The 8 Best Water Bottles of 2023
We've reviewed this guide and remain confident in our recommendations.
Reusable water bottles that are both good-looking and functional seem like a necessity in our modern, hydration-obsessed world. But finding the right one to match your personal taste can be a challenge—it depends on what you’re looking for amid the riot of colors, shapes, and features.
After putting in more than 120 hours of research—and testing over 100 bottles since 2014—we’ve chosen the eight best water bottles in a number of materials and styles. They include our most versatile pick, which has elbowed its way past more well-known competition, and an inexpensive bottle with a straw, beloved for its functionality in any driving scenario. Whether you’re looking for a bottle to drink from while flying, a glass bottle (if you’re averse to plastic), a tapered bottle, a plastic bottle (if you’re averse to high prices), a fancier bottle, or a stainless steel model, all of our favorite water bottles offer a little extra to anyone who’s annoyed by imperfect hydration.
Since we first created this guide, in 2014, we’ve tested more than 100 different bottles over many hundreds of hours. We also spoke with a lot of experts. Given the popularity of metal water bottles, we wanted to get some insight into how that double-walled insulation works. So we called NASA, the best experts on thermodynamics we could think of. Via email, we interviewed Wesley Johnson, a cryogenics research engineer at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland.
We also spoke with urban planner Josselyn Ivanov, who wrote her masters thesis on the decline of publicly available water, aka drinking fountains, for MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning. “In the absence of investment and maintenance [in drinking fountains], many people fill the void by hauling around their own personalized infrastructure,” she told us.
And across four different writers (Sam Schild contributed the most recent round of testing, in mid-2022) and nine years of work, we’ve seen more than 100 iterations of the same object. From the hard-plastic Nalgene that steamrolled college campuses in the 2000s to a $5,000-plus Chanel bottle (which looks freshly looted from Blackbeard’s treasure chest), these water bottles all do the same thing. When you’ve used water bottles with triple-digit price tags as well as much less expensive versions, you know which one works best.
Pretty much anyone can benefit from having a water bottle they love. Carrying a reusable water bottle is better for the environment and more cost effective than buying bottled water. Bottled-water production in the US alone in 2007 required somewhere between 32 million and 54 million barrels of oil, according to a study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters (PDF). That’s roughly 2,000 times as much as the energy cost of producing tap water, and bottled-water sales in the US have grown to 15.3 billion gallons as of 2021, from 8.76 billion gallons in 2007.
For shoppers, bottled water is also a thousand times more expensive than tap water. Add in the fact that in 2014 nearly 64% of all bottled water sold in the US was nothing more than pricey, prepackaged tap water (PDF), and it becomes difficult to deny the value of a well-made reusable water bottle.
The spout on this bottle is easy to drink from (and simpler to use than a sports cap), and the flip lid stays secure and out of your face. And the bottle has a wide mouth, so you can effortlessly add ice and supplements.
Size options (ounces): 18, 22, 24, 32, 40, 64Lids available: Spout (included), StrawDishwasher safe: lid, yes; body, no
Get this if: You’d like a chameleon of a bottle, something that can adapt to almost any situation, whether you’re sitting at a desk, commuting on a subway, or working out at the gym.
Why it’s great: This double-walled, stainless steel bottle is marketed for gym-goers. But even if you’re not seeking a water bottle for working out, the Takeya Actives has a lid that’s a total standout.
The plastic top features a spout with a twist-on flip cap. Spout lids flow as easily as if you were drinking from an open glass. Yet they won’t splash contents if you’re cantering down the sidewalk at a brisk clip or powering through a sweaty treadmill workout.
The spout lid on the Takeya stands out because you can lock it after you flip it open—so it doesn’t hit your face. And when it’s closed, it covers the drinking surface completely. The whole thing twists off to reveal a 2¼-inch-wide mouth opening, so you can add in whatever you like: Load the bottle with ice, add an electrolyte powder, plop in some lemon wedges.
A silicone rubber boot, or base, comes standard on this bottle and prevents it from slipping or making noise on hard surfaces. Takeya also offers a straw lid, which you can purchase separately. We tested the straw lid, and it was leak-free; we recommend getting one if you primarily want to drink from this bottle while driving.
These bottles come in an array of colors and sizes, and our pick, the 22-ounce Takeya Actives, is the most recent size introduced to the lineup. After testing more than 100 bottles, we truly believe this is the Goldilocks size: not too big, not too small. It’s compatible with both cupholders and backpack pockets. And, like the final piece of a puzzle, it will slide nicely into that tiny bit of space remaining in your tote bag.
