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Best water bottles for cycling 2023

Nov 16, 2023Nov 16, 2023

However you ride, choosing the best water bottles for cycling can help you to perform at your peak and stay safe in the saddle

Often overlooked but always appreciated, the best water bottles for cycling are designed to help you perform at your peak and get the most out of your rides. It might not be the most superstar accessory you own but it's the last thing you want to forget when you head out the door and the first thing you look to when suffering on the road or trail.

Staying hydrated is so important that it goes beyond just performance and bleeds into general safety. When you start to dehydrate you risk serious health complications, and even just a little dehydration will affect cognition - that's your ability to focus on the task at hand and make snap decisions when faced with obstacles and road hazards.

So it is important to know how to fuel your ride and to be aware of the best energy food available but, beyond that, the best water bottles for cycling can also be a statement. They can either blend in or stand out as part of the overall look of the bike and reflect your personal style. You might prefer a tech-driven, no-nonsense look, or you might go all out in matching your bottle with your bike, your socks and your helmet.

The general look of water bottles has stayed pretty consistent since the first plastic examples emerged, so most are compatible with the best bottle cages for cycling. But manufacturers are constantly looking for ways to improve them, from the way they are mounted on the bike to the materials they are made of and the design of the caps and valves used to deliver the water.

If you're a pure road rider, you may want a bidon that adds as little weight as possible but if off-road is your specialism, perhaps you're more concerned about keeping mud out of your mouth. To help with the process, we've put together a list of what we think are the best water bottles for cycling on the market right now. Keep reading for the list or scroll to the bottom for more tips on how to make your choice.

You can trust Cyclingnews Our experts spend countless hours testing cycling tech and will always share honest, unbiased advice to help you choose. Find out more about how we test.

Most of the time when your local shop has a bottle, it's a Specialized Purist bottle. They are everywhere and people rarely think much about them, but they are actually marvels of technology and, despite being commonplace, are deserving of a spot among the best water bottles for cycling.

The inside of the bottle has an ultra-thin silica coating that keeps anything from sticking. That means no mould, no bacteria, and no leftover sports drink. All it takes is a bit of soap and water to get everything clean.

It also keeps the plastic taste away from the water – something we're very grateful for. To pair with the purist bottle, you can choose a Fixie top that has a valve but isn't lockable, a MoFlo cap for higher flow, or the Watergate cap which has a one-way valve but is lockable for travel.

And if you are worried about having the same bottle as everyone else, Specialized has taken steps to address that with an online customisation tool that offers a much wider range of colours and design possibilities than previously.

Sometimes simple is best. The trick of the Camelbak bottles is that they have a valve that opens against the pressure of a gentle squeeze. You don't have to open it or close it, or really think about it other than to get the hydration you need.

If you are travelling and want to make sure it won't leak from a bit of pressure, there's a lock you can use as well. And when you need to clean it, the whole thing disassembles without much trouble.

It doesn't have as much tech packed into it as, say, the Specialized Purist or the Elite Fly, but we think it does the job – and it does it well. It's also a nice feature to have a variety of colour options available to match the rest of your kit.

You can get seriously ill riding through farm roads in the wet and mud then drinking whatever your tyres fling at your bottles. Even if you find yourself in less extreme weather, each time you take a drink might mean a mouthful of dust as the water gets flowing.

If you like the idea of the minimum-effort valve that comes with the Camelbak Podium, but would rather keep dust, dirt and any other muck out of your water, then the Camelbak Podium Dirt has got you covered (quite literally).

There are fewer colours available and the Dirt version only comes in the smaller 620ml size, but if you like one of the standard Podium bottles you could add the cover to it, which is available as a separate purchase.

Camelbak also sells a separate belt that caries the Dirt bottle, which gives an option to carry more water or to keep it stowed in a position that is less vulnerable to the mud and grime.

Elite says the Fly is both the world's lightest and the most-used water bottle on the UCI World Tour – and those two claims are likely to be related. As marginal gains go, it's certainly marginal but weighing in at 54g for the 550ml version, Elite claims a saving of 40g on standard bottles.

How do they do it? A very precise 1,000 days of study and experimentation resulted in a design that is thicker at the top and bottom, and thinner in the middle. Furthermore, says Elite, this has the added benefits of making it easier to squeeze the drink out and more stable in the bottle cage. Elite also claims it uses 30-per cent less plastic than average to make a bottle.

There are a huge variety of colours available and designs for the Tour, Giro and Vuelta and most of the top pro teams, while the Fly also comes in 750ml and 950ml sizes – although they're gonna tip those scales!

There are no different valve options, unlike the Specialized Purist, although a protective cap cover, which is included with the Fly MTB version, can be purchased separately for those who want to keep out the mud and grime.

Whether you're riding all day or are out for a few hours in the sweltering heat, sometimes two water bottles are never going to be enough, but not all bikes offer the option of a third bottle cage.

