Water bottles. We all use them, but many of us don’t really put much thought into it. We just use whatever vessel is laying around. If you’re still sipping from that banged up old bottle you’ve had for a decade, it’s probably time for an upgrade.
We’ve used dozens of different water bottles over the years – everything from heavy duty insulated bottles for everyday use to large-capacity soft bottles for long water carries in the desert and everything in between. In this guide, we’ll use our experience to help you easily find the best water bottle for you.
Last updated: March 16, 2023
Check out this quick list of our favorite water bottles, or continue scrolling to see our full list with in-depth reviews.
Most durable insulated water bottle: YETI Rambler
Best non-insulated budget bottle for everyday use: Nalgene Wide Mouth
Best glass water bottle with at an affordable price: Yomious Glass
Best collapsible water bottle for backpacking & travel: HydraPak Flux
Best budget insulated water bottle: GSI MicroLite 720
Ergonomic water bottle that helps keep track of daily hydration: Thermos Intak
Ultralight, packable & affordable soft bottle: Platypus DuoLock SoftBottle
Best water bottle for ultralight backpacking: Glaceau Smartwater
Insulated water bottle that comes with accessories: Takeya Actives Insulated
Best filter bottle: Lifestraw Go Series
Unique water bottle with smart collapsible design: Que Collapsible
Ultralight & packable water storage for backpacking: Platypus Platy Bottle
What’s Most Important to You in a Water Bottle?
PRICE – We’re willing to spend a bit more for high-quality water bottles because the added convenience and durability are worth the extra cost for us. But we recommend quality options for eery budget in our top picks below.
VERSATILITY – We tend to gravitate toward insulated bottles with a wide selection of colors and interchangeable lids. With just a couple of accessories, some bottles can transition from your morning coffee vessel, to your workout hydration bottle, to your evening beer tumbler.
Best water bottle accessories: Hydro Flask Wide Mouth (the Flex Sip Lid is great for coffee), Hydro Flask Standard Mouth (the Sports Cap makes it a workout bottle) & YETI Rambler (the included Chug Cap is great for staying hydrated, or get the Cup Cap to share a drink)
INSULATED VS. NON-INSULATED – Insulated bottles are great when you want to bring along coffee or ice water for your commute, but they’re typically much heavier than non-insulated bottles. Non-insulated bottles are more ideal for backpacking because they’re simple and keep weight to a minimum.
WEIGHT & PACKABILITY – Weight and packability are important factors to consider if you’ll be using your water bottle for backpacking or travel. Heavier bottles tend to be more durable, but they’re also more cumbersome to lug around.
USE – Determine what you’ll use your bottle for most to help you decide what size you’ll need. For backpacking, lightweight 1L (32 oz.) bottles are a common choice. For commuting, smaller bottles that’re insulated and leakproof are best. For long days around town or in the frontcountry, you may want a higher volume insulated bottle.
ALTERNATIVES TO PLASTIC – When making the choice to reduce plastic consumption, buying a reusable water bottle is often the first step people take. All the bottles we recommend (okay, maybe not Smartwater) will help you be more eco-friendly, but some companies are going above and beyond when it comes to protecting the planet.
DURABILITY – A good water bottle can set you back a pretty penny, so finding one that can withstand years of adventuring with you is important. To get the most life out of your bottle, look for one that’s made of stainless steel, doesn’t flex, and doesn’t have a lot of seams.
NARROW MOUTH VS. WIDE MOUTH – Wide-mouth bottles are easier to add ice or flavoring to and they’re much easier to clean by hand. That said, we still haven’t mastered the art of taking a big gulp from a wide-mouth bottle while on the move without dribbling all over our shirts. Wide-mouth bottles are also less likely to fit into smaller cup holders.
Narrow mouth bottles are easier to drink from while you’re on the move . They’re also more likely to fit in the cup holder of your car or the side pockets of smaller backpacks. Narrow mouth bottles are harder to clean by hand, though, and ice doesn’t fit through the opening as easily.
Best Water Bottles of 2023
BEST WATER BOTTLE OVERALL FOR STYLE, INSULATION & ACCESSORY OPTIONS
WEIGHT: 15.2 oz.
