Best Water Bottles for Running in 2023
There are countless options for water bottles for running and we make it easy to find the best one for your needs.
The right water bottle for your run can ensure you stay adequately hydrated. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi
Selecting the best running water bottles can be daunting, but if there is one health topic that is a life-sustaining necessity and a frustrating annoyance, it’s hydration. And the right water bottle can make it much easier to stay hydrated. We all know we should drink plenty of water, but getting those fluids into our bodies can seem more challenging than summiting Everest some days. While we may not have the answers to getting fluids in, we can help you find the best water bottle for your needs, so at least you’ll have plenty of water on hand.
For the past few months, the iRunFar team has been diligently filling up, carrying around, and drinking from a variety of water bottles and flasks to bring you our favorite fluid-carrying vessels for everything from long runs to travel, workdays to hikes and any other hydration-requiring activities you can dream up. Whether you’re looking for a squishable flask or an indestructible insulated bottle, we have you covered.
Check out our guide below for great tips on choosing the best type of water bottle for your lifestyle and running needs. We’ll cover the different sizes, materials, and types of bottles on the market today to help you reduce waste and keep yourself healthy and hydrated.
For more background information, see our buying advice, testing methodology, and frequently asked questions below the picks.
Best Soft Flask Handheld Water Bottle: Osprey Duro/Dyna HandheldBest Handheld Water Bottle: Amphipod Hydraform Jett-Lite Thermal Handheld 20 ozBest Multi-Use Water Bottle: Ultraspire Ultraflask 550 Hybrid BottleBest Soft Flask: Hydrapak Ultraflask Speed 500mlBest Insulated Plastic Water Bottle: Camelbak Podium Chill 21oz Bike BottleBest Daily Use Insulated Water Bottle: Hydro Flask 32-ounce Lightweight Wide Mouth Trail SeriesBest Daily Use Plastic Water Bottle: Yeti Yonder 1 L / 34 oz Water BottleBest Water Filter: Katadyn BeFree Water Filtration System
Hard-sided water bottles are great for road interval sessions and everyday use. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi
When you want to get out for a quick run and need an easy water bottle to grab on your way out the door, the Osprey Duro/Dyna Handheld is a great option. The stabilizing jacket has a 360-milliliter soft flask and wraps comfortably around your hand. The flask is just the right size for shorter runs where you just need something to sip on or for longer runs where you’ll pass by water fountains or other water sources that you can use to fill up as you go. We found that the jacket would also easily hold larger flasks, especially ones that were shorter and wider, though long and skinny flasks worked fine, too. The flask jacket has a convenient mesh zippered pocket that makes it easy to carry a few essentials like keys or a gel. The ambidextrous design allows the jacket to be worn on either hand so that you can switch it up throughout your run. For a little bit of safety, the pocket zipper pull has a whistle on it so that you can attract attention if something goes wrong.
The Amphipod Hydraform Jett-Lite Thermal Handheld 20 oz is an excellent option if you prefer a hard-sided bottle over a soft flask. The hand strap is connected to a thermal sleeve that securely holds the included 20-ounce water bottle and keeps liquids cool. Removing the neoprene insulation is easy if you don’t need it. The cushioning on the strap is comfortable around the hand and easily adjustable for any hand size. We found the entire system felt incredibly secure and didn’t slip around. With several different strap configurations, we didn’t have any issues with the fit and feel of the setup. A small zippered pocket on the outside of the hand strap balances the water bottle’s weight and provides secure storage for small items. While the pocket isn’t big enough for a phone, it can easily hold keys and a gel. Three different color combinations are available, and all the bottles are dishwasher safe, an important feature if you like to carry drink mixes when running and need to clean them thoroughly afterward.
The UltrAspire Ultraflask 550 Hybrid Bottle is an option that can be used in a variety of situations seamlessly. The unique hybrid material has many performance features of a soft flask while still being a hard-sided water bottle. It’s softer than most hard water bottles, making it easy to squeeze when you want to drink, and it’s also comfortable to wear in various configurations in a vest or a belt. The shape and size of this bottle allow it to fit in many different spaces. We loved it for both when we were out on a run and for tossing into a gym bag for extra water. The valve is large and makes it easy to gulp liquid if you’re thirsty and in a hurry, but we found that the opening of the actual flask was slightly too narrow to get ice into it. We also struggled to get powdered drink mixes into the flask without causing a mess.
