While proper hydration is important year-round, it’s especially important over the summer. If you’re active or working outside in the heat, or spending a lot of time just being outdoors, you need to drink more water.
I’ve had different preferences over the years, but Naglene’s 32oz wide-mouth bottle, shown above, is a good “standard” for me. I bought a couple of individual bottles over the years, and then I stockpiled a bunch more during good promotions. I’ve been using Nalgene bottles for maybe 16 or 17 years now.
Nalgene bottles are durable, and I’ve never had one leak. A friend’s bottle leaked once, after he tried to deliberately break his bottle. He replaced the cap and all was well.
Nalgene 32 oz bottles are 8.25″ tall, 3.5″ in diameter, and weigh 6.25 oz. The new ones are BPA-free and made from “Tritan” plastic.
You can replace the cap, there are inserts to reduce splashing, and there are a bunch of 3rd party accessories.
The new Tritan plastic bottles do tend to absorb and retain odors easily, or at least more easily than I remember their polycarbonate bottles doing. Other than that, I don’t recall having any specific issues or disappointments.
My first 32 oz bottle wasn’t a Nalgene, it was a Coleman of similar styling, because the Nalgenes were a little too pricey at the sporting goods stores and I didn’t know how much use I’d actually get from it. Now, you can get a 32 oz Nalgene for as little as $10 online.
I can absolutely recommend these water bottles, at least for water. For anything that has a natural smell to it, such as lemonade, you’d be better sure you’re okay with that smell lingering. And if you drink from the bottle while eating lunch or snacks, you’ll need to wash (and not just rinse) the bottle at the end of the day or it’ll smell funky fast.
These bottles can also be used as water-tight protective containers, something I’ve used one for a few times.
Pricing can vary depending on the color or pattern.
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I’ve also had great experiences with Camelbak (plastic) and Klean Kanteen (stainless steel) bottles, and my wife likes Lifefactory (glass). Before the Lifefactory bottle, she used a Nalgene N-Gen (~$8-12 on Amazon), which has a solid loop built into its non-tethered cap.
What has your experiences with these or other reusable water bottles been like?
You can get rid of the smell if you add almost boiling water with a couple tablespoons of baking soda and let it sit overnight.
Thanks! I might try that, but the idea of boiling water and plastic always seems weird to me.
Things like lingering lemonade smells aren’t as big an issue for me as the “evidence I was eating before I took a drink” smells. But, what can you do? Glass bottles are heavy, and while I do like stainless steel also, I find Nalgenes to have a more convenient higher capacity shape. So I deal with it.
I was on a winter camping trip on the shore of Lake Superior and it was averaging -20°F at night and so we poured almost boiling water into my Nalgene bottle to put in the cooler to keep our stuff from freezing overnight. It was a nice 64 ounce growler style and it destroyed the Nalgene bottle. It kept our stuff from freezing every night, but I couldn’t use the bottle after the trip.
Another way to destroy a Nalgene bottle is to burst it open. We were on a backpacking trek with Scouts – when we saw and smelled something amiss with a scout’s pack. The weather in New Mexico was warm, the scout in question was carrying a Nalgene bottle – with dried beans in it soaking in water. Using his initiative (or so he thought) – he surmised that if overnight soaking was good then multiple days soaking would be better. He also apparently filled the bottle to the top – with another mistaken notion that more is better. Fermentation combined with swelling of the beans burst the bottle.
We had one left behind at a rifle range where a car had run over the threads and mangled them: I can confirm that the sides of the hard Lexan models are bullet resistant from a .22LR, though the bottom not so much.
Other off label uses: my first aid kit in my car and for hiking and boating are both inside a red Nalgene bottle with a big white medical tape cross on the side. They float and are perfectly waterproof, extremely durable, and of course in an emergency situation can be used as a water bottle.
The LDPE ones, which are soft, also don’t have the smell and are a bit lighter.
We use a bunch of these and find the capCAP an indispensable addition to them:
A great combination.
Thanks for the recommendation. I like my Nalgene and use it daily, but I’ve never liked the stock loop handle that digs into my hand. This looks maybe a bit more comfortable… is it?
I don’t think the capCAP really affects things from a handle perspective; it just makes spash-back unlikely and easier to chug when moving or doing other stuff.