PROS: Excellent insulation, many color choices, lots of accessory options, easy to add ice/supplements, leakproof, dishwasher safe
CONS: Expensive, heavy for backpacking, many wide mouth bottles don’t fit in cup holders
BOTTOM LINE: Hydro Flask is known for top-notch insulation, eye-catching color, and excellent accessories. And the Wide Mouth Bottle is a shining example of their fun design aesthetic and versatility. We love that we can adapt this bottle to any need by changing the lid or adding an accessory – the Straw Lid for convenience, the Flex Sip Lid for commuting, the standard Flex Cap for maximizing insulation, and the Bottle Sling for hands-free carrying, to name a few. With over a dozen colors and designs to choose from – and new colorways every year – this bottle is a great fit for anyone. Hydro Flask also makes these in a Lightweight Trail Series which are light enough to carry on short backpacking trips if you want the luxury of hot drinks in the backcountry.
BEST WATER BOTTLE OVERALL FOR STYLE, INSULATION & ACCESSORY OPTIONS
WEIGHT: 12.8 oz.
PROS: Excellent insulation, many color choices, leakproof, fits in standard cup holders, dishwasher safe
CONS: Harder to hand wash, more difficult to add ice/supplements than wide mouth
BOTTOM LINE: If narrow mouth bottles are more your style, Hydro Flask has you covered. The Standard Mouth Hydro Flask doesn’t have as many lid options as the Wide Mouth, but it still comes in all the fun colors and has the same great insulation. While we prefer the Wide Mouth Bottles for a few reasons (easier to clean, more lid options, easier to add ice), the Standard Mouth Bottles have two distinct advantages. They fit in standard cup holders and in side pockets on daypacks, and they’re easier to drink from while on the move. If mobile drinking is a must-have, the Standard Mouth is a great option. Be sure to check out all the other sizes and colors the Standard Mouth Bottles come in.
MOST DURABLE INSULATED WATER BOTTLE
WEIGHT: 1 lb. 8.5 oz.
PROS: Excellent insulation, many color choices, lots of accessory options, durable, easy to add ice/supplements, dishwasher safe, leakproof
CONS: Expensive, heavy for backpacking, many wide mouth bottles don’t fit in cup holders
BOTTOM LINE: If you’re looking for top-of-the-line quality and unmatched insulation power, the YETI Rambler is tough to beat. We’ve been using the Rambler line of bottles for our to-go coffee since pretty much the day they came out. Those with a more mellow taste will also appreciate the timeless color options offered by YETI over the brights from Hydro Flask. The Rambler bottles are the most durable water bottles we’ve ever used, and the plethora of accessories you can pair with them (our favorites are the Cup Cap and the Straw Cap) are just as reliable. The YETI Rambler Vacuum Bottles are offered in a variety of sizes and styles to suit any need.
BEST NON-INSULATED BUDGET WATER BOTTLE FOR EVERYDAY USE
WEIGHT: 6.25 oz.
PROS: Affordable, many color/pattern choices, measurement lines, easy to add ice/supplements, durable, dishwasher safe, lightweight
CONS: Many wide mouth bottles don’t fit in cup holders
BOTTOM LINE: Simple and classic, the Nalgene Wide Mouth is pretty much synonymous with the words “water bottle.” We own 10 or so of these in different colors and patterns, adorned in stickers from our favorite national parks and breweries. We take them backpacking, we take them grocery shopping, we take them just about everywhere. One of our favorite things about Nalgenes is that they come in so many different colors and patterns. This no-frills staple is small in price, but big on durability and versatility. Nalgenes are also available in Narrow Mouth, which is easier to drink from while on the move. If you prefer slender water bottles that fit in small cup holders and daypacks, check out the Nalgene On The Fly.
BEST GLASS WATER BOTTLE WITH AT AN AFFORDABLE PRICE
MSRP: $26 (often on sale for less)
WEIGHT: 14.7 oz.
