The Best Water Bottles For Travel

When hard-pressed for time, it's easy to forget to hydrate oneself. While it is vital to drink up wherever you go, traveling to other climates may put your body at a higher risk of dehydration, and we're often too immersed in the sights and sounds to realize it. It's also become too convenient to grab that bottled water off a roadside stall, and not be reminded that we are in fact contributing to the world's plastic bottle waste. The solution? A travel friendly, re-usable, water bottle. We’ve compiled a list of the best water bottles for travel, tried and tested so you don't have to.

Firstly, an understanding of the types of bottles generally available in the market these days:

  • Insulated
    Whether it is vacuum insulated, double-walled, triple-walled, good insulation keeps liquids at a constant temperature – be it boiling hot or icy cold. Great for coffee lovers, traveling with kids, or just a good old cold one on the tropics. Also tends to be the priciest option.
  • Stainless steel
    Higher-quality stainless steel bottles have a higher resistance to rust, stain, mould, and better retain the clean taste of pure water when compared to other materials. However, these bottles are prone to denting.
  • Collapsible
    Ideal in circumstances where space and weight matter, especially on longer-haul journeys or trekking expeditions. Usually made out of silicon, most come with an inbuilt clip because they don't stand when empty.
  • Glass
    Most ideal for those who like their liquids without additional tastes, and something that is dishwasher-friendly. Still, it is heavy, less durable, and is susceptible to condensation.
  • Plastic
    Lightweight, mostly dishwasher safe and BPA-free, though we’d advise that you do your research thoroughly. Does not regulate temperatures well. Cost-friendly.
  • Filter
    Protects your body from nasty chemicals and unwanted viruses, especially if drinking from unfiltered or compromised water sources. Requires regular maintenance and replacement of water filters.
  • Infuser
    For the fruit lover, or those who may prefer to add other flavours into their liquids through a smaller infuser basket within the bottle.

Other Considerations:

Apart from weight, another important point of consideration for selecting a suitable travel bottle is how leak-proof it actually is. A simple way of testing this is to sit a full bottle upright, put it topsy-turvy, and roll it around on its sides to see if any water drips out. Of course, make sure the lid has been properly (but not too tightly) sealed, a realistic simulation for daily use.

The importance of grip and handling - many bottles have upgraded rubber grips, ergonomic profiles, or handles and clips to allow for quick access or one-handed use. We will also recommend using cold water to test how much it 'sweats' after 15 minutes – some bottles do create more water puddles for you to deal with! This could affect the contents of your carry, and also its grip.

The ease of cleaning is another aspect to note, as some bottles may have tiny or awkward lids, or corners and crevices that may trap dirt potentially. Lastly, if you tend to be a guzzler, you may also want to consider bottles with wider mouths.


OUR TOP PICKS

 

Bubi Bottles

Our top pick, selected for its versatility and durability

Compact and versatile, we believe the Bubi is a great companion well-suited for hiking or for daily use. Because of its medical-grade silicon properties, which ensures it is of a decent thickness and quality, it is also mould-resistant and BPA-free. Not only is it easy to grip, it comes with a convenient carabiner clip that serves to compress the bottle when empty. The 1L version also comes with additional grip moulds for easy handling.

Don’t be fooled by its saccharine looks and colors, the Bubi is a tough cookie. We tested it to be spill-proof, and we found its construction to be very durable. The Bubi is marketed to be puncture, heat and freeze resistant, so it can be heated over an open flame (though not directly in a flame) or even popped into the microwave. Despite all that heat it does not lose its shape - truly born for the rugged life. Just remember to remove the attached carabiner and all will be fine. On the other end of the spectrum, do take note that if you fill the Bubi with icy cold water, it’s bound to sweat. For those concerned with hygiene, it is dishwasher-safe, and you can easy reverse the bottle and clean it inside out.

One of the major plus points is the Bubi as a storage solution – with its wide mouth and airtight features, you can not only store dry food or bandages, it also fits a smaller-sized phone for waterproofing purposes. 

