Of everything in a hiker’s backpack, it would be hard to argue that a water bottle is not the most important part of any hiker’s kit. Staying hydrated is the best way to make sure your hike is safe and enjoyable. Sure, you can go to the gas station and buy a disposable water bottle, but there are certainly more practical and more environmentally friendly options for a hiking water bottle.
Most standard hiking water bottles are made from durable plastic and are void of the chemicals that sometimes end up in disposable water bottles. One of the most common functions of newer hiking water bottles is that the newest, and safest water bottles are BPA-free. BPA refers to a dangerous chemical that has existed in plastic production for decades. It is important to try and avoid the use of plastics with BPA in order to avoid adverse health effects. Nearly all hiking water bottles currently on the market are BPA free.
Everyone has different levels of hydration needs, but it is a good idea to bring at least 1 liter of water while hiking. This is equivalent to the most common size of water bottles (32 ounces), that you would see at your local outdoor goods store. An easy rule of thumb is 1 liter of water for a half day hike, and for anything longer, bring two liters.
Choosing a water bottle is most certainly easier than choosing other types of outdoor gear, there are still plenty of choices to consider.
The main choice is based on size, material, weight, and insulation type. With all gear, there are tradeoffs. The lighter water bottles have different levels of durability but are rarely insulated. Bottles with different lid features are often heavier. There are also solid water bottles and collapsible water bottles. The two most prominent hiking water bottle companies are Nalgene and Hydroflask.
Hiking water bottles are most commonly made of metal or plastic. The metal water bottles tend to be more durable, but much heavier and often more expensive.
Top 10 Water Bottles For Hiking + Backpacking
The next section will highlight some of the best hiking water bottles on the market. All water bottles will work, but everyone has their preferences!
Size: 32 fl oz
Weight: 6.2 ounces
This standard Nalgene bottle is the go-to, economical water bottle for all of your hiking needs. This is probably the most common water bottle you will see while out hiking. It is cheap, rather durable, and easy to use. If you want something basic and reliable with a good size, this is your choice. Many other designs exist from Nalgene, and they can nearly always be found online or at your local outdoor store. This bottle also comes in a narrow mouth option. This is certainly our top choice.
Author pro tip: These water bottles are incredibly durable. There has been a rumor for years that they could withstand being driven over by a car. Sure enough, the author tried that a few years ago with a smaller sedan. Barely any scratches!
Material: Stainless Steel
Size: 32 fl oz
Weight: 1 lb. 3 oz.
This insulated water bottle is great to keep cold drinks cold, and warm drinks warm for extended periods of time. This water bottle has the same wide mouth and capacity as a normal Nalgene, but the insulation sets it apart. If you like your water nice and cold, this is a great choice for you. Although be warned, the weight is significantly more compared to some of the other options. This water bottle also comes in a 24 fl oz version, a 40 oz version, and other narrow mouth bottles.
Material: Stainless Steel
Size: 21 fl. oz.
Weight: 10. 4 ounces
This is another option from Hydro Flask that includes a sport cap as opposed to a wide mouth bottle. This bottle is also insulated, keeping the contents cold for up to 24 hours, or hot for up to 6 hours. This bottle does come with a smaller capacity than the above options. This would be great for around the house and shorter hikes.
Size: 25 oz
Weight: 6 ounces
This plastic water bottle is another great option for a basic hiking water bottle. It is slightly smaller than the liter size water bottles, and is not insulated. The flip-top mechanism is much smaller than the mouth on the standard Hydro Flask. The easy carry plastic handle allows you to carry by hand, or clip it with a carabiner.
Size: 34 fl. oz
Weight: 1.2 ounces
This water bottle is much different than the other we have listed so far. This soft water bottle is ultralight, and can be packed down quite small after the water has been removed. Of course, it doesn’t have the durability that some of the other hard water bottles have. Something else to consider with this water bottle is that there is no carrying clip, and the water bottle cap is detached, making it easy to lose. However, this is an awesome ultralight water bottle that easily fits in your pack and won’t break the bank!
Size: 34 fl. oz
Weight: 1.6 ounces
This bottle is rather similar to the Platypus mentioned above. These collapsible water bottles are great for saving weight on the trailhead. One big advantage of this water bottle is that it has an attached cap, and a clip for attachment onto your backpack.
Author pro trip: For longer hiking days, carry one of these collisipble water bottles, and one firm water bottle. Saves weight and space!
Size: 48 fl. oz.
Weight: 6.9 ounces
While functionally the same as the 32 oz water bottle, this is a great choice for those longer hiking days. While not advised during a pandemic, this water bottle is definitely big enough to hydrate more than one person in pinch! This bottle is heavier than the standard 32 oz bottle, but it is still much lighter than the Hydro Flask bottles. This size is likely to still fit on the mesh side of a backpack.
Material: Stainless steel
Size: 20 ounces
Weight: 1 lb
Klean Kanteen is another insulated water bottle on the market. This bottle is claimed to keep cold beverages chilled for 58 hours, and hot items warm for up to 17 hours. This water bottle features a flat cap that looks much more like a coffee mug than a water bottle. This would be a great option for transporting hot beverages while hiking! The weight of this bottle is comparable to the Hydro Flask options.
Size: 22 ounces
Weight: 7.8 ounces
This is a much different water bottle than what has been on the list so far. The highly unique function of this water bottle is that this bottle allows for water filtration with a filtering straw in the water bottle. This allows you to fill up your water bottle on the trail with unfiltered water, as the water bottle filters it for you. LifeStraw claims their filters can be used for up to a 1,000 gallon lifespan! If you are looking for a filtered water bottle for the trail, this is your best bet!
Size: 32 ounces
Weight: 3.5 ounces
This semi-firm water bottle is a great compromise between the collapsible water bottle, and the firmer, standard Nalgene water bottles. Like the other standard Nalgene, this bottle is cheap and functional. This ultralite bottle saves about 3 ounces from the standard Nalgene option.
Hopefully this article will help you narrow down your choice for a hiking water bottle. Happy hiking!!