The 5 Best Water Bottles for Hiking

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When embarking on a hike or backpacking trip, having a way to carry water is essential. For hikers there really are only a couple main ways to carry water either with hydration bladders or with water bottles. In this article we are covering the best water bottle for hiking out on the market. 

Water bottles offer many benefits compared to bladders. Bottles are more accessible, easier to fill, and also make it easier to monitor water levels. But finding the right bottle can be difficult with so many out on the market. In this article we are going to dive into different water bottles focusing on ones that are lightweight, collapsible, rugged, and even insulated. 

Additionally, we’ll examine the importance of materials, capacity, and leak-proof features to ensure your chosen water bottle can withstand the demands of the trail. Whether you’re planning a short-day hike or a backpacking trip, our comprehensive review will help you find the best options out on the market. 

Best Water Bottles for Hiking

Quick Summary

For more hiking recommendations, read our other popular hiking gear reviews:


Best Budget/Durable Water Bottle: Nalgene 

Drinking from a sturdy Nalgene bottle

Empty Weight: 6.25oz for 32oz size 

Materials: Tritan Renew (BPA free, 50% recycled content)

Volume: 32oz (Available in 12 to 64oz)

Mouth and Lid Features: Wide mouth, Narrow Mouth 

Dishwasher Safe: Yes 

Pros

  • Cheap price
  • super durable
  • Color and designs

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Bulky

Bottom Line: 

The Nalgene Water Bottle is a hiking classic that has been tested by many. Nalgene bottles have always exceeded my expectations especially when it comes to durability. Nalgene bottles are constructed from high-quality, BPA-free materials, ensuring it can withstand the toughest hikes without any signs of damage or leaks. Firsthand, I have had Nalgenes easily last well over a decade. 

Out on the trail, the bottle’s leak-proof design, featuring a secure screw-on lid with a reliable seal, prevents spills and allows for worry-free storage in my backpack. Its versatility stands out as it can even double as a foot warmer during cold nights when filled with hot water. Easy wide mouth design makes it really easy to clean. While having many benefits, the one big con about Nalgenes is how big and bulky they are. When filled with water a Nalgene in a pack can feel like carrying a brick. 

If weight is one of your concerns like mine Nalgene does make a lightweight water bottle that is opaque. The lightweight bottle is a lot softer and less durable but weighs quite a bit lighter. Overall, I wholeheartedly recommend the Nalgene Water Bottle to fellow hikers as an indispensable and environmentally friendly water bottle for the trails.

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Best Lightweight Water Bottle for Hiking:  Glaceau Smart Water

Empty Weight: 1.2oz for 1L 

Materials: BPA free, 100% recyclable content 

Volume: 1L (available in 12 oz – 1L) 

Mouth and Lid Features: Narrow Mouth, cap or sport cap

Dishwasher safe: No

Pros

  • Slimline
  • Cheap
  • Versatility with filters
  • Light

Cons

  • Thin and flimsy
  • Limited mouth features

Bottom Line: 

As a backpacker, I really like the practicality of the reusable Smart Water. Their sleek and lightweight design makes them easy to carry in my backpack, and I appreciate the various sizes available, allowing me to choose the perfect amount of water for different trails. 

The 1 Liter option is usually my go to especially during backpacking trips where I will usually bring two of them. However, smaller sizes like the 12oz bottles fit neatly into side pockets for quick sips during shorter excursions. For me what really sets Smartwater bottles apart is that they are decent enough in durability to last awhile and are leak proof. 

Another thing I really like about the Smart Water bottles is how they work well with the Sawyer water filters. It is so easy to just screw on my Sawyer Squeeze filter and be able to have clean water on the go. I can confidently say that these bottles have proven to be reliable and convenient hydration solutions, making them an essential part of my hiking gear. They will not last forever, but they definitely work well and are super versatile. 