All of the Takeya bottle sizes we’ve tested have proved to be leak-free. And if you want a 32-ounce bottle, the Takeya Actives properly adapts the proportions of the bottle to accommodate the new capacity: It gets wider as well as taller, so this bottle remains stable when you set it down (though that does mean it’s too broad to fit in a standard cupholder).
Takeya’s website lists the lid as BPA-free, and it’s dishwasher safe (in the top rack). But hand-washing is recommended for the body. Takeya offers a limited lifetime warranty (you need a receipt).
Flaws but not dealbreakers: We’ve found very little not to love about this design. This is a bottle we think everyone can be very happy with.
The Hydro Flask is an insulated steel bottle that’s pleasant to sip from and simple to carry, and it was completely leakproof in our tests.
Size options (ounces): 18, 21, 24Lids available: Flex Cap (included), Sport Cap, Flex Straw CapDishwasher safe: no
Get this if: You want a reliable and versatile water bottle. This is a simple bottle, best for those who believe in doing one thing and doing it well.
Why it’s great: The Hydro Flask Standard Mouth is especially reliable. It’s an insulated, double-walled stainless steel water bottle with a powder-coated exterior (the permanent, lightly textured coating) and a plastic cap. Unlike aluminum bottles, this one won’t dent easily. Unlike glass bottles, this bottle won’t have issues with the bottom cracking. And unlike plastic bottles, it won’t deteriorate quickly while in use.
You can use this bottle with three different lids: the Flex Cap (included), Sport Cap, and Flex Straw Cap. We tested the first two caps, and neither leaked, but we prefer the Flex Cap to the Sport Cap. Usually, sport caps aren’t great at accounting for human error—the plastic can be very stiff and difficult to close with your mouth, so it’s easy to leave them halfway open. And if the bottle is lying on its side, water can occasionally leak through the air-intake valve. (We plan to test the Flex Straw Cap soon.)
If you tend to drink straight from the bottle, the Hydro Flask has a narrow, tapered metal edge. And it mimics the rim of a glass better than the lip on any other bottle we tested, including the round lip on the Klean Kanteen and the thick, industrial-feeling lip on the Yeti Rambler. The standard mouth opening is 1¾ inches wide—wide enough to fit ice but not so wide that water will slosh up your nose if you drink on the move.
Of the three sizes this bottle comes in, we think 21 ounces is the right capacity. This size is big enough to keep refills to a minimum but not as unwieldy as the 24-ounce bottle. (The 24-ounce Hydro Flask is tall and narrow and thus easy to tip over, and it feels large.) The cap is BPA-free, and Hydro Flask offers a limited lifetime warranty on this bottle.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Complaints about the Hydro Flask are infrequent and few. However, while a silicone boot comes standard on the Takeya Actives bottle, for this Hydro Flask model, a boot is an add-on (it usually costs around $8).
Also, some people may not like that a portion of the drinking surface is exposed; the cap threads twist into the bottle rather than over the top and around the lip. We do like this design because sipping from a threaded drinking surface isn’t pleasant. But if the exposed drinking surface bothers you, several of our other picks—including the Takeya Actives, the Purifyou Premium, and the plastic Thermos Hydration Bottle—have lids that fully cover the drinking surface.
If you use a bottle with a straw, you won’t have to tilt your head back while drinking—the easiest way to quaff water and keep your focus on the road.
Size options (ounces): 20, 25, 32Lids available: Straw (included), Chute Mag, Carry CapDishwasher safe: yes
Get this if: You want something that’s easy to sip from while you’re driving, or you want something that encourages you to drink water throughout the day (our unscientific findings have led us to believe that straws make it easier to slurp down water).
Why it’s great: This bottle has an integrated straw in the lid that features a plastic bite valve to keep it sealed (something anyone who has owned a CamelBak hydration pack will be familiar with). Just bite down to open the straw and release to seal it shut. That leak-free lid makes this bottle an ideal driving companion—it fits in a cupholder and is easy to sip from while you’re keeping your eyes on the road. And if you transfer the bottle to a bag, the bite valve folds down into the lid, shielding it from too much contact with the bag’s contents.
Also, if you have daily hydration goals, there’s something about a straw that makes it easy to mindlessly consume the 20, 30, or 40 ounces of water you may have ahead of you. If this sounds like you, the Eddy+ comes in a 32-ounce size, which would be easy to fill once, plop next to your laptop, and hit your goal for the day.
The straw lid twists off to reveal a wide mouth that makes adding ice to your drink easy—handy if you like to keep your water cold. However, this is a plastic bottle, so adding ice could also make it sweaty. If you want to avoid that, the insulated version should prevent moisture from accumulating on the outside of the bottle.
