Best Water Bottles For Outdoor Activities

If I remember correctly, my first purchase as an EMS employee back in 2003 was a wide-mouth Nalgene bottle. It’s a blue one with a black cap, and it’s certainly showing its age these days, though I’ve covered most of the dings and scratches with stickers. When the fact that I’m still using a water bottle that is MORE THAN A DECADE OLD sinks in, I bet your first thought will be “ew,” followed closely by “why hasn’t this weirdo invested in a new bottle already?” But I promise I do have others—a pretty large collection of them, actually—and that blue one isn’t the only one I regularly use. (Also, if you ask me, it’s a great example of how well-made Nalgene products are!)


In fact, my water bottle collection sprawls from my refrigerator (where I always have a few cold ones on standby) to a water bottle drawer in my pantry to my desk at work. They are of various shapes and sizes, and made of a variety of materials. And almost every single one of them has a distinct purpose. So if you find yourself a little overwhelmed by the number of bottle options presented to you, either in our stores or on, here are some examples of which type of water bottle I like best for each activity.

For climbing, camping, and everyday thirst quenching…

…I prefer either a classic Nalgene or a Hydro Flask bottle. Nalgene bottles are great not only because they come in a bunch of different sizes, shapes, and colors, but also because they’re virtually indestructible, so I know that if I accidentally drop my bottle at the crag it’ll stay intact.


The one drawback to a Nalgene, however, is that it won’t exactly keep your water cold. So if I know the weather is going to be particularly hot, I’ll opt for a Hydro Flask bottle instead. Thanks to their double-wall construction, these bad boys keep water cold for 24 hours and they’re available in sizes from 18 oz all the way up to 64oz. If you’re in the anti-plastic bottle camp, Hydro Flasks are an especially great choice for you, since they’re made of stainless steel. This also makes them more durable.

For (road) biking…

…the choice is clear: bike bottles. The options here are significantly narrower, and it really just depends on what size bottle you want and if you want one that is insulated or not. (For mountain biking, you’ll be better off with a biking-specific hydration pack.)


An added benefit of bike bottles is that they are convenient in many other areas, too—since they’re made to fit in narrow bottle cages, they tend to also fit really well in car cup holders and the molded-in drink holders in most kayaks. The “jet valve” in CamelBak bottles makes it easy for you to drink while you’re riding–just squeeze the bottle and keep on chugging.  PRO TIP: If you like your water as cold as possible, fill your CamelBak Podium Chill halfway with ice cubes and then put the bottle in your freezer the night before your ride. The next day, top the bottle off with water and and it will stay cold for hours.

For hiking…

…it’s usually between a Nalgene bottle and a hydration pack for me. But these collapsible bottles are also a great option, especially if you’re really into saving weight and space in your pack.


For yoga (and more everyday use)…

…a bottle with a straw is the best. Yoga classes that make you thirsty also tend to be fairly fast-paced, so you don’t want to have to waste time unscrewing the cap on your bottle just to take a sip. With a bottle like the Camelbak Eddy, it’s so quick and easy to grab a quick gulp that you can do it without even coming out of down dog if you want.

Bottles with straws are also great for everyday use, especially if you’re the type of person who tends to end up wearing more water than you actually drink with a regular bottle.

So there you have it, my personal guide to staying hydrated during your favorite outdoor activity. No matter which bottle you choose, just be sure to fill it, drain it and repeat OFTEN–especially during the summer.

Do you have a water bottle that’s worked well for your over the years? Leave a comment or share a photo on the Eastern Mountain Sports Facebook page