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5 Best Hiking Water Bottles of 2023

Having trouble finding a good hiking water bottle? You need something sturdy and relatively lightweight, ideally without being too bulky. We’ve done our research and are committed to helping you find the best hiking water bottle on the market.

Weighing the pros and cons of the market’s current favorite water bottles, we’ll make sure you can pick the right one for you.

The Nalgene Wide Mouth Ultralite is our top pick for a hiking water bottle, as it is lightweight, inexpensive, and holds up to 32 ounces of water at a time.

There are other options, but we’ve done the groundwork for you, which should make choosing your favorite water bottle as easy as a cold drink on a hot day.

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Our Top Picks for Hiking Bottles:

Best Overall Water Bottle – Nalgene Wide Mouth Ultralite

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Image by Nalgene

Specs:

  • Weight: 3.75oz
  • Durability: Great
  • Capacity: 32oz

When it comes to the best hiking water bottles, there’s a good reason Nalgene bottles have been so popular for so long. These are likely the best plastic bottles on the market, and the screw cap is secure and leakproof.

This “ultralite” version is marketed as one of Nalgene’s less durable bottles, but they still manage to stand up to the test. In fact, the softer HDPE material having a little bit of give can prevent it from cracking when dropped on a rock.

Their iconic plastic loop cap makes it easy to fasten to the outside of your pack or carry with just a finger. It’s a fantastic daily bottle, too, for when you’re not wearing your hiking boots. The durability, weight, and ease of transport make this the best of the plastic water bottles.

You can rely on this as your emotional support water bottle and stay hydrated throughout your hike.

Best Truly Ultralight Water Bottle – Platypus Platy 2-Liter

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Image by Platypus

Specs:

  • Weight: 1.3oz
  • Durability: Okay
  • Capacity: 70oz

If you’re the kind of hiker for whom bottle weight is king, this is the best of the collapsible bottles available. At 1.3oz, the Platypus’ soft plastic allows you to keep your base weight low and frees up pack space.

This can be your bottle of choice outside your pack, or you can store it internally as a hydration bladder. Use in tandem with some disposable plastic bottles for a truly ultralight setup.

The Platypus is BPA-free. The material doesn’t retain taste, so you don’t have to worry about those last few drops of your electrolyte tablets contaminating your water bottle for weeks. This collapsible bottle is a vital part of any long-distance backpacker’s outdoor gear setup.

Best Insulated Water Bottle – Hydro Flask Wide Mouth

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Image by Hydro Flask

Specs:

  • Weight: 15.52oz
  • Durability: Top-notch
  • Capacity: 32oz

Not long ago, Hydro Flasks burst onto the scene and became a lot of people’s favorite bottle. These vacuum-insulated, stainless steel bottles are incredibly durable and keep your water cool even in extreme temperatures.

It’ll keep your cold water cold, and your hot beverages hot. Fill it with tap water and add ice cubes for some real temperature longevity.

While we’re looking at the 32oz version, they do come in different sizes. Hydro Flask sells 20oz or 40oz options that may fit better into your car cup holder.

When it comes to durability, it’s tough to beat this line of metal bottles from Hydro Flask. We prefer the wide mouth bottle over the built-in straw for ease of cleaning. While these do have some hefty body weight, it feels good to go plastic free.

Check out Hydro Flask’s Trail Series for some more lightweight options.

Best Filtered Water Bottle – Katadyn BeFree

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Image by Katydyn

Specs:

  • Weight: 2.2oz
  • Durability: Okay
  • Capacity: 33.8oz

For an ultralight, convenient, sip-on-the-go experience, the Katadyn BeFree is a great option. The filter membrane filters out microorganisms, not just particulates, so you can rest easy knowing the water you drink from this collapsible plastic bottle is safe.

Water filtration systems often have bulkier water filters that screw onto the water-collecting pouches they provide. The BeFree streamlines that system.

Like most modern-day plastic bottles, the BeFree is BPA-free. The filter is easy to clean, too, by simply swishing clean water around it to remove debris.

Should it get too clogged to salvage, replacement filters are available. A flip cap over the mouthpiece helps keep the nozzle clean, too.

The BeFree’s only pitfall is its durability. Your mileage may vary, but generally, it’s better to use this bottle for day hikes rather than longer backpacking trips.

Best Eco-Friendly Water Bottle – Klean Kanteen

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Image by Klean Kanteen

Specs:

  • Weight: 18.3oz
  • Durability: Top-notch
  • Capacity: 32oz

Klean Kanteen is a family-owned business creating vacuum-insulated stainless steel water bottles out of 90% recycled materials. This is a great reusable bottle that can handle both hot liquids and cold water.

Klean Kanteen produces a stainless steel bottle that fits well into the outdoorsy person’s eco-consciousness. They market them as “multitools” as well, with replaceable parts and accessories.

You can purchase a bottle lid that works for you: a loop cap, a twist cap, or more, to swap out according to your needs. Klean Kanteen has been creating insulated water bottles for a while, on par in quality with Hydro Flask.

If you’re looking for an insulated bottle that has been made with meticulous attention to its climate impact, this is the bottle for you.

What to Look for When Shopping for the Best Hiking Water Bottle

In shopping for reusable water bottles, it can be hard to know what features are important and why. Why would you want a specific material? What size do you need? Do you need insulation or are non insulated bottles okay? We’ll break down how to decide on the best hiking water bottles for you.