You can swap out lids with two others from CamelBak: the Carry Cap and the Chute Mag (a spout lid we’ve tested and liked because of how easy it is to drink from, similar to the lid on our top pick).
The Eddy+ is an updated model, and with this redesign CamelBak has addressed reports of the bite valve’s leaking or not functioning properly. The one we tested worked great, and neither the lid nor the valve leaked in our tests. This bottle is BPA-free, and all pieces—including the cap, lid, and straw—can go through the dishwasher. CamelBak offers a lifetime guarantee against defects in the manufacturing and materials, and the company will replace them if they’re defective.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: To get the water flowing, you do have to bite down on this straw and hold it while you drink, which may not appeal to some people. But overall we didn’t find that to be cumbersome, and we soon forgot all about it.
This is the only glass bottle we’ve found where no plastic touches your water, and the bottle itself is housed in a protective silicone sleeve. But it won’t keep your water cold for long.
Size options (ounces): 12, 22, 32, 40Lids available: stainless steel lined lid (included)Dishwasher safe: yes
Get this if: You don’t want to drink out of plastic or metal, or you simply enjoy the heft and presence of a glass bottle.
Why it’s great: Our favorite glass bottle is the 22-ounce Purifyou Premium. It has a few design features that make it more functional than most, including the type of glass it’s made from, as well as an especially useful cap, which is also lined with stainless steel.
We recognize that some people just don’t want plastic touching their water. A major reason this bottle outperformed all the other glass options is it’s the only one we found that has a metal-lined cap (rather than some form of plastic). The simple utility of a finger loop on the cap was a surprise—it made the repetitive task of opening and closing the cap that much easier, compared with standard round caps.
We also like the small mouth on this bottle. When you drink from a wide-mouth glass bottle, such as the Lifefactory, it can seem like you’re drinking out of a jar. The downside is that the Purifyou is too narrow to accommodate ice cubes. But a glass bottle doesn’t retain heat or cold anyway, so we decided that wasn’t a problem.
The Purifyou is made of borosilicate glass, and that makes it special. Borosilicate glass resists thermal shock. This means if you take the bottle out of a hot dishwasher and fill it with cold or room-temperature water, it will resist shattering better than bottles made of common soda-lime glass.
We tested and liked the dimensions of the 22-ounce bottle, though it won’t fit in a traditional-size cupholder (the base is 3¼ inches wide). The body’s center is a little wide, and it’s not tapered like some others, but we had no problem holding it. Purifyou offers warranty coverage for all manufacturing defects, and (according to its Amazon page) will replace the bottle if it “breaks within the first year” if you register online.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Glass bottles are limiting. They’re excellent for carrying room-temperature water and that’s it, since they are poor insulators. Glass bottles also aren’t as durable as other options, despite being heavier. Also, if you’re looking for an environmentally friendly option, note that neither the silicone sleeve nor the cap on this bottle is recyclable, since the cap is made from two materials fused into one. If you have environmental concerns, the best approach is to buy a bottle you know you will use the most.
This small-mouth, tapered bottle is pleasant to hold—like a plastic drink bottle but one made of double-walled insulated stainless steel.
Size options (ounces): 12, 17, 25Lids available: stainless steel lid (included)Dishwasher safe: lid, yes; body, no
Get this if: You want a bottle with a minimalist, classic shape and a cap that covers the drinking lip.
Why it’s great: The Mira Cascade is a double-walled insulated bottle made of stainless steel. Its lid threads over the drinking surface, so you won’t have to put your mouth on something that’s been getting dirty in your bag all day. The Mira’s tapered shape is reminiscent of a classic 20-ounce plastic soda bottle, and this bottle is nice to hold. It will keep the contents cold all day, and due to the bottle’s small opening, your beverage won’t splash your face while you’re drinking, as the Nalgene Wide Mouth Bottle does.
The Mira Cascade is nearly identical to the S’well, another tapered bottle we like everything about—except the price. Since the Cascade is usually about half the price of the S’well, we naturally picked the less expensive option, which performs just as well.
The Mira Cascade has an elegant design, so it fits in at the office and other formal events: Pick the right color, and it could even match a tux. And it passed the leak test, so you don’t have to worry about this bottle’s contents ruining your day, your laptop, or your evening wear.
We think the 17-ounce size is ideal—it fits in a briefcase, in cupholders, and in water-bottle pockets. If you want a smaller or larger bottle, the Cascade also comes in a 12-ounce size and a 25-ounce size. The 25-ounce size is slightly wider, so it won’t fit in a cupholder.
