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The best water bottles in 2023 including insulated, gym and sustainable options

May 29, 2023May 29, 2023

We found 14 water bottles to keep you hydrated while being kinder to the environment

UK consumers go through an estimated 14 billion plastic drinks bottles per year, according to Defra, but single-use plastic is falling out of favour thanks to efforts from David Attenborough and Greta Thunberg. More people are turning to reusable water bottles and in return, bottles are getting smarter. The best water bottles these days are insulated, leak-proof, filtered and BPA free.

BPA stands for Bisphenol A, an industrial chemical compound used in the manufacturing of strong plastics. Some research suggests BPA can leak into food and drink and cause health problems. “When looking for a bottle, look for non-toxic materials. Stainless steel is one of the most eco-friendly materials for a water bottle. Not only is it safe, but it is very durable and infinitely recyclable,” says Natalie Byrne, content marketing manager at Go Outdoors.

For this guide I’ve tried and tested a number of the best water bottles on the market - including gym water bottles, water bottles with straws, and even the Air-up water bottle which uses scented pods to trick your brain into thinking you’re drinking squash (when in fact, it’s just water). Genius.

I’ve also reached out to an expert to help answer frequently asked questions, like how to choose an environmentally friendly water bottle, how to clean one, and how long you can keep water in one. You can find the answers at the bottom of this feature. If you’re in a hurry, here’s a quick look at my top five:

“It is important to think about what you will be using the bottle for, as well as the materials used and if they are environmentally friendly,” says Byrne. She notes that the main reason people choose to buy a reusable water bottle is to cut down on single-use plastic and help the environment, so it makes sense to choose a bottle that is environmentally friendly, like the plant-based S’wheat bottle.

You might want to prioritise different features based on what you’ll be using your water bottle for the most. If it’s for the gym, choose a durable bottle with ergonomic curves like the Nike Hyperfuel Water Bottle. If it’s for on-the-go, ensure it’s leakproof like the Chilly’s Series 2. If you want to use it for hot drinks as well, opt for a stainless steel insulated bottle like the Yeti Rambler.

To find the best water bottle, I tried and tested dozens over the period of a month. I threw them in my rucksack on my daily commute to test if they were leak-proof and I sipped them at my desk. I bundled them into my gym bag along with my gym leggings and yoga mat and even took them on runs. I left them for hours at a time to test how insulated they really were, both for cold and hot water, and I deep-dived into the materials each is made from to check for toxic materials.

I also looked at value for money. You wouldn’t believe the cost of some water bottles I looked at. Here is what I found, starting with my favourite.

£30 for 500ml bottle, Chilly’s

Best water bottle, 9/10

We like: it’s simple, durable and stylish

We don’t like: the rubber bottom may quickly peel away

I’m a long time fan of Chilly’s Original Bottle and I’ll admit I was dismissive when the Series 2 bottles first came out. They’re objectively less attractive than the classic design of the Series 1, with a more rugged, squat appearance and a loop handle. But I’m here to tell you I’m a convert.

While I maintain there has been a decline in aesthetics, everything that I disliked about the Original has been rectified here. The Original has a ridged bottom which is noisy and wobbles if a table is knocked, whereas the Series 2 has a flat silicone base which grips any surface and is quiet to set down. The loop on the handle makes it far easier to carry, and the antimicrobial neck keeps it cleaner for longer.

The lip, for me, is well sized. If it’s too large, you risk spilling water all over you clothes; too small and it’s not a comfortable fit for the mouth. Chilly’s is just right. I also find that, while some steel bottles can leave a slight lingering metallic flavour, these ones don’t. I like the textured feel of the bottle, which makes it a little less slippery than some steel options and prevents it feeling too cold or hot to the touch. Water stays hot for a long time – though I’m not sure about the 12 hours claim – and remains cold throughout the day; ideal if you’re on a long walk or a hike.

But nothing is perfect, and unfortunately the silicone base started peeling away after only a few uses. I imagine it’s easily superglued, but it’s annoying I should have to consider that. Other than that, it’s an evolution from the Chilly’s Original bottle and I’d recommend it to anyone after a durable, sporty or office water bottle.

