The Best Water Bottles

The best water bottle should be functional, convenient, and safe from harmful chemicals. To locate bottles that answer to all of the above, we dove into debates on what makes a water bottle great, from material type to nozzle design. We landed on five well-designed bottles that fulfill a variety of needs, while addressing our No. 1 concern: keeping your water in its purest, healthiest form.

The 5 Best Water Bottles

Best for
Durability
Zoku 25oz Stainless Steel Bottle
Zoku
The classic stainless steel bottle, evolved. A secure and sporty woven loop makes this durable pick easy to carry.
Pros
Excellent build
Convenient mouth size
Portable
Cons
Not dishwasher-safe
Not great for hot drinks

Why we chose it

Excellent build

One of the draws of stainless steel bottles is that they’re sturdy enough to survive the conditions of rugged outdoor activities, and the Zoku was the best of the bunch in this regard. The old-guard stainless steel models, including those from Klean Kanteen and Hydro Flask, sustained some impactful dents in our drop test. Only the Zoku came away without a scratch, which manufacturers attribute to the bottle’s double-walled siding. Those insulating double walls also mean that you can get a cold slurp of water hours into a hot day-hike. After eight hours, the ice water we left in the Zoku was still cold enough to hurt sensitive teeth.

Convenient mouth size

While stainless steel bottles are infamous for their wide-mouth brims, which make drinking on the go near impossible, we found that the Zoku’s tapered, medium-wide opening (about 1.5 inches in diameter) let us take hearty chugs free of dribbles. And it’s still broad enough to allow for no-fuss cleaning: You can easily see inside to make sure you’re not leaving any residue. A simple screw-on mouth makes washing a snap, even when you’re camping and far from a sink.

Portable

The Zoku’s brushed metal exterior is smooth without being slippery, and the grippable rubber cap is easy to open and close up tight. Perhaps most importantly, it hits the sweet spot of carrying a lot of water and not feeling bulky. In contrast, we found a lot of the large-capacity stainless steel bottles hard to carry, especially when they were full.

The typical, hard plastic handle of competitors requires you to loop three (or crunch four) fingers into the narrow slot — okay for carrying from house to car, but aggravating for longer stretches. Zoku features a soft, flexible accessory cord loop, cleverly threaded through the lid. Most testers could easily fit all four fingers into the loop, which allows your hand to hang in a comfortably loose fist while still keeping a good grasp.

Zoku cap for Water Bottle

Points to consider

Not dishwasher-safe

One drawback of stainless steel: It isn’t dishwasher-safe. The heat and detergent may corrode the metal and tarnish its polish. While the Zoku’s medium-wide opening allows for easier cleaning with a bottle brush, you’ll still sacrifice some convenience of dishwasher-safe glass picks.

Not great for hot drinks

Zoku’s advertising claims that the bottle can manage both cold and hot temperatures, but, like every other stainless steel model, we weren’t as impressed with its heat-holding abilities. We aren’t partial to drinking coffee out of a water bottle, anyway, and especially not while hiking; if you are, consider going with the MiiR, which fared a little better in this regard.

Best for
Insulation
MiiR - 23oz Vacuum Insulated Bottle
MiiR
With effective insulation and a conveniently lean design, the MiiR allows you to easily bring hot coffee and cold water with you wherever you go.
Pros
Insulates hot or cold drinks
Commuter-friendly design
Convenient lid
Cons
Not dishwasher-safe

Why we chose it

Insulates hot or cold drinks

For rushed mornings, a water bottle that can preserve both hot or cold drinks is a lifesaver. MiiR can do it all. We enjoyed both ice-cold water and piping hot tea a full eight hours after we first filled it up. And thanks to its thick insulation and hard candy coating, you don’t have to worry about moisture buildup: MiiR bottles don’t produce any condensation.

Commuter-friendly design

With its powder-coated “Hardshell,” MiiR also offers a well-tractioned hold, important for quick grabs while clambering in and out of the car — a noticeable benefit after struggling with the slippery brushed metal exteriors of competitors. Its lean profile allows it to slide easily into a cup holder, backpack, purse, or briefcase, making it great for commuters. The super-tight closure of the lid also lets you know that nothing is going to escape — you won’t have to worry about spilling hot coffee on the bus.

Convenient lid

The MiiR’s unique angular handle — a distinctly Scandinavian aesthetic — helps generate quick torque and makes it easy to locate the bottle in a backpack or purse. Once open, the spout is just about mouth-width, meaning no side dribbles while taking a sip of coffee on a bumpy bus ride.

