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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 store-bought 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.

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 this past summer (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 this summer.

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

Best and Safest Water Bottles: Klean Kanteen

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. About $17 and up depending on the size.

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 but I have not encountered that problem.

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

Best and Safest Water Bottles: Klean Kanteen stainless steel loop cap

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 lunchboxes and provides for plenty of water. As for adults – I think the 18 ounce 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.

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

Best and Safest Water Bottles: Naglene Water Bottle in green

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)

Best and Safest Reusable Water Bottles: Nalgene On The Fly in green

This Naglene 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 so it comes with the awesome and leak-proof cap we use and is also made of Tritan plastic like the Grip-N-Gulp water bottle we use. 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 20 oz is probably the best option. However, we didn’t get to see whether 20 oz is too big for our older kids’ lunchboxes.

Sigg Water Bottles

Best and Safest Reusable Water Bottles: SIGG Kids'

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 two sizes (0.3 liters and 0.4 liters) and cost about $19. 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 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.

Sigg Active Top Water Bottle

Best and Safest Reusable Water Bottles

The Sigg Active Top reusable water bottle seems to range drastically in price ($15 to $29) 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.

Lifefactory Glass Reusable Water Bottle

Best and Safest Reusable Water Bottles: Lifefactory Glass Reusable Water Bottle

The Lifefactory Glass Reusable Water Bottle is available in 12, 16 or 22 ounce sizes for about $19 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.

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 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.

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?

Takeya Classic Glass Reusable Water Bottle

Best and Safest Reusable Water Bottles: Takeya Classic Glass
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 $17 to $22.  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.

Like the Lifefactory water bottle reviewed above, 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 bottle 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.

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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, there are some great water bottle options. I recommend the Klean Kanteen Stainless Steel with Sports Cap (mentioned above) in the 12 oz. size.  I also love both the Sigg kids’ reusable water bottle  (which is available in lots of cute designs) and the Nalgene Tritan Grip-N-Gulp Water Bottle (in green only).  The Sigg kids’ water bottle in the Hello Kitty design is adorable and totally leak-proof for school kids. The 0.4 liters (which is about 13.5 ounces) is the perfect size. And the 12oz Nalgene is fabulous because with the sippy cup top and the “On The Fly” top – this water bottle can take you from toddlerhood right into elementary school. The Nalgene is also a great deal money-wise.

For adults, I love the Klean Kanteen Classic Stainless Steel Bottle with 3.0 Sports Cap in 18 ounces. I just found it lightweight, not too big, easy to drink from and not a problem to clean. I also really liked the Takeya Classic Glass Reusable Water Bottle because it is completely leakproof and I really like the feel of drinking from a glass bottle. The 16 oz seemed a little small so next time I’ll probably get the 22 oz.

Alpha Mom purchased all of the bottles reviewed here.  

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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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Comments

  • Hillary

    We have the KK option A and it leaks a lot, sad to say. Somehow the little cap just isn’t pushing down all the way (I think maybe my kid chewed it a bit?) and if it tilts at all, it leaks. This is a new development after using the bottle for about 7 months. We also tried the Nalgene Titan option A and while it didn’t leak, it took forever for the water to come out. The kids had to suck like crazy to get any water out of it. Not a good fit for our family – sounds like the same issue you had with the sigg active bottle. We’ve really liked the crocodile creek water bottle – looks like the sigg. One of ours was defective and the cap wouldn’t stay attached. That was an easy fix by exchanging it for a new one, but I’m not sure if the cap was defective from the start or whether it changes shape over time and then won’t stay closed. In any case, I’d also endorse the kid’s crocodile creek water bottle for kindergartens to take in their backpacks! Thanks for this post.

    • Thanks so much for the feedback, Hillary. Really appreciate it.

  • Ally

    We all have Camelbak water bottles. I really like them, for multiple reasons. They don’t leak, and you don’t have to hold them upside down to drink out of them (great for exercising). The kids’ versions are small enough to go in the lunch boxes. They are also BPA free, and you can put ice in them easily.

