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The Best Water Bottles for Travel

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Courtesy of LARQ

With features ranging from built-in filtration to enviable good looks, these reusable water bottles make it easy to stay hydrated when you’re on the go.

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No matter where we travel, we never leave home without a water bottle. And since every year brings new technological advances that help keep our beverages colder and hotter, our bottles lighter, and our water cleaner, there’s always a new one for us to try out. After extensive, hands-on testing of some of the newest bottles on the market, we’ve found the nine best bottles—including a few time-tested favorites—for just about any water-related travel need.

Purist Collective Maker
The lightweight glass bottle for any beverage, any day, anywhere
Glass bottles are great at repelling flavors and odors, which makes them particularly versatile: You can switch among coffee, water, and wine without any whiff of the previous beverage infiltrating the next. And unlike some plastics and metals, glass doesn’t leach chemicals into your drink.

But glass is heavy. Most glass water bottles (like the silicone-wrapped ones made by Lifefactory) might be great for home but feel too burdensome for travel. Purist Collective solves this problem with its new line of water bottles; all three models are lined with an ultra-thin layer of glass.

Peer inside the 10-ounce Purist Maker ($34), and it looks like every other stainless-steel water bottle on the market. But the inside of the high-quality surgical-grade metal is actually sheathed with a nonporous glass that keeps flavors and odors from lingering. We filled the Maker with coffee and cream in the morning, then refilled it with water—and discerned no java aftertaste.

The glass veneer is so thin that the Purist weighs no more than other double-walled metal bottles, so it’s easy to tote around all day.

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The Maker debuts December 1, 2018, when select Purist Collective products—the 10-ounce Maker, 18-ounce Mover, and 32-ounce Founder—will be offered for a limited run. For now, the bottles come with a basic screw-top cap with a carrying loop, but later in 2019, additional caps will be offered, including a flip-top and a leak-proof one that will rotate to let you adjust the flow and sip from anywhere around the top. 

Even better than the clean, modernist design is the giveback program: Purist Collective partners with a network of social and environmental nonprofits, encouraging collaboration among the organizations, promoting their good work, and contributing financially to their efforts. So this is a good-looking bottle that does good, too.

EcoVessel Aspen
The sleek and stylish solution for most travelers, most of the time
The 25-ounce Aspen ($32) manages to pack impressive water-cooling properties into a surprisingly streamlined shape. It slides easily into cup holders and the holsters on most totes and backpacks. But this bottle’s comparatively thin walls keep drinks cool (or hot, as you prefer) for an astonishingly long time: EcoVessel claims cold drinks will stay cold for 100 hours.

We haven’t fully tested that boast, but can confirm that this bottle kept water icy for a full day, even in roastingly hot weather. We’ve left the Aspen in the car while we’ve hiked and returned to enjoy a truly cold drink with its ice cubes preserved.

That said, ice isn’t always easy to fit inside the relatively narrow, 1.5-inch opening—some larger cubes do get stuck. Once inside, though, they last a long time, thanks to a three-layer construction that sandwiches copper between two layers of stainless steel. It’s recyclable but also durable (with a 100-year warranty!), so you’re not likely to deal with this bottle’s end-of-life issues. Losing it is more likely—leaving some lucky finder to enjoy its sleek good looks and drink-chilling powers instead.

This isn’t the bottle for travelers who need to keep drinks temperature-stabilized for multiple days (for that job, see the YETI Rambler below). But it’s effective and less bulky than the super-insulating bottles, which makes it ideal for most travelers, most of the time.

Aladdin Earthscapes Fresco Twist
The wide-mouth/narrow-mouth hybrid for when the road gets bumpy

Wide-mouth bottles are easy to refill, but they’re also easy to accidentally empty all over yourself—especially when the plane hits some turbulence just as you lift the bottle to your lips.

Enter the Fresco Twist ($20). Its narrow top is just like a beer or soda bottle, and just as easy to drink from. Your lips can achieve a nice tight seal around the opening so there’s little chance of unintended self-soakings, and a basic screw-top closes it. Thanks to a second screw-top located where the bottle widens, it’s also easy to refill. Open that, and you can fit the bottle under a bathroom faucet, water fountain, or any other awkward source you happen to encounter while traveling. That wide opening also accommodates the addition of ice cubes, orange slices, or powdered mixes.