The lid covers the drinking lip, so no matter where you toss this bottle, the surface that your mouth touches will be covered. Also, we think the Mira Cascade’s lid is just the right size, compared with the Corkcicle Canteen’s lid, which is so small we were worried about losing it. Like most double-walled bottles, the bottle itself isn’t dishwasher safe, but the lid is. Mira sells replacement lids and lid gaskets, too.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Since the lid covers the drinking lip, the bottle’s threads are on the drinking surface. While we generally don’t love the feeling of threads on the outside lip, these don’t protrude much, and we quickly got used to the feeling. Also, because of the 1.35-inch opening, it’s impossible to get prism-shaped ice cubes from a classic ice cube tray into the bottle. However, half-moon-shaped ice cubes do fit through the opening.
With a leakproof, push-button flip-top lid, this inexpensive and lightweight bottle should make anyone happy.
Size options (ounces): 24Lids available: flip top (included)Dishwasher safe: yes
Get this if: You value lightweight portability, and you like a good deal—two excellent qualities in a water bottle. This one is also dishwasher safe, unlike some other bottles we recommend.
Why it’s great: The super-affordable 24-ounce Thermos Hydration Bottle has been a pick since we first published this guide, in 2014, and it’s still here. (Thermos has made a few minor cosmetic changes over the years.) This is a plastic bottle with a plastic, flip-top lid and spout. It has passed years of leak tests, and the lid has a lock, so it will stay closed in your bag.
Another great feature of this bottle: Despite the fact that it holds 24 ounces—a capacity we’ve found to be cumbersome in a metal bottle—the Thermos possesses just the right proportions to be ergonomic and easy to carry.
This bottle weighs only 6.6 ounces. The textured, contoured design makes the Thermos easy to hold, too, and you can effortlessly drop ice cubes into the wide mouth. And after you reattach the lid, the spout is simple to drink out of. This design is a winning combination, the same as on a similar, insulated pick, the Takeya bottle. Also, the Thermos is made from Eastman Tritan BPA-free plastic.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: After using versions of the 24-ounce Thermos nearly constantly for seven years, we don’t have a lot of criticism. However, we do wish Thermos would sell this type of bottle in a few different sizes. Also, though the lid has a ring that you can turn to track your water intake, in practice we’ve found we barely use it. Still, it’s not hurting anything by being there.
This squeeze bottle is leakproof and light, so you can throw it into a carry-on bag for a flight. And the Podium is cheap enough that if the TSA makes you ditch it, you won’t be heartbroken.
Size options (ounces): 21, 24Lids available: squeeze lidDishwasher safe: yes
Get this if: You want a travel bottle. This bottle was invented for a bike cage, but a regular ol’ squeeze bottle is useful for so many things, specifically airport travel. Eve personally owns (and uses) just two types of water bottle, and this is one of them.
Why it’s great: Basic, lightweight, and cheap, a bike squeeze bottle makes a great travel companion, and we like the CamelBak Podium in particular. It has a twist lock—which provides extra assurance that the bottle is tightly closed when you toss it in a bag. Plus, it’s dishwasher safe.
For years, we looked for a reliable collapsible travel bottle, but we’ve been disappointed so many times: The Hydaway tastes plasticky, the Vapur and the Platypus collapse (in a bad way), the HydraPak flops, and the Nomader doesn’t pack down very small. And the implied way to carry a travel bottle correctly—clipped to a backpack or belt loop—always leaves it swinging around haphazardly, in our experience. We’ve recommended all of these bottles in the past, but we’ve constantly been left wishing there were a better way.
A bike squeeze bottle is now our sincere recommendation for airport travel. In addition to being light and relatively compact, this bottle is inexpensive, so if the TSA takes it, you’ve lost only a few dollars, instead of an expensive insulated bottle. You could also bring the Thermos Hydration Bottle we recommend. But this CamelBak bottle has fewer moving parts, if you don’t want to fuss with the lid or flip lock on the Thermos. Our other recommendation would be to buy a plastic bottle in the airport, and then use it for the rest of your trip.
Two types of Podium are available: the original and the Podium Chill, which has a reflective material in the lining intended to help keep water cold. We haven’t found this lining makes any difference. In our tests, the liquid in insulated squeeze bottles warmed 17 degrees over six hours, the same as in a glass or unlined plastic bottle. For that reason, we wouldn’t bother with the lined version and instead recommend the original. CamelBak offers a limited lifetime warranty covering manufacturing defects.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: The lid on this bottle is not covered, so if you dislike the idea of a bottle swimming around in a bag with the drinking surface exposed, you may like the Thermos better. In addition, this bottle’s squeeze valve does not push in and out, as on other models. Instead, the mouthpiece is static, and the plastic piece inside releases water when you apply pressure to the bottle. So if you’re using this bottle for cycling, and you experience a ton of dust and dirt on your ride, some of it may get stuck in that mouthpiece.