PROS: Affordable, stylish, durable, leakproof, no plastic touches water, ergonomic size/shape, lightweight, dishwasher safe (except for lid)
CONS: Lid must be hand-washed
BOTTOM LINE: The Yomious Glass Bottle is a great value with an excellent blend of style and durability. A silicone sleeve covers most of the bottle for protection if it’s dropped, but it leaves a fashionable peek of glass at the top. The bamboo lid adds another touch of style, and it’s also designed with a stainless steel insert to ensure no plastic touches your water – meaning you only taste water, not chemicals. The borosilicate glass can handle extreme cold or hot temperatures, making this a great choice for everyday water drinking and morning commute coffee.
BEST COLLAPSIBLE WATER BOTTLE FOR BACKPACKING & TRAVEL
WEIGHT: 3.6 oz.
PROS: Ultralight, compact, leakproof, measurement lines, compatible with Katadyn BeFree Water Filter, dishwasher safe
CONS: Holds on to flavors, not as durable as rigid bottles (but very good for a soft bottle)
BOTTOM LINE: We often carry soft bottles as backup water storage on backpacking trips, but we never imagined we’d enjoy using one on a daily basis. Enter the HydraPak Flux. This bottle rolls up super small, then springs to life and holds its shape when unfolded. Many soft bottles are awkward to drink from because they’re floppy. The Flux, however, feels more similar to drinking from a rigid bottle. The Flux is made from silicon, so it can hold onto flavors. If you like using hydration mixes, you’ll be tasting it for a while (ours currently tastes like oranges). But the low weight and compact design of the Flux make it great for any occasion. The Hydrapak Seeker is very similar to the Flux, and comes in 2L, 3L, and 4L sizes.
BEST BUDGET INSULATED WATER BOTTLE
WEIGHT: 11 oz.
PROS: Affordable for an insulated bottle, excellent insulation, leakproof, fits in cup holders, easy to drink from spout
CONS: Fewer color & accessory options than others, no carry handle/loop
BOTTOM LINE: All these fancy insulated bottles can be pretty expensive nowadays, but GSI knows that good quality doesn’t need to cost an arm and a leg. The GSI MicroLite 720 Bottle may not come in as many fun colors, but it insulates just as well as most of the competition. With only two lid options, the Flip Lid for coffee sippin’ and the Twist Lid for water gulpin’, the MicroLite bottles are simple, but effective. If you’re looking for a different size, take a look at the full line of GSI MicroLite Bottles.
ERGONOMIC WATER BOTTLE THAT HELPS KEEP TRACK OF DAILY HYDRATION
MSRP: $24 (often on sale for less)
WEIGHT: 6.5 oz.
PROS: Affordable, leakproof, intake meter helps track daily hydration, lightweight, easy to drink from spout, fits in cup holders, measurement lines
CONS: Fewer color options & accessories
BOTTOM LINE: Life can get hectic sometimes, and mundane tasks like remembering to drink two liters of water every day can fall by the wayside. The Thermos Intak takes the guesswork out of staying hydrated with a nifty rotating intake meter that tracks how much water you’ve had to drink for the day (as long as you remember to turn it). We love the ergonomic shape and the drinking spout delivers bevvies with precision. The Intak is awesome for busy folks who just need a bottle that provides hydration on the cheap.
ULTRALIGHT, PACKABLE & AFFORDABLE SOFT BOTTLE
WEIGHT: 1.6 oz. (1L)
PROS: Affordable, compact, leakproof, ultralight for backpacking, dishwasher safe
CONS: Not as durable as rigid bottles, can be awkward to drink from (floppy), holds on to flavors
BOTTOM LINE: We’ve used the Platy Bottle from Platypus for years to carry extra water while backpacking, and the Platypus DuoLock SoftBottle is another winner. Going climbing? Clip it to your harness. Going hiking? Clip it to your backpack. Taking the dog for a walk? Clip it to your belt loop. Adding a carabiner makes pretty much any piece of gear better. Floppy bottles aren’t our first choice for everyday use around the house or office, but the Softbottle is quite convenient for life on the go. Platypus also offers the SoftBottle without the carabiner and locking top if you want to save a few bucks.
BEST WATER BOTTLE FOR ULTRALIGHT BACKPACKING
MSRP: Typically $2/bottle at the grocery store
MEASURED WEIGHT: 1.3 oz.
