Whether you’re struggling through a muggy commute or tackling a tricky hike, a reusable water bottle can keep you hydrated on the move.
Oh, and they will help cut down on plastic waste, too. But not all are made equal. We’ve tested 20 popular and widely available options, including cheap reusable bottles for less than £10 and premium bottles with smart drink tracking.
The best bottles we tested were easy to use and clean, well built and kept our water cool. But it’s not all good news – our lowest-scoring water bottle left water with an overpowering taste of plastic and scored just 48%.
Find out which water bottles we recommend, from brands such as Bobble, Brita, Camelbak, Chilly’s, Hip, S’well and Thermos, in our full guide to the best reusable water bottles for 2019.
Ditch the plastic to save money and reduce waste
If you have a habit of buying single-use plastic water bottles throughout the week, a reusable bottle could save you a tidy sum in the long term.
Assuming you buy three single-use bottles of water a week, the costs soon add up. Switching to a reusable bottle costing £16 could save you nearly £60 per year and the bottle will pay for itself several times over in the first year of use.
If you’re a coffee drinker, you could save even more by investing in a reusable coffee cup or travel mug as well.
Most chains offer some form of discount for bringing your own cup – Costa, Greggs, Patisserie Valerie, Pret and Starbucks each have their own incentives. Depending on your high street coffee chain of choice, you could save up to £130 annually.
Best reusable coffee cups and travel mugs – discover which brands we recommend for spill-proof portable drinks
Choosing the best reusable water bottle for you
There’s a bewildering number of reusable water bottles battling for a spot in your rucksack. The best fit for you will depend on how you plan on using it – do you want a sports-friendly bottle, or something that’s simple to carry around day to day?
A key choice, which affects the price, will be the material you opt for. Each has its pros and cons. Stainless-steel water bottles are sturdy, but usually pricier. Plastic bottles are lighter, but our testing shows that some will affect the taste of your drink. Glass bottles shouldn’t have that effect, but are obviously more fragile.
Keeping your drinks cool
Generally speaking, stainless-steel water bottles will keep your drink cooler for longer compared with plastic alternatives.
We’ve tested a range of stainless-steel bottles that use layered insulated shells to maintain temperature and prevent condensation forming on the outside of the bottle, including the S’ip by S’well (£24, above).
Reusable water bottles for the gym
Reusable water bottles well-suited to gym sessions and outdoor activities will be lightweight, portable and easy to drink from while you’re moving around.
They may have a sipping lid or built-in straw, so you don’t have to take the lid off every time you need a hit of hydration.
Some plastic ones, such as the Brita Fill Go Active, have a mini water filter built-in. Get our verdict on this feature in our water bottle reviews.
Smart water bottles: are they a gimmick?
The priciest reusable water bottle we’ve tested is also the brainiest. Meet the £80 Bellabeat Spring, a ‘smart’ water bottle that connects to an app on your smartphone and gives you a virtual nudge when it’s been too long since you last took a sip.
Telling people you’ve bought a water bottle for £80 might raise some eyebrows, but if you struggle to keep on top of your water intake, it could be worth it.
Bear in mind there are some low-tech alternatives available for less. The Joseph Joseph Dot water bottle (£10) keeps track of how often it’s refilled, so you can get a measure of how much you’ve drunk in a day, and the Thermos Hydration water bottle (also £10) has a similar system for basic drink tracking.
Check our reusable bottle reviews to see how our user panel rated these bottles and their tracking features.
How we tested reusable water bottles
We asked a panel of users to try each one and rate them on the following:
- How easy is the bottle to drink out of? While some bottles have a twist cap, others use a bite valve.
- How comfortable is the bottle to hold? Our testing uncovered a number of bottles that will slip from your hand far too easily.
- How easy is the bottle to dismantle and hand clean? Reusable water bottles can be tricky to clean, especially if there are gaps in the lid where grime can build up.
We also checked whether each bottle had spare parts available, so a lost lid or broken seal doesn’t mean another bottle heading to landfill.
Our top-scoring reusable water bottle
After putting all 20 reusable water bottles through ease-of-use and cleaning tests, one model edged its way to the top of our scoreboard, achieving an impressive 82%.
Head to our full reusable water bottle buying guide to see which bottle is our top pick.