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Best Collapsible Water Bottle: Platypus Platy 2L Bottle 

Holding the ultralight Platypus Platy water bottle

Empty Weight: 1.3 oz for 2L 

Materials: Nylon/Polyethylene 

Volume: 2L (Available in 1L to 2L)

Mouth and Lid Features: Narrow Mouth 

Dishwasher Safe: Yes 

Pros

  • Ultralight
  • Packable
  • Versatility with filters

Cons

  • Large
  • Awkward to handle
  • Difficulty fitting in pockets

Bottom Line: 

The Platypus Platy 2L Bottle makes it on this list for multiple reasons.  Its collapsible design is a game-changer, taking up minimal space in my pack when empty and easily fitting into side pockets or pouches. The 2L capacity is generous enough to keep me hydrated throughout the most demanding hikes and the bottle by itself only weighs 1.3oz. 

I really like how it’s made from durable BPA-free materials, and the reinforced, taste-free lining ensures my water remains fresh and free from any plastic aftertaste. The integrated carrying handle is a thoughtful addition, allowing for effortless transportation and even facilitating the option to hang the bottle at the campsite or during breaks.

One of the standout features of the Platypus Platy 2L Bottle is its reliable leak-proof performance. I’ve put it through rigorous tests, and it has consistently prevented any spills or drips, keeping my gear dry and hassle-free. Similar to the Smart Water Bottle the Platy is made with a simple screw-on cap and works with many water filters. If the 2L is a bit too big, Platypus makes the 1L Soft Bottle that offers the same features just at a smaller size. 

The really big con that stuck out to me is how large and floppy the Platy bottle is. It’s somewhat difficult to handle when trying to pour or to just take a drink. Otherwise, it is an excellent pick for those seeking a lightweight and collapsible water bottle for hiking. 

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Best Insulated Water Bottle: Hydro Flask Wide Mouth

Hydro Flask is the best insulated bottle

Empty Weight: 15.1 oz for 32oz 

Materials: Stainless steel

Volume: 32oz (available in 20 to 64 oz)

Mouth and Lid Features: Wide Mouth, Flex lip lid, Straw lid 

Dishwasher Safe: Yes 

Pros

  • Insulated
  • Durable
  • Minimal condensation

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Pricey

Bottom Line: 

Hydro Flask is known for its excellent insulation in day to day use. While I tend not to usually bring my hydro Flask’s too often out on trails just because of weight. I will bring it out on shorter trails or sometimes on day hikes when I want ice cold water or if I want to store something warm like coffee. The Hydro Flask is remarkable at keeping my beverages at the perfect temperature. 

The wide mouth design not only allows for easy ice filling but also enables effortless cleaning, ensuring that my bottle remains fresh and free from any lingering odors. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how the exterior never sweats, preventing any slippery mishaps and making it easy to handle, even when trekking through challenging terrain.

Durability is a pro of the Hydro Flask crafted from stainless steel, it has withstood numerous accidental drops and rough handling with few signs of wear and dents. I could see the carry handle being nice for those that like to clip the bottle to their backpack. The big cons for me in regard to the Hydro Flask is its heavy weight and it is fairly pricey. If weight is a concern to you opt for the newer Lightweight Trail Hydro Flask, I have not had a chance to try it yet, but it looks promising. Otherwise, the standard Hydro Flask Wide Mouth Bottle is an excellent choice that stands up to the trails and works well for temperature control.

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Best Filter Water Bottle: Katadyn BeFree 

Katadyn BeFree 1L filter water bottle

Empty Weight: 2.3 oz for 1L 

Materials: BPA free, Thermoplastic polyurethane 

Volume: 1L (available in 

Mouth and Lid Features: Narrow Sport Cap

Dishwasher safe: Yes

Pros

  • Light
  • Filter feature
  • Packable

Cons

  • Flimsy
  • Pricey

Bottom Line: 

Katadyn BeFree 1L water bottle has many features that make it one of the top filter water bottles for hiking. I really like the packable design combined with the filtration system which offer a functional and effortless way to stay hydrated out on the trails. When comparing the filtering process to my Sawyer and Lifestraw I found the BeFree filter to be fairly quick and good at filtering dirty water. 

