What's the best refillable water bottle? I vote for the Nalgene All-Terrain Bottle, after 12 years of using it. Here's why.

Water Bottles

Even if you’re not as big into hiking as Dave and I are, good refillable water bottles are invaluable on your boat.

When the weather gets warm, you really need to take water with you any time you leave the boat — whether you’re exploring by dinghy, checking out a lighthouse or even just snorkeling.

And we all know it’s much more environmentally friendly to refill bottles from the water tank than buy lots of little bottles (read about water filtering systems if you don’t like to drink your tank water because of the way it tastes).  Three extra benefits are the lower cost, not having to schlepp those cases of water to the boat, and a lot less trash to dispose of.

So you could get a couple of bottles of water and then refill the bottles. They’ll work for a few days, but they are almost impossible to wash out if you put anything other than water in them.  We like to add Gatorade or lemonade powder, which is really hard to do without making a mess due to the small opening — and it’s impossible to get a bottle brush inside to scrub them out later.

The small neck is also a problem if you want to put some ice in the bottle.  And screwing off the top every time you want a drink is just sort of a hassle.  And the newer bottles are such thin plastic that there’s always the risk of a split bottle soaking everything and leaving you without a bottle of water.

Instead, my choice is the Nalgene All-Terrain Bottle. We’ve got four of them and use them daily.

Why do I like them so much?

  • Flip-top lid stays shut when it should, opens easily and — best of all — keeps the drinking nipple clean no matter how dusty and dirty it is outside.  It’s also designed so that when you close it, it automatically locks the drinking nipple shut.
  • No leaks — not where the top screws on to the bottle, nor in the drinking nipple.
  • One-liter (quart) size works well for me — weighs two pounds full and holds enough water for most activities.
  • Easy to operate one-handed.
  • Water flows well through the drinking nipple — I have a couple of other water bottles where water barely trickles through, no matter how hard I squeeze the bottle.
  • No BPA.
  • They’ve held up really well with tons of use . . . and abuse . . . as we’ve carried them everywhere (at least 14 countries and, literally, to Timbuktu) and banged them into rocks, dropped them ten feet or more, sat on them and who knows what else.
  • Wide mouth is easy to pour drink mix into and to get a bottle brush into for cleaning out.  (If you use a sugary drink mix, clean the top by soaking it in water for 2 to 3 minutes, then pour water over/through it.)

These fit perfectly in the little over-the-shoulder carriers we have (see picture at the top of this article).  However, if you like to use a carabiner to clip your bottle to your pack or belt loop, they won’t work.  And, unfortunately, Nalgene doesn’t make a covered-nipple bottle like this with a loop.

Maybe it’s silly to get all worked up over water bottles.  Over the years, I’ve received a bunch that were free, printed with various companies’ names.  They really seemed like nice giveaways . . . until I used them the first time.  Some didn’t hold much, others were awkward to use or leaked, some were hard to keep clean and others just plain had a funny “chemical” smell.  They all ended up going to the resale shop.

The Nalgene bottles just plain work. Bonus: they cost less than a case of bottled water but last for years and years (two of ours are over 15 years old):

Tip: if you have a small dog, stick a silicone muffin cup in your pocket and then you can give them a drink by squirting a bit of water in it from  your bottle.

Paz and her muffin cup

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  • Stormy Duchess
    Posted at 29 August 2012 Reply

    The best hydration cup I have come across is ChillinTheMost.com. I have had there cold/hot thermos cup for over 25 yrs and it is still performing great!
    They have several different styles to choose from and you don’t get that plastic taste.
    It keeps your drink very cold and very hot. I love my cup!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Krissy
    Posted at 25 March 2013 Reply

    Bolt House Farms makes incredible smoothies and other beverages that we love. Their bottles (3 sizes that I am aware of) are also very sturdy and BPA free, we reuse them for practically everything! I currently have baking mix, grits, oatmeal, and sugar stored using the larger size. It requires a funnel to get it all in there but everything easily pours out without spilling. We use the smaller and medium sizes for beverages, cooking oils, pre made pancake mix, etc. When they need to be cleaned we use a baby bottle cleaner. The lids come in different colors depending on the beverage, which is useful for organizing, and I generally like the the shape which helps with storing also. (You can get so much more in a cupboard when using similar shaped containers!) My only warning is to be cautious of water temperature when cleaning, they will melt and warp.
    Great containers that conviently come filled with yummy-ness!

  • Bill
    Posted at 16 August 2013 Reply

    The Nalgenes are made in the good ole USofA if I’m not mistaken. Good enough reason for me and I have used them for decades. Fair Winds

  • Steve Bryant
    Posted at 29 September 2013 Reply

    Nalgene! Good Stuff!!

  • Peter Robertson
    Posted at 22 February 2016 Reply

    Nice, but do you have a good closable hot mug?

  • Charles Badoian
    Posted at 22 February 2016 Reply

    Hydroflask insulated are rather awesome, especially in the summer heat of the keys.

    • Charles Badoian
      Posted at 22 February 2016 Reply

      I have a handheld thermal imaging camera, and would volunteer to help u do a test.

  • Bryan Sarlitt
    Posted at 02 June 2016 Reply

    Ever try the Nomader collapsible water bottle? It’s made of thick BPA free silicone and has a durable screw lid and spout to prevent leaks. Great to travel with! You can find them on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1O7ub4S

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