Water bottles are no longer simply items you buy for a sporting event or backcountry adventure. They’re a craze. We now carry them everywhere—in our purse, our knapsack and other bags to sip on throughout the day. We know the health benefits of drinking at least two liters a day, and the importance of using BPA-free plastic or other reusable bottles that are better for us—and for the environment.
How to Choose the Best Water Bottle Brand
But choosing the best water bottle brand means knowing what to look for. For many, there are some basic requirements: it can’t leak, it should be easy to clean (and preferably dishwasher-safe), it should not be too heavy, and should be the right size for our needs. For many of us, we also want a sleek, stylish-looking bottle.
There are also a seemingly endless stream of options—with water bottles in every possible color, size, lid type and construction—as well as a choice of stainless steel, plastic and glass. Bottles with stainless steel insulation promise to keep cold drinks icy, and hot drinks hot for hours on end, and stainless steel is unlikely to absorb flavor. Plastic ones tend to be lighter. And glass ones, well, they just look really cool.
Water bottles also aren’t just large, medium and small. They come in just about every size, but most commonly about between 12 and 64 ounces. And many come with a standard mouth size or a wider mouth, which works well for beverages like fountain drinks when you want to add ice cubes.
To help make your choice for the best water bottle, read on. You’ll learn what sets some of the big brands apart. And while many do function similarly, your choice may come down to finding the best fashion accessory.
1. Hydro Flask
Using TempShield technology, Hydro Flask’s double-wall vacuum-insulated steel bottles are a very clever construction. The two walls of stainless steel with vacuum in between prevents condensation or heat transfer on the outside of the bottle, and does a great job of retaining the temperature of the liquid inside. That means that cold drinks stay icy cold up to 24 hours, and piping hot up to 12.
The Hydro Flask water bottles are also very stylish, with a slim lightweight physique that would make anyone envious. They come in 11 different shades with their signature powder coat that offers a slip-free and sweatproof grip so they’re easy to carry and durable. The bottles are dishwasher-safe, without losing their color. They also offer a choice of several lid types (such the flex cap, sport cap and new flex sip), a wide or standard mouth, and bottle sizes that range from 12 to 64 ounces. You can also further customize your bottle by choosing up to 14 mix-and-match colors for each bottle component—the strap, cap, bottle and exclusive silicone boot.
The super stylish S’Well stainless steel water bottles are made of double walled, vacuum-insulated stainless steel designed to keep beverages cold for up to 24 hours or hot for up to 12. They come in many beautiful designs, making these water bottles, well, pretty swell. You can choose everything from a solid color to marble design, teakwood or Liberty fabric designs. You can personalize them with your name or initials. Or you can get one for your kids with fun designs like sharks, rockets, lions, critters and elephants, or maybe a Disney water bottle from Frozen or characters from Harry Potter.
They also sell accessories separately, so you can try out different colored handles and different lids, such as the swing cap, commuter lid and sports cap; as well as an ice tray that molds ice to fit perfectly inside the water bottle. You can also choose from a 9-, 17-, or 25-ounce bottle (the latter is perfect for fitting contents of entire bottle of wine!). Or choose the 40 or 64-ounce Roamer—a good choice if you want a lot of water, though maybe a bit heavy for a long hike. Note that size choices may vary with the design. (Personally, I love the 9-ounce S’well because I can carry it in my purse. It’s not too heavy, easy to refill and it never leaks.)
Brita sets itself apart from other water bottles on the market because of its built-in filters that filter as you drink. These filters reduce the chlorine from tap water, along with the unpleasant taste and flavor that can go with it. The filters are sold both in their stainless steel bottles (that come in 20- and 32-ounce size), as well as their 26-ounce durable BAP-free plastic bottles. And all the bottles come with a built-in straw that you can take out to wash separately. Filters should be changed every two months.
Brita’s plastic bottles are top-rack dishwasher-safe, making them easy to clean. Their sleek new premium filtering bottles fit car cupholders, and have a built-in carrying loop and a one-handed push button lid.
Thermos sells both stainless steel and BPA-free Eastman Tritan plastic water bottles. Depending on which one you buy, they have some cool options, like a unique built-in rotating meter that helps you track how much water you’re drinking. Other clever features include water bottles with the option of a push-button lid (so you can open it with one hand), locking ring (to keep the lid secure), a flip-up carry loop (to make it extra portable) and built-in straw (perfect for kids). You can also get a stainless steel water bottle with a built-in tea hook to hold tea bags and most loose leaf infusers.
