The reusable water bottle trend is at an all-time high (even becoming something of a status symbol). With an endless stream of bottles — at different sizes, made from various materials and carrying numerous technological claims — flowing into the market, it’s easy to get lost in the options. It’s also easy to wind up shelling out $40+ for a bottle that does the job no better than one half the cost.
So to determine which bottles are truly worth their price tag, we culled thousands of insulated water bottles down to 16 contenders, after reading through reviews and browsing best-selling bottles across the internet. We then put them through a litany of tests to determine which is best. (For more on our testing process, scroll down.) After two months of testing and a whole lotta water, we were able to narrow down our picks to the three standouts below; we’re confident you’ll find the one that’s best for you and be assured you’re getting your money’s worth.
The Short of It
We found the Healthy Human Curve to be the best overall insulated water bottle. It performed surprisingly well across our most important testing criteria — performance, durability and portability — all at a reasonable price tag.
Our runner-up pick is the 26-ounce Yeti Rambler. It’s a sturdy, customizable bottle that performed slightly better than the Healthy Human Curve in thermoregulation, but fell a bit short overall, especially considering the significant difference in price ($39.99 versus $24.99).
If keeping your drinks the hottest or coldest for the longest amount of time is most important to you, then the S’well bottle should be your go-to, as it performed the best in our thermoregulation tests.
The Long of It
Best Overall: Healthy Human Curve 21 ounces ($24.99; amazon.com)
Why we love it in a sentence: The Healthy Human Curve’s ability to keep water cold and its exceptional durability — mixed with its relatively low price — makes it the best choice in the world of insulated water bottles.
The Healthy Human Curve scored the highest overall across our testing categories, and even earned the top spot in durability. After dropping the Healthy Human three times from five feet above concrete on its bottom as well as on its lid, the bottle barely showed signs of abuse, aside from some paint chipping on the bottom. It was one of the only contenders that didn’t transform into wobbly vessels after the drops. Coming in at 21 ounces, its success during the drop test may have been due to it being one of the lighter options, but the 26-ounce Yeti and other smaller bottles we tested still couldn’t live up to the Curve.
Healthy Human also does a solid — though not amazing — job with thermoregulation. In cold-water testing, the temperature dropped 10.1 degrees Fahrenheit over a full 24-hour stretch, which was a bit above the average in our testing pool. The water was still cool and refreshing to drink, however, and we’re confident saying that most people will be satisfied with its ability to keep liquids cold throughout the day.
The bottle fared less well with hot water. It dropped 73.7 degrees Fahrenheit after a 12-hour stretch, ranking slightly below average. So if you’re looking for a bottle that will also do well with hot beverages, you might want to consider another option.
In terms of design, the Healthy Human Curve has what can be described as love-it-or-hate-it curves. Because of this nuanced look, we didn’t score it terribly high for design, but it was incredibly easy to hold. It also comes in 17 different color options, so you do have some aesthetic choice. If the flagship bottle’s curves aren’t your thing, Healthy Human offers a simpler design in the Stein bottle, but keep in mind we didn’t test that model.
The Healthy Human Curve also comes in recyclable packaging, which is nice for those motivated to buy a reusable bottle to reduce plastic waste.
While a dark horse in this race, we can confidently say that the Healthy Human Curve is the best insulated water bottle on the market, especially for its price.
If you want to know more about the Healthy Human Curve and get more insight about how it did in our testing process, read our full review here.
Runner-Up: Yeti Rambler 26 ounces ($39.99; dickssportinggoods.com)
Why we love it in a sentence: If you don’t mind paying more for a bigger mouth and customizable options, you get top quality with a Yeti.
The Yeti Rambler came just one point short of the Healthy Human in our testing, but its price is considerably higher. We’re still comfortable recommending it as another top option, especially for those who want more lids and customizations to choose from.
The Rambler held up better than most of the bottles we tested in our drop tests and had solid thermoregulation results, actually beating our top choice in keeping water cold and hot. We rated the 26-ounce Rambler higher than the 36-ounce one because it’s skinnier and easier to hold.
