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Best and Safest Reusable Water Bottles for Families

Best and Safest Reusable Water Bottles

By Kelcey Kintner

I’m constantly on the hunt for a good reusable water bottle for the family- you know, one that is safe (and doesn’t leach chemicals), doesn’t leak, keeps water cold and is sized right for lunchboxes, gym bags and my purse. There are good reasons to ditch buying water in disposable plastic bottles. About 38 billion non-reusable plastic water bottles don’t get recycled each year. Ugh. So it’s worth it to find an alternative both for the environment and our wallets.  That’s where Alpha Mom comes in.

Our top picks include (you can read more about each below):

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There are many many options on the market when it comes to reusable water bottles but we think the number one factor to consider is that the water is stored safely in a bottle – without chemicals from the container leaching into it.

Over the past several years, the main concern has been about the chemical BPA which is a key ingredient found in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins, and until several years ago many plastic food and water/ drink containers were made from plastics that were laced with BPA.

In case you are not up-to-date on BPA, over the years we have heard lots of news reports warning about children’s and pregnant women’s exposure to products containing BPA. The US Department of Health and Human Services has called for parents to reduce their children’s exposure to products containing BPA because of its possible negative health effects on the developing brain, and its possible links to breast and prostate cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

The FDA has said that exposure to low levels of BPA is safe but since we are all exposed to BPA constantly (plastic toys, plastic food containers, canned foods, store receipts, etc), it’s best to reduce our exposure whenever we can and that includes reusable water bottles. That led to many companies producing plastic food and water containers to switch to BPA-free plastics like Tritan.

But “BPA-free” is not aways a reliable term. For example, reusable bottles made by Sigg (before August 2008) were labeled “BPA free” but a study found (and then Sigg confirmed) that the epoxy used in the liner of their aluminum reusable water bottles contained BPA. Sigg’s current bottles have a new lining that is BPA-free (the lining is called Ecocare) but many Sigg customers felt duped and the company has had to work to win back the trust of customers.

We also learned (through an investigation by the journal Environmental Health) that many BPA-free plastic containers (including Tritan plastic) may also leak other concerning and estrogen-mimicking chemicals into water and food it stores when the container is exposed to ultraviolet rays (like when you’re on the sports field). One interesting note… reusable water bottle maker Nalgene’s green bottles actually tested negative for these chemicals after exposure to UV rays (mostly likely due to its green color which seems to block the rays) which is why we reviewed it below.

Confused yet?

Don’t panic. We know it’s a lot of information to absorb. But we are trying to make it simple.

When picking the reusable water bottles to test out as potential favorites, we focused on the ones that we know (as of now) to be made of the safest materials for storing water. We chose mainly non-plastic reusable water containers made of food-grade safe materials like stainless steel, aluminum (with BPA-free linings) and glass. We also included Naglene’s BPA-free plastic reusable water bottle in green since it tested safely in the Environmental Health journal research.

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S’well Water Bottles

Best Reusable Water Bottles Reviewed: S'well Water Bottles (keeps water coldest!)S’well has become the new “it” water bottle to own so we wanted to give you the real lowdown on this bottle which can cost from $25 to $50 (for the collectible models). Yup. We aren’t kidding. FIFTY DOLLARS. We tried out the 9 oz (which is perfect elementary school kid size and priced at $25) and the 17 oz (which is great for tweens, teens and adults and priced around $35). They also sell a 25 oz if you are just one super thirsty person and want to invest $45 on a water bottle.

The first thing you are going to love about these bottles is that they come in so many different colors and patterns. And some really cool ones. I love this White Lace one

The second thing you will adore about this water bottle is that it actually keeps water cold. Like, I live in Florida which has insane, suffocating heat (can’t you see me doing the weather on TV?) and this water actually stayed cold in my ridiculously hot car. In addition, I tried it out with hot water and it also did a terrific job of keeping the water hot.

It’s actually designed to keep drinks cold for 24 hours and hot for 12 hours. This bottle is like your own personal magic show. How do they do it? Heck if I know. But it works. And the bottles are made from vacuum insulated stainless steel that’s non-toxic, non-leaching and BPA free.

The S’well bottles are backed by a one-year satisfaction guarantee. Keep in mind that there are many knock-offs on the market so if you really want the S’well brand, make sure you’re buying the right water bottle. Not dishwasher safe. Some reviewers on Amazon have complained about the outside chipping. I haven’t had that problem yet.

