The Best Water Bottles of 2018

By Sarah Zorn

We’re forever being urged to increase our water intake, which makes purchasing the perfect water bottle particularly consequential to our health. Because whether we’re climbing mountains or quarantined in cubicles, these vessels are tasked with safeguarding a life-giving substance, assuring we have access to ice-cold, easy-to-sip, and perfectly-portable water anywhere we go.

Thanks to the Hydro Flask Double Wall Vacuum Insulated Sports Water Bottle (available at Amazon), it was easy to drink our recommended water intake each day. The bottle's name says it all when it comes to its strengths—keeping our water refreshingly frosty and totally contained for 48 hours straight.

But it’s not the only worthwhile model on the market. After many hours of testing, here’s how a selection of the best plastic, glass and stainless-steel water bottles ranked, in order:

  1. Hydro Flask Double Wall Vacuum Insulated Stainless-Steel Leak Proof Sports Water Bottle
  2. Brita Sport Water Bottle with Filter
  3. Klean Kanteen Wide Insulated Stainless-Steel Bottle With Loop
  4. CamelBak Eddy Water Bottle
  5. Lifefactory BPA-Free Glass Water Bottle with Straw Cap and Silicone Sleeve
  6. Thermos Intak Hydration Bottle with Meter
  7. S’well Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle
  8. Takeya Classic Glass Water Bottle with Silicone Sleeve and Twist Cap
  9. Vapur Element
  10. Nalgene Silo Wide Mouth BPA-Free Water Bottle
  11. Memobottle A5
— Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

Updated August 21, 2018

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Best Overall Best Overall
Credit: Amazon and Reviewed / Sarah Zorn

Hydro Flask Standard Mouth with Flex Cap

Hydro flask
  • Editors' Choice

Hydro Flask Standard Mouth with Flex Cap

Best Overall

The Hydro Flask checks off all of our boxes: It’s portable, versatile, durable and well designed. And it was the top performer by far during our temperature tests. Ice deposited in the Hydro Flask one morning remained largely unmelted, well into the next day. Its patented double-wall vacuum enables the bottle to hold cold and hot beverages and prevents condensation from forming on the outside, keeping it slip-free, and safe to store in bags alongside papers and laptops. Though it’s often a caveat with stainless steel, the bottle didn’t transmit any funky flavors to our water. It’s also crafted from recycled materials and comes with a lifetime guarantee (which definitely helps justify the price). The only downside we found is it's not dishwasher safe. The extra-wide mouth can fit any sized ice cube, and the bottle is compatible with a range of Hydro Flask caps, that lets you rotate between flex caps, sports caps, straw lids, flip lids and press-in lids, to suit your specific needs or activity. A range of attractive colors further enhance customizability: Choose from mint, blueberry, flamingo, tangelo, graphite, plum, and more.

Best Value Best Value
Credit: Amazon and Reviewed / Sarah Zorn

Brita Sport Water Bottle with Filter

Brita
  • Editors' Choice

Brita Sport Water Bottle with Filter

Best Value

While (even BPA free) plastic can occasionally leach flavors and odors into water, Brita’s in-bottle filter is a bulwark against that. And even when factoring in the cost of replacements, this environmentally-conscious option is wallet-friendly as well, as one filter stands in for approximately 300 disposable water bottles—or up to 40 gallons of water—and only requires swapping out once every two months. The Brita’s soft squeeze body and easy sip sports top also make it great for using while biking, hiking, or any outdoor activity.

How We Tested

The Tester

My name is Sarah Zorn, and I’m a professional food writer. And frankly, my only healthy lifestyle choice is that I drink lots and lots and lots of water. I generally have some on hand, whether I’m tapping away at my computer, testing recipes in the kitchen, on my way to a meeting, or walking my dog. And by keeping my water both accessible and chilled, the almighty bottle makes a big difference in my day.

The Tests

To find the best water bottles, we first measured how long they kept their contents chilled over time; filling them with ice cubes and water, and checking their temperature after one and five hours. We also determined if the bottle materials transmitted any “off” flavors to the water, after sitting for long periods. Finally, we assessed ease of use based on numerous factors, such as, how easy the bottles were to open and close, how portable they were, how painless they were to clean, and if they had any special features that we found especially helpful (or even remotely functional).

What to Look for When Buying Water Bottles

From the type of material to the style of the cap, water bottles can be customized to suit your specific needs. Vacuum insulated stainless steel is almost unbeatable when it comes to keeping cool, but it is prone to denting if dropped and can leave a metallic taste. Plastic—look for BPA free—is lightweight, sturdy, inexpensive and easy to clean, which is why it’s a go-to pick for athletes. But it’s not insulated and can give off flavors and smells. Glass doesn’t transmit off-tastes or odors (and may appeal to aesthetes), but it’s definitely heavier, costlier and more fragile, making it less than ideal when it comes to portability/durability. You’ll also want to consider quick access versus screw caps. Push/pull designs can be simply flicked up with one hand, and actually provide some sort of straw or spout from which to drink from. The other type needs to be actively undone with two hands, but are less prone to breaking, and are easier to disinfect and clean.