Hydro Flask Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottles

The best insulated option, surprisingly rugged

The Hydro feels really good on the palms – it is smooth, sturdy (an 18oz bottle weighs 328g), and offers a good grip. For those with smaller palms, you can carry it with its handle, attached to the lid. To make things better, there are a myriad of other interchangeable caps: a straw lid, flip cap, to name a few; however you like to consume your drinks, we’re sure you will find something you like.

Despite stuffing it with ice cubes and leaving it out for 4 hours in the blazing mid-day sun, the bottle shows no sign of condensation, and the liquid remains icy cold, though the ice cubes did melt. Now that’s what we call quality insulation. The same quality goes for heat retention – our test results have it working well for up to 6 hours, so your morning coffee is still piping hot by the time you actually get down to drinking it, even if you saved some for that after lunch perk-me-up.

Like what most other stainless steel bottles claim, it is highly resistant to absorbing odours and bacteria, so fret not about your post-workout smoothie tasting like your hot chocolate. One downside is that you’ll have to hand wash it, but with a wide mouth opening that's not difficult at all.

Its coated surface also promises to be scratch-resistant, though dropping it on hard concrete ground did produce a tiny scuff and dent while other steel bottles suffered visibly. Hardy and heavy duty, just the way we like it. Its no wonder the Hydro Flask has developed a cult-like following amongst rock climbing enthusiasts and families alike.

Hydrapak Stash 1L

Our pick for family or group travel

Unlike other collapsible bottles, the Hydrapak Stash closes with a twist instead of a roll, snapping shut with a satisfying click. When closed, the bottle compresses to about a fifth of its fully opened size. Stack or nest four to five empty Stash-es and they will lock neatly together, useful for those traveling as a family or if you're on an excessively long trekking trip. Overall, the Stash is a great lightweight (84 - 107g) and space-efficient option.

However, one instance where its advantage quicky becomes its drawback is that it isn't as straightforward or easy to unpack the Hydrapak Stash. There are indeed a number of Youtube tutorials on that, but all you have to do is to unscrew the lid and squeeze the four tabs at the base of the ring with slightly more pressure to get the bottle to open up. While it is an initial hump that one can get used to, one should consider that it is indeed a two-handed exercise that might take a little more time and strength when on the road.

Still, it is BPA-free and PVC-free, promises to be naturally anti-fungal, so it’s safe for germaphobes. Sadly, we didn’t quite enjoy the carry handle as it was pretty thin (though rigid), which meant it wasn’t comfortable to hold it for long distances. One work-around would be to purchase a carabiner and hook your Hydrapak Stash onto it. Another point of note is that drinking from a half-empty bottle takes some practice, given how it lacks structure due to its collapsible nature.

Vapur Eclipse

The best minimalist option, with the slimmest profile

Inexpensive and extremely lightweight, the Vapur Eclipse is a slick option for those who prefer their bottles to remain unnoticed. Dubbed the original “anti-bottle”, the BPA-free plastic bottle’s ability to fold itself up and into the integrated carabiner is quite something, and you can tuck it away in your bag once you’re done with drinking. We like how the bottlecap is a fuss-free flip cap, sealing the bottle tightly to prevent leaking.

A fully filled bottle will enable the Vapur to stand on its own, but if the liquid level drops to half the bottle, this plastic bottle might just start to droop or bend, which isn’t a game-breaker, but you do need to be more aware when handling. The carabiner clip comes in useful here. The bottle has an anti-microbial inner lining and is dishwasher safe, though the small bottle opening makes it slow to dry out. This also poses as another problem if you like to refill your bottle a lot. It will take a longer time, but you’ll get there.

Unfortunately, daily repeated use after half a year will inevitably show signs of wear and tear, like bend marks on the outer surface, some water leaking from the seams, and yes, like most of its plastic counterparts, it may start to smell. Don’t expect it to retain any heat or cold as well, but it will do its job. Still, for those looking for an easy option for light traveling, the Vapur will be an asset.

 


As a community, we're always looking to review the world's best travel gear.

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