During my testing the big thing I realized was how nice it was to be able to eliminate having to carry separate water filtration supplies. However, though I found many pros, the one big disadvantage to the Katadyn Befree is how flimsy it is and that it does not stand up well on its own. Though it is flimsy, for a soft bottle it seemed to be fairly durable as I never noticed any leaks or holes. Overall, I believe the Katadyn BeFree 1L water bottle still comes out on top as the best filter water bottle for hiking.

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How to Choose Water Bottles for Hiking

Choosing the right water bottle for hiking is crucial for staying hydrated and comfortable when out on the trails. But choosing the best water bottle for you can be difficult especially if you are unsure about how you will be using it or what factors you may need. Here are some factors to consider when looking for your next water bottle for hiking. 

Choosing Capacity

When determining the capacity of the water bottle for hiking, it’s essential to consider your individual hydration needs and the specific demands of your outdoor activities. Assess the duration and intensity of your hikes to estimate how much water you’ll require. For shorter hikes or easy trails, a smaller volume, such as 24oz, may be sufficient. However, for longer or more strenuous hikes, a larger capacity, such as 1L or more, is advisable to ensure an adequate water supply.

Additionally, factor in the availability of water sources along your route; if you’ll have frequent access to water, a smaller bottle might be suitable, but if water sources are scarce or unreliable, a larger bottle with filtration capabilities like the Katadyn BeFree 1L can be a lifesaver. Ultimately, choosing the right volume is about striking a balance between carrying a manageable load and ensuring you have enough water to keep you hydrated and safe throughout your hiking adventure.

Material and Durability

When it comes to focusing on materials and durability, look for water bottles made from durable and lightweight materials. Materials like stainless steel or thermoplastics will often last longer but will be heavier and usually bulkier. Soft plastics or silicone type materials will often be lighter but more prone to damage and may require a little gentler use.

Investing in a water bottle crafted from sturdy materials ensures that it remains a dependable hydration solution, standing up to the challenges of hiking and promoting sustainable outdoor practices through its extended lifespan and reduced need for replacements. The choice of material and durability of a water bottle for hiking plays a significant role in ensuring a reliable and long-lasting companion on the trails. 

Weight and Size

Opt for a water bottle that strikes the right balance between capacity and weight. Bulky or heavy bottles can add unnecessary strain to your pack, so choose one that is lightweight and fits comfortably in your backpack’s side pockets or bottle holders. When selecting a water bottle for hiking, carefully considering its weight and size is essential to optimize comfort and mobility on the trails. 

A lightweight water bottle is preferable, as it minimizes the overall weight you carry, leaving room for other essential gear. Look for compact designs that fit comfortably in your backpack’s side pockets or bottle holders, ensuring easy accessibility during the hike. 

A balanced combination of capacity and weight is crucial, as an excessively heavy or bulky water bottle can cause unnecessary strain and discomfort, hindering your overall hiking experience. By prioritizing a lightweight and compact water bottle, you can minimize the stress on your body and truly enjoy the hike. 

Mouth, Lid, and Cap Design 

The lid and cap design should be user-friendly and easy to operate with one hand, especially if you’ll be drinking while walking. A leak-proof and secure lid prevents spills and ensures your gear stays dry. The mouth, lid, and cap design of a water bottle for hiking is a crucial aspect to consider, impacting both convenience and functionality during outdoor adventures.

A wide mouth opening like the Nalgene or Hydro Flask can be nice as it facilitates easy refilling and cleaning. But do not forget about functionality, small mouth opening like on the Smart Water bottle and Platypus Platy allow it to be easily configured with water filtration devices which is especially useful when filling from natural water sources. 

When looking at the mouth, lid, and cap designs consider how you will be utilizing your water system and filtration. There are so many ways to and combinations. To name a few options, you could carry a Nalgene and a 2L bladder with a separate walter filtration device or even carry two 1L bottles and a filtration device. It all depends on your preferences.

Filtration Capability 

When choosing a water bottle for hiking, considering its filtration capability is a vital aspect for ensuring a safe and reliable source of hydration. Opting for a water bottle with filtration capabilities, such as the Katadyn BeFree 1L, provides a significant advantage, especially when hiking in remote or uncertain environments with limited access to clean water. The filtration system efficiently purifies water from natural sources like streams and rivers, removing harmful contaminants and bacteria, allowing you to drink with confidence. 