£15 for 500ml bottle, Amazon

Best value water bottle, 8/10

We like: the no frills attitude which prioritises insulation and quality

We don’t like: it’s not very exciting

Some of the bottles on this list are reasonably expensive when all you’re really after is a vessel to hold water. Enter: Sho. Sho takes an unadorned attitude to water bottles, doing the simple things well. The Original 2.0 bottles are insulated, attractive and have interchangeable lids.

I have both the regular and the Straw Lid, which is designed for sports. Sho advises that the Straw Lid is not 100 per cent leak proof, though I haven’t found that to be an issue. One thing I have found is that the straw is stiff to pop up - not too dissimilar from the Hydro Flask below.

There’s really not too much to say about the Sho bottle because it is so simplistic - but with that comes an affordable price and a focus on the most important features. It’s durable, well insulated and leak-proof.

£33.99 for 700ml bottle, Stanley

Best water bottle to keep drinks cold, 9/10

We like: the lid, which seems to simple but has thought of everything

We don’t like: the button to open the lid very occasionally gets stuck

Thanks to a bout of Tiktok viral fame (for a constantly sold out giant tumbler), old school favourite Stanley is now popular amongst Gen Z as well as older generations. Though not the viral Stanley cup, the Go Quick Flip Water Bottle deserves praise of its own.

It promises to retain the temperature of cold drinks for 12 hours and iced drinks for 40 and I’ve also found it to be an excellent option for a keeping my morning cuppa warm. Thanks to the leak-proof design, I can make my tea at home and throw it in my rucksack as I get the train to work and it’s still warm the other side.

The bottle cap operates via a big button which snaps open the lid. When shut, it can be secured with a metal ring which folds over the button and clicks into place with a satisfying clack. What can’t be seen in the image above is a square looped handle for easy carrying.

Occasionally, the lid’s button didn’t snap the lid open straightaway and it’s definitely bulkier than the Chilly’s above, designed with hiking and adventure at the forefront. But it’s a sturdy, well-insulated bottle that is adaptable for just about every situation.

£35 for 621ml bottle, Amazon

Best water bottle with straw, 9/10

We like: it’s easy to clean

We don’t like: the straw is stiff to flip up

I’m generally against water bottles with straws, I find them unhygienic and difficult to clean. This Hydro Flask has changed my mind. My bottle arrived with the standard cap but I ordered the Flex Straw Cap separately to try it out. It arrives in a pack with two straws, which you trim to fit the size of your bottle and fit into the lid.

It was easy enough to do, although I do wish it would come already put together as it was tricky judging the height at which to cut the straw. The lid has a flexible insert which connects the straw and can be removed for easy cleaning. The straw itself can be thrown into the dishwasher which put my mind at ease, hygiene wise.

Looks wise I can’t complain either. The Hydro Flask features a compact design with a powdered coating and a choice of nine colours. My favourite was the rain colour, a pale blue. The bottom is slightly indented in the middle for a stable base and after a month of using it, I can confirm it’s durable and keeps water ice cold.

My one gripe is that the lid is stiff to operate - meaning anyone with joint issues or frail hands will struggle. The straw takes a lot of force to pull open so I’ve ended up just leaving it up if I’m sat with the bottle at my desk. If you’re up to the challenge of prying open the straw every time you want a sip - this is your bottle. And if you’d rather it without the straw, you can buy the regular flex-cap version instead.

£40, Ocean Bottle

Best water bottle supporting marine life

We like: the company’s great ocean conservation work

We don’t like: it’s quite expensive

With the sale of each Ocean Bottle, 1,000 plastic bottles are collected before they reach the ocean. This limited edition One World, One Ocean version released for the launch of Disney’s The Little Mermaid also represents a collaboration with Swim England to fund new swimming teachers.

So you can feel a sense of smugness when you buy one, but are they actually any good? Yes they are.

First of all, it looks beautiful sitting on my office desk. The lid screws off in two places, firstly around three quarters of the way up for cup-style drinking and adding ice and secondly at the cap, for drinking on the go. The carry loop is also handy.

