In 2007, bottled water production in the US alone required somewhere between 32 million and 54 million barrels of oil as found by a study published in the Journal Environmental Research Letters. That’s approximately 2,000 times as much as the energy cost of producing tap water.
When you’re traveling and without ready access to drinkable water, your first instinct is to reach for bottled water.
Pretty soon, your wallet is suffering from that expensive bottled water. And you’re not feeling much environmental love with the plastic bottles you’re discarding. Especially if you’re in a country where purifying your water is a must.
The solution? A sturdy, travel-ready water bottle. As trusty and loyal as your best backpack, a water bottle serves as an eco-conscious investment in the earth and your health (Exhibit A: staying hydrated will help stave off jet lag).
Keep reading for the best water bottles for travel, either downtown, or around-the-world adventures.
Best Water Purifier Bottle: The Grayl Ultalight Purifier Bottle ($60)
Grayl is my purifier water bottle of choice — sleek, sexy, and with a purifying method akin to a French press (which creates my other favorite beverage of choice).
Fill up the interior of this bottle with water, any water at all, slowly press down for 15 seconds, and ta-da, you have purified and filtered water.
No need to carry an extra water filter and pour your water over it, then wait, while you’re dying of thirst.
Grayl is a complete system in a design that looks a lot like a to-go coffee mug.
The full-spectrum filter is 99.9999% effective against viruses, bacteria and protozoan cysts. And if you get the purifying cartridge, it filters the water of sediments, so you don’t have to start off with clear water. Fill ‘er up from a stream or murky water source, press and drink.
Grayl offers two different kinds of filters depending on your purifying and filtering needs:
- Purifier for the really uncertain water sources that cleans water of sediments and pathogens
- Tap filter to remove sour tasting chemicals and create potable tap water
Each cartridge is good for 40 gallons or 150L.
The only small downside is the water bottle’s small capacity. The Grayl is a one-person-only water purifier and filtration bottle. But the fix is easy. Pair the Grayl with a 32-ounce or larger water bottle to store your clean water — like the Klean Kanteen (further down on this list) — and you’ve got a winning combo.
Best Water Purifier Bottle Runner Up: LifeSaver Bottle Ultra Filtration($148)
LifeSaver is a purifier and filtration combo device.
The purifier looks a lot like a normal water bottle, but it removes all bacteria, viruses, cysts, parasites, fungi, and other microbiological waterborne pathogens without using any chemicals. This water purifier bottle filters out bacteria to a minimum of Log 6 (99.9999%), viruses to Log 4 (99.99%) and cysts to a minimum of Log 3 (99.9%). Also, it doesn’t use any batteries, power, or UV light.
Perfect for trips way off the grid. Fill up the 750mL capacity with water, pump two or three times, and drink clean water. One filter treats about 6,000 liters of water.
Dave Dean at Too Many Adapters high-fives the thoughtful design of LifeSaver’s filter and cartridge: “I’m a big fan of the failsafe filter and cartridge, which won’t let you pump water after they’re used up. That’s a much better approach than trying to remember how much water you’ve used, or using your stomach as a petrie dish to find out.”
Best Plastic Water Bottle: Thermos Intak Hydration Bottle ($10)
This 24-ounce water bottle is easy to hold thanks to its contoured, textured design. With a wide-mouth, you can easily drop in ice cubes.
The Wirecutter named this water bottle as their favorite plastic water bottle for the past two years:
“After screwing the lid on, the well-designed narrower spout regulates flow while drinking without causing a splash as you guzzle. It’s a winning combination. We found it to be leak-proof, leaving our test
bed dry as a bone after we left the bottle there lying on its side overnight. To ensure that no water escapes while it’s banging around in your backpack or on the rear seat of a car, it comes equipped with the most durable and easy-to-use two-step locking mechanism we tested.”
This plastic water bottle is also super lightweight at 6.6 ounces. So if you’re looking for a travel water bottle that’s easy to drink from, durable, and lightweight, look no further than the Thermos Intak.