This feature reduces the need to carry other water treatment and supplies. Which can help lighten your load in your backpack. Filtration capability is not really a huge factor at least to me in a water bottle as there are so many slim and light filters out on the market. But having a water bottle that is compatible with a water filter is huge when out on trail because of overall versatility. 

Insulation

When selecting a water bottle for hiking, considering its insulation capabilities can help enhance your experience out on the trail. Insulated water bottles can help to keep your beverage at the desired temperature throughout your hike. Insulation is not usually a huge factor in picking a water bottle for hiking, but it can be a nice bonus. 

An insulated bottle is better in theory than it is out in the field and the uses are very minimal unless going on shorter hikes or day hikes. I have used insulated water bottles when starting early day hikes to keep coffee in one bottle while using another for my water. Also, I have used my Hydro Flask with ice water during scorching hot day hikes which was a nice luxury. But other than that, its uses for backpacking are few and you could easily get away without ever needing an insulated water bottle. 

Easy Cleaning

Choosing a water bottle with easy cleaning features is crucial for maintaining optimal hygiene and ensuring a pleasant hiking experience. Look for a water bottle with a wide mouth or a design that disassembles easily, as this facilitates effortless cleaning and prevents the buildup of bacteria and unpleasant odors. Narrow water bottles are unfortunately a little harder to clean especially the Platypus Platy. When cleaning those type of bottle that resemble more of a bladder style, I opt for cleaning them just like I would a traditional hydration water bladder. 

A water bottle that is dishwasher-safe can be a practical choice, simplifying the cleaning process when you have access to modern facilities. Moreover, a bottle with smooth interior surfaces minimizes the chances of residue clinging to its walls, making it easier to rinse and keep clean during your outdoor excursions. 


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Frequently Asked Questions

What size water bottle is best for hiking? The ideal size for a hiking water bottle depends on individual needs and the duration of the hike. For shorter hikes or easy trails, a smaller capacity, such as 24oz, may suffice. However, for longer day hikes or more strenuous hikes, a larger capacity of 1L or more is recommended to ensure an adequate water supply. It’s essential to strike a balance between carrying enough water for hydration and maintaining a manageable weight in your backpack.

Is Hydro Flask too heavy for hiking? Not necessarily, you could definitely bring a Hydro Flask out on the trails can be alright. Personally, they are not my go to bottle for backpacking but, I have used them for shorter hikes and for the making of this product review put them to the test. Hydro Flask in my mind is more of a specialty water bottle where they fit in specific situations where you want to keep something warm or cold for prolonged periods.

Why do hikers like Nalgene bottles? Nalgene bottles are a hiking classic, they come in awesome designs, are easy to clean, and just last forever. Besides nothing beats that feeling of when you get a fresh new sticker that you can paste onto your Nalgene bottle, am I right?

Are collapsible water bottles good for hiking? Oh absolutely, collapsible water bottles are usually easy to pack and lightweight. Making them a great choice for hiking out on the trails.

Why do hikers use smart water bottles? Hikers really like Smart Water bottles because they are so versatile. They are thin, lightweight, cheap, and compatible water filtration devices which make them awesome for hiking.


Why Trust Us?

We are a small independent team that makes it our mission to produce honest reviews. We do not receive any money for reviews and do not accept sponsored reviews which allows us to remain truly unbiased and transparent. All our comments are based on years of research and experience on the field. 

Our process consists of spending countless hours researching and reading product reviews. In addition to that we use our own personal experiences from products we have previously used out on trails to create an evaluation list. After, we have added a few new additions from researching, and then narrowed it down to our testing sample. Then we hit the trails for a true hands-on experience. We have been testing gear out on the trails for years all over the country. From the Pacific Northwest to the desert, from our hot and humid homebase in the Ozarks, and to the Southeast along the Appalachian trail. 

We are always constantly evaluating and in the process of testing hiking gear. As we continually test, evaluate new models, and try emerging brands, we will update our recommendations. As a product user if you have any suggestions feel free to let us know and we will do our best to test them! We hope you found this list helpful for your next trip.

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