I love the whole ethos of this water bottle and the way every feature seems so carefully considered. I just wish the cap had a stainless steel insert for better insulation.

£38 for 710ml bottle, Lululemon

Best versatile gym bottle, 9/10

We like: it can be used both for the gym and the office

We don’t like: the large branding

I love this sports bottle from Lululemon, which has a twisty cap that flips open to reveal a small chug hole - it’s the perfect size for fitting your mouth without leaving room for spillage. The loop handle also makes it easy to carry around the gym and it’s sturdy enough that it doesn’t flip back and bonk your nose as you drink.

Unlike other sports bottles, it’s also beautifully designed. I love the blue linen colour (shown above). The powdered coating means it doesn’t slip, even with sweaty hands, and the ridged edging on the lid makes the cap easy to twist off. The rather large branding down the side is a turn off for me, though at least it’s subtle in colour. That said, Lululemon is a prestigious fitness brand which I imagine many would be proud to show off.

I do think £38 is a little expensive for a water bottle, but for that you’ve got one that’s excellently built, has all the features you need in a gym water bottle and also looks good enough to take to the office.

£28.90 for 600ml bottle, Waterdrop

Best water bottle for people who don’t like drinking water

We like: it makes drinking water more exciting

We don’t like: stocking up on Microdrink cubes could get expensive

Waterdrop is fast joining the top names in the booming water bottle industry, with ambassadors including tennis stars Novak Djokovic and Taylor Fritz (Djokovic having reportedly made a fairly sizeable investment in the company). In such a saturated market, Waterdrop has come up with something slightly different to stand out: Microdrink cubes.

They’re essentially tiny granulate cubes made from natural plant and fruit extracts which are low in calories and free from sugar, artificial flavours and sweeteners. The bottles are made with a perfectly sized drinking hole to drop these cubes inside and flavour the water – hence the name, Waterdrop.

Flavours include ice tea lemon, made with real tea and Boost, made up of blackcurrant, elderberry and açaí. The cubes cost £6.99 for a pack of 12.

The water bottles are attractive and well made from double-walled stainless steel with a bamboo lid. You can choose from a number of pastel colours. I’d highly recommend Waterdrop to anyone who needs a bit of flavour to encourage them to drink more water.

£38 for 500ml bottle, Chilly’s

Best hygienic water bottle

We like: the chunky, sturdy build and comfortable drinking straw

We don’t like: the large logo and the fact it’s not leak-proof

In a departure from the traditional Chilly’s style, this brand new water bottle has a stainless steel straw with a sporty flip lid and carry loop, designed for use on the go. It comes in either 500ml or a litre.

It’s quite chunky in appearance with a thick lid from which you drink. Unlike other straw lids I’ve tried, it doesn’t seem designed to put your whole mouth around, rather your top lip just behind the opening. It takes a little getting used to but it’s very comfortable once you have. The large drinking hole in the straw means you’re also not restricted.

I’m often a little wary of water bottles with straws because I’ve previously found they become rather unhygienic. This water bottle uses antimicrobial drinking surfaces and a stainless steel telescopic straw, which comes with its own cleaning brush. It’s just as well, since it can’t go in the dishwasher.

Unfortunately, during a commute home where I took a tube followed by the train, it did dampen the bottom of my rucksack. It doesn’t claim to be leak-proof but I do think that should be expected these days, especially for a water bottle designed to be used on the go.

As long as you’re fine to carry the Chilly’s Flip bottle by the loop, or have a rucksack with a side pocket, this is an otherwise great water bottle both for the office and working out.

£29.95 for 720ml bottle, Amazon

Best value for money water bottle, 8/10

We like: the seal is the most leak-proof design I’ve seen

We don’t like: it takes some force to operate

It’s hard to make a water bottle stand out from the crowd in such a saturated market, but Contigo’s Autoseal technology is the best leak-proof design I’ve seen. It works by pressing a button at the back of the lid which opens the small drinking valve. The trigger action means it snaps shut as soon as you take your finger off the back of the lid.

Of course, the downside to this design is that you have to hold the bottle by the lid in order to reach the button, which is a little uncomfortable when the bottle is full and heavy with water. However, if you’re anything like me and have a constant fear of your drink spilling in your bag (been there too many times), there’s not a chance of anything leaking here, even with the flip cap open.