Leak-Proof:  Yes. Completely
Taste of Water: Tastes refreshing.
Fits Ice Cubes: Yes, but barely!
Outside Condensation: No.
Keeps Water Cool: Yes, incredibly!
Ease of Cleaning: This is not an easy bottle to clean. Which is pretty much the only annoying thing about it. The S’well site does sell a brush but it’s $20 which is obviously a crazy amount for a cleaning brush. You can just put in a little soap and water and then shake. But at some point, you’ve gotta get a brush in there. Maybe try one of those narrow brushes that are also used for cleaning baby bottles.

 Final Word on the S’well water bottle: This is a pretty awesome water bottle for kids and adults. But the price point is high. Still, if you’re someone who can hold onto a water bottle (and not leave it at the gym or somewhere else you can never find it again), then it’s probably worth it. Just don’t curse my name when you’re trying to clean the thing. I would also love the mouth size to be a bit bigger (it’s a little less than 1 1/2 inches) but it’s not a deal breaker.  Also, some Amazon reviewers have complained about the outside of the bottle chipping. So far I have not encountered this problem. But overall, this is a pretty fabulous option.  The 9 oz bottle is a good size for elementary school kids as it fits in lunch boxes. For tweens, teens and adults, we would invest in the 17oz bottle.

Hydro Flask Water Bottle with Standard Mouth with Flex Cap (Option A)

Best Water Bottles Reviewed: Hydro Flask Water Bottle with Standard Mouth with Flex CapThe Hydro Flask is another water bottle (like S’well) that actually keeps water cold. Something to do with its double wall vacuum insulated stainless steel. And you’ll pay for this feature. Water bottles come in a range of sizes starting at 12 ounces ($24.95) all the way to 24 ounces ($34.95).

We tried out the 12 oz standard mouth (great size for kids—but not too young in age who need a spout on their bottles) and the 18 oz standard mouth (which I found a good size for the gym and running around town; it’s listed for $29.95). They were both really user-friendly water bottles and I loved that the cap comes with a handle. Makes it definitely easier to carry.

We did have an issue with the cap though. One of the steel buttons on the side popped off and could not be reattached so the handle no longer worked. I contacted customer service, which replaced it very quickly without any stress at all.

The Hydro Flask promises to keep water cold for up to 24 hours and hot for up to 6 hours. And it really works! I do think the S’well water bottle (reviewed above) works slightly better at keeping water cool/hot but the Hydro Flask also does a very good job.  It comes in lots of fun colors but you will not get the cool designs you’ll find with S’well.

The Hydro Flask is made of non-toxic BPA-free plastics and food-grade stainless steel.

Leak-Proof:  Yes
Taste of Water: Tastes great.
Fits Ice Cubes: Yes. No problem at all.
Outside Condensation: No.
Keeps Water Cool: Definitely.
Ease of Cleaning: Because it has a much wider mouth than the S’well, this is a cinch to clean with whatever cleaning brush you have in your kitchen right now.

 Final Word on the Hydro Flask: You will not be disappointed with the Hydro Flask. It keeps water cool and hot, comes in fun colors and has excellent customer service if anything goes wrong. The standard mouth flex cap is leak free and helps to keep your water cool or hot. For elementary school kids, we would choose the 12 oz size since it fits into lunch boxes. Older tweens and teens would benefit from the 18 oz bottle.

Hydro Flask Water Bottle with Standard Mouth Insulated Sport Cap (Option B)

Best Water Bottles Reviewed: Hydro Flask Water Bottle with Standard Mouth Insulated Sport CapWe also tried out the standard mouth insulated sport cap for an additional $9.95.  We had hoped that this would be a great option for kids (to take to school in their lunch boxes) but were disappointed to learn from my experience and then from communication with the company that this is not a leak-proof cap.  When I contacted the company about the sports cap leaking all over my kid’s lunchbox and backpack, I was told specifically by the company that if the bottle is going to be titled or laid on its side I shouldn’t use the sports cap because it’s not leak-proof.  Instead for travel, their suggestion would be to use their flask with a standard flex cap (see above).

The other issue we encountered (though I was comfortable enough with it) is that when you use the sport cap (instead of the flex cap which is free and we review above), the water does not stay as cool. I’m guessing because in that type of top, probably more air seeps in. But then again, I’m not an engineer so don’t go quoting me. So if keeping the water the coolest or hottest it can absolutely be is your priority, the flex cap is the best option anyway.

We were looking forward to recommending the sports cap, but we just can’t.

