How to Choose a Water Bottle

It may seem like an average, everyday item, but the water bottle has grown over the years to become an activity-specific accessory based on comfort and convenience as much as hydration.

Water. It’s the root of all life and keeps us going strong whether we're at work, hiking through the Adirondacks, or running a marathon. Water is crucial for the body to perform at any level, so it’s no surprise that over the years, several different kinds of water bottles have hit the market to cater to the unique needs of different activities. Now you can find water bottles with different sizes, shapes, materials, drinking nozzles, insulation levels, and other specifics.

Narrowing It Down

With so many types of water bottles to choose from, it's important first to determine what you’ll be using it for. A water bottle suitable for running will be a far cry from one you can carry a hot beverage in, and both will look different from one you would take backpacking.


Once you've identified its purpose, you'll need to find the right size bottle, or capacity, that coincides with your preferred activity. Capacity can be measured in either fluid ounces or liters, and typically ranges from 16 to 32 ounces (about half a liter to a liter. The most up-to-date expert estimates suggest that men should drink about 3 liters of water every day, while women should drink about 2.2 liters. During any strenuous physical activity such as running, as a rule of thumb, you should drink about 4 to 6 ounces every 20 minutes.


The shape of your water bottle will depend on what you're using it for. Water bottles for running should be slender enough to fit comfortably in your hand. Water bottles best for hiking will typically hold more liquid, and are therefore larger, but if you plan to keep it in the side sleeve of your pack for easy access, make sure it’s slender enough to fit.



Water bottles come in a wide range of materials that offer various benefits uniquely suited for different activities. Plastic water bottles, such as the ones from Nalgene, are incredibly durable and can take just about whatever abuse you give them. You may have heard about plastic water bottles that contain a chemical called bisphenol A (BPA). This chemical can leach into water and has been associated with cancer and diabetes.

However, most plastic bottles on the market today, including those made by Nalgene, are BPA-free and are labeled as such.

Stainless Steel

You'll also find stainless steel water bottles and thermoses from brands like Klean Kanteen and Hydro Flask, which provide better insulation than plastics, keeping hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold. But they also dent more easily than plastic bottles and are typically heavier.

These water bottles and thermoses feature double-wall construction that gives them outstanding insulating properties. The best water bottles, like those made by Hydro Flask, can even keep your beverages cold or hot for a whole day.


Choosing a water bottle with a nozzle may be ideal for situations when you need to drink on the go, such as biking or running. Nozzles let you continue your workout without having to stop to take off the lid, and you won't be sloshing and spilling while trying to sip out of a wide-mouth bottle. CamelBak, known for its pack water systems, also makes great bottles with nozzles.

To operate at your peak, you'll need to stay hydrated, and adding the right water bottle to your outdoor gear locker will ensure safe and enjoyable exercise and outdoor adventures.