Diet

How to Choose the Best Reusable Water Bottle

Ever tried shopping for a reusable water bottle? The process can be a bit overwhelming, like trying to fit the ocean into, well, a bottle. A dizzying array of sizes, materials, lid types, and various other bells and whistles are available for purchase.

Ultimately, your reusable water bottle really only has to do one thing—hold water. But, depending on preferences and daily activities, each person’s perfect bottle will look a little different. Before purchasing, you’ll likely want to consider important factors like size, material, insulation, and special features. Follow these steps to find the hydration companion that’s just right for you.

Assess Material Options

These days, water bottles can be made out of all sorts of materials. The following options have their pros and cons:

  • Stainless steel: This silver material is perennially popular for its durability and dishwasher safety. Formed from iron and chromium and covered with an inert surface, stainless steel is virtually rust-proof and doesn’t leach any flavors into your water. It’s also one of the more sustainable material choices, since it can be 100% recyclable. 
  • Glass: Glass is a classic water receptacle—some records trace its use for drinking back to the 15th century B.C. But while it’s pretty to look at, glass is the most breakable water bottle material and doesn’t hold temperature very well. As for reduced environmental impact, look for bottles made of recycled glass bottles.
  • Plastic: You won’t find a more inexpensive bottle than a plastic one—but budget-friendliness is one of the only advantages of this material. Made with fossil fuels, plastic is not a very sustainable choice, and it’s prone to cracking and breaking. You also may find plastic imparts unpleasant flavors into your water over time.
  • Silicone: Flexible, lightweight, and easy to clean, silicone has become a go-to material for many hydration enthusiasts. (It’s also not going to break if you happen to drop it on a hiking trail.) Opinions vary on the sustainability of silicone. Though it’s not biodegradable or recyclable, it’s made of a very abundant element in the earth’s crust.

Determine Size and Capacity

Thinking about your daily water consumption (or your goals for hydration) is key for determining the size and capacity of your ideal bottle. Purchasing a larger bottle with the intention of drinking it down throughout the day can be motivating for reaching hydration targets.

Think, too, about your daily routine. If you tend to be away from home all day, you’ll probably want a larger capacity bottle. On the other hand, if you only need portable hydration for errands or quick jaunts to the gym, a smaller size will do.

Understand Insulation Features

Some folks don’t mind sipping on room-temperature water, while others need that ice-cold “ahh” to feel refreshed. If you prefer temperature-controlled beverages, you’ll likely want to invest in a bottle with insulation features.

You’ve got several options.

  • Vacuum insulation consists of two separate flasks joined together with air sealed out between them. This protects the liquid from outside air temperature. (Fun fact: this concept dates its invention all the way back to 1892.) Vacuum-insulated bottles can be made of a variety of materials, but stainless steel is one of the most common.
  • Double-walled construction also features two layers of insulation, which may or may not be vacuum-sealed. Placing an extra layer of barrier between your drink and the outside world works to maintain temperature.
  • Copper-lined bottles, meanwhile, provide insulation for your water or other beverages by conducting and radiating temperature back to the liquid within. Some bottles feature these and other insulators in combination.

Explore Lid Types and Features

What’s in a lid? A lot, when it comes to water bottles. The right lid stays on tight and keeps your water easily accessible, making you more likely to hydrate. Consider these possibilities:

  • Screw-top lids: Screw-on caps stay firmly in place, minimizing leakage. Still, they can be a hassle to open each time you want to drink. 
  • Flip lids: Flip lids pop open with the press of a button, sometimes revealing a straw or simply opening the lid. They’re helpful for one-handed drinking.
  • Straw lids: Some lids feature retractable straws, while others keep a straw permanently in place. Straws certainly allow for easy-access drinking, but can be difficult to clean. A water bottle with a straw sticking out isn’t as portable as screw-top varieties, either, since it will leak if turned the wrong way.
  • Sports caps: These lids feature pop-able nozzles atop a bottle. They’re great for grabbing and sipping and usually sit atop a screw-on cap, allowing you to fill your bottle easily.

When choosing your ideal lid, you can also look for extra features like leak-proof designs, easy-open mechanisms, and carrying handles that enhance convenience and usability.

Evaluate Cleaning and Maintenance

Unless you’re using your water bottle for something other than water (such as smoothies or fresh juice), it’s not likely to get extremely messy. Still, any kind of bottle requires regular washing to prevent an overgrowth of bacteria from your mouth.

If you’re not a fan of washing by hand, you’ll want to purchase a bottle that can go in the dishwasher, such as one made of stainless steel, glass, or silicone. (Most plastic bottles must be hand-washed.)

Some bottle designs are also inherently easier to clean than others. Those with straws or lids with multiple parts can be tough to get fully clean. And in some cases, a bottle itself can go in the dishwasher but its lid cannot. Be sure to check and follow all washing instructions.

Consider Portability and Ergonomics

Portability and ergonomics matter. There’s no use carrying around a water bottle if it’s just going to spill or hurt your hand when you carry it.

Consider how you’ll most often want to transport your bottle. Will you carry it by hand? Keep it in a bag? Attach it to your bike? Stash it in your car’s cupholder? These considerations can guide you in choosing features like size, shape, and weight.

Personal Preferences and Style

A reusable water bottle is a fun way to express your personal style. Whether you’d like a bottle that matches your favorite gym gear or want to share a message with the world via a favorite quote, there’s a bottle for that. Rather than purchasing any old bottle off the shelf, take your time to find one with an aesthetic that’s meaningful to you.

Budget Considerations

You can spend any amount of money you like on a water bottle—we’re talking the gamut of dollar store bottles to $100 flasks with fancy filters and high-tech insulation. Price and quality sometimes go hand in hand, but not always.

To identify whether a bottle is commensurate with its price tag, it’s best to do your own research. Read customer reviews about a bottle’s longevity and usability before taking the plunge.

Water bottles may seem like a merely utilitarian purchase, but they can be much more than a basic H2O receptable. Between functionality, cleanability, and size—not to mention style—you can select a water bottle that satisfies your needs and serves as a reflection of your personality. When you invest in a bottle you genuinely like, you’ll use it over and over, keeping plastic bottles out of landfills. That’s a win-win!


By Sarah Garone, NDTR

Sarah Garone, NDTR, is a freelance health and wellness writer who runs a food blog.

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