The Hydrapak Ultraflask Speed 500ml is just one of the company’s many offerings to the soft flask world. A large percentage of soft flasks used in the running world are made by Hydrapak, and for good reason. They produce high-quality products that can be used in a variety of situations. Weighing only slightly over an ounce, this flask is easy to carry and squishes down to seemingly nothing when empty. Depending on the type of vest you’re using or your preference, you can use this flask with or without a long straw. The high-flow valve seals after each use so you don’t drip water everywhere. The valve is also easy to squeeze with your fingers to release excess air.
New to this flask is the SpeedFill cap. Now, instead of unscrewing a bottle top at an aid station, you can flip it open to fill up on water. While this may seem like a trivial amount of time and energy saved, it can add up over the course of a long race. With a 42-millimeter opening, getting drink powders and ice into this flask is easy.
While the Camelbak Podium Chill 21oz Bike Bottle isn’t a running-specific bottle and isn’t actually that great for carrying during a run, it still serves a variety of purposes and will be a valuable addition to any athletic person’s bottle collection. The insulation keeps liquids cold for a long time and is easy to drink out of. It has a self-sealing cap that prevents drips. A lock on the lid also keeps water from spilling if the valve is accidentally squeezed, a feature that anyone who’s accidentally placed a bag on a bottle lid before will appreciate.
This is an excellent option for a bottle for all the times you’re not running, including sitting at the office, driving, or having around the house. It’s designed to be a bike bottle and fits most bike bottle cages, so it’s great for runners who use a bike for cross-training. We also found ourselves using it as a gym bottle when we wanted to keep our water cool and easily accessible.
Everyone needs a go-to water bottle for everyday needs, and the Hydro Flask 32 oz Lightweight Wide Mouth Trail Series is a great option. Known for their highly insulated bottles that can keep water cold and coffee and tea piping hot for seemingly forever, Hydro Flask has reduced the weight of this bottle by 25 percent without compromising on its performance. While this isn’t a bottle to take out on a run, it’s perfect for everything else. The double-walled vacuum insulation keeps liquids both hot and cold, and we found that it would keep ice frozen for many hours, even in the heat.
The bottle is made of stainless steel, which many people prefer for their drinking containers instead of plastics. The steel preserves the flavor of the liquid, and you don’t have to worry about putting hot drinks inside. It is also incredibly durable and can survive drops and other forms of everyday use. There are several different lid options for this bottle, and you can mix and match them depending on whether you’re looking for drinking convenience or a solid seal that you don’t have to worry about.
The Yeti Yonder 1 L / 34 oz Water Bottle is a simple everyday water bottle with a variety of unique features at an affordable price. The BPA-free plastic is dishwasher safe and is made out of 50% recycled materials as part of the brand’s commitment to sustainability. While this bottle is slightly heavier than other water bottles with a similar style, we noted that it felt pretty indestructible. It’s narrower and taller than many other bottle options on the market, and a flat spot on the side makes it comfortable to carry. Our testers with smaller hands especially appreciated this. This bottle comes in many sizes and colors, so you can choose the one that fits your water-carrying needs and stylistic preferences.
The two-part cap system sets this bottle apart from others on the market. This leakproof cap design screws off the bottle completely to make it easy to fill with water, and a smaller cap unscrews from the top providing a smaller opening for drinking. This smaller hole helps prevent splashing or spills.
While there are an increasing number of water filters that attach to a soft flask on the market, the Katadyn BeFree Water Filtration System 1.0L was the first, and it still holds its place as our favorite. Available in both 0.6-liter and 1.0-liter options, you can use the smaller version of this filter and bottle as a soft-flask replacement in a running vest or the larger one as a bottle you carry in a backpack. This lightweight filter is easy to use and can filter up to two liters per minute when new. The 0.1-micron pore size removes bacteria, cysts, and other sediments from the water, making it easy to drink wild water when running.
