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The 6 best water bottles we tested in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • A refillable water bottle is a great sustainable option for staying hydrated while you’re on the go.
  • The best should be durable, easily portable, and able to keep your beverages cold or hot for hours on end.
  • Our top pick, the Hydro Flask Wide Mouth, features rugged construction and excellent temperature retention.

Reusable water bottles are a must for anyone who wants to quench their thirst without leaving a trail of landfill-clogging plastic in their wake. But just like travel mugs, choosing a water bottle isn’t as simple as picking the prettiest option or the cheapest one.

If your bottle is mostly going to sit on your desk or travel from room to room in your home, your needs are quite different than if you want a lightweight companion for a weekend hike or a leak-proof option that rattles around in your gym bag without soaking everything inside.

To find the best currently available, we tested and researched a variety of bottles and bottle types. The following guide includes versatile stainless-steel options, inexpensive but reliable plastic bottles, and even a sturdy one for glass lovers. We also include picks for anyone who wants a bottle with a high-end design and a collapsible water bottle for situations when weight and portability are paramount.

At the end of this guide, we’ve also included some insight into how to shop for a water bottle and what to keep in mind when picking out which bottle fits your lifestyle best.

Here are the best water bottles:

The best water bottle overall

a vacuum insulated water bottle that people swear by

The Hydro Flask Wide Mouth water bottle is durable, keeps water ice cold for hours on end, looks cool, and is easy to use. 

Pros: Very durable, great at keeping drinks cold or hot, easy to use, compatible with three kinds of lids, comes in high-capacity options

Cons: Heavy, expensive, flip top may leak, not dishwasher-safe

Hydro Flask is a great choice if you hate gulping warm water in the summer. It also offers some much-appreciated versatility, with a wide opening that fits three lids depending on your needs: A flip lid with a loop, a flex cap with an even larger loop (included), and a straw lid for more convenient sipping. We like having the option to switch out lids, and the wide mouth also makes it easy to load this bottle up with ice. You can choose between 18-, 32-, 40- and 64-ounce capacities and a number of fun colors.

During Outdoor Gear Lab’s testing, ice resisted melting for nearly a full 24 hours, and water was ice cold for more than a full day. The insulated stainless steel also keeps drinks warm for several hours, so Hydro Flask can pull double-duty as a travel mug for coffee and tea. 

This thing is seriously rugged, too. Like all stainless-steel water bottles, it can dent when dropped, but in Outside’s tests, it managed to survive being pelted with large rocks and getting backed over by a Toyota Camry and a Chevy Silverado. After all that punishment, it sustained a quarter-inch dent and one small scratch.  It also has a loop on the lid that makes it easy to carry one-handed.

Insider Reviews senior reporter Owen Burke calls Hydro Flask water bottles “lightweight and nearly indestructible” (he tested the 24-ounce version). But he found the silicone loop on the lid to be “not the most durable thing in the world, and it will eventually break.” Nearly every member on the Insider Reviews team uses a Hydro Flask. You can read about their experiences on why they like the company’s products.

It’s heavier than other bottles (the 18-ounce version weighs in at 11.6 ounces, the 32-ounce closes in on 1 pound) so serious hikers looking to save on weight might want to consider lighter options.

The flip-top is not leak-proof, so consider sticking with the flex cap if you want to toss your bottle in a bag without worrying. A few also complain of a slight metallic taste. Finally, this bottle is hand-wash only – steer clear if you live and die by the dishwasher. — Saundra Latham

The best plastic water bottle

Camelbak

If you prioritize price or weight over temperature retention, consider the inexpensive and easy-to-use Camelbak Chute water bottle

Pros: Lightweight, inexpensive, durable, easy to carry, gulp-friendly spout, dishwasher-safe, comes in high-capacity options

Cons: Lid is tricky to lock down, won’t keep your water cold for long, may “sweat” with condensation on a hot day

Stainless-steel water bottles like the Hydro Flask have a lot of pros, but they’re heavy. A plastic water bottle like the Camelbak Chute is cheaper and a lot lighter. In fact, the largest 50-ounce Chute weighs a measly 7.6 ounces. If you’re not quite that thirsty, no worries: There are 20-, 25-, and 34-ounce versions, too.

Like the Hydro Flask, the Chute has a wide mouth that makes it easy to fill and load up with ice, and the large spout means you can gulp until you’re content instead of dealing with a valve that restricts flow, which is common on other water bottles. It also has a loop on the cap, making it easy to clip to a backpack or hook around a finger or two.

Though the Chute may not be as tough as stainless steel, it’s still relatively rugged for a plastic water bottle. It’s made of BPA-free, dishwasher-safe Tritan plastic that is engineered to resist cracking. Even better, most say the bottle doesn’t impart any funky plastic taste to their water.