MiiR Cap for Water Bottle

Points to consider

Not dishwasher-safe

Like the Zoku, the MiiR is not dishwasher-safe. If you don’t need the insulation of a stainless steel bottle and would prefer the convenience of a dishwasher, you may be better off with our Swig Savvy pick.

Best for
Athletic Activities
Polar Bottle - Color Series
Polar Bottle
A wide enough mouth for adding ice and powders, a narrow enough spout for sipping mid-stride. Most importantly: Its plastic is safe for daily use.
Pros
Safe plastic material
Convenient design for athletic activities
Decent insulation
Cons
Unintuitive nozzle

Why we chose it

Safe plastic material

What people love about plastic bottles and what makes plastic bottles unhealthy tend to overlap. Snap-open, bite-valve straws are a breeding ground for bacteria, and hard plastic has likely been manufactured from components that prompt abnormal estrogenic activity. Bad news first, right? The good news is that the Polar Bottle Color Series hits a lot of the same convenience marks as popular models from Camelbak and Contigo, plus it’s safe to use (100% polypropylene) and easy to keep clean (with a streamlined, squeeze-top nozzle).

Convenient design for athletic activities

The Polar Bottle Color Series’ ergonomic silhouette offers an easy-grip waist plus textured sides, making it a fast grab even for sweaty hands. The wide-mouth opening is perfect for ice cubes or heaping scoops of powder, and the nozzle is easy to drink from: Either suck on the nozzle for quick sips or squeeze the bottle’s flexible sides for a more substantial flow. Amazingly, no liquid comes out if you don’t encourage it in one of those two ways. You can even tip it upside down and shake it while open without a drop. We love a water bottle that's hard to spill, especially when we’re going to throw it into a gym bag or backpack.

Decent insulation

While the Polar Bottle can’t compare with insulated stainless steel models, the ice water we left in it was still refreshingly chilly after a full eight hours — ensuring that you’ll have cold water on the way to the gym, during your workout, and all the way home.

Polar for Water Bottle

Points to consider

Unintuitive nozzle

Word to the wise: If you’re trying desperately to pluck the squirt nozzle open and it won’t budge, chances are it’s already open. It only shifts a couple of millimeters between open and close — which caused some confusion from our testers and made it harder to tell if the bottle was open.


Best Glass Bottle
Swig Savvy - 20oz Glass Water Bottle
Swig Savvy
With sleek, modern lines, this is a skyscraper of a water bottle. We loved its sophisticated aesthetic, smart glass material choice, and convenient strap.
Pros
Durable
Sleek
Convenient strap
Cons
Annoying cap

Why we chose it

Durable

If you’re looking for a water bottle more at home on a conference table than a ski lift, you want one that marries design and function. Enter glass. Manufacturers have taken precautions to make glass bottles less likely to shatter, enclosing them in protective rubber sheaths, but Swig Savvy’s 20 oz. model has gone a step further. It’s the only glass bottle we looked at made with borosilicate glass, a material that is resistant to shattering under rapid temperature changes.

Sleek

We appreciated that Swig Savvy’s silicone covering doesn’t cover so much of the surface that it undermines one of glass’ greatest features — that you can see into it. Testers loved being able to keep an eye on their water consumption and know just where they still needed to clean if they filled it with energy powder.

Convenient strap

While Swig Savvy’s look is more stylish than sporty, it still features a handy strap. The silky fabric loop is about the same length as the one on the Zoku, and like that one, you can easily slip your whole hand through it. Just be aware that the strap is attached only to the cap — the makings of a clattering fall if the cap isn’t screwed on tight.

Swig Savvy for Water Bottle

Points to consider

Annoying cap

Our one real qualm with Swig Savvy’s design is that it seems to take forever to unscrew the cap. The bottle itself has a standard two threads, but the inside of the cap has four. Those few extra seconds between you and your water is a minor inconvenience, but it was annoying nonetheless.


Best Collapsible Bottle
Platypus - Duolock Softbottle
Platypus
Learning how to sip this one takes a little practice, but the overall design is convenient and stress-free. The definition of stow and go.
Pros
Portable
Keeps water clean
Cons
Inconvenient latch

Why we chose it

Portable

For backpacking adventures or music festival jaunts, you want to carry as little as possible, but you also want to be able to stay hydrated. The Platypus SoftBottle solves this handily: It folds up tight enough to fit in a pants pocket but unfurls to almost an entire liter capacity when full. What’s more, the bottle stands up by itself like any other bottle when filled with water, and it comes equipped with an angled carabiner clip for attaching to a backpack.