In those situations, the BackBottle, from the creator of Fix-It Sticks, another kickstarter project that features in our list of the best bike multi-tools, offers a simple option: just slip an extra bottle or two into your jersey pockets.

The downside is that, once you've used up your water, you still have a bottle to carry, but there's no simpler way to carry extra water when you need it.

Like most of the other entries in this list, it is free of Bisphenol A (commonly known as BPA), a chemical used in the manufacturing of some plastic containers that can transfer into food and drink.

If you look at the larger market for insulated drink holders it's common to find vacuum-sealed options that hold temperature all day long. When it comes to cycling-specific bottles, however, there's almost nothing like it.

Elite has an option, though, with the Deboyo Race. The promise is the same as you would expect from a good Thermos – that it will keep your drink hot for up to 12 hours or cold for up to 24 hours.

In order to make sure you can get the liquid out, there is a high-flow cap in use. If you'd rather sip your drink, you'll also get a second cap that screws on and off for quick access depending on your preference.

The Fabric Cageless Bottle is probably the most unique option in this list, because it's a whole system rather than just another bottle. It's both the bottle and the mounting system rolled into one, and there's nothing more minimal out there.

It also happens to be exceptionally lightweight. Instead of mounting a cage to your bike, you attach two small studs. The bottle has a pair of recesses moulded into the side, and you slide the bottle up and off to get it free. Remove the bottle and the mounting virtually disappears. Fabric doesn't list a weight for the bottle but says the mounting system weighs a mere 3g.

It will, however, require a little more accuracy than usual in returning it to its mount, as the recesses will need to be lined up with the studs. We're not so sure how great it will seem in those weary moments on the limit when shoving the bottle back where it belongs needs to be effortless.

Environmental issues are becoming a big focus in cycling and nowhere is this starker than the use of hundreds of thousands of plastic water bottles each year by professional teams, the majority of which are cast off by the roadside and end up in landfills. Cannondale made news with its introduction of the first 100-per cent compostable bottle in the pro peloton at the Giro d'Italia this year but with no plans to make it available to the public.

However, Italian manufacturer Elite has been doing their own thing for a while now and this biodegradable Jet bottle is designed to break down from between three months and five years. That might seem like a vague timeframe but it will account for the difference between industrial and household composting systems – and compared to the hundreds of years some plastics take to degrade, either end of the range is a marked difference.

The Jet comes in four different sizes, from 350ml to 950ml, and shares much of the same technology as Elite's regular plastic bottles, including a pledge not to alter the taste of the liquid as well as being BPA free and dishwasher safe.

Everyone will have a different set of criteria but, as a general rule, if you want to choose one of the best water bottles for cycling, opt for something that carries a decent amount of water, that's free of BPA-free (Bisphenol A is a chemical used in the manufacturing of some plastic containers that can transfer into food and drink) and doesn't leak.

No one likes a plastic aftertaste, so that's another consideration to make; some bottles come with an internal lining that prevents it, while another option is to choose a stainless steel bottle instead.

There are bike-specific insulated bottles on offer, which are designed to keep your water colder for longer – and even some with Thermos-style properties to keep hot drinks hot. Consider how long you're likely to be out riding, and whether it's worth investing a little more for one of these.

It's good to find a bottle that's easy to drink from while on the go and there are a variety of different caps on offer – some with fast-flowing valves and some with self-sealing ones that you don't have to wrestle open with your teeth. However, not everyone drinks while they ride, with some people preferring to stop and sip. Depending on your personal preference, choose a bottle that will suit your needs and match your style.

It all depends on the ride and the weather. If it's a long ride and a hot day even two of the biggest bottles you can find won't be enough. On the other hand, there are actually reasons not to always carry every last bit of water you can.

It might sound silly to consider weight when it comes to water but it really does add up. Lots of gravel bikes have the ability to carry three water bottles. If you were to use three 26oz (750ml) bottles in each of the available cages, that's around 2.2kg grams (4.8lbs) of weight. If you need it, that's well worth the weight penalty, but it's significant if you're riding where a top up is easily found. Our list of the best water bottles for cycling features options ranging from 12oz (350ml) up to 32oz (950ml), so there is a lot of variety on offer.

There's also the fact that if you're riding in super hot temperatures all day without insulated bottles, your water will become increasingly warm over the course of your ride. If you don't want to buy multiple insulated bottles, your best option is to carry fewer and top them up more often.

There's also frame size to consider. Most road bikes have plenty of space in the main triangle for water bottles, but not always. As the frame gets smaller, or if you add a frame bag, you might actually run into issues trying to fit the biggest bottles. Varying cages will work a little differently too, so check out our list of the best bottle cages for cycling if you are having trouble and consider how tall the bottle you are thinking about is.

What it comes down to is that there's no right answer all the time. For short rides, a single bottle will likely see you through. As you stretch out the time, or when things heat up, you will want to go as big as makes sense while also trying not to go way over.