Other Water Bottles We Tested

Klean Kanteen Insulated Wide with Loop Cap

Klean kanteen

Klean Kanteen Insulated Wide with Loop Cap

Our second runner-up when it comes to temperature retention, Klean Kanteen’s Climate Lock insulation keeps drinks cold for up to two days (extra credit: it can be used for hot beverages, too). A powder coat guards against slipperiness and condensation, and like the Hydro Flask, the Kanteen can fit different in-brand caps, from the leak-proof loop cap, which can be hooked on a bag with a D-ring, to the quick-twist cafe cap, allowing it to become a casual to-go mug.

CamelBak Eddy

Camelbak

CamelBak Eddy

Tired of tipping your water bottle at awkward angles in order to take a sip? The sporty, durable CamelBak was designed with that recurring issue in mind and comes equipped with a straw you can flip with one hand, as well as a bite valve which provides faster flow. It has decent temperature retention for a plastic bottle, is dishwasher safe, and comes with a lifetime guarantee, making it a cost-effective purchase. It’s forged from BPA-free materials, which is always a positive, and though we detected a slight flavor in the water, it wasn’t overtly present or offensive.

Lifefactory with Straw Cap and Silicone Sleeve

Lifefactory

Lifefactory with Straw Cap and Silicone Sleeve

As is the benefit of glass, water placed in the Lifefactory stayed odor- and flavor-free. Although there’s little in the way of insulation, so don’t bank on long-term chillage. Still, a wide mouth makes it easy to add ice cubes as needed, and a protective silicone sleeve shields your hands against the cold. It also helps with gripping and presents a decent safety net in case the bottle drops. All materials are BPA, BPS and phthalate-free, FDA approved and dishwasher safe, but keep in mind, the glass makes for a heavier than average bottle.

Thermos Intak Hydration Bottle with Rotating Intake Meter

Thermos

Thermos Intak Hydration Bottle with Rotating Intake Meter

Want to keep track of your water consumption? The venerable Thermos has integrated a rotating meter into the lid of their bottle, which is surprisingly modern and sexy for such an old-school brand. Not only is it comfortable to hold and easy to slip in bags and cup holders (thanks to an ergonomically designed body), and second nature to use (owing to a one-handed push up lid, locking ring and carry loop), it’s also quite a looker, courtesy of impact resistant co-polyester, in a dark blue, smoke or magenta finish. Knocks against it are that the water warmed to room temperature after about an hour, and had a faint taste.

S'well Vacuum Insulated Bottle

S well

S'well Vacuum Insulated Bottle

The slim and streamlined S’well has triple-walled construction—it did a solid job of keeping our beverages cold (and the ability to keep hot beverages hot), even though we were only able to squeeze a few ice chips through the too-narrow mouth. The copper layer helps eliminate condensation, and the trim shape lets it fit seamlessly into cup holders and bags. It only comes with a twist cap, however, making it less than ideal for athletic use, and imparts a slight taste. But do-gooders will appreciate S’well’s partnerships with charities, such as American Forests, BCRF and UNICEF.

Takeya Classic Glass Water Bottle with Silicone Sleeve and Twist Cap

Takeya

Takeya Classic Glass Water Bottle with Silicone Sleeve and Twist Cap

If you’re wary of potential toxic leaching from plastics, the lead-free Takeya is a solid option. It’s affordable and surprisingly portable, considering it’s made from weighty glass. Its silicone sleeve offers protection against drips, slips and drops. However, the water warmed quickly, even though the mouth accommodates standard ice cubes, and you can’t manipulate the cap one-handed, due to its twist-off top.

Vapur Element Wide Mouth Anti-Bottle

Vapur

Vapur Element Wide Mouth Anti-Bottle

This collapsible bottle is all about portability. Made from dishwasher-safe BPA-free 3-ply material, it’s both foldable and flexible. And though the mouth isn’t big enough to take ice cubes, it can be filled with water, frozen, and used throughout the day, or rolled up and stashed. Since it’s not rigid, however, it’s not exactly meant to be propped on a desk, and since there’s no guard against condensation (and being that it’s essentially an ice pack), we’d be wary of storing it with anything you’d hate to get wet.

Nalgene Tritan Wide Mouth Silo

Nalgene

Nalgene Tritan Wide Mouth Silo

If more is more to you when it comes to water, you can’t beat the large capacity Nalgene, which holds 1.5 liters inside of its BPA-free, volume graduation-marked body, with an extra-large mouth for cramming in cubes. But you’ll be lugging around some serious weight and bulk; one that doesn’t fit into your standard cup holder. And besides sheer size, there are no other special features of note: Our water warmed almost instantly, and the twist off cap with flimsy plastic loop make it a pain to carry, and not exactly effortless to use.

Memobottle A5 Flat Water Bottle

Memobottle

Memobottle A5 Flat Water Bottle

Snugly packaged in a slick, black box, and looking like a flat, plastic flask, the Memobottle is definitely the most eye-popping option on the list. Made from durable, BPA-free plastic, it’s designed to unobtrusively slip into briefcases or laptop bags and takes up a minimum of space in just about any carrying case. Aesthetics aside, though, it doesn’t stand on end, so you have to set it flat. Also, the rectangular shape is rather awkward to hold. The tiny mouth doesn’t fit cubes or even crushed ice, so the only option is to refrigerate or freeze the bottle. But the sealant disc came loose from inside of the cap when we tried it. And since there’s no protection against condensation, the frosted bottle will undoubtedly seep—if not leak—on whatever it comes into contact with.

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