High quality H-2-O

A few years ago in a Quito hotel, I forgot that I wasn’t supposed to drink the water in Ecuador and swallowed down a swig after brushing my teeth. In that moment, as I contemplated contracting giardia, typhoid fever and hepatitis, I realized just how important a good source of water is. (Don’t worry, I survived with no ill effects.) The topic of today’s blog is water. More specifically, how to carry it around. Enter the humble reusable water bottle.

We are cautioned not to drink the water in about half of the countries we visit. The alternative is to drink bottled water, but this can be expensive and not very environmentally friendly. Our best advice is to make sure you bring a reusable water bottle with you so that you can refill as frequently as you need to without buying small quantities all of the time.

Here are some of our favorites.

Reusable Water Bottle 1: The Nalgene Bottle

I remember when the ubiquitous Nalgene bottle (Nalgene BPA Free Tritan Wide Mouth Water Bottle, 1-Quart, Slate Blue) became the thing in my school. I was in college in 2003 and before the end of the semester, it seemed like everyone had one. These handy bottles have been popular ever since, and for good reason. A Nalgene bottle is constructed of hard plastic (the current models are all BPA-free) and most have a wide-mouthed, screw-on top.

I’m a big fan of these bottles as they are ‘virtually indestructible,’ according to the website, and can be used to store lots of stuff beyond water. I usually fill my bottle and then screw the lid on around the strap of my backpack, so it is fastened on and I don’t have to carry it in my hands. Nalgene bottles come in an array of colors and sizes, but the standard ones hold one liter of water.

Pros: virtually indestructible, colorful, can hold more than just water

Cons: the wide mouth can be a challenge to drink out of when running (this can be solved by purchasing a plastic insert), bulky

Nalgene bottle
The trusty Nalgene

Reusable Water Bottle 2: Lifefactory

Lifefactory bottles (Lifefactory 22-Ounce BPA-Free Glass Water Bottle with Flip Cap & Silicone Sleeve, Turquoise) are made of glass surrounded by a silicone sleeve and topped with a plastic screw-on lid. The silicone serves a few purposes: to provide grip and also to protect the glass if you drop the bottle. I have dropped mine before and the glass did not break; however, I don’t recommend testing this out just for the sake of a test. They come in 9, 12, 16, and 22 ounces. I have the 16 ounces (½ a liter). The sleeve and lids come in fun colors and geometric designs.

Pros: Lifefactory bottles are cool looking. I have the mint sleeve with circles and never get tired of drinking out of it. I prefer drinking out of glass because I feel like it is the cleanest surface (this isn’t backed by science, folks, just my own preference). The lid screws on quite a bit so I feel like whatever germs there are floating around, they aren’t getting on the bottle where I drink.

Cons: these babies are expensive. Mine cost $20 and then another $10 or so to get the flip lid. You have to be more careful than you would plastic since glass can break

Lifefactory bottle

Reusable Water Bottle 3: Platypus

A Platypus bottle (Platypus PlusBottle, 1 Liter with Closure Cap) is essentially a plastic bag with a screw on lid, like a bladder for a Camelback or an old-school heating bottle. When you fill them up, they take the shape of whatever way the bag can stretch. B has had one for years and swears by it. She rolls up the bottle to get out the excess air and then straps it on to her bag with a carabiner. I tried one out but to be honest, it didn’t do much for me. I don’t like the pull-out top (see above for my possibly misguided belief that a screw top stays cleaner) and mine leaked, although it wasn’t the Platypus brand.

Pros: these things can hold a lot of water–up to 70 ounces. They are the most conforming in size and fit around other items so they take up the least amount of space.

Cons: Hard to refill–or at least the hardest of the reviewed bottles. Not very pretty.

Platypus bottle

Reusable Water Bottle 4: Hydrapak

Hydrapak bottle
3-2-1 Pop!
Hydrapak bottle
The incredibly expanding Hydrapak

I bought this Hydrapak (Hydrapak Stash Water Bottle, Blue, 750 ml) at a cool, local outdoor store that was going out of business. Hydrapaks’ top and bottom are made of hard plastic, but the sides are like that of the Platypus. When you twist it down it is ultra compact. It holds a surprisingly large amount of water–about 22 ounces by my rough estimation. I haven’t ever used this guy because the first time I tried the water tasted gross, like plastic. While it was my fault I didn’t wash it out properly, this made me not want to drink the water. I haven’t tried it again yet, but when I do I’ll update this post.


We are all made up of about 60 percent water. It is really important to keep as much water in us as possible. Especially when we are out exploring in the elements. Whatever option you go with, a trusty water bottle is a must-have on your adventures.  

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