Owala vs. Takeya: Which trendy water bottle earns top spot in my cupholder?
It's hard to best Owala's FreeSip bottle.
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Of these many, many water bottles, one became the most-frequently reached-for: the Actives bottle from Takeya. For years, it stayed that way. But then, I received two bottles from a brand called Owala, which I thought sounded familiar from Instagram but wasn't yet familiar with. And, well folks, let’s just say that Takeya met its match.
What is Owala?
Owala is a water bottle brand that launched in 2020. Since then, its stylish, streamlined wares earned legions of fans (or at least 50,000 of them, based on the brand's Instagram following). I have two Owala bottles: The FreeSip and the Flip. The FreeSip features a handle that folds over the lid and snaps in place to lock the bottle. After you lift the handle, a press of a button opens the lid to reveal a straw and a spout opening. The Flip Bottle features a handle that, when pressed down, opens the top to reveal a straw. I prefer the FreeSip, so that's what most of this review reflects.
All Owala bottles come in insulated stainless steel that keeps water cold for hours and Tritan, a clear, ultra-durable plastic that's also used in water bottles like the CamelBak Eddy. While the plastic doesn't keep water cold, these bottles also boast a colorful straw, which give a little extra pizazz.
Owala's 25-ounce Tritan bottles are start at $14.99 and the stainless steel bottles start at $21.99 for a 19-ounce bottle and go up to $29.99 for a 32-ounce bottle.
What is Takeya?
Takeya is another popular water bottle brand that offers Tritan, stainless steel, and glass bottles in a variety of sizes. There are many different options pick from, and we tested the glass variation in our comprehensive test of water bottles. But the Takeya Actives stainless steel bottles are the top seller, and my personal favorite from the brand. This is due to the bottle's ability to retain hot and cold temps for up to 24 hours. Like Owala, all Takeya bottles have a built-in handle and offer options with straws and spouts.
Takeya Actives bottles start at $23.99 for a 16-ounce bottle and go up to $54.99 for a 64-ounce jug.
Which water bottle is more portable?
One of the main reasons I’ve always loved Takeya water bottles is because they’re all made with built-in handles for easy carrying. And, unlike the few other brands that offer handles, Takeya’s are wide enough to easily grip, so you don’t have to resort to dangling your bottle from one or two fingers. Now, until discovering Owala bottles, I was convinced that Takeya’s were the only bottles to fill that niche. But Owala’s do, too.
The FreeSip and Flip bottles both have handles that give these bottles bonus portability points. Now, I prefer the FreeSip handle—ever so slightly—to Takeya’s Actives grip. As silly as it may sound, the Owala FreeSip handle feels as though it was crafted specifically to fit the natural contours of curled fingers. It has the hint of an arch with a wider top grip, narrow sides, and wide joints adhering it to the bottle. The Takeya Actives handle—as much as I’ve adored it over the years—is a ho-hum thin rectangle in comparison.
My pick: Owala
Which water bottle is more stylish?
I always knew that my love of Takeya Actives bottles was more about utility than appearance. While I love the colors I own—which includes mint, lilac, cobalt, and teal—there’s nothing about them that makes me smile from first glance apart from knowing that they contain ice-cold water (more on that later).
The Owala bottles, however, are downright fun. Rather than spicing up bottles with prints and sayings that will likely go out of style, Owala incorporates a minimum of three colors into each of its vessels (apart from the plain black and white bottles, of course). Of the four I own, the "Hyper Flamingo" stainless steel FreeSip (which includes neon coral, peach, and purple elements) and "Hint of Grape" Tritan FreeSip (which features bright purple, teal, orange, and neon yellow) have been in constant rotation since the day I received them.
My pick: Owala
Which water bottle has better insulation?
As much as I’ve come to adore my Owala bottles, I will admit that I’m not 100% sold on their insulation. While my Takeya Actives stainless steel bottles will keep ice cubes frozen throughout the day, my Owala stainless steel FreeSip doesn't boast this longevity. However, as someone who enjoys everything from room temperature to ice-cold water, that little speed bump doesn’t deter me.
My pick: Takeya
Which water bottle is more functional?
Pure functionality is where Owala shines most—and that’s saying something considering how much I love the brand's colors. But I have never found a water bottle that fits my mouth better than the Owala FreeSip water bottle. It sports a spout that's about the size of a quarter, and at first, I wasn't sure how I was going to sip from it. However, the spout has a built-in straw in which the edge closest to your mouth, when held directly in front of you, is slightly higher than the back edge of the spout. This slanted nature makes sipping freely feel effortless; you don’t have to wrap your lips around a small, hard rectangular spout (as is the case with Takeya). And look, believe me, I never thought twice about Takeya’s straws because I was just thrilled to have one in my water bottle. But as soon as I tried Owala, it changed the game for me.
Another thing I love about my Owala bottle is that the mouthpiece seems to be fully shielded from germs thanks to its fold-over lid. Takeya’s, on the other hand, folds down into the bottle—but one edge of the straw is still exposed to the elements, as well as fumbling fingers when opening it.
Lastly, I love that the FreeSip is truly leak-proof thanks to the lock-in-place lid, which features a silicone seal on the inside to further keep water inside where it belongs. While the Takeya bottles claim to be leak-proof, I've encountered instances where a few drops spill out the cracks of the straw.
My one complaint about Owala is that I wish the stainless steel bottle came with either a built-in silicone coaster (the way Corkcicle’s do) or a removable one (the way Takeya’s do). That way, it wouldn’t clang when setting it down or knocking the bottom into something. Is that enough of a complaint to make me ditch the delightfully colorful and amazingly ergonomic bottle, though? Not a chance.
My pick: Owala
Which water bottle offers better value?
From a price standpoint, both Owala and Takeya easily beat other, pricier bottles. Owala's stainless steel bottles start at $21.99 and Takeya's start at $29.99; Owala's Tritan bottles start at $14.99 and Takeya's start at $9.99—so, the better value depends on the type of construction you prefer.
Another highlight for both brands is that they offer pack deals (something I've noticed most other water bottle brands steer clear of). If you shop at Sam’s Club, you can snag two 32-ounce stainless steel Owala FreeSip water bottles for $29.98; and if you head to Takeya’s site, you can choose from a variety of different sized bundles starting at $32.99.
My pick: It's a tie
The best in show: Owala
At this point, you’ve likely concluded that I have a new favorite water bottle, and you’d be right. To me, the Owala FreeSip water bottle—both in stainless steel and Tritan—is absolutely unmatched.
But hey, don’t just take my word for it! The Owala FreeSip water bottle has earned an astonishing 10,948 reviews on its site, over 10,000 of which are perfect 5-star reviews. “This is by far the absolute best, most amazing water bottle I have ever purchased,” writes one reviewer. “I love the versatility of the drinking features. Not only is it perfectly insulated, it is also easy to clean and sanitize.”
If you need any more convincing, you'll just have to take a sip and see for yourself.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.