In addition to its stellar technical abilities, another great feature is the Yeti’s ultra-wide mouth. You’ll never have trouble filling it with ice, and washing it is much easier than most others (though we still recommend getting a bottle brush — it makes a world of difference). The downside to that huge mouth is it’s difficult to drink out of quickly without splashing water on your face. That cost the Yeti some points in our testing, and knocked our tester’s pride a little bit when he came out of the drinkability test with a soaked shirt.
Thankfully, Yeti offers tons of lids that fit all their bottles, including a straw lid and a chug cap for $12.99 extra, solving the splash problem. Our favorite pairing is the 26-ounce Rambler with a straw lid, though that brings the grand total up to $52.98.
You can also customize your Yeti with engravings of your name, your company’s logo, or even a design from a National Park for up to $10 extra.
Yeti is considerably pricier than the Healthy Human, coming in at a $39.99 base price, and upwards of $50 with customizations. But if you love the different lid options, always remember the family trip to Yosemite or prefer a more standard design, it’s a great choice.
If you want to know more about what we think of the Yeti Rambler, check out our full review.
Best for holding temperature: S’well 25 ounces ($45; swell.com)
Why we love it in a sentence: Though we had issues with the small mouth and lack of durability, the S’well is the best option for keeping your drinks hot or cold for the longest time.
The S’well bottle really set the standard for thermoregulation, outperforming the rest of the bottles in all of our temperature tests. Over a 24-hour period, cold water (without ice) only rose 7.1 degrees Fahrenheit; after 12 hours, nearly boiling water dropped a measly 43.1 degrees. That might sound like a big drop, but the next-closest bottle dropped 54 degrees.
Though it dominated in temperature, S’well’s downsides are its small mouth and lack of durability. The small opening makes it tough to clean, and not all ice cubes fit (the ones that do, you’ll have to drop in one at a time). Plus, after drop tests, it got so banged up that it wouldn’t stand up straight — particularly disappointing given its $45 price tag.
For some, the real selling point of the S’well is its many interesting design choices, like teakwood and geode rose. If you want a bottle that looks like marble or has a photo of the turtles you’re trying to save, then the S’well bottle is for you. And even if you’re less enamored with the design options, the amazing thermoregulation makes the S’well a good choice — so long as you don’t drop your bottle often.
If you’re considering a S’well bottle, make sure to read our full review for everything you need to know before you buy.
How We Tested
We tested these water bottles to make sure they meet the demands of everyday use. That meant testing how long they keep water cold, how long they keep water hot, and how they fare during a drop, both on their body and their lid.
Here’s a breakdown of what we tested and how we did it:
- Hot water test: We poured water just after it had finished boiling (starting temps all measured within a few degrees of each other; ranging from 202.4 and 206) into each of the bottles and measured the temperature with a liquid thermometer immediately after the pour, then after 6 hours and 12 hours.
- Cold water test: We poured tap water from a sink on its coldest setting directly into the bottles and measured the temperature (starting temps all measured within 1.4 degrees of each other; ranging from 47.5 to 48.9) with a liquid thermometer immediately after the pour, then after 12 hours and 24 hours.
- Drinkability: We drank from the bottles’ standard caps both while standing still and walking, noting how prone each bottle was to spilling and splashing.
- Leak test: We shook the bottles, held them upside down and threw them in a backpack for a commute to see if any water leaked.
- Drop test: We dropped each bottle three times from five feet above concrete on its lid and three times from five feet above concrete on its body. We noted if the bottle was still usable (if the insulation or lid broke), then assessed the amount of dents and other damage.
- Cleanliness: We tried to clean each bottle with a normal sponge, then with a bottle brush. In this test, we also considered how quickly we could add ice to the bottle.
- Weight: We weighed each empty bottle in pounds on a food scale.
- Carrying options: We noted any loops on the bottles, how many average-sized fingers fit inside and how comfortable it was to hold.
- Grip: We felt the paint on each of the bottles and ordered them from least grippy to most.
How We Rated
We split our testing process into a few different categories to rate each bottle. We weighted thermoregulation and durability heavier than other categories (such as color options) because most of all we wanted to identify sturdy products that do their job for as long as possible.
Under performance, for a total of 60 points we had ratings for both hot and cold thermoregulation, drinkability and the leak test. Durability, worth 50 points, contained the drop tests for both the lid and the body, plus ease of cleaning. Design and aesthetics was worth 15 points, comprising the number of color options, general look and customizability. For portability, worth 20 points, we measured the weight, size, carrying options and the grip of each bottle. And to reach our grand total of 155, we set aside 5 points for any X factors and 5 points if the bottle had a lifetime warranty.
