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For the majority of my adult life, my emotional support water bottle of choice has been a classic 32-ounce Nalgene. It’s durable (I’ve been schlepping around — and dropping — the same one for almost a decade), and it holds plenty of water. And though the world has been clamoring for the Stanley tumbler, my Nalgene was good enough for me... Or so I thought.
It wasn’t until I met my Hydro Flask-toting wife that I finally came around to the wonders of insulated water bottles. After spending many a day swigging lukewarm water from my Nalgene while she savored each refreshing gulp of cool water from her Hydro Flask, I realized that having ice-cold water hours after leaving the house — and while working out — might be worth looking into. So, I set out to investigate. After all, it's January, a time where if you are going light or heavy on resolutions, we can probably all agree that drinking more water is a good thing.
What Is an Insulated Water Bottle?
Insulated water bottles have the ability to keep water cold for hours. To achieve this, most insulated water bottles are made of stainless steel and constructed using double-wall vacuum insulation. This means the bottle is made of two pieces of stainless steel — an outer wall (the part you hold in your hand) and an inner wall (the part your drink touches) — that are separated by a vacuum. Because air is highly effective at transferring heat, removing it allows any liquid inside a double-walled vacuum-sealed bottle to retain its initial temperature for longer.
The insulation also prevents condensation from accumulating on the outside of the water bottle. So in addition to hours of cold water, insulated water bottles have the added benefit of being sweat-proof.
How I Chose the Best Insulated Water Bottles
Insulated water bottles are a great choice for staying hydrated for outdoor adventures and for everyday use. I tested several popular insulated water bottle models to find out which ones made increasing my daily water intake easier.
For this review, I looked at water bottles that have some form of insulation and evaluated each on factors like temperature retention, leak resistance, and overall drinking experience.
To test the temp-holding power of the bottles, I filled each one with water at 50 degrees Fahrenheit (the temperature of the water from my refrigerator’s dispenser plus a few ice cubes) and then took a temperature measurement after 8, 12, and 24 hours to see if the water was still cold.
To perform a leak test, I simply filled each bottle, shook it, held it upside down, and then left it sitting on its side for the rest of the day, periodically checking to see if it was leaking.
After performing these quasi-scientific tests, I subjected each bottle to commonplace use, drinking from the bottles while standing, walking, and sitting in a car, noting the overall drinking experience of each. I also considered bottle proportion, choosing sizes between 24-26 ounces. At this volume, I felt the bottle was big enough that I didn’t feel like I was constantly needing to refill it, but not so big that it was cumbersome to carry around when full.
After researching and testing 10 different insulated water bottles, these are my top five — all available for delivery on DoorDash.
Stanley Water Bottle, multiple options
For more than 100 years, functionality and durability have been at the forefront of Stanley’s designs. Their bottles feature stainless steel construction and double-wall vacuum insulation that promises to keep water cold for up to 12 hours and keep ice in water for two days, and I found that to be true. Many Stanley models are in stock from Dick's Sporting Goods, including the wildly popular Quencher. My Stanley was one of the few bottles I’ve found that fits in cup holders at this volume, which I appreciated.
YETI is known for making high-quality gear, and their stainless steel double-wall vacuum insulated Rambler bottle is no exception. This bottle was my top choice for its insulating performance, durability, and two-part Chug Cap. The top part of the cap features a carrying handle that is easily twisted off to reveal a shatter-resistant spout. This spout allows for the perfect amount of flow while also preventing ice from sloshing up your nose. Removing the leak-proof cap exposes the bottle’s wide mouth, making cleaning, refilling, and adding ice a breeze. It helps that all parts are dishwasher-safe.
The YETI Rambler insulated water bottle comes in an array of colors and sizes including 18, 26, 36, 46, and 64 ounces. It’s also compatible with YETI’s Rambler Bottle Straw Cap.
For more than a decade, Hydro Flask has been building a loyal following with their stylish and reliable double-walled stainless steel insulated water bottles. The 24-ounce Standard Mouth bottle is one of their flagship models and my personal favorite for its simple design. This bottle has a slim profile, which feels comfortable in hand and easily fits into cup holders and side pockets.
I preferred the Standard Mouth opening to the Wide Mouth because it offers the best of both worlds — it’s wide enough to fit ice cubes, but narrow enough to keep from spilling water all over your face when walking or driving. The standard-issue Flex Cap also safeguards against leaks and features its own trademarked insulation technology for additional temperature control.
The Hydro Flask Standard Mouth bottle is available in 18, 21, and 24 ounces and tons of colors. It is also compatible with Hydro Flask’s Insulated Sport Cap and Flex Straw Cap. The bottle and all caps are dishwasher-safe.
I’ve long been a fan of CamelBak’s hydration packs, so I was looking forward to spending some quality time with their Eddy+ bottle. During our time together, this double-walled, vacuum-insulated bottle won me over as well. The Eddy+ is an updated version of CamelBak’s classic Eddy model, which has been redesigned to deliver more water flow per sip. This bottle has an integrated straw in the leak-free lid that’s attached to CamelBak’s signature self-sealing bite valve. When not in use, you have the option to fold the bite valve down into the lid, which I liked. But what I loved most about the Eddy+ is that it was easy to sip from while keeping my eyes on the road while driving.
The Eddy+ is available in 20 and 25 ounces. If you want to be sure it’ll fit in your car’s cup holder, opt for the 20-ounce version. All pieces (the cap, lid, and straw) can go through the dishwasher. You can also swap out the lid with CamelBak’s Carry Cap (which adds a handle to the top) or Chute Mag (a model that increases water flow).
The Owala FreeSip insulated water bottle features a unique two-in-one design that was easy to fall in love with. While many other bottles have interchangeable lids that offer different means of drinking, the FreeSip is a hybrid — combining both a built-in straw for sipping and a wide-mouth opening for chugging. Both are revealed by popping open the flip-top with the push of a button. This bottle is also completely leak-proof thanks to the carrying handle that also acts as a lock. And with triple-walled stainless steel vacuum insulation construction, the FreeSip had no problem keeping water cool all day.
While the lid is dishwasher-safe, handwashing the rest of the bottle is recommended. The Owala FreeSip is available in a wide range of fun color combinations as well as multiple sizes, including 19, 24, 32, and 40 ounces.
PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of Dicks Sporting Goods