Most bikes have fixings to mount the best bottle cages, most commonly on the down tube where it is tucked out of the way and easily accessible to the rider. Many bikes will have a second set of these fixings – or bosses – on the seat tube and many of the best gravel bikes come with a third set. However, if bottles weren't at the top of your shopping list when you were buying your bike, there are alternatives, such as carrying a bottle in your jersey or adding cages onto the back of the seat or the front of the handlebars – although these are far more cumbersome and less aerodynamic.

Most people don't want to spend a fortune on water bottles, so it's understandable to question those that make great claims and demand a slightly higher price. However, when it comes to insulated cycling water bottles, we'd say it's definitely worth it.

Insulated water bottles contain an internal lining that helps to keep your water at the same temperature for longer. There's nothing worse than taking a mouthful of warm water when you're craving something cold and refreshing, and that's what insulated bottles are designed to prevent from happening.

However, they can be overkill if you're just going on a short ride on a comfortably temperate day. When deciding whether or not they're worth it, think about how long you tend to ride for, and whether your local climate is likely to badly affect the temperature of your water.

There's no hard and fast rule to this one. Plastic water bottles will last forever in practical terms, which has its environmental implications. Companies such as Elite are starting to think about the materials they use for their bottles from a sustainability point of view – ensuring they can be recycled or use materials that are better for the environment. Cannondale even unveiled a 100-per cent compostable water bottle for the EF Education-EasyPost team to use at the 2022 Giro d'Italia.

The challenges for professional cycling – in which thousands of bottles are thrown away each year – are, however, different from those for the average cyclist, who wants to get the best use out of their purchases. Over time, however, water bottles become more difficult to use, the outside gets scratched and it starts to be harder to get them out of the cages. They also start to look worn and can be hard to clean, even after a few months of heavy use.

If you are careful about cleaning them, they will last longer. It's also helpful to clean the inside of your bottle cages from time to time as a way to extend the life of your bottles. If you want something that lasts even longer, consider a metal bottle instead of plastic.

The last thing you want is to be drinking mould and old remnants from past rides.

The first thing to keep track of is what your particular bottle can tolerate. A dishwasher can be an excellent way to get a bottle clean, but the high heat could also destroy it if it's made of plastic. Some bottles are dishwasher safe and some are not, so make sure you check to see what yours can handle. Along the same lines, some bottles can handle a good scrubbing, while others only need a rinse.

If you want to be safe, stick to gentle cleaning only. Dish soap and warm water is enough to kill germs and it's far more important to get the pieces exposed to the soap and water than it is to aggressively scrub. Even if all you do at the end of a ride is take your bottles apart and thoroughly rinse them, you'll have gone a long way to keeping them clean and safe.

Sticking with the gentle cleaning suggestion, the other important thing you can do is make sure your bottles dry thoroughly. Never leave your bottles sitting in your bottle cages after storing your bike. That's a surefire way to get mould. Instead, open up your bottles, give them a rinse with soap and water then let them sit with the tops removed. The exposure to air and a thorough drying will do a lot to make sure your bottles are clean and fresh the next time you grab them.

The water bottle even has its own place in the mystique and fanaticism of cycling. Referred to as a bidon, which is French for 'can', early examples were made from aluminium with cork stoppers and mounted on handlebars until plastic started to be used in the 1950s and the cages were moved to the down tube.

A domestique collecting bidons from the race car and ferrying them to the rest of the team – the literal water carrier – or a rider desperately snatching a bottle from the outstretched hand of a frantically waving soigneur at the side of the road are images that are as much a part of bike racing as any others, a reminder of the sheer levels of endurance required to compete.

When Chris Froome made his famous 2018 Giro d'Italia attack on the Colle delle Finestre, Team Sky boss Dave Brailsford was quick to thank his nutritionists for coming up with the perfect plan to fuel his rider, while SIS got in on the act to claim some of the credit for its Beta Fuel product developed in partnership the team that later became the Ineos Grenadiers we know today.

Bidons have had a few infamous moments in cycling history too, Eugenio Alafaci having to apologise for throwing a bottle at another rider during the 2017 Giro and numerous examples of grown men fighting over a souvenir.

A focus on the safety and environmental concerns of hundreds of thousands of bottles being discarded by the roadside each year has led to riders being disqualified from races for littering and Cannondale even brought out a pro-peloton-first 100-per cent compostable version for EF Education-EasyPost riders to use at the 2022 Giro.

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Josh hails from the Pacific Northwest of the United States but would prefer riding through the desert than the rain. He will happily talk for hours about the minutiae of cycling tech but also has an understanding that most people just want things to work. He is a road cyclist at heart and doesn't care much if those roads are paved, dirt, or digital. Although he rarely races, if you ask him to ride from sunrise to sunset the answer will be yes.Height: 5'9"Weight: 140 lb.Rides: Cannondale Topstone Lefty, Cannondale CAAD9, Enve Melee, Look 795 Blade RS, Priority Continuum Onyx

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