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Published Apr 18, 2023 3:21 PM

From everyday errands to backcountry missions, many people find themselves carrying a water bottle at least a few times a week. While you might hang onto your “emotional support water bottle” for your morning walk or evening social plans, some outdoor adventures require a lighter, packable, and more efficient hydrating method. The best water bottles shouldn’t leak or break under the rigors of an outdoor adventure. They should be easily storable. With that in mind, I tested these bottles for their reliability, weight, and convenience to determine the best water bottles for your favorite outdoor activities. 

How I Chose the Best Water Bottles

Taking weight into account for hiking, hunting, and backpacking, I picked lightweight bottles from reliable brands making performance products. I focused on aspects that matter in the backcountry like purification, stowability, and durability. I took these bottles on a number of day hikes and camping trips to see how they perform when they are your main water source. The bottles on this list excel in different ways, so let’s dive into their unique features.

Best Water Bottles: Reviews & Recommendations 

Best Collapsible: HydraPak Flux

Ashley Thess

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Key Features

  • Packs down to pocket size
  • Capacity: 750 milliliters, 1 liter, 1.5 liters
  • Weight: 3.2 ounces
  • Measured Weight: 3.6 ounces
  • Price: $30 (1.5-liter)

Pros

Cons

  • Initial plastic taste

The HydraPak Flux rolls up and can be tucked into the flexible carrying handle. This is a convenient space saver when your pack is full. The foldable material still has a good amount of structure to stand up for filling and packing into pockets. The nozzle on my test model twists to open and you have to suck or squeeze the bottle for water to come out which is convenient to avoid spills but doesn’t have a lot of flow. Some models now feature a high-flow nozzle with a dust cap.

The textured walls provide good grip so it won’t slip out of your hands. It is also compatible with the Katadyn BeFree water filter. I washed this bottle with soap and water before filling, but the water from it still had a plastic taste. Take some lemon juice and warm water to this bottle to get rid of the flavor. The bottle can also be frozen, but shouldn’t be filled with boiling water. However, you can toss this in the top-shelf of the dishwasher.

Best for Multiple Beverages: CamelBak MultiBev

Ashley Thess

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Key Features

  • Capacity: 22-ounce bottle, 16-ounce cup or 17-ounce bottle, 12-ounce cup
  • Roll-and-fold lid
  • Double-wall vacuum insulated
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Measured Weight: 1 pound, 7 ounces
  • Price: $52 (22-ounce)

Pros

  • Two-in-one vessel
  • Sweatproof

Cons

  • Heavy 

The Camelbak MultiBev is a unique water bottle that features a screw-off cup with a corresponding lid conveniently stored in the bottle’s cap. It can handle and insulate hot and cold beverages. Drinks will stay cold for 24 hours and stay hot for 16. Start with coffee in the morning, switch to water for the day, and wind down with some wine without lugging a hazardous glass bottle into the backcountry. It’s actually 3 ounces short of a full wine bottle, but leaving half a glass behind isn’t the end of the world.

Plus, it’s ideal for sharing. Give a friend the cup and enjoy the rest of your beverage from the bottle. The outside features a matte finish that doesn’t sweat or slip and the silicone base makes it harder to tip over. All parts of the bottle are dishwasher safe. At $52, it might seem expensive for a water bottle, but when you take into account that you’re getting a 16-ounce tumbler ($22) and 22-ounce water bottle ($32) together in a convenient package, the price makes sense. I’m happy to carry this 1 pound, 7 ounce bottle on a day hike in exchange for a convenient and chilled beverage, but I wouldn’t recommend it for backpacking. If you use this as your daily water bottle, you always have a reusable cup handy for coffee runs.

Best Filtered: LifeStraw Peak Series

Ashley Thess

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Key Features

  • Protects against bacteria, parasites, microplastics, silt, sand, and cloudiness
  • Membrane microfilter lasts up to 2,000 liters
  • Capacity: 650 milliliters, 1 liter
  • Weight: 3.9 ounces
  • Measured Weight: 3.8 ounces
  • Price: $44 (1 liter)

Pros

  • Collapsible
  • Lightweight
  • Filter

Cons

  • Replace filter after 2,000 liters
  • Doesn’t stand up 

Lightweight and collapsible, the LifeStraw Peak Series soft bottle is the perfect water bottle for borderline adventures. You know those long runs or hot desert days where your typical water bottle or bladder might not cut it. Bring this filtered squeeze bottle along just in case you need to replenish at a stream or lake. With this bottle you don’t have to bring a water filter and dirty bag just to refill your supply. There is also no need to contaminate a clean bottle with dirty water; the LifeStraw Peak is perpetually filled with unclean water and filters as you drink.