Klean Kanteen Classic Stainless Steel Bottle With 3.0 Sports Cap (Option A)

I’m in love with the Klean Kanteen Classic Stainless Steel water bottle and not just because “KK” happens to also be my initials. It is free of BPA, phthalates, lead and other toxins. The bottle is made from 18/8 food-grade stainless steel and the drinking valve is made from food-grade silicone.  You can drink a lot of water quickly and easily because of the wide spout. The 12oz bottle is listed at $18 and the 18oz at $20; this is a good value option.

Leak-Proof: Tiny bit of leaking if you really shake it upside down but overall not a problem even if you throw it in your bag. It would be nice if Klean Kanteen created a cap to flip over the spout as an additional defense against leaking. This would also help in the event you drop your bottle, so you’re not cleaning dirt out of the spout. (The company does not claim leak-proof. Instead they claim leak-resistant.)
Taste of Water: I think the water tastes great. My husband thinks it has a weird aftertaste.  If you buy this one, maybe you can be the tie-breaker.
Fits Ice Cubes: Yes. No problem at all.
Outside Condensation: After I fill it with icy, cold water, it definitely has outside condensation.
Keeps Water Cool: Cool enough. Several hours after filling it up with cold water, it is room temperature.
Ease of Cleaning: Very easy because of the wide spout.

Final Word on the Klean Kanteen Classic Stainless Steel water bottle: This definitely is a favorite. I loved the flow of the water and the ease of cleaning.  Clips onto a backpack or messenger bag. A number of other reviewers on Amazon did complain about the paint peeling off the outside of the bottle. (Update: I have definitely encountered that problem over time. But it doesn’t seem consistent. Some of my Klean Kanteen bottles have peeled a lot and others look perfect.)

Klean Kanteen Classic Stainless Steel Bottle With All Stainless Loop Cap (Option B)

The Klean Kanteen Classic water bottle (reviewed above) can also be used with the All Stainless Loop Cap (a very similar cap is also available in BPA-free polypropylene).  This All Stainless Loop Cap twists on and I find it to be completely leakproof. (I really shook it up and down to make sure.) To drink out of it, you just unscrew it. In fact, if you buy the water bottle above with the Sports Cap, you can buy the All Stainless Loop Cap for about $10. So it’s a good investment to buy both. That way you can switch it up whenever you want.

So which size Klean Kanteen Reusable Water Bottle do you buy? 

  • For preschoolers, I recommend buying the 12 ounce bottle with the Sports Cap for easy drinking without spilling.
  • For kids in elementary school, I would purchase the 18 ounce with Sports Cap (or Loop Cap) depending on which cap your kid prefers. This size will still fit in most lunch boxes and provides for plenty of water.
  • As for adults – I think the 18 ounce bottle is perfect.  It’s plenty of water but still fits in my purse. But if you are a big outdoor enthusiast, you may need the 27 or 40 ounce. Just know – you are buying a BIG water bottle.

Takeya Classic Glass Reusable Water Bottle

This is another option for a reusable glass water bottle. I really like this one.  The Takeya Classic glass reusable water bottle comes in two sizes… 16.5 or 22.5 ounces for about $15 to $20.  It has a silicone sleeve which provides a good grip and a top that is completely leak-proof. The 16.5 ounce water bottle will fit into a kid’s lunchbox as long as the lunchbox isn’t too small (although we are no longer seeing it for sale right now).

Like the Lifefactory water bottle reviewed below, this is made from pretty thick glass with a protective sleeve and it did not break when I dropped it on the ground. I don’t use this water bottle with my toddler or preschoolers (because it’s glass and heavier) but I totally let my tweens use it.

Leak-Proof:  No leaking. At all.
Taste of Water:  Water tastes great.
Fits Ice Cubes: Ice cubes fit but it would be nice if it had a wider spout for easier refills.
Outside Condensation: Yes, but the rubber sleeve makes it non-issue.
Keeps Water Cool: As cool as any other water bottle.
Ease of Cleaning: You will need a more narrow bottle brush to clean it. And it’s a bit difficult to get the silicone sleeve on and off so I left it on when I cleaned it.

Final Word on the Takeya Classic glass reusable water bottle: I like this reusable water bottle because of its simplicity. No fancy spout that leaks. You just screw the top on and off. The 16 ounce fits easily into my purse but seems to run out of water quickly so I would go with the 22 ounce bottle for adults. And I would love a bigger spout. But it still a favorite of mine and I did prefer it slightly over the Lifefactory flip cap bottle (we would choose a classic option for Lifefactory) because there is just no possibility of Takeya leaking.  However, if you need a super light water bottle, then glass is probably not the right option for you.