Keeps water clean

Unlike the accordion-like Hydrapak Stash (another collapsible model we tested), the Platypus remains a little ballooned up if you don’t squash it flat. By not harboring the creases that make cleaning and drying difficult, the Platypus SoftBottle keep your water sanitary.

If clean water is itself an issue where you roam, Platypus also offers advanced filtration systems. Capable of filtering out 99.9999% of bacteria and 99.9% of protozoa (including top threats like E. coli and salmonella), these easy-to-use gravity systems allow you to collect water from a creek, a river, or even a puddle and taste just pure H20. Other, cheaper filtration water bottles are really only good for improving tap water.

Platypus Vapur comparison for Water Bottle

We preferred the Platypus to the similarly designed Vapur, which leaked if held upside-down.

Points to consider

Inconvenient latch

The cap of the Platypus closes down snugly, but you can also snap a thin metal latch on top for extra assurance. The latch is bonus for packing, though testers found that it uncomfortably prodded their chins while drinking.

How to Find the Right Water Bottle for You

Consider your use case

At their cores, all water bottles are meant to hold water. That said, their design impacts where and how you can use them. A glass bottle, for instance, is an unwise choice for activities that may involve drops onto rock or cement. A plastic bottle, while lightweight enough to take on a bike ride, may not feel at home in an office. Consider the functionality of your bottle before selecting a material.

Inspect the plastic

Plastic bottles are lightweight, great for running, biking, or going to the gym. However, not all plastics are created equal. The recycling code stamped on the bottom of a “recyclable” bottle of water or any other plastic product tells you a lot about its chemical makeup.

  • Plastic #1 or PET is used for disposable objects. Not recommended for repeat use due to the difficulty of sanitizing its porous surface.
  • Plastic #3, #6, and #7 all leach harmful substances into water, especially when warm.
  • Plastic #2, #4, and #5 are safe for repeat contact with drinking water or other consumables. Unfortunately, they're not very durable and take a beating in dishwashers. You should pay attention to wear and tear on plastic: Every imperfection is a potential hot spot for chemical leaching.

If you forget your reusable bottle and have to reach for the bottled variety, check out the number on the bottom. And then check out our Best Bottled Water review.

Seek out true stainless steel

Not all bottles that look like stainless steel are actually steel. Case in point: aluminum. Because aluminum doesn’t play well with acidic substances, it can’t be in direct contact with water. Manufacturers, including the popular Swiss brand Sigg, circumvent this problem by lining aluminum bottles with plastic, and linings are often not bisphenol-free (though they may very well be BPA-free). Any damage to the outside of the bottle can result in lining tears, further encouraging chemical seepage.

Water Bottles FAQ

What is BPA?

The term “BPA” probably rings a bell: In 2009, research broke that BPA (Bisphenol A), a building block in some plastics, could disrupt hormonal activity, leading to increased risk of breast cancer, miscarriage, and fat deposition. And while you’d be hard-pressed to find a plastic water bottle made by a respectable brand that wasn’t BPA-free, Dr. Nancy L. Wayne, a neuroendocrinologist at the UCLA School of Medicine, reports that in the aftermath of damning BPA research, manufacturers merely replaced BPA with BPS.

What is the safest plastic water bottle?

Avoiding BPA and BPS was a no-brainer as we began our search for plastic bottles, but bisphenols are just the tip of the plastic iceberg. According to Dr. George Bittner, a neuroscientist at the University of Texas at Austin, the number of hormone-disrupting compounds commonly used in plastics add up to several hundred. Dr. Bittner has been on the front line in this contentious field, battling companies like Eastman Tritan that claim to manufacture safe plastic just because it is bisphenol-free. Dr. Bittner and other researchers have produced studies that upend a lot of their safety claims, but Dr. Bittner claims that without the same public outcry that followed the BPA revelation, companies aren’t incentivized to change.

We asked Dr. Bittner what plastic water bottle would be safe to use, and he told us: polypropylene. That plastic type is the least likely of those currently in widespread production to release chemicals.

The Best Water Bottles: Summed Up

Zoku - 25 oz Stainless Steel Bottle
MiiR - 23 oz Vacuum Insulated Bottle
Polar Bottle - Color Series
Swig Savvy - 20 oz Glass Water Bottle
Platypus - DuoLock SoftBottle
The best
For durability
For insulation
For athletic activities
Glass bottle
Collapsible bottle
Price
$34.99
$21.99
$10.65
$11.99
$13.95
Capacity
25 oz
23 oz
24 oz
20 oz
1 L
Material
Stainless steel
Stainless steel
Plastic
Glass
Plastic