Our testers have used this water filtration and soft flask system for years and rely on it for everything from daily mountain runs to multi-day fastpacking trips. The Hydrapak soft flask is durable enough for extended use, and the setup only weighs 63 grams.
You can read more at our in-depth Katadyne BeFree review.
Shop the Katadyn BeFree Water Filtration System 1.0L
Types of Bottles to Use While Running
The best running water bottles are generally traditional hard-sided plastic bottles or soft flasks. Each type has pros and cons, and the best choice for you ultimately comes down to personal preference. Hard-sided bottles such as the Amphipod Hydraform Jett-Lite Thermal Handheld 20 oz or the Camelbak Podium Chill 21oz Bike Bottle maintain their shape and provide some insulation but can feel heavy and cause hand fatigue. Soft flasks such as the Hydrapak Ultraflask Speed 500ml or the Osprey Duro/Dyna Handheld shrink down as they empty, making them small to store away, but this can also cause them to flop around a little or sink into a handheld sleeve when they are only partially full.
Each type of bottle can be used in a pack or waist belt, and many are compatible with a strap that allows you to carry the bottle in your hand easily while running. Various flasks, bottles, and hand straps are interchangeable, and Hydrapak soft flasks are featured in several different handhelds, including the Osprey Duro/Dyna Handheld. Many brands utilize the same flasks or bottles across different types of products. For instance, the UltrAspire Ultraflask 550 Hybrid Bottle is compatible with multiple handheld straps, waist belts, and packs across the brand’s product lines.
Soft Flasks Versus Hard-Sided Bottles Versus Hydration Bladders
The typical duration, temperature, and terrain of your run, combined with your personal sweat rate and hydration needs, will determine how much you need to drink and which fluid carrying method is best for you. That said, there is no right or wrong answer to what are the best running water bottles – like many of us – you will probably find that you use different bottles for different types of runs.
A handheld bottle or soft flask like the Osprey Duro/Dyna Handheld is an easy way to carry a smaller amount of hydration, usually 12 to 24 ounces, for shorter runs in moderate temperatures. A hydration pack will likely be necessary for longer runs to carry extra fluids and gear. Check out our best hydration packs for running buyer’s guide to start looking into some of the best options on the market. Most packs have pockets that fit a bottle or flask and a hydration bladder. You can often use the same bottle with a handheld and in a hydration pack pocket. For runners who hate to hear their fluids sloshing with every step, a soft flask is better than a hard-sided bottle, as it is much easier to remove excess air.
Water Bottles for Hiking and General Use
The biggest factors in choosing a bottle for everyday use, travel, and hiking are its capacity, weight, and durability. While a soft flask or collapsible bottle is an excellent choice for running, a more structured hard-sided bottle, such as the Yeti Yonder 1 L / 34 oz Water Bottle, is better equipped to handle the wear and tear of daily use.
Most hiking and daily use bottles are made of metal or plastic to withstand transport hazards like being dropped on trail or tossed into the back of the car to hurriedly make room for your passengers.
A versatile, lightweight option that works in almost any setting, including for running if needed, is a squeezable pull-top cap bottle like the Camelbak Podium Chill 21oz Bike Bottle. This bike-specific bottle is lightweight and easy to transport for work or travel, and it will fit into your bike’s water bottle cage and the bottle sleeve pocket of a backpack or running pack.
A more robust and durable option for everyday use is a stainless steel insulated bottle. These come in many colors, sizes, and cap options; almost all can be used with hot and cold liquids. They’re perfect for those hiking in 90-degree weather in August and snowshoeing in January. The Hydro Flask Lightweight Wide Mouth Trail Series bottle has excellent insulating capabilities and will keep post-run ice water cold in your car during hot-weather runs.
Hydro Flask bottles are a great insulated option for everyday hydration. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi
Insulated bottles are great for use in more extreme outside temperatures. During high-heat activities, there is not much worse than taking a giant sip of warm unrefreshing water, and an insulated bottle can prevent your ice water from turning to bathwater as the miles on trail add up. With some vacuum-insulated metal water bottles, we’ve still had ice cubes intact after hours hiking in hot weather, which is a huge plus when you are roasting out there.