Lifefactory Glass Reusable Water Bottle

The Lifefactory Glass Reusable Water Bottle is available in 12, 16 or 22 ounce sizes for about $16 to $22. It comes with a silicone sleeve which makes it easy to grip and and a flip cap. The glass bottle and cap are BPA/BPS-free with no phthalates, PVC or polycarbonates.

There is just a comfort that comes with a glass bottle. I love not worrying about chemicals leaching into the water! But glass is much heavier than plastic, stainless steel or aluminum which can be an issue for some people. The 16 oz water bottle we use fits into my children’s lunchbox but it might not fit in smaller-sized ones.

Leak-Proof:  It can leak a tiny bit if you don’t really secure the flip cap and I worried about the flip cap coming off entirely in my bag.  As such, we recommend buying this bottle with the classic cap (NOT the flip cap) so as to avoid the leaking.
Taste of Water:  Water tastes great.
Fits Ice Cubes: Easily.
Outside Condensation: Yes, but the rubber sleeve makes it pretty not noticeable.
Keeps Water Cool: Reasonably cool.
Ease of Cleaning: Easy to clean.

Final Word on the Lifefactory Glass Reusable Water Bottle: I love this bottle and I love drinking out of glass but the flip cap top makes me a little nervous. Because my water bottles always end up topsy turvy in my bag. I was not 100% confident that the flip cap was going to be completely secure if the bottle really got thrown around in my purse. And if the flip top doesn’t stay on, your stuff is going to get wet.  As such, we recommend buying this water bottle with the classic cap (NOT the flip cap) so as to avoid the leaking.

Surprisingly, I think this is quite safe for older kids. The glass is thick and the silicone helps protect it. I even held my breath and dropped it on the ground a couple times and it did not break. See what I’m willing to do for you guys?

Nalgene Tritan Grip-N-Gulp Water Bottle (Option A)

We decided to review Nalgene’s plastic reusable water bottle in green only because one study showed that the green coloring of its bottle blocked UVA rays from affecting the plastic. Why is this important? Because an investigation by the journal Environmental Health showed that many BPA-free plastic containers (including Tritan plastic) leached concerning estrogen-mimicking chemicals when exposed to UVA rays. And we all know that water bottles can get a lot of sun on the soccer field, in your car or at the playground. So we love the idea that the green color could possibly prevent chemicals from leaching into your water.

The Nalgene Tritan Grip-N-Gulp Water Bottle (only buy green) is a very affordable (about $8) 12 oz. reusable water bottle. It is made of Tritan plastic which is BPA-free.

This is a durable, leak-proof water bottle that is really suited towards children because of its smaller size. You can clip this bottle to any backpack, diaper bag, or stroller.

Leak-Proof:  Yes. A very small amount of water came out when I really shook it upside down but I was pretty impressed for a so-called sippy cup.
Taste of Water: Tastes good! Like chicken. Kidding. It tasks like water.
Fits Ice Cubes: Easily.
Outside Condensation: Yes, a lot of condensation.
Keeps Water Cool: Yes, stays pretty cool. It stays a bit cooler than the other bottles we tested for this review.
Ease of Cleaning: Easy to clean. But you will need a tiny bottle brush (Dr. Brown’s sells a great one) to really get the inside of the spout clean.

Final Word on the Nalgene Tritan Grip-N-Gulp Water Bottle (in green only): This is a terrific water bottle for kids. But 12 ounces is way too small for teenagers or adults. Once your kid is past the toddler phase, definitely invest in a larger water bottle like the Naglene On The Fly Water Bottle (in green only) (see below).

Nalgene Tritan Grip-N-Gulp With On The Fly Cap (Option B)

This Nalgene OTF (On The Fly) cap fits the Grip-N-Gulp water bottle but is better suited for older children. It has a flip top that is incredibly leak-proof. Once you open it, you can easily drink. And because it’s so leak proof, you can absolutely feel confident throwing a bottle with this cap into your kid’s lunch or your bag.

The next size up in the green options of Naglene reusable water bottles is 20 oz and it’s the Nalgene On The Fly Water Bottle (remember green only). It comes with the awesome and leak-proof cap  and is also made of Tritan plastic like the Grip-N-Gulp water bottle.  They don’t make a green water bottle in 18 oz. So if you’re looking for a water bottle for older kids, 12 oz might be too small, so the 20 oz is probably the best option.  However, a 20 oz water bottle could be tough to squeeze in a lunchbox! You may just have to throw it your kid’s backpack. Note: Lunch box sizes can really vary these days so I feel like we just stay generic.

