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Published Dec. 14, 2020

We all understand that hydration is paramount. What we’re just learning is that, according to cutting-edge research, proper hydration is actually not achieved by pounding a steady flow of energy drinks and coffee. Bear with us, this isn’t an attempt to besmirch the time-honored tradition of putting Red Bull in your CamelBak for unit PT. We’re just saying that you might want to at least consider adding some water to your diet. The thing is, it’s best to stay hydrated with a gradual intake of water throughout the day, rather than bombing your stomach with two canteens of water immediately before performing burpees to failure. Everyone at recruit training will be very surprised to learn that piece of trivia.

Given all this groundbreaking information, we took it upon ourselves to find some of the best water bottles to keep your fluids topped off in various situations. Whether you’re grabbing a sip at work, embarking on a weekend camping trip, or hitting the gym, there’s something on this list for you.

The Hydro Flask Wide Mouth 2.0 takes the classic outdoor adventure water bottle design and ups the ante with stainless steel construction. A grippy, powder-coated exterior protects the steel from scratches and prevents it from getting slippery. Vacuum insulation comes from two layers of stainless steel that create an air-tight cavity between your drink and the ambient temperature. Even the lid has internal air chambers for thermal protection. You can expect your drink to stay as hot or cold as it was when you poured it into the bottle for hours, and the bottle’s exterior will remain the same temperature the whole time. A swivel handle provides a solid anchor point for carrying, and rotates out of the way when not in use. Choose from four sizes ranging from 20 to 64 ounces. This is the most expensive option on our list, but we think it’s well worth the investment.

We’d honestly be shocked if you’re not familiar with this classic from Nalgene. It’s been the go-to water bottle for outdoor sports and activities for more than a decade, and the company has been making quality products for a lot longer than that. This bottle’s claim to fame starts with a trait they call impact-resistance, but that we call being almost indestructible. It’s also capable of withstanding temperatures from -40 to 212 degrees Fahrenheit. The lid screws on with large, durable threads and uses a soft gasket to create a watertight seal. The wide-mouth design makes it easy to add ice cubes or reach inside to give this bottle a good scrubbing. Easy-to-read markings show water levels up to 32 ounces and 1,000 milliliters.

If your primary concern is getting unwanted contaminants out of your tap water, the Phillips GoZero is for you. This 20-ounce bottle uses an activated carbon filter to reduce the levels of lead, chlorine, and pesticides in your drinking water. Just fill it like a normal bottle, squeeze to drink, and let the filter work instantly as water passes through. A visual indicator lets you know when it’s time to replace the filter, and you can order them in packs of three to stay well-stocked. An adventure filter is also available for purifying water from natural sources. The bottle is dishwasher-safe; just remember to remove the filter first. It’s always good for the environment to use a reusable water bottle, but this one is healthier for you, too.

Keep your water or another favorite drink handy at work with this stainless steel bottle from S’well. This isn’t quite as adventure-ready as some of our more rugged picks, but it’s probably the king of insulation. It uses not two, but three stainless steel walls to create a lightweight temperature barrier that can keep drinks hot for up to 18 hours and cold for up to 36 hours. It also prevents condensation, so you never have to worry about making a mess with a sweaty bottle. Food-grade stainless steel is durable and easy to clean, but keep this bottle out of the dishwasher. Unlike many high-end water bottles (especially insulated ones), this fits in standard cup holders so you can have water or coffee on the go. Choose from sizes of nine, 17, and 25 ounces, and more than 40 colors.

Thanks to this oversized water bottle from Bottled Joy, gym rats can finally ditch the old milk jugs. This bottle’s 2.2-liter capacity is enough to get you through even the sweatiest workout, then last all day long. Its markings even provide a timeline to help you follow a hydration schedule by the hour. Food-grade resin is easy to keep clean, and strong enough to get knocked around without missing a beat. You can even enjoy flavored drinks without staining or leaving a funky taste in the bottle. The screw-on lid seals tight to prevent leaks, and the flip-top drinking spout offers quick access. In addition to the handle molded into the bottle itself, this comes with a nylon carrying strap. To clean this bottle, skip the dishwasher and just rinse it out with baking soda and vinegar for a sparkling clean finish.

Live Infinitely sounds like an exclusive spa for one-percenters, and this water bottle kind of delivers on that concept. Like many water bottles, this 32-ounce option includes measured lines to keep your hydration on track throughout the day. The shatterproof plastic bottle is tough and easy to clean. A locking cover even protects the drinking nozzle from germs when you’re not using it. Most importantly, this bottle contains an infuser that lets you add fresh fruit for extra flavor and vitamins. This feature lets you get a refreshing burst of flavor without accidentally choking on a blueberry or having to pick seeds out of your teeth. It’s dishwasher safe and even comes with a recipe book to give you infusion ideas. This is the sophisticated way to drink, ladies and gentlemen.

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Types of water bottles

Water bottles are one of the most basic things you can buy, but there’s still a fair amount of variation that can make a difference in your purchasing decision. For starters, you need to think about the materials each water bottle uses. High-end plastic bottles offer almost no insulation, but they’re incredibly durable and relatively inexpensive. Stainless steel bottles are easy to clean, and dual-walled versions can keep hot drinks hot, and cold drinks cold all day. They just tend to cost a little more and can get scratched up with hard use. Some water bottles stand out from the crowd with unique features like built-in filters to purify your drinking water, or infusers to add flavor with your own fresh ingredients. 

Key features of water bottles

  • Size: Most water bottles hold somewhere between 16 and 20 ounces. Midsize bottles have a capacity of around 32 ounces, and the largest hold more than two liters. Think about how often you’re able to refill and how much weight you want to carry.
  • Materials: Water bottles can be made of plastic or stainless steel. It’s important to use plastic with no BPA, but that’s been common knowledge long enough that it shouldn’t be an issue for you. 
  • Portability: The most portable water bottles are under 20 ounces in size, and fit in your car’s cup holder. Some have a cap attachment that can be used with a carabiner for hands-free carrying. Larger water bottles will probably have a built-in handle.
  • Purification: Filtered water bottles use an integrated purification system to remove particulates and other contaminants. These are great options for camping, traveling, and people with a sensitive stomach. 
  • Additives: A built-in infuser is a fun way to mix up the daily grind. Adding fresh fruit to your water can improve flavor and even add vitamins. Drinking pinky-out is optional. 

Benefits of water bottles

The benefits of having your own water bottle are simple, but important. First and foremost, it’s easier to stay hydrated when you’re not constantly having to track down a water fountain or shell out for bottled water at the nearest convenience store. Reusable water bottles are a great way to reduce your environmental impact. It’s one thing to blow through gallons of bottled water when it’s all you have on deployment, but when you have access to clean tap water stateside there’s no reason to create that much waste. Even if you recycle, it’s better to just have your own water bottle. There’s a reason “reduce, reuse, recycle” is listed in that order.

Water bottle pricing

Yes, we know bottled water costs about a dollar at the grocery store, but you’ll be paying that dollar over and over for the rest of your life if you don’t replace bottled water with a reusable bottle. We found high-quality options for as little as $10. At that price, your investment will pay itself off in no time. You’ll get a sturdy plastic bottle that’s tough enough to handle whatever life throws at it, and maybe even a perk or two. Premium options cost up to $45. When you spend that much, you can expect top-shelf insulation that keeps your drinks hot or cold for hours. You’ll also get stainless steel construction that’s easy to clean and will probably last longer than you will.

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