Choosing the wrong water bottle can be disastrous — one with a loose lid can leak all over a commuter’s laptop and chargers, while a stainless-steel flask (though well insulated) might weigh on a long-distance hiker. Fortunately, there is no shortage of options for every type of water drinker: vacuum-sealed mugs for summertime road-trippers, squeezable bottles for runners training for a marathon, and gallon-size vessels for those who hate to refill. To make things easy, we spoke to more than 20 people about the bottle they feel most passionate about, from the dentproof Yeti that’s ideal for children to the plastic cycling bottle that tastes “like you’re drinking right out of a glass.” But no container was more praised than the Hydro Flask, which comes in ten sizes, has 12 cap options, and can be left in a hot car all day and still keep water fresh tasting and ice cold (more praise below).
Best overall | Best lightweight | Best vacuum insulated | Best for kids | Best for families | Best large | Best two-pack | Best foldable | Best for hiking | Best for running | Best for biking | Most maximalist stylish | Most minimalist stylish
What we’re looking for
Volume: Most of the bottles on this list come in multiple sizes that hold varying amounts of water. If that’s the case, I’ve given details accordingly. Logically, if you’re going to be toting your water bottle around all day with nowhere to refill it, you’ll want something bigger. If you only plan on using it for a few hours, you should be fine with something smaller.
Lid type: The type of lid on your reusable water bottle will make a difference in how you experience drinking from it. Some have bigger mouths, some smaller. Some lids fully detach, while others twist off but stay attached. Some flip open and lock shut; others have a “sport” cap from which you can suck out the water. What you choose will depend on what you find comfortable to drink from as well as what you’ll be doing as you sip, swig, or chug (sitting at a desk, exercising, running errands, driving, or whatever else). It’s also worth noting that many of the brands below sell various types of compatible lids beyond what the listed bottle comes with. Again, if that’s the case, I’ve noted so in the description.
Material: Some bottles on this list are insulated stainless steel that keeps your water very cold for long periods of time. But others are plastic, glass, or non-insulated steel, as several of the people I spoke with prefer room-temperature water (or at least don’t mind when the liquid doesn’t stay cold all day).
Best overall water bottle
Multiple sizes, 18 ounces to 40 ounces | Detached screw top | Insulated stainless steel
Several folks we talked to — not to mention many members of Strategist’s own team, including myself — are Hydro Flask devotees. LaToya Tucciarone, founder of SustainAble Home Goods in Atlanta, and her family have been using Hydro Flasks for many years: “Five years, maybe ten, I can’t even remember,” she says, “but they’re not degraded at all.” She loves that they come in so many sizes (from 18 up to 40 ounces) with both smaller and larger mouth holes. “If I’m not so much in motion during the day, the wide mouth one is great. But if I’m more in motion, the small hole is beneficial so I don’t spill on myself,” she says. Bettina Stern and Juan Dromogoole, respectively founder of and director of operations at Chaia in Washington, D.C., are most hyped on Hydro Flask’s insulation ability. “If I’m going on a run or a bike ride, I will take my Hydro Flask, which fits into my cup holder in my car, and I’ll fill it with cold water,” says Stern. “ And then when I finish, I have something to come back to. It’s just as cold as when I left it.” Journalist and cookbook author Lesley Téllez also swears by the brand, noting that it’s not too heavy to carry around all day. “We’ve tried several stainless-steel varieties, and we always come back to Hydro Flask,” she says.
Best lightweight water bottle
Multiple sizes, 16 ounces to 48 ounces | Attached screw top | Plastic
First popularized by hikers during the environmental movement of the 1970s, Nalgene’s plastic bottles enjoy cult status today among mountain climbers and podcast merch designers alike. This bottle, made from HDPE plastic, is even lighter than the brand’s regular bottles. (It weighs a mere 3.75 ounces when empty, whereas classic Tritan plastic Nalgenes come in at 6.25 ounces, which Strategist editor Maxine Builder says “really make a difference when you’re toting around a bottle full of water every day or going hiking or schlepping through the subway.”) Recipe developer Jessie Sheehan loves that its massive 32-ounce size “holds a lot of water, which is helpful for those of us obsessed with drinking eight glasses a day,” but that the HDPE construction means it’s “still so lightweight.” And Emily Fiffer, co-owner of Botanica in Los Angeles — who refills hers multiple times a day — says the water never tastes plasticky, the lid doesn’t leak, and “it literally just can’t break” no matter how many times you drop it.
