A good water bottle is essential when it comes to traveling. Read on for reviews of the best (and worst) choices for on-the-go hydration:
1. Old School: The Nalgene
A classic water bottle that has been a part of backpacking and outdoor adventure sports since the 1970s. The Nalgene Company originally produced laboratory supplies but created an outdoor products line when they realized that Boy Scout troops and avid backpackers were using their products. Recently, the company has come out with BPA-free versions of their classic bottles.
Buy a narrow mouth if you plan to drink in the car, and the wide mouth if you want to be able to drop ice cubes in. Another plus: most water filters screw into Nalgene tops.
Grade: C+. Light, durable, and you’re sure to look legit if there are a few weathered bumper stickers plastered on it. Nevertheless…plastic does leach, and you’re sure to have concerned know-it-alls constantly asking you if your bottle is BPA-free.
2. Sleek: The Sigg
Sigg water bottles are produced in Switzerland, are made out of aluminum, and have a special internal coating that is taste- and scent-neutral. The bottles come in a variety of sizes (especially cute: the shorties for little kids) and usually have colorful, artistic exteriors. Very popular in Europe, Siggs are sleek, cylindrical and eco-friendly.
The Sigg has a narrow mouth, making it a challenge to clean, and is not the best choice for serious outdoor enthusiasts, as water filters are not always compatible. The loop on the top can be used to clip the water bottle onto backpacks and potentially pants (in which case you’d better be wearing a belt, too).
Grade: B. Although Siggs look cool, the steel they’re made of is very thin; the material offers no insulation and dents easily. Fine for a walk through town, not for a hike through the Sierras.
3. Hardcore: Klean Kanteen
Like a Sigg that has been tweaked for serious outdoor enthusiasts. The stainless steel is thicker and more durable and the mouth of the bottle is wider (and therefore much easier to clean). This is also possibly the greenest choice of water bottle, since the Klean Kanteen Company maintains environmentally conscious business practices and works with other organizations to protect the environment.
There are many sizes and shapes of Klean Kanteens, as well as a variety of lids. Choose the classic screw-top, or the recently-released water bottle lid.
Grade: A. Fewer artsy choices than the other bottles, but the last water bottle you’ll ever need to buy. I’ve been banging mine around for years now.
4. Convenient: Camelbak
Camelbak has two hydration systems for the traveler who needs their hands free. Their classic Camelbak backpack has a plastic pouch and connected drinking tube that brings liquid right to the lips of the wearer. Plusses: Hands-free and carries a large volume of water. Minuses: The pouch and tube are no fun to clean, and the older they get the more likely they are to drip.
Their other popular product is a water bottle with a straw that extends to the bottom of the bottle, eliminating the unscrewing and tilting that all other bottles require. Good for parents with little kids who tend to pour the entire water bottle over themselves when they try to take a drink.
Grade: B-. Undeniably useful, but not the most travel friendly (how can a plastic pouch not leak on something?). Good choices for cycling or sight-seeing.
5. For the procrastinator: Bottled water, rivers, streams and lakes
Really cutting down on packing? Theoretically, you could count on bottled water and natural sources to keep yourself hydrated. There is also the odd garden hose, public drinking fountain and icicle…
Grade: D-. There is hardly a worse choice for the environment than plastic, disposable water bottles, as well as the fact that the water inside is often the same quality as tap. It’s also impossible to know the level of pollution or other contaminants in natural bodies of water – bringing your own, or a filter, is the safest choice.