Among BPA-free plastic water bottles, the CamelBak Better Bottle (*Est. $14 for 25-oz. bottle) gets the best reviews. It's made with Tritan plastic, which is said to be free of BPA and other harmful chemicals, and comes in insulated plastic and insulated stainless-steel varieties. This best-reviewed standard bottle is available with either a flip-up bite valve and a plastic straw or a flat cap -- both with an integrated handle that can attach to a waist belt or carabiner. In a review of several BPA-free bottles, Men's Journal applauds the CamelBak Better Bottle (with flat cap) for being sturdy enough to toss into a bag and stay dry. Time magazine calls the CamelBak Better Bottle one of the "top-five eco-friendly water bottles." Time reviewer Hilary Hylton says the CamelBak doesn't leak, although she thinks the top is hard to clean.
The CamelBak Better Bottle also does well in consumer reviews. With more than 800 reviews on Amazon.com, the Better Bottle averages a rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars. While some owners say the top can be difficult to clean and the bite valve is strange to use, most reviewers rave about it. One owner points out that the bite valve can be removed to reveal a standard straw, if preferred.
If you prefer a more traditional water bottle without a bite valve, the Nalgene OTG - On The Go (*Est. $10 for 24-oz. bottle) gets good reviews from multiple sources. Like the CamelBak Better Bottle, the Nalgene OTG is made with Tritan plastic and has a one-handed flip top. It comes in one size in red, spring green or slate blue. But if you don't want your bottle to leak, the Nalgene OTG isn't for you -- and the company is upfront about this. Nalgene states in the product description that the bottle isn't "100% leakproof," and they don't recommend putting it upside down in a purse or backpack. Reviewers confirm this claim: Men's Journal finds that the top opens easily in a backpack. Owner-written reviews at Amazon.com and Buzzillions.com also note that the Nalgene OTG can leak easily from the top, although most owners are satisfied overall.
Despite this flaw, the Nalgene OTG is a top scorer in a Good Housekeeping test, where it earns praise for being easy to open but some testers find the bottle's lip uncomfortable. The Nalgene water bottle is also a top pick at Gardenaut (a home gardening blog for families that's part of the ZRecommends network), where testers are impressed with its durability and value.
If you need to throw your bottle in your bag without leaking, the Nalgene Wide Mouth (*Est. $10 for 32-oz. bottle) is a better choice because it has a much tighter seal than the OTG water bottle. The Wide Mouth looks like a traditional Nalgene bottle, and comes in 16- and 32-ounce sizes with an attached loop top that secures the lid to the bottle itself so there's no chance of losing it. Like the OTG, the Nalgene Wide Mouth is made from Tritan copolyester, which is said to be free of BPA. It comes in a variety of colors and is dishwasher-safe. Time magazine picks the Nalgene Wide Mouth water bottle as one of the best eco-friendly water bottles available. While they like that the wide mouth accommodates ice cubes, it can also make it easy to spill water on yourself while drinking. The Nalgene Wide Mouth also tops the list at Women's Adventure magazine, which recommends it as a solid BPA-free water bottle. The bottle also gets excellent reviews on Amazon.com, where owners call it sturdy and durable with no plastic taste.
The Kor One (*Est. $30 for 25-oz. bottle) received a great deal of hype when it was released in October 2008 to a waiting list of eager buyers. The Kor One gets very high marks for style and design. In fact, it won the title of "best sustainable consumer product" at the 2009 International Plastics Design Competition, and it also scored a Best of Adventure award from National Geographic Adventure magazine in 2009. However, critics think the Kor One is overpriced and gimmicky -- for example, Kor insists that the One water bottle is a "hydration vessel," not merely a water bottle. In recent years the Kor One has gotten fewer reviews, suggesting this bottle may not have the longevity of competitors' models. Like the top-rated water bottles from Nalgene and CamelBak, the Kor One is made with BPA-free Tritan plastic. It has a hinged cap with an integrated handle and the mouth is large enough for ice cubes. It comes in one size and a variety of light pastel colors, including blue, pink, orange and green. The Kor One is no lightweight -- it weighs 12.16 ounces empty.
Although it receives far fewer recommendations than the water bottles mentioned above, the Thermos Intak Hydration Bottle (*Est. $11 for 24-oz. bottle) does receive one positive professional review. Like many BPA-free water bottles, the Intak is made from Eastman Tritan copolyester, and it sports a push-button flip lid and a carrying loop. It scores relatively well in a comparative Good Housekeeping review, with testers praising its ability to be opened with one hand and its intake meter, which keeps track of how much water you've consumed. However, testers find it a bit heavy when full (it weighs 6.25 ounces empty) and the lid was damaged in a drop test.