On the flip side, anyone logging long hours in the cold risks their hydration freezing if not adequately protected and insulated. Tucking your bottle against your body or wrapping it in extra clothing in a pack helps some, but having a well-insulated bottle, like the Hydro Flask 32 oz Lightweight Wide Mouth Trail Series, is a great way to keep your liquid as a liquid instead of a block of ice. These insulated bottles are also a great way to transport a treat like soup or hot chocolate to enjoy on a long ski touring or hiking day. There’s nothing like a nice toasty treat during a long snowy day on trail!
Materials, Weight, and Durability
Water bottles geared toward athletic activities are generally made of either plastic or stainless steel. These materials are durable, lightweight, and can withstand the drops and dings of adventure travel or midnight aid stations.
The lightest options for water bottles are soft flasks which are most commonly made of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) or silicone. These materials make for a lightweight and compressible bottle that can be used in handhelds, hydration packs, or waist belts. These are also an excellent backup for carrying extra fluids, as they can be tossed into the back of a pack without adding significant weight.
Hard-side plastic water bottles can either be rigid, like the Yeti Yonder 1 L / 34 oz Water Bottle, or squeezable, like the Camelbak Podium Chill 21oz Bike Bottle or the UltrAspire Ultraflask 550 Hybrid Bottle. These are great lightweight options for a daily-use bottle that can easily transition to the trails or be used during a travel day. Flexible bottles can also be used with many types of hydration packs, making them easier to get in and out of pockets. Look for BPA-free options (all of our winning bottles are) to avoid exposure to harmful chemicals.
Stainless steel water bottles are a bit heavier but highly durable and virtually break-proof, though they will sustain their share of dents and dings if dropped enough. Our favorite stainless steel bottle, the Hydro Flask 32 oz Lightweight Wide Mouth Trail Series, is made of food-grade stainless steel, which is odor-resistant and BPA-free. The vacuum-sealed insulation keeps both hot and cold beverages at their intended temperatures, and these bottles are great for a year-round travel and outdoor adventure bottle.
In addition to these bottle options, glass and aluminum choices are also on the market. Glass is the lowest risk in terms of chemical leaching and taste or odor transfer, but its breakability makes it a less-than-ideal material for running and active pursuits. Aluminum is more apt to react to certain liquids and can corrode, so we would recommend food-grade stainless steel options over aluminum if you prefer a metal bottle.
Handheld Bottles Versus Hydration Packs
A handheld bottle, such as the Osprey Duro/Dyna Handheld or the Amphipod Hydraform Jett-Lite Thermal Handheld 20 oz, is by far the simplest and easiest way to carry running hydration, and many people believe these to be the best running water bottles. A variety of bottle sizes, materials, and strap variations make for a comfortable and convenient way to carry smaller amounts of fluids that are easily accessible. Most handhelds max out at around 20 ounces, which is more than adequate for shorter runs or well-supported races that allow for frequent bottle refills. A handheld is also a great way to carry extra water or a different fuel or electrolyte mix if you use a bladder in a hydration vest for your primary liquid source.
You’ll probably need a hydration pack for long runs or more challenging terrain to carry adequate fluids and food and the extra gear required for weather changes, safety, and first aid. Runners with wrist or hand problems that could make a hand strap uncomfortable may prefer a hydration pack with a bladder or soft flasks, regardless of the duration or conditions of the run.
Soft flasks can be stored in a waist belt or carried in the hand for easy access. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi
Different Caps for Running and Hiking Bottles
The simplest type of cap is a solid screw-on cap found on many hiking and everyday bottles. These are leakproof and often have an attached carrying strap for easy transport. The Yeti Yonder 1 L / 34 oz Water Bottle has a unique two-cap system that makes it easy to fill through a large opening but also has a smaller opening for easy drinking.
Soft flasks, like the Hydrapak Ultraflask Speed 500ml, usually feature a bite valve that only dispenses fluids when compressed, usually by biting down on it while drinking. These do not have an additional cap or closure system for simplicity and ease of use, but you can accidentally spill your water by squeezing the valve when accessing other items in your pack or taking the flask in and out of its pocket.