    • Thanks Ally. Our concern with Camelback stemmed from the study by the journal Environmental Health. The Camelback water bottles (in blue and black) tested positive for estrogenic activity when exposed to UV rays even though they were made of BPA-free plastics. Here’s the report: http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/06/bpa-free-plastics-tritan-nalgene-dangerous (it’s the same report we listed above). That is the reason we didn’t review any plastic water bottles, other than Naglene in green.

  • Liz

    Ooh, this is so helpful!  I am a metallic-taster, although my husband uses Klean Kanteen and is happy with them.  My three-year-old also loves her KK. But I prefer my Lifefactory glass bottle. I will have to look into the Takeya ones!

  • Jennifer

    I’ve recently discovered EcoVessel water bottles after years of using Klean Kanteen. I wanted something for my children that would stay cold. It was becoming harder and harder to find the neoprene sleeves to fit the KK bottles. I’m really happy with my purchases from EcoVessel so far.

  • Morgan

    Sorry to say that the Lifefactory Glass bottle leaks just a little…all the time. 

    • Thanks for the feedback on your experience. Even better reason to prefer the Takeya glass bottle over the Lifefactory.

  • Tacy Torres

    I’ve been using the KK’a for a long time now; look for neoprene sleeves specifically designed for them and the sweating of the stainless steel becomes a non-issue. They’re great! Yes, sometimes I do have a little leakage, but the newer caps with the silicone tips are a significant improvement over previous caps.

  • Shannon

    Y’all have to check out Hydro Flasks!  They’re truly amazing.  They’ll keep your cold drinks cold for 24 hours and your hot drinks piping hot for 12 hours.  Now that I’ve started using them I can’t ever imagine using another reusable bottle again!

  • Julia

    We have had a few Sigg bottles (different tops) as well as Nalgene, and I have to say Nalgene (again, with a number of different tops) is a lot better: easier to clean, cheaper, better tops, just as durable. Also, personally, I am not a big fan of aluminium. 
    As far as color is concerned, we live in a place where adults have to take vitamin D because there is not enough sunlight… so while I understand that green is the safest option, I would not lose much sleep on this.

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  • Anna B

    Thanks so much for these awesome reviews. I’ve been looking for a good and safe water bottle for a few months now. I’m leaning towards the Takeya glass bottle but wondering how they compare to the Ello glass bottle since they seem to be cheaper.

  • Blessed mom

    I just read this http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/10/31/More-Safe-Water-Bottles-that-Are-Actually-Dangerous.aspx

    I have a son with autism and also heard that BPA has been found to be a link to autism. Thank you for your time and dedication.

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  • Karen

    I love the life factory bottles.  I have both the flip cap and the straw cap.  The straw cap doesn’t leak if you have it upside down on laying on it’s side.  With the way the flip up straw lays down it would be pretty hard for it to open up if bumped.  I have never had my flip cap open up on me but I’m pretty careful about sitting it upright in my workout bag.  

  • Kirtland

    Hey Alpha Mom! I’m doing a project on BPA and I’d love to use your article but I need to know where you got your information on BPA, would you mind sharing? Just wherever you found it say that BPA leads to all of those medical problems and such. Thanks!!

  • Kingy

    All aluminum containers need an epoxy resin lining, and SIGG is no different. So, if SIGG has declared their new water bottles free of BPA, I wonder what would they be using to replace BPA in their epoxy resin lining? 304 food grade stainless steel water bottles seems like a better choice.

  • jane

    good article. We live in europe and only use stainless steel bottles, found KK to be a little heavy and now have a brand called punc which the kids love. I also had a glass bottle which I carried for years but unfortunatly the lid got broken and I could not replace.

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  • avr1891

    Any issues with mold for the klean kanteen sports cap? I keep having issues with my work water bottle and want to get something I don’t have to worry about getting moldy (cap included!).

    Thanks.