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June 3, 2011


Searching for the perfect water bottle

by Geoff Grant

Reducing our family’s carbon footprint and building a more environmentally friendly life has encompassed a lot of steps, including big ones like getting rid of our car and small ones like carrying reusable bags so we can refuse disposable plastic ones. But one step has taken on a sort of obsessive search: the perfect reusable water bottle.

My wife and I drink a lot of water. In fact, we don’t drink much else, other than our beloved cappuccinos and an occasional wine or beer. It’s great for our health, essential in our athletic pursuits (especially Bikram yoga) and it’s free, although we do pay for the filter it flows through. Bottled water being an environmental scourge of its own — a recent estimate is that barely 20 percent of plastic bottles are recycled — we drink filtered tap water that constantly refills our stainless steel water bottles.

But we are still searching for the perfect one. We’ve tried many brands, hung with them for awhile until their flaws became too annoying. A few have lingering uses as plant waterers or plastic-bag drying racks. In case you’re on the same pursuit, it might be helpful to learn from our experiences, so here’s a review of the brands we’ve tried, starting with our current favorite:

Innate, 29 oz, stainless steel, flip-top cap: This is our latest find, thanks to the site, which features an array of products to replace disposables. Innate’s best feature is the flip-top cap. As you’ll read below, we have used Sigg bottles for years, but are tired of unscrewing and screwing those little caps. The flip top opens to a nice-sized spout, so you can get a good swig without spilling all over yourself. Although we prefer a liter-sized bottle, this one is relatively close to that size. The top also unscrews with a wide mouth for easy refilling, cleaning and adding ice cubes, a really nice option in the summer. You do, however, have to order the flip-top caps separately.

Sigg, one-liter, stainless steel, ring-top cap: Sigg is an industry leader — and when you order from their website, the bottles get shipped in a really neat box — and the quality is top-notch. We still have a few of these in our regular rotation, mostly because the liter size is perfect and they are lightweight and sturdy. But they do have their drawbacks. The small opening makes it hard to clean and impossible to add normal-sized ice cubes. The lids are nice and secure, but also require lots of screwing and unscrewing and its rubber gasket blackens over time, no matter how much or how often you try to scrub them clean. We also have a wide-mouth version, but that simply adds another part to screw in, and the drinking opening is still that annoying one with the maddening little lid.

Kleen Kanteen, 40 oz., stainless steel, sport cap: For some reason, Kleen Kanteen’s options are 27 oz. (just a bit too small) or 40 oz, which is too big and feels clunky. It is nice and lightweight and has a wider opening for ice cubes and cleaning. But unless you want to drink out of that wide opening, and inevitably spill water down your shirt, your choice is the pull-up sport cap. The problem with that is, because you can’t squeeze the bottle to help it come out of the small spout, the water comes out in an unsatisfying dribble.

Others we’ve tried: Nathan’s bottles have a nifty straw feature, which makes drinking so much easier, but the bottles are fairly small by our standards and the straw contraption is hard to clean. EcoSportsBottles have several drinking spout options, supposedly to help you hydrate while working out, but all are poorly engineered and frustrating.

Ones to watch: Camelback has recently added a stainless steel model to its line of plastic reusable bottles, but the largest one is only .75 liters and if they ever come out with it in a liter size, we may give it a try. Their drinking spouts are the best in the industry, but we stay away from their plastic models because for all the hype of getting rid of BPA, the chemicals used instead aren’t known to be any safer.  We are also about to test-drive a 32 oz. stainless steel model by Liberty Bottleworks. They are made in the U.S., are the perfect size and promise a cap that doesn’t require endless unscrewing.

Stay tuned and we’ll add a review later.

UPDATE | 6/14/11

Our test drive of the Liberty Bottleworks 32 oz. model didn’t last long. I like the size and the wider opening, but the easy-opening cap is too easy-opening. And after grabbing the cap twice in a short span and having the bottle fall to the floor twice, well, let’s just say I don’t want to keep mopping up half a liter of water all the time. Perhaps I could learn never to grab it by the cap, but I’m not counting on it. So the Innate remains our favorite.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jun 13 2011

    What about titanium? 🙂

    We’ve got a Sigg and I find it quite irritating, mostly for the reasons you cite. I might steal your idea and write a similar post focused on plastic bottles. While I don’t like plastic’s eco-unfriendliness and chemicals, I find I need the squeeze bottles to drink while running or biking.

    • Jun 14 2011

      Ooooh, hate the idea of you having to go plastic. The other BPs may turn out to be worse than BPA. Try an Innate 29 oz stainless model with the flip top cap. Love it while exercising.


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