PROS: Ultralight for backpacking, compatible with Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter, fits in cup holders/backpack side pockets
CONS: Shorter lifespan than most other bottles (but will still last a long time if treated with care)
BOTTOM LINE: Yes for real, we’re recommending a technically single-use plastic bottle. Smartwater Bottles are perfect for backpacking because they’re ultralight, they come in full liter capacity, they’re surprisingly durable, and the slender shape fits well in the side pockets of backpacking packs. One of our favorite water filters, the Sawyer Squeeze, also screws directly onto the mouth. If you’re careful with your bottle – make sure to clean it well and keep it out of direct sun – a single one can be reused again and again.
INSULATED WATER BOTTLE THAT COMES WITH ACCESSORIES
MSRP: $40 (often on sale for much less)
WEIGHT: 1 lb.
PROS: Many color options, accessories included (bottle boot, chug cap), leakproof
CONS: Lid is slightly less durable than others, heavy for backpacking, many wide mouth bottles don’t fit in cup holders
BOTTOM LINE: When you pay $40 for an insulated bottle, then $15 or so for a few lid options, then another $8 for a non-slip boot, a simple purchase can turn into your entire month’s lunch money. If you like to have your bottle and accessorize it too, the Takeya Actives Insulated is a great value option. It comes standard with a silicone bottle boot and a leakproof chug cap, which in total would run you about $60 from some other brands on our list. While we feel the quality of the lid isn’t quite as high as the competition, the Takeya Actives is good for those looking for big style on a small budget. The Actives Bottle is available in many different colors, sizes, and lid options.
BEST FILTER BOTTLE
WEIGHT: 7.9 oz.
PROS: Durable, convenient carry clip, replaceable filter, light enough for backpacking, fits in cup holders
CONS: Hard to tell when the filter is no longer effective, expensive, can’t be used with hydration mixes
BOTTOM LINE: The Lifestraw Go Series is handy for those who prefer to filter tap water when out and about or for short backpacking trips. We like that it’s simple to use and that the filter cartridge is replaceable, but we’re not so keen on the fact that it’s pretty much impossible to tell when the activated carbon part of the filter is spent. That said, the Go Filter works well in a pinch and the bottle itself is high-quality. The 22 oz. is the most popular option, but a 1 L bottle is also available. There’s also a stainless insulated Go Bottle for those who want to keep beverages hot or cold.
UNIQUE WATER BOTTLE WITH SMART COLLAPSIBLE DESIGN
WEIGHT: 6 oz.
PROS: Good value, many color choices, compact, convenient for travel (especially airline), leakproof, lightweight, fun & unique look, dishwasher safe
CONS: Slight silicone aftertaste for the first few uses, a little unstable standing on its own
BOTTOM LINE: The Que Collapsible Bottle is a unique container that comes in a plethora of fun colors and collapses down to about the size of a soda can. Its compact size makes it perfect for stashing in a carry-on bag during travel. We love the funky look, but it would be nice if the Que Bottle could stand upright on its own more reliably (check out their video on getting a proper seal for tips). It’s not our first choice for everyday drinkage, but it works great as an in-flight water bottle or to keep in your commuter bag for those days when you accidentally leave the daily drinker at home.
ULTRALIGHT & PACKABLE WATER STORAGE FOR BACKPACKING
WEIGHT: 1.3 oz.
PROS: Ultralight for backpacking, affordable, compact, leakproof, durable for a soft bottle, large capacity for long water carries/storage, measurement lines
CONS: Awkward for everyday use (floppy), not as easy to clean as some others, not as durable as rigid bottles
BOTTOM LINE: The Platypus Platy Bottle isn’t necessarily a water bottle, per se, but it’s been our go-to for carrying water on backpacking trips for many years. We pack the Platy along anytime we expect to hit a long, dry stretch in the backcountry. It came in very handy on our PCT and CDT thru-hikes because it weighs next to nothing, takes up virtually no space in a backpack, costs very little, and the Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter can thread right onto the top. The Platy Bottle is a staple item that should be in every backpacker’s gear closet.
The following water bottles didn’t make our final list, but they’re very popular and they’ve still got a lot of good things going for them. You never know, one of these bottles might be your perfect fit:
Grayl GeoPress – Water bottle that can purify water (takes out viruses, protozoa, bacteria). This bottle is great for backcountry travel in really remote areas with questionable water. But it’s expensive, takes quite a bit of energy to press, and the filter cartridge doesn’t last very long.