The LifeStraw Peak collapsible water bottle cap has a loop to keep the filter off the ground while filling.
The LifeStraw Peak water bottle cap has a loop to keep the filter off the ground while filling. Ashley Thess

This wouldn’t be enough for me to filter water on a backpacking trip, but it is perfect for excursions where you’ll frequent watering holes or walk along a river so you can get away with carrying less liquid. The bag is ultra durable and doesn’t collect sand or dirt easily. The drinking nozzle is also protected by an attached dust cap. The attachment loop is helpful to hold the filtering cap on your finger so it doesn’t fall on the ground or in dirty water while filling. To keep the filter flowing properly, LifeStraw includes a syringe so you can backflush the filter to keep it clean.

Best Lightweight: Platypus DuoLock SoftBottle

Ashley Thess

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Key Features

  • Dual locking cap
  • Flexible
  • Capacity: 0.75 liter, 1 liter
  • Weight: 1.6 ounces 
  • Measured Weight: 1.6 ounces
  • Price: $15 (1-liter)

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Packable
  • Built-in carabiner 

Cons

  • Not compatible with popular water filters

Platypus SoftBottles have been popular amongst hikers for a while as lightweight and durable water storage. Now the bottles feature a DuoLock cap. You can accidentally put the lid on backwards so that it won’t lock, which is a little annoying, but the cap protects the nozzle from dust and spilling. And since it’s attached, you can’t lose it. The SoftBottle also stands up for filling and features a carabiner clip built-in.

This bag isn’t compatible with popular water filters like the BeFree, Sawyer, or even Platypus’s own QuickDraw. So you’ll be treating this as a designated clean bottle. If you have a hard time remembering which bags are for dirty water and which are for clean, this could be a positive because you can’t accidentally screw a filter into the DuoLock’s smooth opening at all.

Best Insulated: HydroFlask Trail Series

Ashley Thess

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Key Features

  • Stainless steel
  • Double-wall vacuum insulation
  • Carry handle
  • Capacity: 21, 24, 32, or 40 ounces
  • Weight: 12.2 ounces (32-ounce bottle)
  • Measured Weight: 12.3 ounces
  • Price: $50 (32-ounce)

Pros

  • Keeps water cold for 24 hours
  • 25 percent lighter than a normal HydroFlask

Cons

  • Scratches easily

Typically, the weight of my water bottle means a lot to me. I don’t want to lug something heavy along on a hike for a small luxury like chilled water. But, I was surprised at how light the empty HydroFlask Trail was. It’s not backpacking light, but certainly day-hike light. Obviously it gets heavier once full but your water will stay chilled for 24 hours and it’s still cool even longer. This bottle also keeps hot beverages warm for 12 hours.

The HydroFlask Trail series can scratch easily.
The HydroFlask scratches easily; mine already has a few dings and blemishes. Ashley Thess

I brought this bottle car camping for the weekend and it has already sustained a few scratches and dings. While I’m far from precious with my water bottles, be prepared for some added character in the form of silver stainless steel peeking through your chosen color. Overall, this bottle has great insulation properties with a reduced weight. The carry handle is also convenient to loop or clip to your bag.