Sigg Water Bottles

Sigg makes lots of different water bottles for adults and kids so we tried out two different kinds – a kids’ water bottle (in a Hello Kitty design but there are many different ones to choose from) and the Sigg Active Top reusable water bottle (targeted at outdoor enthusiasts).

Sigg Kids’ Water Bottle

Sigg’s kids’ reusable water bottles come in three sizes (0.3, 0.4 and 0.6 liters) and cost about $30+ (unless you buy on Amazon where you can find it a much lower price point). Unless you are buying for a toddler, just get the 0.4 liter version which is about 13.5 ounces. This is a pretty great water bottle. Kids love them because they have a variety of cute designs and parents love them because they fit easily into a lunchbox.  Sigg water bottles are available with a variety of different spouts. The Hello Kitty designed water bottle we use has a twist nozzle and a flip-up cap that provides a tight, durable cover.

The reusable water bottle is made from aluminum with an EcoCare liner that is BPA and phthalate free. The bottles are 100% recyclable.

Leak-Proof: Absolutely no leaking – as long as you remember to close the spout before putting the cap on. If you only put the cap on – you’re in trouble. But if used properly, you should feel very secure putting this water bottle into your bag.
Taste of Water: Just like the Klean Kanteen (reviewed above), my husband thought this bottle left a metallic aftertaste and I thought it tasted completely normal. Maybe there are metallic people and non-metallic people. Best to figure out which one you are.  My kids have no complaints about the taste of the water but keep in mind, these are the same kids that will think nothing of drinking 3 day old water that happens to be sitting by their bedside.
Fits Ice Cubes: I thought there was no way ice cubes would fit into this bottle but I was wrong! Standard ice cubes go right in one at a time.
Outside Condensation: There is a bit of condensation after I fill it with ice cold water.
Keeps Water Cool: Keeps water reasonably cool but after several hours, it was room temperature.
Ease of Cleaning: Your standard kitchen brush will NOT fit in this water bottle. You will need one of those more narrow brushes that is meant for cleaning baby bottles.

Final Word on Sigg’s kids’ reusable water bottles: This is a favorite of ours because I love how it does not leak and the designs are super cute for kids and adults.  But it is pricey for a kids’ water bottle.

Sigg Active Top Water Bottle

The Sigg Active Top reusable water bottle seems to range drastically in price ($15 to $31.25) depending on where you buy it. It’s a big water bottle (.75 liters or about 25 oz). You can buy a similar water bottle called SIGGnificant that comes in a 1 liter or almost 34 ounces but we didn’t specifically try that one out.

The Sigg Active Top reusable water bottle apparently has state-of-the-art engineering with a pressure-relief valve and pre-ventilation system.” All I know is that I couldn’t really drink out of it. Neither could my husband. Nor my kids. It’s like you need a YouTube tutorial to figure out how to get water out of this thing.

It has a straw inside but the outside mouthpiece is sort of a mystery. I tried using it like a straw. Nothing. I tried guzzling it. Nothing. I tried biting the mouthpiece. A trickle of water. I’m puzzled. The idea is to not have to unscrew the bottle, so you can simply reach for your beverage when you’re thirsty and on the go. I’m not a marketing genius but it seems like customers will get mad if they can’t actually drink the water.

BPA and phthalate free.

Leak-Proof: Tiny bit of leaking if you really shook it upside down.
Taste of Water: What little water I could get out of it, tasted fine.
Fits Ice Cubes: Fits ice cubes easily.
Outside Condensation: There was condensation on the outside after I filled it with ice cold water. Hey, I can just lick the outside of the bottle to stay hydrated!
Keeps Water Cool: Kept water reasonable cool.
Ease of Cleaning: Easy to clean most of it. The inside straw might be a pain to clean over time.

Final Word on the Sigg Active Top reusable water bottle: Do not buy this water bottle. If you do, please tell me how it works.

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What Reusable Water Bottle Should I Buy?

Obviously I stayed enormously hydrated while doing this review. Here are my final recommendations….

For the kids:

Young kids (easy to drink and fits in lunchbox):

Tweens and teens:

For adults:

Alpha Mom purchased all of the bottles reviewed here.  

(This post was updated with new recommendations in November 2017)

 

Kelcey Kintner
About the Author

Kelcey Kintner

Kelcey Kintner, an award winning journalist and freelance writer, is a fashion critic for US Weekly, created the humor blog 

Kelcey Kintner, an award winning journalist and freelance writer, is a fashion critic for US Weekly, created the humor blog The Mama Bird Diaries and writes for the Huffington Post. You can follow her @mamabirddiaries or on Facebook. She’s still trying to fit 5 kids on a Vespa. 

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