Best vacuum-insulated water bottle
Multiple sizes, 16 ounces to 20 ounces | Fliplock lid | Insulated stainless steel
Cookbook author and recipe developer Carla Lalli Music had been using her Zojirushis (yes, she has multiple) for hot beverages for years — until one day she decided to fill it with ice water to bring to the beach. “It was literally anchored in the sand in full sunlight,” she says. “We did the whole beach day, and at the end, there were still cubes inside. You don’t have to keep it in a cooler. It is a cooler.” That’s thanks to an insulated steel layer between the inside and outside of the bottle — and that’s not even the most impressive feature. Music admits there are other bottles out there that keep liquids at temperature for hours on end (like the Hydro Flask) — but none with Zojirushi’s vacuum-sealing lid. “The Zoji never spills,” she says. “It has the most bustproof cap in the biz.” New York deputy editor Alexis Swerdloff also swears by it, calling its stay-cold capabilities “mind-boggling.”
Best water bottle for kids
12 ounces | Straw cap | Insulated stainless steel
Cookbook author Erin Gleeson says that while her three kids have been especially “hard on water bottles” in the past, none of them have yet been able to make a dent in these “tough” bottles from Yeti. Not only is the brand’s thick steel construction incredibly drop-resistant, but this design also has a handle for little ones to grip and, at 12 ounces, is slightly smaller and more manageable than your typical adult-size Yeti bottle, which comes in five sizes from 18 to 64 ounces. (Gleeson also says the smooth stainless-steel interior keeps them “not grimy” and appreciates that both the lid and bottle are dishwasher-safe.)
Best water bottle for families
Multiple sizes, 12 ounces to 27 ounces | Sport cap | Stainless steel
Klean Kanteen makes bottles in three different sizes — the 18 ounces listed above, a bigger 27 ounces, and a child’s-size 12 ounces — with universal-size lids that can easily be mixed and matched. “My family has about a dozen of them,” says Mei Li, co-owner of Mei Mei in Boston and writer of Food Waste Feast. “They come in lots of colors (important when you have opinionated children) and are super easy to clean. I appreciate that they don’t have tons of fussy little bits that are easy to lose and that the same tops fit all of them so I don’t have to keep track. It allows you to switch in between super easily.” There are also several different styles of lids, so you can buy a handful of them and pick out whichever one you need for whichever bottle you or any other member of your family might want at any given time — say, a sippy cap for a younger child and a loop cap for an older one.Li also notes that the bottles keep water fairly cold for a while, but not all-day ice cold.
Best large water bottle
One gallon | Attached screw top | Plastic
This gallon-size motivational water bottle was a “day-five pandemic purchase” for content creator and recipe developer Dan Pelosi, who was looking for an easier way to drink a lot of water every day. (The vessel has personal-trainer-style phrases down on the side that encourage you to drink to the next line down every two hours, which Pelosi says kept him “laughing — and peeing, too.”) Two and a half years later, he’s as much a fan of the bottle’s design quality as its sense of humor: “It’s so thick and wide that you can’t knock it over,” he says, adding that the spout closes with an “audible click that really works. I would turn it sideways and do dumbbell curls and it was fine — no spilling.”
Best two-pack water bottles
17 ounces each | Fliplock lid | Insulated stainless steel
For less than the price of one HydroFlask, ThermoFlask sells this set of two bottles with the same double-wall insulating technology (as well as a notably similar design and name). At 17 ounces each, they’re on the smaller side — but that means you can keep each in different locations without having to schlep them between. Cookbook author and recipe developer Lukas Volger loves that the FlipLock lid can be opened and closed with one hand, which helps him while exercising and driving, and also appreciates that they “don’t have tons of tiny crevices in the cap that make them impossible to ever get properly clean.”
[Editor’s note: The 17 oz two-pack is currently sold out, but Thermoflask has a 24 oz two-pack of bottles with spout lids available for $32.]
Best foldable water bottle
Multiple sizes, 16 ounces to 50 ounces | Fliplock lid | Plastic
Another activity-friendly option — even just for running around the city all day, as contributor Caroline Bankoff explains — is the Vapur Element. When empty, the flexible plastic scrunches up, seriously downsizing the footprint it takes up in a carryall (or, yes, your pocket). It has a handy carabiner attached in case you want to carry it with you that way too. “The best thing about the Vapur is that the size adjusts to the amount of water that’s in it, so I can fit it into any bag (or dump out water if I need to make more room),” says Bankoff. It’s also lightweight and dishwasher-safe.