I understand the Jug Knot might be what you’re looking for: https://www.instructables.com/id/Carry-any-Bottle-with-a-JUG-KNOT-Handle/
Was just on the way to post this same link. The Humangear Capcap really is a great addition to the Nalgene bottles.
It’s not exclusively for the Nalgene bottle either, there’s a chart at the bottom of the page showing what other bottles it’s compatible with.
I loved my nalgenes, had 6. Never leaked wide mouth easy to add ice. Great for camping, car trips everything. Dishwasher safe. Great.
Wife made us switch to stainless because of BPA and other potentially harmful additives leaching. I’m not sure how true that is but I do love the hydro flask for how cold drinks stay. They can’t be washed in dishwasher and do dent but overall a slight upgrade.
I have an older Nalgene made from BPA plastic. I was about to throw it out, when a friend showed me a cool screw-on top w/ light you can buy. (You remove the standard top and screw on the LED-top. The light faces down –into the water– and it turns your water bottle into a really cool, low-light camping lantern. ) Of course, if you have a BRP-free bottle, you can still use the bottle for drinking. But for me, the bottle is now used only as a light (around the campsite or back deck). Got mine at REI.
If it was made in Mars I would still not buy it, just because it is made of plastic, there are lots of stainless steel ones to buy, insulated ones can keep the water cooler in hot summers.
They both have their merits. Which stainless brands do you prefer?
I recently uncapped an older stainless bottle that had been left somewhere for a couple of YEARS. There was… “stuff” inside, with the consistency of chocolate pudding and coffee-colored. I wouldn’t even pour it down the sink, I double-bagged it and threw it out. Some super-hot water and a lot of cleaning and it looks like it *should* be good to drink from again. I don’t know if I would have worked as hard on a plastic bottle.
My wife has master degree in biology from Kent University, she eats my brain with these subjects, she is a bit too much, but she is good when it comes to get information about food, water, plastic, fruits, organic and things like that, she is from a little town close to Riga, Latvian capital and grew up in nature and she is very connected to nature. Normally she buys and decides for these things for us, I have to ask her for more info. But I know she bought two stainless steel water bottles for our daughters to take to school as she hates to see empty plastic bottles around, she complains and whines much less now! You have to be careful with stainless steel water bottles and food flasks, in the evening we normally put a few drops of washing liquid in adding some hot water on and leave it until next morning and then wash it with long handled plastic brushes, she sometimes boils them also. And if you want to keep them inside the cabinets for a while never put the cap on, you did not need to throw it away double bagged, I don’t think pouring it in the sink would be a problem as long as it is natural and not chemical, you could have just boiled it for a few min. It is good for your immune system to not be too fussy also 🙂
This is the one she has bought for herself, she uses it for tea, coffee and water and she is extremely happy with it.
I didn’t discard the bottle, I double bagged the science experiment that was released from its multi-year incubation.
Sorry, I thought you binned the bottle also together with the lovely content.
Sounds like the flask wasn’t clean when it was put away.
Klean Kanteen just came out with wide mouth flasks with internal threads – making them far easier to clean, but a bit of baking soda and vinegar with boiling water (left overnight after a good scrubbing) has always yielded a completely clean inside – and the top can go into the dishwasher.
No, it wasn’t. I think it got packed away when moving instead of being cleaned, or something like that.
Nalgene “make” stainless bottles. I think they bought the designs from guyot designs a few years back when people were becoming aware of BPA.
One of the annoying things with stainless steel bottles is if go on alibaba, and look at the prices.
The almost boiling water won’t hurt the new hard plastic bottle or the older hard bottle that was made from Lexan?
I’ve been filling a Nalgene hard bottle with very hot water for many years for cold weather backpacking.
Fill it at bedtime, wrap it in a layer or two of cloth, put it in the foot end of your sleeping bag and presto a much warmer bag for a long time. As a bonus, you’ll have an unfrozen quart of water to drink in the morning.m
Hahah, funny story about a frozen quart of water. I was doing some winter camping, and had forgot to bring my nalgene bottle into the sleeping bag the night before. I had filled it to the absolute brim, and was very surprised to see it still liquid and unfrozen the next morning. The second I opened the lid though, the whole thing turned to ice.
I’ve had a few Nalgenes over the years and love them. We just bought a small mouth 16oz bottle for our daughter. Super durable and easy to keep clean. They also have a great warranty.
Stuart- they definitely used to be very pricey.