Best Plastic Water Bottle Runner Up: Square by Clean Bottle ($15)
A square water bottle that doesn’t roll off into dark corners or under dozens of plane seats when you drop it. Brilliant.
This plastic water bottle has a leak-proof seal and easy-to-clean design so you can bring a smoothie with you in the morning and drink lovely water in the afternoon without fear of smoothie-leftovers, like floating chia or strawberry seeds.
Alison Olmsted loves this water bottle. She has been using it while flying for almost two years. “It is great for travel. The big thing about being square is that it cannot roll – if you fly a lot, you’ve seen water bottles dropped and rolling down the aisle or under seats.
Square can’t do that. It is also pretty close to indestructible, so drop it all you want. But the other thing that is awesome about it is that it is the easiest bottle on the market to clean, a big drawback of many styles.”
Both the top and bottom come off, so you can clean every corner of it. You can put it in the dishwasher or hand wash. With either option, the water bottle dries thoroughly unlike smaller-mouthed water bottles that retain a gross smidge of water in the bottom.
Best Collapsable Water Bottle: Platypus Meta Bottle ($20)
The Wirecutter tested 14 collapsible bottles. They found that this 25-ounce Platypus collapsible water bottle is the best folding bottle for most people.
“This leak-proof, shatterproof bottle holds a reasonable amount of water, and compared with all of the other collapsible bottles we tested, it provides a drinking experience that feels closest to sipping from a rigid bottle.”
The upper and lower halves screw together at a wide opening. That wide opening is
awesome. You can add ice cubes, attach a filter, or use a UV purifying pen. Or easily clean it by hand, when you don’t feel like throwing it in the dishwasher. (It is dishwasher safe.)
Back to The Wirecutter and their extensive review:
“The dual-purpose Platypus Meta Bottle can be converted into a cup or collapsed when space is limited. This squishable, leakproof bottle offers a drinking experience that’s as close to that of a hard-sided bottle as we’ve been able to find in a collapsible vessel. Once it’s empty, you can roll it up and stash it away.”
Unlike other collapsible bottles that require two hands to drink from them, so you don’t end up with a wet lap, this water bottle’s stiff midsection ensures it keeps its shape.
Best Stainless Steel Water Bottle: Klean Kanteen Insulated Classic – 32 oz ($20)
In my research for this post, this Klean Kanteen water bottle repeatedly appeared as best travel water bottle. Handsome in its shiny stainless steel, this 32-ounce insulated water bottle is begging for an adventure.
Leak-proof and easy to clean, this travel water bottle keeps your steaming coffee hot for 24 hours… or your iced tea cold for 90 hours. (And yes, you can fit ice cubes through its nearly 2-inch wide mouth.) So you can toast a successful summit on one
of Colorado’s 58 peaks topping higher than 14,000 feet with a still-cold beer you filled this water bottle with some 12,000 feet down there… somewhere. Weighing in at 14.9 ounces, this bottle is a little heavier than plastic water bottles or collapsible water bottles. But it’s indestructible.
In The Wirecutter’s drop tests, “Klean Kanteen Classic stood up to a beating whether it was full or empty. While its brushed stainless-steel exterior suffered some scuffs after it survived a fall to the cement floor of our test area, unlike the other single-walled stainless steel bottles we tested, it didn’t sustain any dents or dings.”
If the bottle’s weight is an issue for you, check out the smaller 27-ounce Klean Kanteen Classic. It’s lighter but no less durable or travel-ready.
The best water bottles for travel are:
- Stainless steel: Klean Kanteen Insulated Classic – 32 oz ($20)
- Plastic: Thermos Intak Hydration Bottle ($10) or Square by Clean Bottle ($15)
- Collapsible: Platypus Meta Bottle ($20)
- Purifier: Grayl Ultralight Purifier Bottle ($60) or LifeSaver Bottle Ultra Filtration ($148)
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