid plastic, which allows for easy drinking (despite the bottle’s unsupportive body material) and lock into each other when collapsed. It can also remain standing on its own when filled, which is the downfall of other collapsible bottles. Full, the Stash is as big as any other liter-sized water bottle; empty and collapsed, the Stash is less than a fourth of its original size, freeing up all the space in your bag that other bottles will continue to occupy even when empty.
Most Affordable Bottle
Nalgene products were first developed for use in science labs, but the company may very well be responsible for bringing everyday water bottles into the modern life and helping to reduce the use of throw-away plastics. Its water bottles have been widely-used for years and remained popular even as insulated vessels carve out their space. The Tritan is Nalgene’s no-frills classic; it’s a hard-sided plastic bottle with a wide mouth, plastic screw-top lid and easily-legible measurements in milliliters and ounces.
Platypus Platy Plus Bottle
Platypus’ soft flask-style bottle is a great alternative for distance hikers and others with a focus on saving weight. The Platy is a two-liter flexible flask made of BPA-free polyethylene with a simple twist-off cap. The main benefit of this super-minimal water bottle is that it’ll take up less space as its contents are consumed, freeing up space in your bag.
Osprey Duro Handheld
Best Bottle for Running
Technically, Osprey's Duro Handheld is just what its name implies, a handheld water bottle. But it also isn't, because you don't need to hold the bottle per se — Osprey's ambidextrous strap secures the bottle in your hand, so you don't have to hang on actively and can focus on the run. The bottle itself is a lightweight 250-milliliter soft flask that stows easily when empty, and the opposite side of the hand strap has a small zippered pouch with enough space for running essentials like your keys, a credit card or gels.
Specialized Water Bottles Purist
Best Bottle for Cycling
Specialized’s bicycle manufacturing eclipses the fact that it’s been making sport water bottles since 1978. There’s a good chance you’ve quenched your thirst with one of its bottles too, as much of its business involves customization. The Purist is constructed with a glass-like non-permeable barrier fused to its interior, which prevents the malleable material from retaining tastes and getting moldy as other soft plastic bottles are prone to do. It’s also available with one of three different types of active valve lids.
Hydro Flask Beer Growler
Hydro Flask’s 64-ounce Beer Growler is a major upgrade from the glass jugs you’ll ordinarily find at breweries. Hydro Flask’s growler is equipped with double-wall vacuum insulation and lined with stainless steel, which doesn’t retain flavor and is easy to clean. Its lid is equipped with a rigid, easy-pour handle and is designed specifically to maintain carbonation too. That helps if you aim to transport beer up a mountain, or even just in the car to a casual gathering, and if your drinking destination is hours away, no worries — the insulated construction will keep whatever’s inside cold for hours and hours.
Best Modular Water Bottle
CamelBak calls the MultiBev a two-in-one water bottle, but it has more uses than that. It's an insulated water bottle with a non-slip base, and its lower half includes a removable cup for portioning and sharing. The removable cup even gets its own lid, which is made of flexible, food-grade silicone. That stores inside the MultiBev's main cap, which offers up a third use: the compartment is large enough to hold snacks, tea or a small wad of cash.