A few years ago, gym-goers would have been seen clutching single-use disposable water bottles or plastic cups from the gym’s water cooler. But now, we are increasingly aware of plastic waste.
We want a bottle we can use time and again, so it’s important that it be durable. Before you buy, consider what you’ll be using it for – would a handle be useful for long runs? Or perhaps you’d like a bottle that keeps the water refreshingly cold.
Here, we give you our favourite water bottles and explain which characteristics you should look for when purchasing one, based on your needs and preferences.
Sistema double-walled stainless steel bottle
Best value sports water bottle
- Easy to use and clean
- No-fuss bottle
- No handle
If you want a bottle that keeps your drink cold, doesn’t leak and doesn’t leave that lingering ‘plastic’ taste, you’ll need to spend around a tenner or more. So we feel we’re justified in naming this our ‘best value’ bottle, despite it not being one of the cheapest.
This eye-catching bottle comes in a variety of bold colours and ticks several boxes. The lid has an anti-slip ring at the top, making it very simple to twist on and off. It doesn’t have the widest opening, so you’d struggle to fill it with ice, but on the plus, you’re less likely to spill your drink over yourself.
The 500ml capacity is a good middle-of-the-road size. The bottle has double-walled insulation, but still feels light. We checked the claims that it keeps your drink cold for 12 hours and hot for six, and it passed both with flying colours.
As well as taking it to the gym, it’s a good bottle for runners as you can grip it by the neck. It’s easy to clean but not dishwasher-safe. It was also robust enough to go through several trips out and about in the kit bag.
Brita Fill&Go Active water filter bottle
Brita Fill&Go Active water filter bottle
Best sports bottle for filtered water
- Good option if you don’t like tap water
- Cap over lid keeps spout clean
- Doesn’t keep water cold
Many of us have water filters at home, so this is a good option if you want something similar on the go. This bottle has a replaceable micro disc (it will last four weeks) to reduce chlorine and microparticles, giving you fresh-tasting water.
We found putting the disc in fairly straightforward, but the price to replace it every four weeks should be taken into account.
We appreciated the pull-style spout, which makes it clear when the bottle is locked or unlocked. The flow capacity was adequate, and if you’re gasping after a spinning session, you can gently squeeze the bottle to speed it up even more.
We also like the removable cap, which keeps the spout clean and can double up as a small cup. This means you can share it with someone else – and with a 600ml capacity there’s definitely enough for two.
The looped handle on the side is robust, and would be good for runners as you can thread a finger or two through it. It can also be attached to a sports bag.
It’s easy to take apart and the main part of the bottle can go in the dishwasher.
Kambukka Elton water bottle
Best mid-range sports water bottle
- Locked cap prevents leaks
- Not insulated, so it won’t keep water cool for hours
A leaky water bottle in your bag usually only guarantees one thing – a soggy gym kit. This bottle has an inspired locking system on the lid, giving you a choice of three different modes.
Flick the switch to the locked padlock symbol to lock it, or move it to the middle to drink. If you want free-flowing water – maybe to pour over your head after a sweaty exercise class – slide to the ‘cup’ symbol.
You need to press a button on the back of the lid to get water out – this moves the inside cover back below the rigid spout. In all cases, this lid technology worked well.
The spout is protected and kept clean by a small cover when not being used. A hinged handle that slots neatly into a groove on the lid makes carrying it easy.
The bottle comes in five colours and is made from toughened BPA-free plastic, which is claimed to be shatterproof. We dropped it on to hard surface and it was not damaged.
The 750ml bottle we tested has markings so you can keep a check on how much you’re drinking. We also liked the shaped areas, which make it easier to hold.
The bottle didn’t leave an unpleasant ‘plastic’ taste, and there was no residual taste after filling it with soft drinks. The lid easily came apart for cleaning and, along with the bottle itself, was safe to go in the dishwasher. The only drawback is that it isn’t insulated.
Mizu 360 V7 everyday kit water bottle
Available from: Absolute Snow (£51.95) and Kitbox (£54.99)
Best multi-purpose sports water bottle
- Bell designed with lots of features
This clever bottle doubles up as a mini water purification system, so it’s as useful at the local gym as on a trek in the wilds.
For everyday use, you slot a nozzle under the bottle’s lid and twist on a reusable silicone straw. If you’re straying off the beaten track, simply screw in a yogurt pot-sized filter adaptor instead, which claims to trap 99.99 per cent of nasties from non-tap water sources.
In both cases, you get a decent water flow by gently sucking on the rubber spout, which can be flicked up and down when required. Thoughtful touches include a tiny collection reservoir where the spout rests when closed, which drains away any residual water left in the spout after drinking.
The stainless-steel bottle has double-walled insulation, and when tested, we found that water remained pleasingly chilled for 24 hours and still very drinkable after 48 hours. We also found that it kept a drink hot for 12 hours, as was claimed.