Material: Stainless Steel Bottles or Plastic Bottles?

Material is arguably the most important choice you’ll make. In a pinch, of course you could use soda bottles from the closest gas station, but that low-quality plastic should not be reused.

Plastic water bottles are completely safe when made with high-quality materials like those listed above. Compared to metal bottles with insulation, the sun tends to heat water quite efficiently through plastic.

Metal bottles, by comparison, are heavier and more luxurious. In hiking water bottles, weight should be a major consideration.

For day hikes, an extra pound in the form of your favorite Hydro Flask is not a big deal. When backpacking, it will get annoying fast. Metal bottles tend to be incredibly sturdy, too. It’s hard to beat stainless steel when it comes to durability.

What about a glass bottle? This is absolutely an option. Purifyou makes high quality glass bottles that come outfitted with an impact-resistant silicone sleeve. Of course, they won’t be quite as durable as stainless steel, but they won’t be quite as heavy, either.

Size and Use

Most of the water bottles we’ve listed are around 32oz, but that’s not your only option. You could go as high as 40 or 64oz, but before you buy, consider if they will fit in your backpack’s side pockets.

If you go car camping a lot, consider whether your hiking water bottles could also fit in your car cup holders. A 16 or 20-oz bottle is more likely to fit in most cup holders, and that could really contribute to your bottle’s convenience levels.

Hydro Flask, for example, offers 12 20, 24, 32, 40, and 64oz options.

Consider the average length of your hikes. You’ll probably want to pick up hiking water bottles that reflect that length. Don’t forget, no matter how heavy your Hydro Flask or Nalgene is, water itself will be the heaviest thing you carry.

If you don’t need a 64oz bottle, the temptation to fill it all the way up may end up coming back to bite you.

Lids, Accessories, and Ease of Cleaning

Part of the reason we’re listing wide-mouth bottles here is for ease of cleaning. A straw seems convenient until you’ve had this bottle for the last two years and realize you haven’t cleaned the straw in that whole time.

Hydro Flask offers specific cleaning accessories for this reason. As a general rule, metal and hard plastic water bottles are safe to use in your dishwasher. For softer plastic, hand washing is probably your best bet.

One of the best options for customization is what kind of lid or cap you’ll want. A classic sport cap works great, but isn’t always perfectly leakproof.

A bite valve is another quick, convenient option. For preventing any leakage, though, a good screw top is often your best bet. If you’re trying to get fancy with it, a magnetic cap is a fun way to snap the lid into place while you’re drinking.

To Insulate or Not to Insulate

You might be asking yourself if insulation is worth it. In this situation, budget should be a consideration as well. Often, your insulated bottles will be a little more expensive.

Klean Kanteen and Hydro Flasks are generally comparable in quality and price, so capitalize on either brand’s sale if you see one. For us, the question of non-insulated bottles as opposed to insulated is a question of your long-term plans for hiking.

As you dip into backpacking and longer hikes, weight will become more important. Plastic might be your best bet, then.

If you’re comfortable in day hikes of moderate length, the luxury of insulation will be well worth it. Remember, the best hiking water bottles are the ones that fit perfectly into your favorite hikes.

FAQ

Do Plastic Water Bottles Leach Chemicals?

We’ve mentioned BPAs a few times throughout this guide. BPA refers to “bisphenol A,” which is a chemical that has been used in manufacturing certain plastics for quite a while. It has been shown to have health effects, especially on children.

That’s why water bottle brands will stress that their products are free of BPAs. These days, most high-quality plastic water bottles won’t be made with such chemicals, but it’s always good to double-check.

What is the Best Material for a Hiking Water Bottle?

The best material for your hiking water bottles depends on your usage. If you already have your stainless steel Hydro Flasks and are in love with them, you should feel free to bring them on a hike. It’s not some crime against outdoor culture to hike with a heavy, metal bottle.

That said, a lot of veteran hikers and backpackers will tell you that the best hiking water bottles are made of plastic. They’re focusing on weight, most likely, and they’re not wrong.

Softer plastic is significantly more likely to tear or puncture the more you use it, so you should consider durability as well. For our money, a hard plastic water bottle like our Nalgene listed above is the best of both worlds.

How Do I Clean My Hiking Water Bottle?

Don’t just pour dish soap and hot water in your bottle and shake it, won’t truly clean it. Scrub the lip, the screw top if you have one, and the inside of the lid. Make sure you lather and scrub the inside of your straw if you use one.

Over a long period without cleaning, your water bottle can become home to bacteria and mold that can make you sick. An extra sanitizing step, such as a small, safe amount of bleach can help too.

When you’re storing your water bottle or hydration bladder for a long time, make sure to dry it well. A drop of bleach can assist in this as well. Otherwise, just leave it in the sun or somewhere warm for a few hours.

Invest in Hydration

You’ve done the right thing in researching hiking water bottles. It’s an important step to help yourself get outside and stay in the habit of getting outside.

Remember, water is life. Hiking requires that you hydrate. Both these methods of self-care go hand in hand. In this way, your hiking water bottles act as a tool, a gateway to help you connect with nature.

Your needs are paramount, so consider which one of the products we’ve listed on this guide fits you best. You may find yourself excited enough about your new bottle that you plan a hike you wouldn’t have otherwise.

Let a little bit of retail therapy inform the hiking therapy that we all so desperately need.

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