Best water bottle for hiking
32 ounces | Detached screw top | Glass with silicone sleeve
While the likes of Nalgene use “BPA-free” plastic to prevent toxins from the material from leaking into the water, L.A. Hike Club co-founder Madison Powers still feels more comfortable drinking her water from a glass bottle (she finds stainless steel keeps liquids too cold for efficient exercising). While some glass bottles can fog up over time, Powers says that after over a year of use, this bottle “has stayed really clear” and still “looks like new,” even after regular runs through the dishwasher. If you’re worried about the glass breaking, this bottle also comes with a silicone jacket that Power says is so protective — it’s survived many tumbles on the trail — and the coating makes it easy to grip and comfortable to hold.
Best water bottle for running
12 ounces and 18 ounces | Push/pull lid | Insulated plastic
Philip Speer, co-owner and chef of Comedor in Austin, is an avid runner (he’s participated in ultramarathons and even started a run club with his restaurant colleagues that meets multiple times a week). He turns to the ingeniously designed insulated Nathan QuickSqueeze to stay hydrated on any runs longer than a 5K. It comes with a “super-comfortable” attached strap that secures around your hand — to use it, Speer says you just “lift your hand up to your face, bite down around the top, squeeze it, then put your hand back down.” Helpfully, the strap includes a zip pocket for keys and credit cards and even an elastic pocket for a smartphone — though you’ll want to size up to the $40 18-ounce edition for any larger devices.
Best water bottle for biking
22 ounces | Watergate cap | Insulated plastic
“The Purist bottle is widely regarded as the default cycling bottle by most shops,” says Eighth Hour Bike Studio owner Ronnie Garcia, adding that you’ll find customized versions at almost every bike retailer. With lightweight, simple cap options that are all catered toward easy maneuvering and the right silhouette to click into bicycle cages, they’re specifically designed for drinking while riding. But Garcia also appreciates the quality of the insulated plastic: “Cheaper bottles will start to deform and end up not fitting so well,” he says. Brooklyn Bicycle Co. president Ryan Zagata notes that the material doesn’t leach out any unpleasant taste, another issue with cheaper plastic models. “It tastes like you’re drinking right out of a glass,” he says.
Most maximalist stylish water bottle
17 ounces | Detached screw top | Stainless steel
According to Strategist writer and self-proclaimed “hydrating freak” Ambar Pardilla, the distinct and charming look of this bottle doesn’t mean it lacks in practicality: The lid screws on tight and the water stays cold, she assures. She points out the aesthetic is, in a certain way, the opposite of the bulkier Nalgenes and Hydro Flasks. “I loved the design immediately when I saw it,” she says. “It looks like one of those silly little sculptures you’d use to beef up a toddler’s bookcase. And the color combinations are so wacky — they shouldn’t work together, but they somehow do. It makes me happy whenever I drink from it.”
Most minimalist stylish water bottle
17 ounces | Detached screw top | Glass
This Japanese-designed Kinto bottle comes recommended by Girls’ Night In founder Alishia Ramos, who bought it because of “the design, first and foremost,” she says. “It’s eye-catching even though it’s minimalist.” It’s made from copolyester, a thermoplastic resin that has the appearance of glass but is much more durable and lightweight. “I really like the way my hands can fit around the profile of the bottle,” says Ramos. “It’s a little skinnier than a lot of others, and I never have to worry about it fitting in a cup holder or my purse.” One more plus? “There’s no obvious branding. It says ‘Kinto’ on the bottom, but you can’t really see it.”
• LaToya Tucciarone, founder of SustainAble Home Goods
• Bettina Stern, founder of Chaia
• Juan Dromogoole, director of operations at Chaia
• Lesley Téllez, journalist and cookbook author
• Maxine Builder, Strategist editor
• Jessie Sheehan, recipe developer
• Emily Fiffer, co-owner of Botanica
• Alexis Swerdloff, New York deputy editor
• Carla Lalli Music, recipe developer and cookbook author
• Erin Gleeson, cookbook author
• Mei Li, co-owner of Mei Mei and writer of Food Waste Feast
• Dan Pelosi, recipe developer and content creator of GrossyPelosi
• Lukas Volger, cookbook author and recipe developer
• Madison Powers, co-founder of L.A. Hike Club
• Philip Speer, co-owner and chef of Comedor
• Ryan Zagata, president of Brooklyn Bicycle Co.
• Ronnie Garcia, owner of Eighth Hour Bike Studio
• Ambar Pardilla, Strategist writer
• Alishia Ramos, founder of Girls’ Night In
• Caroline Bankoff, Strategist contributor
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