Bottles all got a rating for each test under each category, then we added up those numbers for a total score. We then layered price consideration into the equation to determine the best bottle at the best price.
Other Bottles We Tested
With our favorites out of the way, here are the other bottles we looked at in our testing pool.
CamelBak Chute Mag ($36; camelbak.com)
This bottle performed quite well, especially with thermoregulation. The lid has a little magnet so it doesn’t hit you in the face while you drink. Its biggest downside: The cap broke off when we dropped it.
CamelBak Carry Cap ($36; camelbak.com)
If you’re considering CamelBak, go with the Chute Mag over the Carry Cap. The lid on the Carry Cap has a big loop, which is nice to hold, but it snapped off pretty easily during the drops.
Hydro Flask Wide Mouth ($44.95; hydroflask.com)
It’s a great looking bottle, but its performance just wasn’t on par with many of the other bottles. The biggest warning we’d give is not to drop it on the lid because it will pop right off and spill water everywhere. The first time this happened we thought it could be a faulty lid, but after a second one had the same problem, we decided to pin it on poor design.
Hydro Flask Standard Mouth ($34.95; hydroflask.com)
The Standard performed equally if not better than the Wide. Plus, it’s smaller, which means less weight to carry around. You can’t pour ice in as fast, but if you’re looking for a Hydro Flask in particular, go with the standard. Just be careful about drops. After our tests it got so damaged it lost its insulation abilities.
Klean Kanteen Classic ($29; amazon.com)
Klean Kanteen had stellar performances with thermoregulation, coming in with the second-highest total performance points. The biggest downsides were the small mouth (with a weirdly tiny lid), and the fact that the body got so damaged it caused the insulation technology to fail.
Klean Kanteen TKWide ($39.99; amazon.com)
The wide-mouth version of Klean Kanteen solves the small-mouth problem on the original bottle, touting a large lid and what seems like a sturdier body. It performed amazingly in the cold-water test, coming in second behind the S’well, but didn’t do well with hot water, which brought down its score. If you want a Klean Kanteen, we recommend this one with the TKWide chug cap.
Miir Bottle ($29.95; miir.com)
The Miir also did well in thermoregulation, outdoing both the Yeti and Sigg. It lost a lot of points during the drop test, during which the lid broke on the first drop. We didn’t test wide-mouth Miir bottles, only the standard. If you’re careful, Miir is a great option for a smaller, portable bottle.
SIGG Hot and Cold ONE Thermo Flask ($31.84; amazon.com)
This bottle performed well during the temperature tests, just about matching the Yeti Rambler. It’s a good-looking bottle featuring a lid with a locking mechanism and a built-in tea filter. Where it really fell apart was when we dropped it on that lid. It broke on the first drop. You can normally order replacement lids (though they’re out of stock now), but compared to the other bottles it just wasn’t sturdy enough.
Snow Peak Kanpai Bottle ($79.95; amazon.com)
This bottle is beautiful, scoring the highest in pure design. But it’s also expensive and scored the lowest in our testing, especially in thermoregulation, where it had the third worst score after the Takeyas. The lid shattered on the drop test.
Stanley Easy Clean ($30; amazon.com)
This bottle performed rather well in keeping water cold, but not nearly as well with hot water. The lid also fared really well during the drops, but the body got large dents on the bottom. What brought its score down were the little things: not as many sizes, lids or color options, it was on the heavier side, and it wasn’t as easy to carry.
Takeya Standard ($29.99; amazon.com)
The Takeya bottle underperformed in our most important test: thermoregulation. It scored the lowest in our pool in the performance category. Their caps feature a nifty little spout for fast drinking that unscrews to reveal a wide mouth, but it just wasn’t enough to overcome the poor insulation.
Takeya Active ($34.99; amazon.com)
The Active is basically the same as the Takeya Standard, with a few nice improvements. Most notably is the rubber boot on the bottom, which is well worth the extra $5 if you want to buy a Takeya. While it didn’t completely eradicate dents, it made a big difference and prevented any paint chipping on the bottom.
Note: The prices above reflect the retailers’ listed price at the time of publication.