If you’re seeking an especially sleek-looking bottle, the Purist Mover is a good choice, and its (non-breakable) glass interior prevents flavors from transferring.
Size options (ounces): 10 (Maker), 18 (Mover), 32 (Founder)Lids available: Element (twist lid), Union (spout lid), Scope (café lid)Dishwasher safe: no
Get this if: You’ve noticed that odors or flavors in your water bottle don’t go away, you want a bottle that looks like a design object, or you want one bottle that can hold both hot and cold drinks. Purist’s bottle has a (non-breakable) glass interior that prevents flavors from transferring, so there should be no taste issues like you get with stainless steel or plastic.
Why it’s great: The 18-ounce Purist Mover is a drink bottle designed within an inch of its life. With a special lining made to stop flavor transfers, an aesthetic that looks designed to fit into a Tesla’s dashboard, and a newly expanded range of caps, this is a refined bottle that can do it all—and it’s worth the high price.
The signature feature of the Purist is a glass-lined interior that prevents tastes and odors from transferring. Unlike traditional glass vacuum linings, the Purist’s is unbreakable (and so minimal you can barely notice it), since it’s applied as a thin, spray-on coating. You get the benefits of a glass bottle minus the weight or potential breakage, plus it keeps drinks hot or cold.
And in our experience, the Purist bottle works. We’ve had this bottle in testing for three years, including one episode where we left the Purist under a car seat for a month with kombucha in it. Someone finally got the courage to open the bottle and clean it out, and the next day a bottle full of water tasted like water and nothing else. Wirecutter’s Tim Barribeau—who is pathologically averse to the taste of coffee—found that even after cold-brew concentrate sat in the Purist for a weekend, water came out tasting fresh (after a simple wash of the bottle). Some tastes and smells lingered in the flip-top lid, but those disappeared after a good scrub.
There are three lids that work with the Purist water bottle: the simple, screw-top Element, the flip-top spout Union, and the Scope, a café lid designed for hot beverages. The lip of the bottle is on the thick side, so if drinking from a thick-walled bottle would bother you, we’d recommend either the Union or the Scope.
Though 18-ounce bottles can feel small, the Mover can hold more than advertised. The Union spout cap is hollow and raised above the top of the bottle, in contrast with the flat Element cap, which plunges downward. That means using the Union cap, you can fill the bottle to the brim; we did, and that’s when we discovered the bottle can hold up to 21 ounces.
Purist has a lifetime warranty that covers manufacturing defects.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: This bottle is clunky to drink out of if you use only the twist-off cap (the Element). So if you’re going to invest in the Purist, we recommend getting the spout lid (the Union) or the Scope cap (Purist’s version of a café cap). The Union spout cap is tricky to open due to its tight seal (but we found that if you pinch both sides of the spout, the cover pops off easily).
If you’re going camping: Consider the Nalgene Wide Mouth Bottle, which is inexpensive, indestructible, and lightweight. It has more than 18,000 reviews on Amazon and a star rating of 4.8 out of 5, and we couldn’t agree more. For almost a decade now, we’ve been talking about why this isn’t among our picks.
But we still don’t include it, because in day-to-day life it’s sort of annoying. You can’t drink out of it while walking, the attached cap gets in your face, and it doesn’t fit a cupholder or a backpack pocket. Out there in the wild, it’s the ultimate weapon. Back here in the urban jungle, it’s just kind of a klutz. So, to summarize, we love this bottle, but specifically for camping. And that’s outside the scope of what we test for in this guide.
If you’re set on getting a collapsible travel bottle: Consider the Nomader 22-ounce collapsible bottle, which was our travel pick in 2018. It has stood the test of time, whereas other travel bottles have sprung leaks. If you must have a travel bottle, this one is the easiest to fill and drink from. Our big concern is that this bottle doesn’t roll down particularly small, so it’s up to you to decide whether the space savings are worth it.
If you want a spout lid on a lightweight, plastic bottle: After a reimagining of the lid on the CamelBak Chute—resulting in the addition of a magnet to keep the lid open and out of the way while you’re drinking—we can’t find any serious negatives for this bottle. The Takeya Actives just barely nudges the Chute out of competition because the Takeya comes with the silicone base, and it’s often on sale. However, the Chute’s lid is compatible with our new recommendation, the CamelBak Eddy+.