Both screw-tops have proven to be leak proof for us throughout countless journeys: We’ve stashed this bottle next to laptops and in duffels that got tossed around like clothes in the dryer, and it’s never so much as wept.

The placement of the wide-mouth opening does limit the bottle’s capacity somewhat. Although this BPA-free bottle can technically hold 20 ounces if you fill it from the smaller mouth, it holds slightly less when you refill it without the funnel-shaped top portion. And it’s not as insulated as some bottles: According to Aladdin, the vacuum-insulated stainless-steel body keeps drinks cold for 10 hours, but we’ve noticed some warming in extreme heat. This isn’t the vessel for preserving ice on a days-long trip to the Mojave.

But that’s OK by us: The moderate insulation makes for a light carry weight (10.24 ounces) and slims the profile so it can fit into cars’ cup holders.

YETI Rambler
The rugged insulation inspiration that’ll keep your drink iced for days
The 36-ounce YETI Rambler ($50) looks impressively beefy: Its very appearance promises to preserve your drink’s original temperature no matter what—and the Rambler makes good. Want to go backpacking for a few days and find an ice-studded bottle of lemonade when you return to your car? This is your vessel. We’ve successfully transported ice cream in this bottle (admittedly, we prechilled it with cold water before filling it with our Talenti).

As with many well-insulated bottles on the market, the Rambler is made with double-walled, food-grade stainless steel. But it’s tougher and hardier than most: You can drop this bottle from a first-floor balcony and find it undented from the fall. And unlike most double-walled bottles, which require hand washing, the Rambler is dishwasher safe.

The extra-wide opening is both a pro and a con: It means the lip won’t collide with your nose, but it does allow for a possible tsunami of drink should you sip in bumpy conditions. Wider (3.75 inches) and heavier (22 ounces) than most double-walled insulating bottles, the body is too big for most cars’ cup holders. But the simple screw-top lid is particularly comfortable to hold, in part because it accommodates three fingers, instead of one or two as other bottles do, and the rounded plastic doesn’t dig into your skin when the bottle is heavy with water.

Klean Kanteen Growler
The perfect bottle for ambitious picnic lovers and bonfire fans
Sure, you can fill this 64-ounce bottle with water—and we do. The XL capacity has proven handy when camping and road-tripping through remote zones where refill options are limited.

But as a beer tote, the Klean Kanteen Growler ($50) with its clip-closed, leakproof cap displays true genius. Similar to bottles of Kolsch, the top uses a metal latch and rubber gasket to firmly lock in liquid, even when motion agitates the carbonation. The seal is so tight, we’ve stored draft beer in the Growler for up to a week and found it to be perfectly fresh upon opening—which requires no wrestling, just a flip of the lever. It’s ideal for safely transporting other carbonated beverages too, like sparkling water or champagne.

The BPA-free, food-grade stainless steel is uninsulated, so if you want your root beer cold, you’ll need to store it on ice. And with a cold beverage inside, condensation will collect on the exterior in hot weather. But the Growler is light enough (14.8 ounces) for travel, and tough enough too: Klean Kanteen backs the Growler with a lifetime “Strong as Steel” guarantee.

Bindle Bottle
The stealth storage solution ideal for beaches and day hikes.
You expect a water bottle to hold water, but because travelers tend to carry more than just that, the Bindle Bottle ($39) doubles as a wallet. Unscrew the bottom section of this vacuum-insulated vessel and you’ll find a small storage compartment.

It’s just big enough for a hotel key or a few bills, which makes it handy on the beach: You can swim while your valuables hang out in relative secrecy. The Bindle Bottle is also useful at the gym (you can stash your locker key in the bottle instead of a pocket, which many workout clothes lack).

It’s not, however, ideal for running. Its double-walled construction and 24-ounce fluid capacity makes it too large and bulky to carry while logging your morning miles. Short hikes are OK: The cap’s broad handle makes it comfortable to hold while walking.