The body curves inwards around three quarters of the way up so you can wrap the rest of the hand around the body as you press the lid. I’d suggest it really needs to be a little higher, though I do have small hands.

For the clever autoseal technology and excellent insulation all for less than £20, I think this bottle has the best value for money on this list.

£25 for 550ml bottle, S’wheat

Best sustainable water bottle, 8/10

We like: it’s made entirely from plant-based materials

We don’t like: it’s not as effective at insulating as stainless steel

If you’re buying a reusable water bottle with the intention of becoming more environmentally friendly, it doesn’t get more sustainable than the S’wheat bottle. The S’wheat is a reusable plant-based water bottle made from wheat straw and bamboo. The wheat straw is the stalk part of cereal plants which remains after they’ve been harvested. Usually, wheat straw would be used as biofuel, animal feed or burnt in the open - causing pollutant emissions.

In this case, it’s been pulped into a BPA free material hard enough to support a water bottle without passing on any tinny taste to the water. S’wheat also promises to plant a tree with every purchase.

Looks wise, the S’wheat bottle is pretty but simplistic. It comes in blue, green, oatmeal or black - I chose the light blue colour. The screw cap has a leak-proof lock mechanism on top which can be slid open to drink. The opening is pretty small, so this bottle won’t suit anyone who likes to chug their water and probably isn’t best for cardio workouts.

The other slight downside to the bottle is that although the plant-based material is temperature resistant and has some form of insulation, it’s not as effective as the double walled insulation in the other stainless steel bottles. If you can cope with water not staying quite as cold, then buying this bottle is an investment in the planet.

£15, Amazon

Best filtered water bottle

We like: the guarantee of clean, naturally filtered water

We don’t like: the charcoal stick doesn’t stay in its allotted space and it takes eight hours to completely filter

Tap water varies from place to place. You might want to turn to this handy water bottle if you’ve got any travelling planned, since it naturally filters water using charcoal sticks. I wouldn’t recommend it for countries where drinking tap water is advised against, but it’ll certainly help make water taste better.

The natural filter system works via a traditional Japanese Binchotan Charcoal filter stick which is supposed to sit in a dip inside the bottle, locked into place, although it’s impossible to actually place it when you can’t get your hands inside the bottle. This unfortunately means the charcoal floats around and hits your mouth everytime you drink.

Binchotan Charcoal (also used in high-end barbecuing) not only filters out impurities like chemicals and metals but also imparts healthy minerals like potassium. Tangibly, this means tap water is eradicated of bad smells and tastes like bottled water. It takes around eight hours to do so, meaning you’ll get the best results filling it the night before.

This bottle is made of plastic with a cork stopper, so it’s not insulated. But I like the natural approach to filtering and I do love the clean water it provides.

£40 for 760ml bottle, Yeti

Best water bottle for hot water, 8/10

We like: it’s sturdy, top quality and you know it’ll last your whole life

We don’t like: it’s noticeably heavier than every other bottle on this list

I adore the Yeti Rambler, but I couldn’t put it higher on this list because it’s so heavy. The lightest 532 ml version weighs 462g empty. For context, the S’wheat weighs almost half that, at 250g, and Chilly’s Series 2 bottles weigh 390g. Half a kilo may still not sound very heavy, but it sure will take its toll on weaker wrists.

Now I’ve got the negatives out of the way, I can talk about why I love the bottle. I have it in taupe, shown above. The powdered body is top and tailed by stainless steel bands with a small logo at the bottom. The lid has a large handle which can be grabbed with a whole fist and under that is what they call their ‘Chug Cap’. It’s a shatter-resistant plastic lid with a large chug opening in the middle for gulping water on the go.

Of all the bottles I tried, the Yeti Rambler had the best insulation which is why I’ve made it the best for hot water. The Chug Cap easily screws off which is ideal for drinking tea and coffee. Unfortunately the lid doesn’t screw directly onto the body - you need the Chug Cap between.