I can’t live without my Polycarbonate (hard plastic type) narrow mouth nalgene. They’re the best plastic bottles on the market in my opinion. Dropped it lots of times on concrete and it’s still kicking. They are a bit pricy for plastic but I’m willing to pay for Made in USA, not mystery chinesium plastic for me.
I used to use Nalgene bottles, but I grew tired of tepid water before lunch time. I much prefer stainless bottles, and until I find one that’s made in USA, I use Hydroflask bottles. I bring two 64 ounce bottles to work every day and even the last sip after 14 hours and the water is still cold. Cold water FAR outweighs the slight weight advantage of plastic, not to mention the ridiculous amounts of condensation that the plastic bottles would sweat into my work bag.
I’ve seen the brand, might try one for refilling the kids’ bottles during day trips if it means I can leave a cooler or cooler bag home.
Otterbox tumblers are made in the USA. Lots of options for sizes, colors, and lids. A little promotion since I work for Otter.
I just called and talked to a representative from OtterBox, and they are definitely NOT made in USA, in fact, they are made in China. The rep even confirmed it by looking at the bottom of a tumbler where it clearly states made in China. I was ready to buy a couple of the 64 ounce tumblers too. . . . .
Sorry, my mistake. The venture coolers definitely are.
I wear a Camelback HAWG…same one I’ve had for 20 years…on my third bladder… pretty much all the time. Also nice because I can keep a small first aid kit, snacks, etc at hand.
When it’s hot you can sip all day and stay hydrated.
My HAWG served me well for years too. Parts of it started wearing and deteriorating due to time and use, but boy that was a great bag. I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of it, so it’s still in reserve.
It’s been a few years since I needed hydration pack capacities, but my kids will be old enough for longer excursions in a few years, so it might still see more use.
I mainly used mine in the summer, but eventually bought an insulation kit. I hated having to drink through the warm tube water before getting to the cool water from the bladder.
I also had one of the minimal “put this in any bag” holders, which barely cost more than a bladder, and strapped it to the back of my seat for long car drives. I didn’t need the capacity, but the easy reach and hands-free drinking were great.
I finally swapped out a worn out HAWG for a new pack but have also kept it as a reserve.
For longer adventures, we bring a 10 liter Scepter water jug in the car to refill the hydration packs. It’s easier to use than the full size 20 liter jugs.
Koko The Talking Ape
The polycarbonate Nalgene bottles were the only reliably leakproof bottles we could find. You could drop them off cliffs, and they would bounce back (literally bounce back, often quite high.)
Re BPA, the rate of leaching into water depends a lot on the temperature of the water. As long as the water was room temperature or colder, I felt fine using it.
One handy hack is to wrap the bottle in some kind of insulation, such as a piece of closed-cell foam sleeping mat (the old-school kind, without ridges, bumps, etc.) That helps keep the water from freezing on cold nights, or from getting warm on hot days.
That’s what I thought too, but earlier today I found a Harvard Health post-BPA-ban report about even cold water leading to meaurable increases in BPA presence in test subjects’ urine.
It seems that temperature influences on BPA leaching largely drove the anti-BPA movement, but once polycarbonate products started leaving the market, BPA studies and news lost public interest.
Koko The Talking Ape
Ha! Good to know. Thanks!
Koko The Talking Ape
As it happens, nowadays I mostly use an insulated stainless steel bottle from Klean Kanteen. Reviews say it can leak, but I haven’t experienced that. The metal does get dinged up, and I worry about cracking it. I might make a sleeve for the bottom out of neoprene or something.
Once I heard about the Kleen Kanteen stainless bottles I switched. I still have several of the original expensive ones. Main reason is that I wanted to be able to leave my water bottle in the car as I ran errands and the plastic leaching especially in heat was a big downside.. I often use stainless Contigo bottles, including the kind designed for coffee since they are more convenient with the type of lids and keep things cooler. They can leak if you’re not careful, though. I had only one expensive Nalgene bottle early on. Though they’ve replaced BPA, I’m suspicious if the replacements are all that great.
Long ago my dad used to carry water in the car in glass bottles, since he claimed the plastic left a taste in the water. Glass is likely the safest, though heavier and it breaks.
Another nod for Klean Kanteen. I use a Yeti cup to drink out of and a Klean Kanteen insulated to keep water cool to refill the Yeti.