We’ve been at this for nine years. And, as always, we start by reading trusted editorial sources, in this case outlets such as Gear Patrol, GearLab, and Outside. In addition, each year, we listen to the opinions of Wirecutter’s readers—we’ve incorporated a number of great suggestions from the comments on previous iterations of this guide.
There are so many water bottles in the world that it’s helpful for us to outline what we don’t consider and why. When we find bottles with a pattern of complaints about build quality, usability, or leakage, we drop them from the list of possible test candidates. We also eliminate bottles made by companies that appear to have an opaque supply chain or no online presence outside of an Amazon listing. In any category, if we recommend a product, we want to make sure you won’t have a problem finding one to buy. And if a product is defective, you should be able to contact the manufacturer so that the company can make it right.
We no longer consider bottles made of aluminum because it dents too easily. And when possible we avoid bottles that have painted exteriors because the coating can tend to scratch; in certain categories, however, painted exteriors are the norm. We also set aside uncoated stainless steel bottles—if you leave an uncoated metal bottle in the sun, the exterior becomes too hot to hold.
Some other bottles, including the Klean Kanteen Wide Mouth, can easily serve as water bottles. But because of the caps offered (travel mug caps) or the sizes available (limited to smaller sizes), they are more suited to hot drinks. In the case of the Klean Kanteen, both things are true, so we consider it to be a travel mug. If that’s what you’re looking for, we have a guide to travel mugs for hot beverages.
For our most recent round of testing, in 2022, we tried nine new bottles and performed several tests to evaluate them. Here are the tests we regularly conduct:
We do leak tests. There are so many bottles that we can’t see recommending one that leaks in any way. We fill each bottle with water that’s dyed with food coloring. Then we place the bottle on its side over a paper towel for 24 hours and watch for leaks.
The leak test also takes into account how the lid seats on the bottle. We believe good design is human-centered design, and that you should be able to absent-mindedly screw the top back on and trust that the bottle is properly closed.
And we’ve discovered over time that rigid sport caps, like the ones you can get for Klean Kanteen or HydroFlask bottles, are not the best at preventing leaks because they’re prone to user error. Such caps make perfect sense on squeezable sport bottles. But the sport caps that come on double-walled steel bottles are stiffer, so they’re easy to inadvertently leave open. It’s also difficult to tell at a glance whether the valve is fully closed.
We do temperature tests. For five years, we performed temperature tests with the goal of seeing which bottle kept its contents the coldest for the longest. Here are the results from 2017:
In this 2017 test, we filled each bottle with water at 47 degrees Fahrenheit, and then we took a temperature measurement every hour for 10 hours. What we’ve seen in years of testing is that almost every insulated bottle performs to within a few degrees of its competition. There are exceptions, but they’re rare. Companies love to make claims about how long a bottle can keep something hot or cold, but they all work basically the same.
Sometimes manufacturers make bottles with copper linings in an attempt to keep the contents even hotter or colder. It could work, and as Wesley Johnson, a cryogenics research engineer at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, explained, “For spacecraft, we often use a similar technique for insulation.” The theory behind using copper in insulation (despite its being an excellent conductor normally) is based on the fact that heat transfers through three forms: solid conduction, gaseous convection, and radiation, Johnson told us. A double-walled bottle already stops solid conduction, and a vacuum-insulated bottle stops gaseous convection. “This leaves only radiation heat transfer between the walls,” Johnson said. And copper can work to stop that last method of heat loss. But it works only under a set of specific circumstances. “The main benefit of copper is that when it is polished, it is much more reflective of radiation heat transfer,” Johnson explained. So, “the copper liner needs to be: polished, installed in a vacuum, and done so in a manner that limits the amount of oxidation of the metal prior to pulling the vacuum.”
You can buy any insulated bottle you want—they all work the same.
We have tested bottles with and without copper linings, and so far we haven’t found any advantage to using copper. The Yeti Rambler is “constructed with a copper plate to protect against UV,” according to the company’s PR reps. But neither Klean Kanteen nor Hydro Flask includes any copper in its designs, and all the bottles still insulate within degrees of one another.
We consider bottle proportions. After nine years, we’re convinced that 20- to 22-ounce bottles are the perfect size. Although 17-ounce bottles are wonderfully portable, the contents get consumed quickly. And 24-ounce bottles are almost too tall and skinny. They can be very easy to knock over, and they don’t stay upright in cup holders because they’re top-heavy. They begin to take on the appearance of blunt-force weapons: The 25-ounce S’well could double as a small baseball bat.