If you want to feel like an adventurer, chugging from a rugged thermos as you explore the wilderness of your local dog park, the Yeti Rambler is the one. Just be aware that it’ll weigh you down.

£34.99 for 650ml bottle, Air Up

Best internet viral water bottle, 7/10

We like: the smell effect really does work

We don’t like: it’s not the best looking

In a world where most water bottles are fighting to be the best looking, the Air Up doesn’t even compete. It does something else completely - it uses fragrance pods around the mouthpiece to trick your brain into thinking the water you are drinking actually tastes like what you are smelling.

That’s why it’s shot to fame online and is now the bane of every parent’s lives, as kids beg to have one to fit in at school. A few years ago school children were desperate for a Chilly’s bottle, now it’s this new age of pod water bottles (which cost more than most stainless steel bottles). Why? Because Air Up conducted a very clever marketing campaign when it launched, using influencer partnerships on Tiktok and Instagram to target that younger age group.

That’s not to say it’s only for that generation. The Air Up bottle is really for anyone who doesn’t like water or would drink more if it tasted like squash. I was pretty sceptical, given the aforementioned marketing campaign but I was shocked by how well it worked. You fit your chosen pod around the mouth hole, pull it up to activate the smell, and sip away.

I found the sweeter flavours like watermelon and mango a little artificial but the citruses and the cucumber were delicious. I’m not quite a convert from a traditional water bottle, but I do think the Air Up is pretty revolutionary.

£15.90 for 709ml bottle, Tennis Point

Best gym water bottle, 7/10

We like: the shape of the bottle makes it easy to grip in the gym

We don’t like: there’s no insulation

Nike’s water bottles have long been a favourite of athletes and gym goers because of their ergonomic designs which are easy to grab and chug. Unlike every other bottle on this list, there’s no cap for the bottle. Instead it relies on a chug mouthpiece which releases water as you squeeze the bottle and suck.

If you flip it upside down, there’s no spillage. Even so, I wouldn’t trust it in my bag. If anything was laid on top of it by accident, I wouldn’t trust it not to spurt water and drench the contents.

Of course the benefit to not having a lid is that it’s easy to grab and drink from on the go so if it is just a simple gym bottle you’re after, this is it. Bear in mind there’s no insulation so your water won’t stay cold.

S’wheat is the most environmentally friendly reusable water bottle, because it is made from biodegradable plant-based materials, bamboo and wheat straw, which would otherwise have been agricultural waste. The company also plants a tree with every sale, takes plastic out of the oceans and donates a percentage of its profit to protect sea life.

Stainless steel is a reasonable option for a sustainable water bottle as it’s 100 per cent recyclable. Plastic uses oil and water in the production and releases carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, but can be more environmentally friendly if it is recycled.

“You also need to look at the packaging and shipping of your bottle. It is much more environmentally friendly to buy a locally sourced bottle in a recylable packaging than it is to order a bottle wrapped in unrecyclable, plastic packaging,” says Natalie Byrne from Go Outdoors.

“Warm soapy water and a bottle brush will clean all sorts of water bottles including metal, glass and plastic. I recommend that you use fragrance-free soap, as bottles made of silicone and plastic can take on the scent of the soap. For straws, use a pipe cleaner. If a straw is removable, soak the straw at least once a week,” says Byrne.

Some water bottles are dishwasher safe but it is still important to clean the smaller parts with a toothbrush or bottle brush, especially those with built-in straws. If not washed properly, bacteria like E. Coli can grow inside water bottles and lead to gastroenteritis. Mould can also start forming in unwashed bottles.

Most companies say they can keep water cold for 24 hours and hot for 12. We wouldn’t recommend keeping water in your bottles any longer than that as it can start to take on a stale taste. That said, you can safely store tap water for up to six months, according to Healthline.

Any BPA free water bottle, like all the ones above, are safe. Exposure to the industrial chemical BPA is believed to cause health problems, as I have explained in more detail in the introduction, but thankfully manufacturers are extremely cautious to avoid it these days. Glass and stainless steel are both naturally BPA free. If you’re particularly safety-conscious with your water, consider buying a filtered water bottle.

View the latest Lululemon and Amazon deals

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