Yeti cups aren’t all that much better than the generic brands but the Yeti top is definitely better than the generic ones. I’d recommend buying a Yeti top if you buy a cheap insulated cup, the seal will last longer and your drinks will remain the same temperature for longer than the original top.
For my (very light) usage, as in a few day hikes a year and leaving them on the porch so that I can get a drink without tracking in dirt while doing yard work, the vacuum insulated stainless steel Walmart brand (“Ozark Trail”) thermoses and tumblers work very well for me.
They aren’t as compact as Nalgenes, but they do hold temps… Ice will still be in the thermos with the pop-up spout for a good day or two if I forget to empty it afterwards. Even with the plastic lid with open drinking hole, the tumbler will still have ice left in it the next morning if I refill it with ~1/4 ice and ~3/4 water just before leaving the office and forget to empty it out.
i like my water cold so i have a aluminium, insulated camelbak chute. keeps the contents surprisingly cold for hours (i live in the south). got a scare a few times when it fell to the ground but the insulation is still ok.
If you’ve not known about Nalge bottles for science & lapboratories, they come in all sorts of materials, and years ago I had their scientific catalog that included long lists of compatibility charts, part of which listed how to best clean each bottle material. The one that stuck in my mind was the Teflon bottles – they could be cleaned in boiling nitric acid.
On my college campus in the early 2000s, these things were the Yeti Coolers of the day. Extremely durable but used mostly as an accessory. Hanging one off your backpack – excuse me, Messenger Bag – with a carabiner was ultra trendy.
Speaking of Summer hydration, don’t forget the salt. I usually add ~1/4 teaspoon per liter of water and it makes a huge difference in staying hydrated without the washed out feeling of plain water.
P.S. +1 for Hydroflask
I love my Nalgenes, but for most applications these days, I tend to use my 40oz Hydro Flasks. Yes, they’re heavier, but when I have a small pack or stroller for family outings, it doesn’t matter to much. For camping (when I don’t take my Camelback), I still like the reduced weight of the Nalgenes and they definitely don’t sit empty, but they’re usually my second choice now. I do think the Hydro Flasks need the sport cap to make them usable, though…the old school tethered Nalgene lid is much more user-friendly than the one that comes with them, even if it feels way cheaper.
Don’t drink out of plastic period.
I’ve been using a Kleen Kanteen stainless 20oz for morning coffee for about 5 years now. Great for actually keeping your morning coffee hot. I did just recently buy a Nalgene water bottle just for water because I tend to like my drinking water at room temperature unless I’m doing something physical or it’s hot out. The other reason I bought one is because I can see the water level easily.
Im all for buying new tools but fancy water containers? I just drink out of the garden hose when doing yard work. I mean if I were to run out of beer. Haha just foolin.
Got me an old school Nalgene that I used for camping/hiking for years. Used a knife to scratch measuring lines into it as the labeling wore off. Too nostalgic to throw out after the whole BPA thing. Just use it for dry storage now. Hope we don’t find out that is still not safe years later.
Got a kleen kanteen because the coffee sipping attachment can be completely detaile stripped and cleaned/sanitized. Worth the price premium. Bought mine 5ish years ago they may be cheaper now?
I would like to test if these new style double walled stainless containers insulate as well or better as the old school glass lined thermoses our dad’s used to bring to the job site. They had some sort of shiny meatal that lined the outside of the glass. The glass lining was inserted into a protective metal container. Lid screwed on to all of it. I sort of recal that coating had mercury in it? Not a health concern unless it broke but certainly a Environmental concern. New ones most likley don’t have that type of coating. Do they insulate as well?
Double wall containers do insulate very well, at least from what I’ve read.
Heat transfer from the environment to the contents of an opaque water bottle will be through conduction. No mass, no heat transfer. So if there’s a vacuum between two stainless containers, maybe with some structuring for strength (I’m guessing), there’s going to be minimal contact and it’ll mostly be at the neck and opening. Heat will transfer, but it should be a very slow process.
I’ve got a HydroFlask on the way, will be curious to test how long it’ll keep water cold.
Co worker swears by hydro flask. He RV camps regularly and said its the best of all the ones he has tried. He brought in a whole box of old ones to work he had tried out and gave them away so I would say he has tested most of the available brands. Now they get filled with vodka tonic so not sure about the acuracy of the results lol.