Our favorites are the Hydro Flask, Kleen Kanteen, and the classic workhorse: Nalgene
Over the last decade, I’ve used a lot of different water bottles. I’m always out hiking, for one thing, but at any given time I’m probably carrying around a bottle of water. From experience, I’ve learned that each type has its pros and cons. Let’s take a journey through the world of water bottles and I’ll show you what I’ve found to be the best water bottles.
A few summers ago, the Hydro Flask became in vogue. You’d see them at the office and out on the trail, and pretty much everywhere. My wife and I tried them out and fell in love with them! At last count, between the two of us we have five of them floating around! Unless I’m on a big hiking trip, I’ve got one of these in hand.
This double-walled, vacuum-sealed stainless steel bottle keeps your water cold for a ridiculously long time. Last summer I worked at Lake Powell, spending 8 hours a day on a desert boat ramp in 100+ degree heat. I could fill up two 40 ounce Hydro Flasks with ice water and still have ice in the bottle at the end of the day! Actually, that same ice would be ice cold in the bottom of the bottle the next morning too. When they claim to keep water cold for 24 hours, they aren’t kidding. It was amazing! The Hydro Flask is still my go-to bottle for everyday use at work.
Hydro Flask also offers a few different lids that you can buy separately depending on your preference. My wife and I mainly use the 40 ounce version, and I’m content with the standard screw on cap- Hydro Flask calls it a “wide mouth flat cap“. My wife likes to use a straw so she bought two of the “wide mouth straw lids” for her bottles and couldn’t be happier. For some of the smaller bottles you can get the “standard mouth loop cap” that as a beefier anchor point, perfect for rock climbers that need foolproof way to secure a carabiner to their bottle.
By having a vacuum-sealed stainless steel bottle, you definitely pay the price in weight. The 40 ounce bottles I use weigh 17 ounces each! That’s an extra pound of weight, so that’s definitely not practical for long dayhikes, and certainly not backpacking trips. They still work for short, easy hikes, especially to swimming holes on hot summer days where you really want your water cold, but for a serious hiker this is not an option.
These bad boys aren’t cheap, however, so you are investing in keeping your hot liquids hot and cold liquids cold.
Hydro Flask Final Word
While not suited for most hikes, in my opinion this is by far the best water bottle for regular everyday use. At work, at home, and on road trips, you can’t beat the guarantee of having ice cold water to quench your thirst! The price point is at a premium, but I think it’s definitely worth it.
Check current prices on the Hydro Flask:
The Camelbak Eddy is probably the most well known brand of water bottles with straws, with the bottle made of double-walled plastic for insulation. My wife and I bought a couple of these a few years ago after the plastic double-walled cup craze got going. They’re both retired to the back of the kitchen cabinet nowadays.
Replete with the Camelbak “big bite valve” at the drinking end, this is a nice, relatively lightweight (5.9 ounces for the .75 liter version) way to keep your water cool. Double-walled plastic doesn’t work as well as its stainless steel brethren for keeping water cold over long periods of time, but will keep ice a couple hours longer than a regular water bottle. The “big bite valve” closes the straw so that it won’t leak when knocked over, which is a nice bonus.
My personal experience was that my drink didn’t stay cold long enough for the fuss with extra plastic. The double-walled plastic eats up space that could be used to hold more water. While can’t think of any truly glaring cons, I certainly wasn’t wowed by this product long enough for it to graduate up to being a must-have accessory.
Camelbak Eddy Final Word
While many folks will certainly find this to be a nice compromise between weight, insulation, and straw functionality, I shelved mine for the heavier but better insulated Hydro Flask. An interesting twist is the new Camelbak Eddy Stainless Steel which is an insulated bottle like the Hydro Flask. However, I’ll stick with Hydro Flask, which gets you an extra 12 ounces of volume for the same price.
Check current prices on the Camelbak Eddy:
Ah, the classic Nalgene. A simple medium-duty plastic design that has been around forever. The Nalgene is the wheel that can never truly be re-invented.
It’s a hard-to-fail design due to it’s simplicity. A rugged bottle with a screw on top that allows you to tank up on plenty of water. Where these stand-out is on long day-hikes or backpacking trips where you need a sturdy bottle with no frills. A set of Hydro Flasks are way too heavy to carry and hold enough for, let’s say, a 12 mile hike, and your water will still be warm by the half-way mark in a Camelbak Eddy. Might as well just fill up a few Nalgenes and hit the trail.
Folks from the ultra-lightweight backpacking community will say that it’s too heavy (6.2 ounces for a 32-ounce bottle). As a super-simple design, you won’t find a straw or any other fluff. The plastic loop on the cap is known to break after the wear of being hung, so most rock climbers use other bottles with sturdier loops.
Nalgene Final Final Word
I’ve been using Nalgenes for years and really can’t fully replace them when it comes to long dayhikes or multi-day backpacking trips. If your really trying to cut weight, use an old gatorade bottle instead, but at this time I’m still very happy to use these simple, rugged, functional bottles. I feel like I’m still underselling these a bit. Its hard to describe the value of a simple and functional design.
Check current prices for Nalgene:
Kleen Kanteen is the hydration workhorse of the modern rock-climber! To be honest, I only have a little bit of experience with these stainless steel water bottles. Regardless, I do really like them for a couple reasons.
Rock climbers love them because Kleen Kanteen pioneered the screw-in lid with a solid-hard plastic loop that is fail-safe for hanging from a carabiner. That’s a huge feature for climbers, or anyone that likes to hang their bottle from a backpack. They also now make vacuum-sealed doubled-walled insulated versions similar to Hydro Flask that keep water cold for super-long. Either way, these guys are sturdy. If you don’t like the screw-on top, there’s an option for a “sport” style pop-up nozzle.
Going head-to-head with Hydro Flask on the insulated stainless steel design, these hold flavors after washing more so than Hydro Flask, and lack that really nice straw lid that Hydro Flask offers.
Kleen Kanteen Final Word
As most of the climbers already know, this is the best in the business for a simple bottle that would break when strapped-on. On the insulated front, I still think Hydro Flask has the edge, and as such, the Hydro Flask is what I use. I don’t climb much, but if I did, I’d definitely have an arsenal of Kleen Kanteens!
Check current prices for Kleen Kanteen:
Conclusions: Best Water Bottles
Based on my own personal experience with the products I’ve used day to day!
- BEST INSULATED WATER BOTTLE: I use Hydro Flask but Klean Kanteen’s version looks to be in the same ballpark.
- BEST EVERYDAY WATER BOTTLE: Once again, preference to Hydro Flask.
- BEST WATER BOTTLE FOR HIKING: The simple and functional Nalgene.
- BEST WATER BOTTLE WITH STRAW: Is it any surprise? Hydro Flask
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