Staying well-hydrated is one of the best gifts that anyone can give themselves. By increasing the amount of water you drink, daily, you'll be giving your body what it needs in order to allow your brain to think more quickly and quell the urge to overeat. Feeling sore? Being well hydrated will assist in lubricating your joints, helping to stave off inflammation. With perks like this achievable through little more than remembering to drink a little more water a little more often, it's hard to find a reason not to do it. In order to get you on the road to being well lubricated through adequate hydration, you're going to need a great, reusable vessel for hauling around water in, no matter where you roam.
After extensive testing, the Hydro Flask Double Wall Vacuum Insulated Sports Water Bottle(available at Amazon) is the best water bottle for everyday life. During testing, we found this wide-mouthed bottle was easy to clean, durable, and kept the water inside of it refreshingly frosty for two days. By keeping this great reusable water bottle within your grasp, meeting your hydration goals will be a cinch.
These are the best water bottles, in order:
Yeti Rambler 26-oz Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Bottle with Cap
The Hydro Flask checks off all of our boxes making it the best water bottle we tested: It’s portable, versatile, durable and well designed. And it was the top performer by far during our temperature tests. Ice deposited in this insulated bottle one morning remained largely unmelted, well past the 24-hour mark. Its patented double-wall vacuum enables the bottle to keep water cold, keep hot beverages hot, 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 drinking 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-top 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.
From a company well known for the durability and insulation of their coolers, sporting gear, and apparel, there’s a reason the impenetrable Yeti Rambler scores top marks amongst outdoor enthusiasts. It also topped all the tests we threw at it. This insulated water bottle is made from kitchen-grade stainless steel that’s puncture, dent, and rust resistant. And it has a simple, cylindrical design free of unnecessary small parts, that are liable to get lost or break off (the cap even has magnetic docks, which keep it securely attached to the lid). Double-walled insulation keeps the outside from getting hot or cold to the touch, or slippery with condensation, and allowed it to hold its own against the Hydro Flask during temperature tests. Whether left in a hot car or kept on a bedside table overnight, water stored in the Rambler remained icicle cold; a good indicator of its usefulness during hiking or camping trips. A leak-proof, easy to grip, three finger cap adds to its outdoor appeal, as does a generous, 26-ounce capacity—enough to accommodate three lemonades, four mint juleps or one long chug of water, according to the company. It also has an especially wide mouth, which facilitates sipping and cleaning (if you’re not trekking through forests and fields, it’s also dishwasher safe). On the other hand, the factors that make the Rambler ideal for sporty activities knock it down a peg in terms of everyday use, which is why we didn't name this our best overall. The large size and robust materials make it undeniably heavy, quite bulky, and difficult to slip in car holders or bags (although Yeti makes smaller options, like the 18-ounce Rambler that might be a bit easier to handle).
While (even BPA free) plastic can occasionally leach flavors and odors into drinking 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.
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.
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).
Why Bother with a Reusable Water Bottle?
Because plastic water bottles are the worst. For starters, only one in five of every disposable made wind up in recycling centers. Given that it can take some types of plastic between 450 to 1,000 years for to completely break down (worse than this, bottles made using Polyethylene Terephthalate won't biodegrade, at all,) that makes for a whole lot of discarded drinking vessels cluttering up our planet. Add to this the fact that over 1.5 million barrels of oil, per year, are used in the production of plastic water bottles and the quench to quell your thirst with a container of water acquired at a corner store becomes a quagmire of massive environmental issues.
It used to be that schools, offices and public spaces were ripe with water fountains that you could drink from. However, as the money required to keep pipes and fountain fixtures working as they should have trickled away and, as we've come to understand more about how viruses and other bugs are transmitted from person-to-person, these fixtures have fallen out of favor with health officials and civic planners.
In light of these issues, investing in a reusable water bottle is one of the smartest choices you can make.
Which Are the Best Water Bottles? Plastic or Glass?
From the type of material to the style of the cap, the best 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 water bottles don'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.
How to Clean a Water Bottle
If you're constantly draining and refilling your water bottle, you might think that there's no reason to wash it on a regular basis: filling it up is as good as a rinse, right?
Actually, not so much. Bacteria loves moisture, even if you're rinsing and refilling your bottle three or four times a day, sooner or later, it's going to need a good wash. We recommend doing it once per every 24 hours.
If you own a dishwasher, pop your bottle in and let the cleansing begin--but first, be sure to check that your bottle is dishwasher-safe. Most manufacturers tend to place this information on the bottom of the bottle. If it's not listed there, check the manufacturer's website for the data. Whether its dishwasher safe or not, all water bottles, be they made of glass, plastic or stainless steel, can be washed in a sink full of hot, soapy water.
To sink wash your water bottle, start by draining your bottle of whatever is left inside of it. Next, leave the cap in your dishwater to soak (giving the water a chance to loosen up any crud that may have collected in the grooves inside of the lid,) and scrub out the interior of the bottle using a bottle brush, like these ones. Now rinse the bottle in clean water and leave it out to air dry before turning your attention to the bottle's cap. Using your bottle Brush, scrub the cap, inside and out before drying it off.
If you just got over the flu or a cold, or your bottle was used to carry non-potable water, you may want to consider disinfecting your water bottle with a weak bleach solution. To make the solution, add a tablespoon of chlorine bleach to a quart of water. Dunk your water bottle and its lid in the solution and leave them to sit for five minutes--maybe use the time to make a sandwich or something. At the end of the five minutes, rinse your bottle with fresh water, dry it and you're ready to chug fluids, once again.
Other Water Bottles We Tested
Klean Kanteen Insulated Wide with Loop Cap
Our second runner-up when it comes to temperature retention, Klean Kanteen’s Climate Lock insulation keeps water 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.
Tired of tipping your water bottle at awkward angles in order to take a sip? The sporty, durable CamelBak Eddy 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.
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 it staying chilled long-term. 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
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.
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, Breast Cancer Research Foundation, and UNICEF.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sarah Zorn is a food writer, cookbook author, and product tester for Reviewed, Wirecutter and the Food Network. She regularly contributes to outlets such as Saveur, Esquire, and Civil Eats, and has very much passed her food obsessions down, as her beloved rescue hound, Rowdy, regularly deglazes his kibble bowl.
We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.