Simple Modern Insulated – A good value insulated bottle that comes with two lid options. The bottle itself is similar to the Hydro Flask Wide Mouth, but the lids aren’t as high quality as those from other brands
Klean Kanteen TKWide Insulated Bottle – Another well-designed insulated bottle with excellent color and accessory options. It’s exceptionally durable and the company uses environmentally friendly practices, but these bottles and accessories are getting harder to come by.
Best Water Bottle Lids & Accessories
It’s pretty great when a single bottle can wear many different hats… err… lids… Anyway, the point is, being able to adapt a bottle to any situation is super handy. Below, we outline some of our favorite accessories to pair with our top water bottle picks.
Straw Lid – convenient for on-the-go drinkage
Flex Sip Lid – dispenses the perfect volume of hot beverage per sip
Medium Bottle Boot – non-slip silicone bottle grip
Bottle Sling – carries your bottle, so you can keep your hands free for high-fives
Sports Cap – sports and drinking water go together hand-in-hand
Small Bottle Boot – non-slip silicone bottle grip
Chug Cap – new bottles come standard with this, but definitely grab one of these if you have a pre-chug-cap model
Straw Cap – so sippy
Cup Cap – hot soup to-go, anyone?
Guyot Designs Splashguard – for those who spill more than they drink
Insulated Bottle Sleeve – keeps Nalgene contents hot or cold, also helps to keep your water from turning into ice when temps are below freezing
Straw Cap – comes with a spiffy stainless steel straw that can be used with other cups too
Chug Cap – extra durable chug cap for those who don’t waste time sipping
Cafe Cap – leakproof, so you can start wearing white again
Accessories for any bottle
Critical Water Bottle Considerations
HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF INSULATED BOTTLES – Insulated bottle technology is pretty similar across the board, so these tips should help you keep your hots hot and your colds cold for longer:
- Pre-chill your bottle– putting some ice or cold water in your bottle before adding your cold beverage of choice will pre-chill the walls and air inside to maximize the cold-keeping properties.
- Pre-warm your bottle– running hot tap water inside your bottle before filling it with your favorite hot drink will help keep the cold metal interior walls from sapping warmth from liquids.
- Less air is better– to maximize hot or cold insulation, it’s best to get your bottle as full as possible. Hot or cold outside air can fill the dead space inside your bottle and affect the temperature of your drink.
CLEANING – Most of the water bottles on our list are dishwasher safe, but handwashing will improve the lifespan of your bottle. We recommend picking up the Hydro Flask Bottle Brush and some Hydrapak Bottle Bright Cleaning Tablets to make your life easier. Otherwise, mixing hot water, a drop of dish soap, and a pinch or two of coarse salt into your bottle and then giving it a good shake usually does the trick.
Water Bottle Tips for Backpacking
Backpacking can present some special challenges when it comes to staying hydrated. Here are some of our favorite tips and tricks we’ve picked up.
FILLING A BOTTLE FROM SHALLOW SOURCES – We’ve encountered our fair share of sad trickles on the trail, and we’ve found some creative ways to overcome this challenge.
One solution is to dig out a deeper pool if you’re able to so you can submerge your bottle for filling. You can also look for a spot where a stream of water (even if it’s just a few drops) is flowing over an edge and use a flat/wide leaf or your trowel to make a spout to feed into your bottle. If the source is deep enough, you can try using your cookpot to bail water out of the puddle and into your bottle.
KEEP YOUR BOTTLE FROM FREEZING – It’s important to keep the water in your bottle from freezing for a few reasons – drinking cold water can sap your warmth and energy, a really full bottle can burst when it freezes, and you may have to use a lot of fuel thawing out your water, to name a few.
When temperatures dip below freezing, we always sleep with our bottle in our sleeping bag or at least inside the tent. If daytime temperatures are also frigid, we wrap our bottle in a buff, a pack towel, or something similar while hiking. If you want to get real fancy, use a Nalgene Insulated Bottle Sleeve to shield your Nalgene or similarly-sized bottle from the frost.