We started this guide by researching available options for the best running water bottles and everyday use. From a list of nearly 100 options, we chose our top contenders for flasks, plastic bottles, handhelds, and insulated stainless steel bottles to put to the test. We hit the road and trails with handheld bottles and flasks to find the best combination for hydration on the move. We also tested multiple insulated metal bottles with hot and cold fluids to determine the most effective. In addition, our team of testers used hard-sided plastic bottles at work, at the gym, on hikes, and on long travel days in and out of airports and rental cars to determine which bottles hit the mark for weight, capacity, and cost.
Please note that product models are routinely discontinued in the running world, while new ones frequently come to market. At the same time, we here at iRunFar often keep using our top picks in our daily running … they’re our top picks, after all! Sometimes that continued use results in uncovering product failures. With all this — product discontinuations, product introductions, and product failures — in mind, we routinely update our buyer’s guides based on past and ongoing testing and research by our authors and editorial team. While these updates can appear to be us pushing the newest product, it’s anything but that. Most products will likely remain the same when we update any buyer’s guide. That matches our goal: to get you in the best gear you’ll use for a long time.
What kind of bottle or soft flask is best for running?
As mentioned above, there are numerous options for the best running water bottles, and ultimately the best choice will come down to personal preference and comfort.
Soft flasks, like the Hydrapak Ultraflask Speed 500ml, are an excellent choice for use in both handhelds and packs, and they come in several different sizes. Soft flasks are a great and quiet choice for those who hate water sloshing around in hard-sided bottles and hydration bladders. They are also lighter and collapse when empty, making them easier to hold and stash away when not in use. Many of the most popular running soft flasks, including the flask on the Katadyn BeFree Water Filtration System, are made by Hydrapak.
Plastic squeezable water bottles are another great choice and come in various shapes and fluid capacities. In addition to the typical cylindrical shape, which is an excellent option for anyone who also wants to use their bottle on a bicycle, there are multiple options for ergonomically shaped bottles that are more comfortable to hold and reduce hand fatigue. Our favorite was the Amphipod Hydraform Jett-Lite Thermal Handheld 20 oz. Multiple cap options with locking mechanisms and valves make the bottles on the market today easy to drink from and secure when not in use, avoiding leaks and spills on the run and in your bag or car.
Alli Hartz of iRunFar uses the Hydrapak Ultraflask Speed 500ml during a road run. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi
What size bottle is best for running?
Various factors will determine the best sized bottle for your needs. Distance, weather, temperature, sweat rate, and access to refill opportunities are all important things to consider when gearing up for your run.
For shorter runs of an hour or less, those in cooler temperatures, or outings with frequently accessible refill options, a bottle or flask that will carry 12 to 20 ounces (350 to 500 milliliters), like the Osprey Duro/Dyna Handheld, will likely be sufficient. As the mileage increases and the weather warms up, a capacity of at least 20 ounces (500 to 600 milliliters) will be needed to maintain hydration. In very hot temperatures and longer duration runs, or for those with higher sweat rates, additional bottles may be necessary to keep up with hydration needs. A hydration pack makes running with multiple bottles or flasks easy, or you can choose to use a single larger water bladder. You can also carry more water with a waist pack and a handheld bottle or two handhelds.
What is a soft flask?
A soft flask is a soft-sided collapsible bottle, usually made out of TPU or silicone. They typically hold 12 to 20 ounces (350 to 600 milliliters) of fluids and have a bite valve that allows for easy drinking while moving. The one-way bite valve keeps excess air from entering the flask as it empties, so liquids are not sloshing. The lightweight flasks collapse flat once empty and are easy to stash in a pocket or pack. Our favorite soft flask is the Hydrapak Ultraflask Speed 500ml.
I get hot when I run and dislike wearing hydration packs. What are the best bottles for me?
Handheld bottles or soft flasks, like the Osprey Duro/Dyna Handheld and the Amphipod Hydraform Jett-Lite Thermal Handheld 20 oz, are the easiest way to carry hydration without a pack. Many companies make different designs, but they are all essentially a variation of a hand strap that helps secure the bottle to your hand so you don’t have to tightly grip it to carry it. There are multiple sizes and styles to choose from, but most of them max out at 20 ounces.