We like bottles with the right proportions, and we have to believe designers have noticed the awkwardness of the 24-ounce size. For instance, in 2020 the Takeya Actives became available in a 22-ounce size (slightly smaller than the 24-ounce version, which had been our previous pick). Similarly, 32-ounce bottles are most useful when they are wide and squat instead of tall. When we make recommendations for larger capacities, such design concerns are a big part of what we take into consideration.
We consider the drinking experience. Think about the lip: If you’re drinking directly from the bottle, what is that experience like? If you’re trying to drink out of it while walking, what is that like? If you’re drinking from it in a car, what is that like? And recently, due to reader comments, we’ve been tracking whether the cap of a bottle covers the drinking surface completely or whether it’s exposed. Some people are concerned about bacteria getting onto the lip of their bottle, via contact with their hands or with sweaty gym clothes.
The Yeti Rambler is a reliable bottle. But its opening does not taper at all, so this bottle is more of a thermos and more suitable for using a spoon, with something like soup.
The S’well bottle insulates with the best of them, and it has been watertight in all our tests. If you like it, go for it: S’well bottles are just more expensive, at every capacity, than anything else we’ve seen.
The Simple Modern Summit bottle leaked through the threads when we left it on its side overnight.
In past years, the Klean Kanteen Classic has been one of our picks, and we’ve tested the Insulated Classic as well. They’re both very similar to a Hydro Flask, but in 2019’s testing, both bottles had small leaks. For 2022, we tested the Klean Kanteen Insulated Classic with Pour Through Cap. Though this new lid’s dual gaskets fix the leaking problem, it took twice as many turns to open the pour-through cap compared with most other bottles. This bottle works great as a thermos to carry hot drinks to pour into a smaller cup, but it’s not great as a water bottle. Plus, the cap is metal, as is the bottle, and everyone who tested this model hated the metal-on-metal sound of the cap threading into the bottle.
The Corkcicle Classic Canteen performed well in every regard, but its lid is the smallest of of those on other bottles we tested. In fact, the lid was so small we were afraid we’d lose it.
The Corkcicle Series A Sport Canteen performed poorly in our insulation tests. Also, though it didn’t leak during testing, we thought the quick-sip lid was too prone to human error to be genuinely leak-proof.
Several other bottles leaked in our testing and were thus disqualified, including the 21-ounce Healthy Human Stein.
Other bottles performed poorly in our insulation tests, including the 25-ounce Fifty/Fifty Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel, the Laken Thermo Classic (its contents rose by 20.1 degrees during our test), and the Contigo Autoseal Chill.
Though we like the inclusion of a mesh strainer inside the lid of the EcoVessel Boulder, this bottle has the same problem as the Nalgene: The lid is connected with a long silicone strap that doesn’t stay put when you drink from it, unless you hold it down.
The mouthpiece on the EcoVessel Wave with Fliptop Straw is made of hard plastic, and it was not as pleasant to drink out of as the CamelBak Eddy+.
The Stanley Quik Flip Go Bottle is one of the few flip-top bottles we’ve found that has a lock to secure the top. But this bottle is especially tall and unwieldy. It would make a better thermos than a water bottle.
The Coldest Water bottle has a flip-top straw that’s also made of hard plastic, like that of the EcoVessel Wave with Fliptop Straw. And it’s not that nice to drink out of.
We passed on the Coleman Autoseal FreeFlow Stainless bottle for the same reason we pass on most trigger bottles—a relatively elaborate cap that needs detailed cleaning.
A pick from 2017, the 22-ounce Lifefactory Classic Flip was the best wide-mouth glass bottle available. There are just a few caveats. First, the wide mouth is a bit awkward to drink out of—it feels a lot like drinking out of a jar. Second, although the bottle has alternate lid options, we tested the Flip Cap in 2018, and it leaked. (That lid has since been discontinued.) Third, the standard lid is watertight but made of plastic, a concern for many people seeking glass bottles.
In drop testing, the Glasstic suffered from extensive scuffing.
The 20-ounce Ello Syndicate had a cap problem, with reports of mold building up.
The Hydaway was our collapsible travel pick in 2018, and it proved polarizing: We received feedback both from people who loved it and from others who hated it. Such is the fate of all collapsibles we’ve tried. A 50/50 love-hate relationship didn’t convince us this bottle was a reliable recommendation for most travelers.
Our 2017 travel pick, the Platypus Meta, tends to develop a small hole in its bottom, which renders it useless for carrying water. Our 2016 pick, the Platypus SoftBottle, is watertight but floppy, as all collapsible bag-bottles are.
Before that, we picked the 1-liter Vapur. However, CNET’s Tim Stevens brought to our attention a design flaw in the cap that caused it to leak when lateral torsion was applied. We were able to replicate the issue independently using a brand-new bottle. As such, we no longer feel confident recommending it. Both the Vapur Element and the Nalgene Wide Mouth Cantene also leaked from their seams during our twist-and-torque test.
