This may not seem to be the most exciting piece of outdoor equipment that you buy. However, it will prove to be one of your most used and important purchases. Making it important that you do your homework well, simply because you use it across a broad spectrum of activities.
Believe it or not, I am talking about the humble water bottle. A well-chosen bottle will stand you in good stead virtually daily. Once you latch onto the right one it’s like a state of nirvana!
Over time I have used 100s of bottles from the military one issued to me during national service to the more technical models available now. Simple issues can drive one crazy, lids that leak, over-engineered heavy bottles, poor lip to bottle interaction to name a few. And don’t get me wrong I have tested bottles with a variety of liquids such as soup, coffee, still water, sparkling water to name a few. In the process consuming 100s of litres of liquids.
Let’s dwell on some criteria, in this way you may also realise that you will need more than one bottle to satisfy varying requirements. Consider the end use or purpose of the bottle, if it is simply for use as a gym bottle then a standard single-walled 500 ml bottle is adequate. The same would apply if it is going to sit in the drinks holder on a road trip where you can regularly refill it. If you like your H2o cold you may wish to opt for a double-walled flask. Be careful though as the state of the art stuff that halves the weight and delivers superior properties tends to double the price and could be overkill for general use.
Then you have to consider the size and the fact that you should consume at least 2 litres of water per day on a normal day. This will increase due to exertion and temperature. For a good hike 4 x 500 ml bottles may be required, space permitting 2 x 1000 ml Nalgene bottles will do the trick. Nalgene is now one of the few “safe” plastics.
Then consider insulated vs. uninsulated, they both have their place but if opting for one bottle go insulated, it will deliver cold water over a long period.
Durability is key, glass is great from a cleaning perspective but breaks when dropped. Stainless steel tends to last a lifetime, only failing if the lid is plastic, this can be however replaced. Plastic bottles (Nalgene) are tough but they can also shatter if dropped whilst full.
Then look at where you will take your bottle. Is its size conducive to easy carry, does it have a changeable lid that allows you to use a carabiner to clip onto a rucksack? Will it fit into cup holders in your car and the external sleeves of your backpack? To many a wide-open mouth that allows you to drop ice in is important. All valid stuff to consider.
Taste is important, some bottles cling to the taste of the previous liquid and taint the next fill. Others have rubber caps that always taste of rubber. So rather look for plastic/stainless steel caps or even bamboo caps. I try not to mix tastes so my primary water bottle is only for water. Coffee I put in a small flask so as not to cross-contaminate. You don’t need flavours that linger around.
To some it is an accessory, to others, it’s a functional piece of equipment’s it’s ok to care about the brand and what it looks like, but most of all be sure that the fit and functionality meet your needs.