Best Stainless Steel: Larq Bottle Movement PureVis

Ashley Thess

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Key Features

  • Self-cleaning
  • PureVis eliminates up to 99 percent of bio-contaminants
  • Non-insulated or insulated ($10 more)
  • Capacity: 24 or 32 ounces (non-insulated), 17 or 25 ounces (insulated)
  • Weight: 10.7 ounces (non-insulated 24-ounce bottle)
  • Measured Weight: 9.7 ounces
  • Price: $89 (non-insulated 24-ounce)

Pros

  • No funky taste or smell
  • Long battery life

Cons

  • Still have to charge your water bottle

The Larq bottle uses PureVis technology to automatically clean your water bottle every two hours. The ring around the cap will pulse with blue light for 20 seconds while a UV-C light shines into the bottle. This kills 99.8 percent of E.coli and neutralizes germs by damaging the nucleic acids in their DNA. The battery lasts four weeks in normal mode or 10 to 12 days in adventure mode. If you hit the button on the center of the cap twice it will activate adventure mode for a three minute cleaning cycle.

The Larq lid glows blue when it is performing a cleaning cycle.
The Larq’s lid glows blue when it is performing a cleaning cycle. Ashley Thess

While UV water purifiers exist, this is not that. You should only fill the Larq with clean, filtered water. The light is not designed to purify dirty water. Not having to clean a funky water bottle or worse, find out the taste is off after you’ve already started your hike, is convenient. I used this water bottle for a week and then left it in a sunny car for two days; the water still tasted fresh. There is allegedly a temperature warning on the bottle where the lid will pulse orange if the water is too hot, but I poured boiling water into the bottle and replaced the lid and received no warning. 

Best Plastic: Nalgene 

Ashley Thess

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Key Features

  • 32 ounces
  • Weight: 6.3 ounces
  • Measured Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Made in the USA
  • Price: $17

Pros

  • Durable
  • Lifetime guarantee
  • Wide mouth

Cons

  • Non-insulated

Nalgenes are one of the most popular water bottles amongst outdoor enthusiasts. And for good reason; they last forever. These plastic water bottles are durable, dishwasher safe, and come with a lifetime guarantee. If your Nalgene does break, simply submit a warranty request for a new one. This bottle isn’t insulated, meaning it’ll sweat when filled with cold water and won’t keep your water cool for long. But it can handle boiling water.Filling your Nalgene with hot water and putting it in the bottom of your sleeping bag is a long-standing hiker trick to warm up on a cold night.

The wide mouth on a Nalgene is great for adding ice cubes or fruit to your drink. The cap is also reliable, creating a leak-proof seal. Measurements on the side are also helpful when adding the right amount of water to your best backpacking meal so that it isn’t too soupy. 

FAQs

Q: How often should I buy a water bottle?

The beauty of buying a reusable water bottle is that you don’t have to buy disposable ones anymore. It’s better for the environment and your wallet. The Nalgene, CamelBak, and Hydroflask carry lifetime guarantees, so you’ll never have to buy another water bottle again. The Larq is rechargeable and the LifeStraw filter can be replaced. You should only have to buy a new water bottle if your current one is lost, breaks, or develops an unpleasant taste. 

Q: How do I choose a good water bottle?

Choosing a good water bottle depends on what is important to you. If you want cold water, opt for an insulated model. If you plan on backpacking, hiking, or hunting frequently go with a lightweight option. Reputable brands and warranties are a good sign that you’ve chosen one of the best water bottles.

Q: What are common problems with water bottles?

Leaking is my main concern with water bottles. However all of the options on this list do not leak when closed properly. Another issue can be if the carrying handle breaks, but this should also be covered under warranty. 

Why Trust Outdoor Life?

Since 1898, OL has been a leading authority in testing and reviewing hunting gear, fishing tackle, guns and shooting equipment, and much more. We have more than a century-long history of evaluating products, and we’re now bringing that expertise to online reviews. Our editors are experienced outdoorsmen and women, and most importantly, we’re trained journalists. We prioritize field testing and objective data when reviewing products. We conduct interviews with gear manufacturers and engineers as well as outdoor experts so that our readers have an understanding of how and why a product works—or doesn’t.

Advertising does not influence our gear reviews and it never will. While we always focus our coverage on standout products—because we want our readers to be aware of the latest and greatest gear—we also cover the flaws and quirks of any given product.

Final Thoughts

Water is important for your health and athletic performance. The best water bottles will keep you hydrated because their designs are convenient, reliable, and efficient. These models excel in different ways but they’re all great for hydrating in the outdoors. If you’re a frequent backpacker, opt for the lightweight Platypus DuoLock. For car camping, the CamelBak Multibev is ideal.