The Under Armour premium stainless steel water bottles by Thermos are ideal for athletes who need to be seriously hydrated. They include squeeze bottles, vacuum-insulated bottles that keep drinks cold for 14 hours, and options such as fold-down carrying handles.
Nalgene is unique to many of its trendier counterparts in that it gives up in style in what you get back in function. Their BPA and BPS-free plastic is super durable, lightweight and inexpensive. Although Nalgene doesn’t actually recommend you throw your bottle off a cliff, if it does accidentally fall, or if it leaks, they guarantee to replace it.
You’ll find Nalgene water bottles with measurements down the side, so you can know how much you’re drinking and can also measure out water for recipes if you’re deep in the woods. There are some fun kid water bottle options that include colorful, leak-proof sippy cups along with bottles for older kids that can hook on to a backpack or daypack with a carabineer and can be opened with one hand.
For something a bit different, the Nalgene Elements collection allows you to choose earth, water, wind or fire graphics and different colors for your bottle. They also have bottles that fit into car cupholders, a squeezable fitness bottle for riding your bike, and even one in the shape of a flask if you want to look classy drinking your water (or something else). Some of their bigger bottles can hold ice cubes, and filtration devices, too.
6. Klean Kanteen
Klean Kanteen is a water bottle brand that now has a chip-resistant durable finish so the color won’t peel away. This vacuum-insulated stainless steel option will keep drinks iced up to a whopping 135 hours and hot up to 38 hours, so this is a brand to go for if you’re out in the woods, or you’re traveling and want your drinks to stay icy cold or super hot.
They also have the regular non-insulated single-wall water bottles. Sizes range from a 5- or 9-ounce baby bottle to 12-ounce kid options, which can come with a sippy cap. Klean Kanteen’s bottles go up to 64 ounces. Klean Kanteen also offers tons of accessories, like stainless steel straws, a chug cap if you want to drink quickly, and an insulated loop cap to make bottles extra thermal, along with a loop handle.
It’s hard to go wrong with a YETI. These water bottles are double-wall vacuum insulated and built with stainless steel, so they’ll keep your drinks icy cold (or hot), and are also super durable and rugged.
YETI’s popular Rambler bottles come in three sizes —18 ounce, 26 ounce and 36 ounce (or 1 liter)—and are available in both stainless and DuraCoat™ finishes that are designed not to chip, crack or fade. They also come in many beautiful colors. The 12-ounce Rambler Jr. water bottle is great for kids, with a straw cap that doesn’t leak when closed. The handles are easy to grip or attach to a backpack or diaper bag.
Another bonus? Every size of YETI’s insulated bottles will accommodate any of its five different caps, allowing for a lot of versatility. YETI’s combination of stylish look, rugged design and ease of cleaning makes this a top choice in a water bottle brand.
Contigo has many options for both plastic and stainless steel water bottles. Ones with their clever AUTOSEAL® technology, for example, allow you to simply press a button to drink, and then, once releasing it, it automatically seals. Others have a quick-twist lid that make the bottles easy to open, and look attractive; they even have a stylish glass bottle option in this line. Still others have an AUTOSPOUT®, so the spout opens with the press of a button. Among the AUTOSPOUT® options are their Chug water bottles that have a wide mouth so you can really chug water quickly when you’re super thirsty.
Contigo also has some unique options. For example, the THERMALOCK vacuum-insulated stainless steel water bottle keeps drinks cold up to 24 hours or hot up to 10, and is super stylish. And another Contigo water bottle has a handy storage pocket for things like your ID, key or money, making it perfect for the gym.
Contigo’s press-a-button technology is super handy for people on-the-go, and for people who are carrying something with one hand, or working out, and want to be able to glug water quickly with the other.
Toronto-based Diana Ballon is a writer and editor who writes about travel, health and wellness, and is most happy when her stories can combine both. Diana’s stories have appeared in numerous digital and print publications. She loves to travel, and is most at peace when she is cycling, hiking, snorkeling and experiencing off-the-beaten path adventures, ideally with her family. Find Diana’s work on her personal website and follow her on Instagram, @dianamaryballon.