A few minor issues: Other testers have found that it can be tricky to lock the cap down onto the lid while drinking, though they still appreciate having the option to keep the cap from springing back and bonking them in the nose. Of course, plastic isn’t great at regulating temperatures, so if you need to keep drinks hot or want to keep them cold for longer, take a look at the pricier and, of course, heavier stainless-steel Chute.  — Saundra Latham

The best glass water bottle

glass water bottle

The Lifefactory Glass Water Bottle is a better choice for the most discerning palates and a more eco-friendly choice for anyone concerned with green living.

Pros: Glass won’t alter the taste of water, more recyclable than other options, silicone sleeve provides good grip and protection from bumps and drops, compatible with three kinds of lids, dishwasher-safe

Cons: Heavy, glass is less durable than plastic or stainless steel, flip-top may not regulate flow well enough for sippers, may “sweat” with condensation on a hot day

If you hate that metallic or plastic taste you get with other water bottles, you’ll love the Lifefactory Glass Water Bottle, which keeps water fresh and untainted, even after a full day sitting in the bottle. You don’t get the aftertaste that metal or plastic tend to impart.

The Lifefactory is also a good option if you’re worried about the chemicals in plastic and want something that is more readily recyclable.

No, glass bottles won’t survive as many drops as stainless steel or shatter-resistant plastic, but the Lifefactory bottle is protected by its substantial silicone sleeve. The sleeve also provides a grippier surface for holding the bottle. Since glass “sweats” more than other materials, this is a feature most users should appreciate.

You have a few lid options with Lifefactory water bottles: A silicone flip cap (included), a straw cap, and a leak-proof classic cap meant for those who want to toss the bottle in a bag without worrying. Other testers have said the wide mouth makes it easy to fill, though they do note it can be easy to misthread the cap, raising your risk of leaks. The bottle is dishwasher-safe, even with the silicone sleeve on.

Other issues are minimal: The flip cap can pop off and doesn’t regulate flow well enough for users who may just want a sip. Of course, like all glass bottles, the Lifefactory is heavy — the 22-ounce bottle is just over a pound — so it isn’t the best pick when weight is a big concern. — Saundra Latham

The best water bottle for design lovers

S'well bottle

S’well Stainless Steel Water Bottles are a great blend of form and function, keep your water cold, and look amazing doing it.

Pros: Wide range of beautiful designs, great at keeping drinks cold or hot, relatively durable, doesn’t “sweat”

Cons: Heavy, expensive, narrow mouth, not dishwasher-safe

S’well has become something of a phenomenon in a few short years, thanks in part to powerful backers like Oprah and massive retail partners like Starbucks and Target. Stainless-steel S’well bottles are always a standout on store shelves thanks to their eye-catching designs, whether you like wood grain, marble, metallic, animal print, or more.

Insider Reviews deputy editor Malarie Gokey loves her stone-style S’well bottle for its slick design, ability to keep drinks cold, and its trusty lid. There are three sizes  — 9, 17, and 25 ounces — and the smaller two bottles can fit in standard cup holders.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the design of a S’well bottle, but its triple-walled body means it’s just as good as the Hydro Flask and similar bottles at keeping drinks cold or hot – up to 24 or 12 hours, respectively. Users note that the bottle doesn’t sweat, keeping their hands dry. S’well bottles should stand up to a good amount of abuse, but reviewers note that like any steel bottles, they can sustain dents and dings if dropped.

S’well features a simple twist cap that receives high marks for its ease of use, and it really is quite leak-proof. Though S’well’s classic bottles have a narrow opening many reviewers say they’re still able to fit standard ice cubes inside. S’well offers a flip-top sport lid, but if a straw lid is more appealing, S’well won’t be an option. You’ll also want to hand-wash these bottles, a common recommendation for stainless steel.

These aren’t the lightest water bottles around – the 25-ounce bottle weighs in at a pound, similar to the 32-ounce Hydro Flask. You can’t ignore the fact that S’well bottles are on the pricier side compared with others.  — Saundra Latham

The best flexible water bottle

Vapur water bottle

The collapsible Vapur Element weighs just one ounce unfilled, so you may even forget it’s in your bag.

Pros: Very lightweight, inexpensive, freezable, can be rolled up when empty, integrated carabiner makes for easy carrying, easy-to-use flip-top design

Cons: Slow to dry out, may spring a leak after extended or heavy-duty use

“Water bottle” may not be the best way to describe the Vapur Element. In fact, Vapur bills the Element as an “anti-bottle,” which does sound a lot cooler than “water pouch.” Made of a flexible BPA-free plastic, the Vapur can be squished, folded and rolled up when empty. Best of all, it weighs only about an ounce. There are two sizes: 24 and 34 ounces, though Vapur makes similar anti-bottles that are smaller and larger.