For portability, the Platypus Platy Collapsible Bottle (*Est. $13 for 2-liter bottle) gets a thumbs-up from several reviewers, including Slate.com, HuffingtonPost.com and Time magazine. The appeal is that the Platypus water bottle is sturdy yet extremely flexible; it's said to be durable enough to withstand freezing and boiling. Due to its collapsible design, it can be rolled up for compact storage. It's made from BPA-free three-ply polypropylene plastic and lined with a polyethylene film. "The Platy bottle is ideal for days when you need to travel light," writes reviewer Lindsay Armstrong on HuffingtonPost.com. Slate.com reviewer Laura Moser says her only complaint is that the Platypus sloshes and spills when it's half-empty. The Platypus Platy is marked with recycling code No. 7, so depending on your local recycling policies, you may or may not be able to recycle it.
While hard plastic water bottles are good for hiking, camping or everyday activities, squeezable water bottles are better when cycling or running. The newest product in this category, the Specialized Purist bottle (Est. $9 for 26-oz. bottle), has gotten a great deal of reviewer attention thanks to its claim: "As pure as drinking from a glass." The bottle is said to leach absolutely zero plastic taste into water and absorb none of other beverages' flavors, thanks to a microns-thin layer of silicon dioxide lining the squeezable polyethylene bottle. Reviewers agree that the Purist water bottle delivers on this promise. Reviewer Stephen Regenold of GearJunkie.com finds that the bottle stands up to coffee and energy drinks and rinses clean with ease, and CyclingNews.com attempts to stain or flavor the bottle with foods such as tomato sauce and curry to no avail.
Specialized offers the Purist water bottle in 22- and 26-ounce sizes, and with its popular Watergate self-sealing "Heart Valve" or MoFlow sport tops. The Watergate stays sealed even when the valve is open, allowing water out only when the bottle is squeezed. The valve can be closed, too, so the bottle is 100 percent leakproof for transportation or for mixing powdered drinks. The MoFlow is similar but offers a greater water flow. Reviewers find that the Specialized Purist tops work as advertised.
Reviewers say a major drawback is the Purist's high price tag compared to other sport bottles. CyclingNews.com's product review also points out that the durability of this lining hasn't truly been proven yet and Specialized doesn't offer an insulated version, which some consumers may prefer. Also, buyers might have trouble getting their hands on this bottle; multiple reviewers mention buying the Purist from specialty bike shops, and few online sellers offer the product. Online sellers that do have the bottle available have added their own logo, which could bother some consumers.
Several CamelBak sport bottles, including the CamelBak Performance bottle (*Est. $8 for 22-oz. bottle), CamelBak Podium bottle (*Est. $8 for 21-oz. bottle) and CamelBak Podium Chill (*Est. $12 for 21-oz. bottle) also receive recommendations. Both Podium water bottles are made with TruTaste polypropylene, which is said to be 100 percent BPA-free. The standard Podium bottle comes in 21- and 24-ounce sizes. The insulated CamelBak Podium Chill gets high marks for keeping beverages cool, but comes in only the 21-ounce size.
Both the insulated and regular Podium water bottles use CamelBak's JetValve instead of the traditional bite valve found on most CamelBak bottles. Like the Specialized Watergate and MoFlow tops, the JetValve is a self-sealing valve that's always open; it comes with a shutoff lever to prevent leaks. Specialized is quick to point out that its valve is hands-free (you can use your teeth to open and close it) unlike CamelBak's, which requires twisting.
The CamelBak Podium is a top scorer in a Good Housekeeping test, where it earns points for being easy to use. (The lid isn't attached, however, so it may get lost easily.) The Podium also receives a rave review from BikeHugger.com in its single product review. Made of the same TruTaste polypropylene, the CamelBak Performance offers the bite valve and straw CamelBak consumers are used to, but with a squeezable bottle. It makes Gardenaut's top picks thanks to its exceptional value. At nearly the same price, however, Specialized's Purist offers a hands-free mouthpiece and the peace of mind that your water will be fresh forever -- or at least significantly longer than usual. With two size and mouthpiece options, the Purist offers the same value and more features.
Another sports water bottle that scores highly in the Good Housekeeping test is the insulated Polar Bottle (*Est. $12 for 24-oz. bottle). Testers say the bottle's unattractive, but add that it's leakproof and easy to carry. The Polar Bottle is manufactured by Colorado-based Product Architects, and it comes in 20- and 24-ounce sizes. Made with polyethylene, which is made without BPA or phthalates, it has a traditional sports valve that must be opened with your teeth or fingers before drinking. Unlike the CamelBak Podium, the lid on the Polar Bottle is attached with a carrying loop. This bottle gets generally positive reviews from owners on Amazon.com, with most saying that it's good at keeping fluids cool for hours. However, multiple reviewers complain about leaks.
The Ultimate Direction (*Est. $9 for 20-oz. bottle) is a basic water bottle, but it receives a strong recommendation from About.com's Walking Guide Wendy Bumgardner. Made of polyethylene plastic, this is the writer's all-time favorite sport bottle. Its Kicker Valve is easy to use and the opening allows for ice cubes, she says.