The Pogo plastic water bottle is basic and functional. We like the lid (again, just as with the Takeya) and the flip top that closes over the spout. We encountered no leaks, but at the time we tested this bottle, it had a bad Fakespot rating (a D). As of March 2023, the rating is a B, so we plan to look at it again.
The trendy reemergence of the Gatorade squeeze bottle prompted us to put it to the test in 2020. There was some small leakage through the threads when we left the bottle on its side overnight.
The Nalgene On The Fly comes with a locking flip-top lid but no spring release, so the lid wouldn’t pop open when we pushed the button.
The Embrava would be a good choice if the 24-ounce Thermos isn’t available, but it has a huge logo and a smooth body that becomes slick when wet.
If you’re drinking anything besides water, gunk will build up in your bottle over time, so you’ll need to clean it occasionally. The best way to do that is to use a bottle brush and some baking soda and vinegar.
The OXO bottle-cleaning set includes a skinny straw brush and a looped, detail-cleaning brush—everything you need to keep your water bottle squeaky-clean.
After several hours of research, we found that the best bottle-cleaning set is the OXO Good Grips Water Bottle Cleaning Set. This dishwasher-safe kit offers a large bottle brush, a skinny straw brush, and a looped, detail-cleaning brush, all kept together on a handy ring so you don’t lose any parts. We bought a couple of sets to confirm their quality, and they are as good as we thought they would be.
This article was edited by Eve O’Neill and Christine Ryan.
Wesley Johnson, cryogenics research engineer at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, email interview, August 22, 2018
Jocelyn Ivanov, MIT, Drinking fountains: the past and future of free public water in the United States, September 29, 2015
PH Gleick, HS Cooley, Energy implications of bottled water (PDF), Environmental Research Letters, February 19, 2009
Bottling Our Cities' Tap Water (PDF), Food & Water Watch, August 1, 2010
No consumer health risk from bisphenol A exposure, European Food Safety Authority, January 21, 2015
Jon Hamilton, Beyond BPA: Court Battle Reveals A Shift In Debate Over Plastic Safety, NPR, February 16, 2015
Johanna R. Rochester, Ashley L. Bolden, Bisphenol S and F: A Systematic Review and Comparison of the Hormonal Activity of Bisphenol A Substitutes, Environmental Health Perspectives, July 1, 2015
Jenna Bilbrey, BPA-Free Plastic Containers May Be Just as Hazardous, Scientific American, August 11, 2014
M. Ridder, Sales volume of bottled water in the United States from 2010 to 2020, Statista, May 10, 2022
Eve O'Neill is a former senior staff writer reporting on travel and outdoors at Wirecutter. She can remember the titles on her childhood bookshelf that set her in this direction: Into Thin Air, On The Road, The Call of the Wild. She has always been drawn to ideas about how to relate to, and play in, the wilderness.
Sam Schild is a writer and outdoor adventurer based in Denver. A former academic, teacher, and bicycle mechanic, he now finds joy in adventures as often as possible. Whether he travels by bicycle or on foot, he uses his experience outside to bring inspiration to all the stories he tells.
by Christine Ryan
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After 78 hours of research and testing since 2013, we think the Zojirushi SM-SC Mug is the best travel mug to keep your drinks hot for hours.
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Skip the waste of bottled water with a Hydro Flask.Size options (ounces): Lids available: Dishwasher safe:Get this if: Why it’s great: Flaws but not dealbreakers: Size options (ounces): Lids available: Dishwasher safe:Get this if: Why it’s great: Flaws but not dealbreakers: Size options (ounces): Lids available:Dishwasher safe:Get this if: Why it’s great: Flaws but not dealbreakers:Size options (ounces): Lids available: Dishwasher safe:Get this if: Why it’s great: Flaws but not dealbreakers: Size options (ounces):Lids available: Dishwasher safe:Get this if: Why it’s great: Flaws but not dealbreakers: Size options (ounces): Lids available: Dishwasher safe:Get this if:Why it’s great:Flaws but not dealbreakers: Size options (ounces): Lids available: Dishwasher safe:Get this if: Why it’s great: Flaws but not dealbreakers: Size options (ounces): Lids available: Dishwasher safe:Get this if: Why it’s great: Flaws but not dealbreakers: If you’re going camping: If you’re set on getting a collapsible travel bottle: If you want a spout lid on a lightweight, plastic bottle:We do leak tests.We do temperature tests.We consider bottle proportions.We consider the drinking experience.