The wide opening accommodates ice cubes and fruit chunks (for those who like infused drinks) and the food-grade stainless steel ensures that no BPA or other suspicious chemicals contact your water. It even comes in multiple colors—which seems fitting for a bottle that can also serve as a handbag.

Katadyn BeFree
The space-saving filter bottle for outdoor adventurers and germaphobes
When empty, this collapsible flask packs down to the size of an apple, yet it delivers huge benefits: Its drinking spout sits on top of a (replaceable) filter that effectively traps protozoa and other disease-causing organisms. That means you can fill the silicone flask from any suspicious source and immediately enjoy safe hydration.

The hollow-fiber filter delivers a pleasingly fast flow that’s genuinely thirst-quenching during exercise. Whereas some filters (including the Lifestraw, below) limit the flow to smaller sips, the BeFree ($40) releases a big, mouth-filling gulp—which we appreciated on 14,000-foot Colorado peaks where exertion and altitude left us too breathless to work hard for small returns on water.

We’ve used the one-liter BeFree to drink from roadside streams, backcountry lakes, hillside springs, and airport bathrooms—and can report no resulting ill effects. And you can count on a cartridge to last for several trips: Each one filters 1,000 liters (says Katadyn) and replacements cost $25.

But the BeFree doesn’t filter out funky flavors. It’s designed to be ultra-light and compact, so there’s no carbon element to neutralize foul tastes or smells. The bottle’s squishy design has advantages (packability) and disadvantages (it can be clumsy to hold). Instead, the filter-as-you-sip system is perfect for trail running, backcountry trekking, long-haul flights (no need to trust the airplane’s grimy water tank!) and any trip where you’ll need plenty of water, but don’t want to be burdened by surplus water weight.

Lifestraw Go
The flip-straw filter bottle for off-the-beaten path travelers
The 22-ounce Go ($45) looks like a basic plastic bottle with flip-spout lid, but the “straw” inside is actually a two-stage filter. Its hollow-fiber membrane traps bacteria, parasites, and even microplastics. Then, an activated carbon capsule neutralizes unpleasant flavors and odors.

Yes, you have to suck a bit harder on this mouthpiece than you would from an unfiltered straw. But you’ll hardly grow faint: The hollow-fiber technology delivers a speedier flow than most other filters.

Replacement cartridges cost $15, and since one filter treats 100 liters, that’s generally less than the cost of buying a similar amount of bottled water. The large, bottle-length filter also displaces a significant amount of liquid, so the 22-ounce capacity is misleading. With the filter inside, the Go holds more like 15 ounces.

The trade-off is convenience. The Go is super-handy for city and country travel. It fits tidily into bottle pockets on backpacks and in cars’ cup holders, and the BPA-free plastic is thicker and tougher than most: Lifestraw builds each bottle for a long life of service. Promoting reusable plastics is just one part of the company’s sustainability program: Lifestraw also provides clean drinking water to needy communities. With each Go purchase, the company provides one child with a year’s worth of water.

LARQ Bottle
The self-purifying bottle that makes clean water elegant
The 17-ounce LARQ Bottle ($95) is expensive, but your money buys you a lot—including a germ-free water bottle. Instead of a filter, the LARQ’s cap is fitted with an ultraviolet light that disrupts the DNA in bacteria and viruses, rendering them unable to reproduce (which is how they cause diseases). Not only does the UV light kill waterborne microorganisms, but it also does so regularly, by automatically firing the UV beam every two hours to kill germs that may have been introduced from your mouth or a questionable water source.

Unlike UV pens, the LARQ doesn’t use mercury, which causes environmental problems when it’s tossed into landfills. Plus, the LARQ’s UV bulb has more stamina, lasting 40 times longer than mercury-based technology (according to LARQ).

The bottle also uses a rechargeable lithium polymer battery that lasts one to two months on a single charge. Pressing the top of the cap activates the light: Tap once for normal purification, or twice for “adventure mode,” which is useful when you suspect your water may be loaded with harmful microorganisms.

Even if you never refill it with untreated water, the LARQ is an attractive bottle that uses double-walled stainless steel construction to keep beverages cold for 24 hours. And if it also self-cleans between proper washes? That’s priceless.

>>Next: Eco-Friendly Accessories for the Thoughtful Traveler

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