Welcome to AFAR Approved: a deep dive into the travel items that we’re totally obsessed with, never leave behind, and can’t stop telling our friends about.
At a whopping five feet tall, I’m a very compact traveler—and I like my luggage to be, too. I always aim to bring the smallest piece of baggage possible when I travel, partly because I’m Team Carry-On for life, and partly because I’m not a big shopper, so I don’t need much space to bring souvenirs home. A 22.5-inch hard-shell roller bag saw me through two full weeks in Charleston, and I’ve been known to bring nothing more than a backpack on three-day outings. (No, not the massive ones you see at hostels and campgrounds.)
It’s important that everything I pack serves a purpose and that no space is wasted. For years, this was why I bought bottled water at the airport. Once I realized recycling those empty bottles after each flight wasn’t enough on the environmental front, I looked into reusable water bottles.
The problem was space: I didn’t want a big, empty container occupying my tightly packed luggage. I considered stuffing socks and such inside a wide-mouth Nalgene and unpacking them after the security line so I could then fill the bottle, but what if the bottle wasn’t completely dry when I packed? And I don’t need 32 ounces of water on most flights. The options were too impractical for me.
Fast forward to a Labor Day weekend visit to a friend in Denver (one of those backpack-only trips). I found myself dehydrating more quickly than usual at the relatively high altitude, so when we set out for a hike at Red Rocks, bringing water was a must. But I wanted to keep my hands free and to walk around as unencumbered as possible. My friend asked if I’d prefer a water pouch.
I thought he was going to dig a glorified Capri Sun out of his cabinet, but instead, he produced a 0.7-liter Vapur Anti-Bottle. The pouch was light and held just the right amount of water, and it had a carabiner attached to the lid so I could easily clip it to my waistband. The Anti-Bottle was perfect not only for the hike but also for my hyper-efficient travel style.
Buy Now: Vapur 0.7L Wide Mouth Anti-Bottle, $7 (was $10), rei.com
Since then, I’ve never gone on a flight without my Anti-Bottle. The pouch itself has a hard plastic wide mouth and is easy to fill. The cap screws into the mouth and has a hinged flip top with a much smaller, sip-friendly spout. I’ve never had any problems with leaks, and the carabiner latches onto my backpack, roller bag handle, beltloop, whatever I want.
The best part? The Vapur Anti-Bottle folds into practically nothing when empty. I can roll the pouch thin enough to fit inside the carabiner clip, so the whole shebang occupies less than one-third the space of my makeup bag—and I don’t pack much makeup. AFAR’s gear-loving SEO manager Jessie Beck agrees: “As someone who travels carry-on only, I’m always on the lookout for travel gear that can pack down small, without sacrificing function. So it’s probably no surprise that my favorite part about the Vapur Anti-Bottle is how compact and lightweight this collapsible water bottle is when empty.”
The compact form is wonderful on day trips as well since I can set out with a full Anti-Bottle attached to my purse or tiny backpack, then fold it up when I’m done and not worry about it taking up what little space I have. It’s one of the few things I bring on every single trip, regardless of destination or length.
My favorite collapsible not-bottle is also BPA free and dishwasher safe, which is a lifesaver because I’m not sure how thoroughly one could clean the pouch interior by hand; the mouth isn’t that wide. The Anti-Bottle is also freezable and can be used as a makeshift ice pack in a pinch.
Vapur sells the Anti-Bottle in multiple sizes, ranging from 0.5 to 1.5 liters, but the 0.7-liter version is just right for me. If my navy blue model ever wears out (which it shows no signs of doing), I’ll be choosing from dozens of colors, including translucent teals in Instagram-friendly gradients.
Vapur also has a kids’ line of 0.4-liter Anti-Bottles with fun designs like skateboards, butterflies, hearts, and dinosaur fossils. The carabiner clips are placed a little differently on the kids version—it’s part of the cap on the adult Anti-Bottle, whereas the kids’ model has it linked to the pouch itself. Prices range from $7 for the kid size to $14 for the 1.5-liter Anti-Bottle.
I’m so convinced by the efficiency and durability of the Anti-Bottle that I gifted two to my friend and her then husband for their many outdoor adventures. My Vapur Anti-Bottle has been essential on dozens of flights and countless day trips at this point, and its only wear and tear is purely aesthetic. I’m not kind to my gear—even when I love it—so this water pouch has been through some serious abuse over the past four years, and it’s as functional now as it was the day of the Red Rocks hike.
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