A waist pack or belt is another option to carry fluids without the feeling of a pack on your upper back. There are several options that can hold one or two bottles or soft flasks. Check out our best running belts guide for some of our favorites.
What bottles are compatible with my hydration pack?
Most hydration packs will come with a set of bottles or flasks that fit the pack’s pockets. In general, most packs have pockets that will either fit flasks that are more elongated or shorter and wider. Improperly sized or shaped bottles may not fit into a vest pocket properly and can flop around or fall out, so double-check the pack specifications or contact the manufacturer with any questions about the right bottles for a pack. While most packs on the market today are designed for use with soft flasks, there are still some that can hold a more traditional bottle as well. You can explore more hydration pack options at our best hydration packs for running guide.
A hard-sided water bottle can withstand everyday use and keep water from spilling. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi
What size bottle is best for hiking, travel, or everyday useMany of the same factors mentioned above for running bottle capacity play a role in choosing a bottle for everyday use.
Generally, a 20- to 32-ounce bottle is a good size that transitions well from your workspace to the trails. The larger capacity reduces the number of refill trips needed during your workday and holds enough to keep you hydrated on a hike, road trip, or cross-country flight. The shape of the bottle is also something to consider. A tapered bottom or long slim bottle will fit in a car’s cup holder or backpack side pocket much better than one with a wider base.
Is a plastic or metal bottle best?
Plastic bottles, like the Camelbak Podium Chill 21 oz Bike Bottle, are typically much lighter than their metal counterparts, which makes them a better choice for running or other activities where gear weight has a significant impact. They are also squeezable and compressible, making them less susceptible to dents and dings, easier to drink out of on the go, and easier to store when not in use. To avoid potential chemical leaching, be sure to choose BPA-free products.
Metal bottles, such as the Hydro Flask 32 oz Lightweight Wide Mouth Trail Series, are very durable and can withstand getting dropped and tossed around without breaking, though you might end up with some scuffs and dents if you are rough on your gear. This makes them an excellent option for everyday use and travel, but they are a bit heavy for activities other than hiking and backpacking. They also offer better insulation for both hot and cold drinks, which is handy for transporting your camp coffee in the morning and cold water on a hike in the afternoon. We recommend pro-grade or food-grade stainless steel bottles if you choose a metal option, as they have a lower risk of leaching chemicals and will not retain odors or stains.
How are bottles insulated?
When it comes to keeping hot liquids hot and cold ones cold, water bottles with double-wall insulation are the best. They have an inner and outer layer of material, either plastic or stainless steel, with air between the layers that act as a barrier to reduce heat transfer between the bottle contents and the outside environment. Some bottles, usually metal varieties, vacuum seal the area between the two layers to minimize energy transfer even more.
Some bottles and soft flasks use a thicker foam-like material to prevent heat transfer and keep liquids inside cooler longer. These flasks can only be used with cold liquids and are less effective than a double-wall system.
In addition to adding insulating properties to the bottle, some companies use a sleeve around the bottle to add even more insulation. This provides some protection but does not work as well as double-wall insulation.
The Camelbak Podium Chill 21oz Bike Bottle is an excellent option for having on hand for interval workouts and cross-training on a bike. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi
Can I use my bottle for both hot and cold liquids?
Most plastic bottles and soft flasks are not meant to withstand high temperatures, so filling them up with hot liquids can cause damage, including warping the bottle or causing leaks at the seams. Double-wall insulated plastic bottles like the Camelbak Podium Chill 21oz Bike Bottle can be used in cold weather with warm fluids to keep them from freezing but should not be used for very hot or boiling water.
Non-insulated metal bottles should not be used with hot liquids, as the metal will transmit heat and cause the outside of the bottle to become very hot. This could cause damage to gear that comes in contact with the bottle in your pack and may burn your hands.
Most double-wall insulated stainless steel bottles like the Hydro Flask 32 oz Lightweight Wide Mouth Trail Series can accommodate hot liquids and keep them warm for hours without transmitting that heat to the outer layer of the bottle. Use caution when drinking warm beverages from these, as they do so well that the fluids might still be too hot when you take a sip!
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