The Best Water Bottles for Hiking and Outdoors OutdoorGearLab

The Rambler beats our longstanding favorite, the HydroFlask Vacuum Insulated. This bottle has it all — a sleek, thoughtful design, great insulation, as well as a few additional touches that make this contender outstanding. The wide mouth design makes the Rambler easy to clean and especially easy to drink from. That annoying feeling of having the rim of a bottle pressed against the top of your nose is a distant memory with the Rambler. This bottle drinks like a drinking glass from your grandmother’s kitchen.

Though there are many, many positives to the Yeti Rambler, there are also a few downsides to this bottle. Since it is insulated and made of stainless steel, it is not the lightest bottle in the fleet. That said, we still found ourselves reaching for the Yeti for long hikes and days at the crag, regardless of its extra weight.

The bottle is also expensive, which is a bit of a downside. But, it is a good investment, as the Yeti is one of the most durable bottles in this review, and has a very good warranty. Read the complete review to learn more about why we loved the Yeti Rambler.

When used properly, this water bottle revolutionizes how much weight you hike, backpack or bike with. We take this on any outing of 3+ hours if we know there is a stream or lake. If you know where the water is, "be a camel" and drink a lot at each water source then carry only the amount you need to the next stream. Your daypack can weigh 2-6 pounds less throughout the day — a HUGE bonus. As a bonus, you drink water that is as cold and refreshing as the stream source. In our experience, you load up on water and stay better hydrated than carrying a full activities worth of water from the start and feeling you need to ration. For the ultimate combo, also bring the Softbottle mentioned above and refill the Plus from the BeFree.

The flip side is that the BeFree might instill overconfidence. If the stream that you’re counting on doesn’t materialize, you could be in trouble. The cap design is poor for one-handed operation, and you really have to close it to prevent leaks. At first, the taste is not great due to the filter — but it quickly gets better. Those few downsides aside, it’s hard to overstate how much we love the BeFree. Most products just get a little better. This product might totally change how much water you have to carry and therefore your comfort on the trail.

In addition to the Soma Bottle and the tried and tested favorite, the Lifefactory Glass Flip Cap, we also checked out the new bkr bottle. Out of the three, the Lifefactory still proved to be our favorite. It is durable and practical, with different lid options if the flip cap design is not for you. The Lifefactory is small and portable, making it a great lifestyle option.

As consumers seek alternatives to plastic, glass water bottles are becoming more and more popular since they are considered to be safe from chemical leaching. The LifeFactory’s narrow shape is easily carried by hand, or by the carrying handle, and it fits nicely into most cup holders. No other option provides the portability of the Lifefactory while still evoking the feeling of drinking from a glass in the kitchen. Impressively, it also passed our drop tests, due to its silicone sleeve. If cared for properly, it will last.

This year, we decided to break down the water bottles into categories based on the material used, except for the collapsible class, which are also plastic but perform a unique function versus your typical plastic option. This left us with four main categories: metal (stainless steel, both insulated and non-insulated in the same category), plastic (all BPA-free models), collapsible and glass. From there, we chose the top pick in each material category.

When selecting your choice, there are a few things to consider. Do I want metal, glass or plastic? A screw cap or a straw for sipping? Do I need it to regulate the temperature of my drinks for extended amounts of time? The models tested for this review hosted a variety of differences in materials, lid types, volume, insulation and even rigidity. To help you navigate the increasingly varied world, we’ve outlined the primary features, advantages and disadvantages of each major category. Value

Hover over the blue dots and see which award winners were the best value (the gray dots are non-award winners). The Nalgene is clearly the value choice as it scores third highest but is one of the least expensive bottles in the review. Two other standouts are the Miir Slate and Platypus DuoLock. Had these not won Top Pick awards, they would have been Best Buy award winners. The Slate is the best value in a metal bottle and the DuoLock is the best value in a collapsible bottle. The Lifefactory is the best value in a glass bottle.

The CamelBak eddy lost points here because it fails the leak test and provides only a slow flow of water. Similarly, the LifeStraw Go got downgraded here because it was difficult to suck water through the filter. The straw design on both of these bottles was quick to use but did not allow for satisfactory gulps. It’s for sipping, not gulping, which we found annoying when we needed water the most (like during workouts). The Platypus DuoLock lost points since it’s awkward to drink from and easy to knock over, while the Lifefactory Glass lost points because the shape of the spout sent water up our nose if we weren’t careful when tipping it back to drink quickly. The carrying handle of the Contigo Thermalock was awkward to use and strangely shaped, discouraging us from using it when carrying the bottle around. Taste

Not only do we want to hydrate, but we also want the water to taste good. Some water bottles imparted flavors on the liquids they contain, a characteristic that we did not appreciate. And if you store liquids like flavored drink mixes and coffee for a day, some bottles retain that taste and pass it on to the next thing you put in, even after washing.