WATER FILTERS FOR BACKPACKING – There are a lot of water filters out there, and all the science jargon used to classify them can be a little overwhelming. Below we’ll quickly break down a couple of our favorites along with some suggestions of which water bottle to pair with them. Visit our 10 Best Backpacking Water Filters list to see all of our recommendations.
Chlorine Dioxide Drops & Pills – Chemical drops and pills are our top choice for weight, ease of use, and reliability. Even if we use a something different for our main water filter on a trip, we still like to bring a few of these along in our first aid kit as backup.
Sawyer Squeeze – This is the filter we take on almost all of our backpacking trips because it’s ultralight, compact, and doesn’t leave a weird taste like chemical treatments. We typically pair the Squeeze with a Smartwater Bottle because the threads match up perfectly, and it makes for a really ultralight water filter system. If you need to filter a large amount of water at once, the Platy Bottle 70L also mates to the Squeeze.
Katadyn Steripen Ultra Water Purifier – We love the Ultra UV purifier because it kills EVERYTHING swimming around in your water bottle. It’s a little heavier than some other filters and you may want to travel with a backup battery, but it provides great peace of mind if you’re backpacking in a remote area with questionable water sources. The Ultra can be used with pretty much any bottle, but we like to pair it with Smartwater Bottles because they’re the ideal size and shape for ultraviolet purifying.
OTHER BACKCOUNTRY USES FOR WATER BOTTLES – Your water bottle can do so much more than keep you hydrated and weigh your pack down. Here are some tips to unlock the true hidden potential of you water bottle:
- Turn it into a space heater – On really chilly nights, we like filling a Nalgene with hot water and keeping it in our sleeping bag for some extra warmth. This trick can work with other bottles too, but you should double check that it’s safe to put hot liquids in your bottle before trying this.
- Turn it into your personal chef – We don’t know about you, but sometimes we just can’t be bothered to cook in the backcountry. Let your water bottle do the “cooking” for you by throwing some dried oats in it in the morning while you pack up camp. Give the bottle a couple good shakes and voila, you have oatmeal. Bon appetit.In the evening, throw some couscous and spices in your bottle and let it soak while you set up camp. Give it a couple of shakes, and you’ve got din din. If you can dream it (and it requires no heat, minimal effort, and the only ingredient is water) your water bottle can make it.
- Turn it into a backcountry bidet – Panic can quickly set in when you realize you’ve run out of T.P. in the backcountry, but fear not. A splash or two from a water bottle can clean your bum better than any paper. This method can also be a great way to practice Leave No Trace when you’re above treeline or in environmentally sensitive areas where burying your doo-doo paper is an extra big no-no. For more exciting tips on this matter, check out our How to Poop in the Woods post.
Need More Gear Advice?
If you liked this list, you’ll love the CleverHiker Gear Guide where we test and recommend tons of outdoor adventure gear from a variety of categories. here are some links to popular articles:
Why Trust Us?
We fully understand how tough it is to find trustworthy gear advice, and that’s one of the main reasons we built CleverHiker. We live for outdoor adventure, and we take these guides very seriously. Here are some of the reasons you can trust us:
- Our choices are completely independent and based on personal experience.
- We’ve logged over 10,000 trail miles and test outdoor gear for a living.
- We own and field test every product we recommend, which is sadly not the norm.
- We travel to industry trade shows to learn about upcoming product innovations.
- We constantly update our guides when new products launch.
- We treat our recommendations as if they were for our family and friends.
- We’re lifelong learners and we’re always open to constructive criticism. If you think we’ve missed a product or got something wrong, we’d love to hear your feedback.
We hope this guide helps you find the perfect gear for your needs. If you have more questions or a suggestion, we’d love to hear from you! Sign up for our newsletter to stay updated on our latest posts then visit our Facebook page and Instagram to join the community conversation.
If you found this guide helpful, please give it a share on social media! Also, be sure to check out our CleverHiker Gear Guide to see all of our top gear picks.
Thanks for reading and happy trails!
Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, which means we may receive a modest commission if purchases are made through those links. This adds no cost to our readers and helps us keep our site up and running. Our reputation is our most important asset, which is why we only provide completely honest and unbiased recommendations.