The attached string secures the cap to the wide neck of the bottle, while also acting as a handle to hook your fingers through.
We found it to be fully leakproof, although you must ensure you’ve securely tightened it as the string handle can slightly get in the way while doing this. With no nooks or crannies inside, cleaning was simple.
It’s robust – we found it didn’t dent or get damaged when dropped – and, at 650ml, sizeable. Watch out for its weight though – it weighs more than 900g when full.
This solid-looking bottle (we tested a black one, but it also comes in white, blue and teal) was never going to top our ‘best looker’ category, but it has enough special features to justify its hefty price tag.
Kleen Kanteen insulated water bottle
Best all-round water bottle for exercising
- Keeps water cold for up to two days
- Slightly slippery to grip with a sweaty hand
Shiny and stylish, this brushed stainless-steel affair provides pretty much everything you need from a bottle.
Boasting double-walled insulation, it promises to keep ice frozen for up to 50 hours. On testing, we found most of the ice was still formed 36 hours later. But by 48 hours, in our admittedly unscientific test, the ice had all turned to refreshingly chilled water.
We also tested the claim that it keeps a drink hot for 20 hours, which it achieved, making it ideal if a coffee is your pick-me-up before, during or after exercise.
The bottle is easy to handwash and the BPA-free cap went safely through the dishwasher. We didn’t notice any residual flavours left from previous liquids when we swapped from soft drinks to water.
There are three sizes to pick from, and our 592ml version came with the standard looped-handle lid. You can buy an additional sports-style one to make drinking on the go even easier.
Saying that, we used the bottle during a three-mile run and found the lid could be twisted off in an instant to access the wide opening, allowing a swig to be taken without barely breaking stride. Once twisted back on, we didn’t see any signs of leaks.
The bottle was also robust enough to survive the odd fall without any damage. Its makers claim this bottle can replace a lifetime of single-use plastic, and in the limited time we put it through its paces, it certainly seemed it could.
Buy from: Klean Kanteen (£17.95) and Amazon (£25.16)
Most stylish sports water bottle
- Good looking
- Easily fits in your kit bag/hoodie pocket
- Smaller capacity than some
The elegantly simple design of this bottle, which is available in either grey or pink, will turn the heads of your fellow gym-goers. But it’s designed for function too.
The tapered design makes it easy to grip, whatever the size of your hand. The texture of the surface means it’s less smooth than some, making it less likely to slide out of a sweaty post-workout hand.
The flexible handle at the top adds to its good looks, but serves a practical purpose too – you can loop your fingers through it if you like to carry your bottle that way.
The lid easily unscrews, but the seal is tight so there are no fears it will leak. There’s an anti-slip base too.
Compared to others, it’s on the small side, holding 400ml water, but we found it adequate for a single gym session. Its size also makes it easy to slip into a bag.
There’s also double-walled insulation to keep water cold. When tested, our drink was still adequately chilled after 12 hours.
How do I choose the right water bottle for me?
Consumers have started to demand more of their water bottles – a cheap, basic one rarely has the staying power to last the course these days. But with such a vast range of water bottles out there, you might feel you are drowning under all that choice.
The first thing to consider is what and where you will be using it. Is it just to use at the gym after a class or workout, or will you be taking it on runs and cycle rides?
Depending on what sort of exercise you’re doing, you will demand different functions from your bottle. For instance, if you’re going for a long summer jog or working out in a hot studio, you’ll need a bottle that keeps your water nicely chilled.
Other features to look out for are handles, which make the bottle easy to hold or grab (especially with sweaty hands) and different types of spout, especially if you’re drinking while exercising. Some of our bottles had filtering systems, which could be important if you live in a hard-water area.
Another factor to take into consideration is how you access your drink. Some bottles have lids that need to be unscrewed, loosened or flipped up, or have a flexible straw attachment. Depending what sort of lid you pick, you will want one that allows water to flow out at a steady rate.
Think about the capacity and weight of the bottle. If you’re running for a couple of hours, that extra weight in your hand or belt can be significant. If you’re taking your bottle to the gym, you’ll need one that will easily fit into your kit bag.
Style is important too – you’re hopefully going to use it again and again, so you might as well find one that you like. Some of our bottles were very easy on the eye due to an unusual style. Bear in mind that not all design features are just for aesthetics. Some have ergonomic features, making them easier to hold or drink from.
All the bottles we tested had labels specifying they were BPA-free. BPA is a chemical compound that has been used to make more resilient plastics for everyday items, but is controversial as it has been linked to being harmful to health.
But ultimately, we decided that the overwhelming factor that made a bottle worth buying was whether it leaked or not. If a bottle couldn’t hold its water, it really wasn’t fit for purpose.
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This review was last updated in August 2019. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you have a sports water bottle to recommend? We’d like to hear your suggestions in the comments below…