It’s the perfect water bottle for backpackers and anyone who’s always on the go. Insider Reviews deputy editor Malarie Gokey brings the Vapur with her every time she travels because it’s so easy to carry. It’s often in her bag during the weekend, too.

As if weighing next to nothing and flattening for easy packing isn’t enough, the Vapur has a few more tricks up its sleeve. It’s freezable, which means your water stays colder longer, and the mouth is wide enough to accommodate ice cubes. Despite its flexibility, it’s still designed to stand up on its own.

The cap has an integrated carabiner that can be used to clip the bottle onto a backpack or belt, or keep it neatly rolled up when it’s empty. The mouth is also large enough to allow a brush inside, and the bottle is dishwasher-safe.

As for cons, most have to do with durability and cleaning. Over time it may start to leak from the seams, especially if you’re rough on it. Some reviewers say it’s also difficult for the Element to thoroughly dry out between uses. While the lining is antimicrobial, germophobes may want to look elsewhere. — Saundra Latham

The best collapsible water bottle

Hydaway water bottle

If you feel like you spend much of your life on the road or on a plane, the Hydaway Collapsible Water Bottle is the travel essential you can’t go without.

Pros: Lightweight, collapsible, great for travel or for folks on the go, easy to carry

Cons: Some customers have noted that it’s difficult to “un-collapse” the bottle after being collapsed

Not all collapsible water bottles are bottles. Some are pouches like the Vapur, some are basically water bags, but none of these are quite as cool as the Hydaway Collapsible Water Bottle. It’s cylindrical, maintains its shape even as you empty it of liquid, and has a lid with a sippy top. But once you’re done drinking or need to get through TSA, you can collapse the Hydaway into a flat disc that won’t take up a huge amount of space in your bag.

Rather than toting about a bulky bottle that has nothing in it, you can simply compress the Hydaway and, as the name suggests, hide it away. Even though the water bottle can be collapsed to take up no space at all, when it’s full, it can actually contain up to 20 ounces of water. So don’t think that you’re cheating yourself of much-needed hydration simply by choosing a bottle that’s super portable.

The Hydaway is made with food-grade silicone and plastic, which have both been tested by third parties and certified safe. The bottle is also BPA-free and dishwasher safe for added convenience. Thanks to its watertight seals throughout, you won’t have to deal with any leakage from this bottle, and there’s a carry handle that easily fits your finger or a carabiner so you can attach the Hydaway to a backpack or piece of luggage.

While some silicone leaves its contents with a rather plasticky taste or odor, I didn’t have this problem at all when I tested out the Hydaway. — Lulu Chang

How to shop for a water bottle

Shopping for a reusable water bottle doesn’t have to be an arduous process, and comes down mostly to how you intend to use the bottle. The most important features to keep in mind when deciding how you’ll use it are the materials used to manufacture the bottle, the amount of liquid it’s able to hold, the durability of the bottle, and whether it’s easily portable. 

Here’s how each of those features factors into which bottle is best for your lifestyle:

Materials: The bottles featured in this guide are made of either stainless steel (Hydro Flask), glass (Lifefactory), or plastic (Camelbak and Vapur). If you plan on being on the go often with your bottle, consider buying a plastic or stainless steel model, as those will always be far less likely to shatter than glass. The Lifefactory glass bottle is quite durable but no matter how much reinforcement its rubber exterior provides, glass can still easily break. 

Capacity: Most brands offer their reusable bottles in a variety of capacities, with some of the smallest holding anywhere from 8 to 12 ounces of liquid, while the larger bottles can hold upward of 64 ounces (or more). If you’re shopping for a bottle to have around the house, a larger bottle would certainly suffice, though it would be harder to take on the go should you decide to tote it along to the office or anywhere else. 

Durability: This is sort of a 1b to materials’ 1a in terms of importance, and again depends on if you plan on just keeping the bottle around your house or taking it on the go. Stainless steel bottles can handle far more of an everyday beating than a glass or plastic bottle, so if you plan on commuting or traveling, stainless steel is the way to go. 

Portability: Though stainless steel water bottles are consistently the best for portability, a bottle like Vapur’s collapsible is also a great option for the frequent traveler or commuter. The fact it’s able to fold down to something as big as a small wallet makes it easy to store in a backpack, purse, or even your pocket. Stainless steel bottles are inherently portable thanks to their durability but they will take up far more room in a bag. 

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