Want to reduce the environmental impact of your next trip? Bring your own water bottle. Particularly if you are traveling to a tropical destination where you’d otherwise buy (and then later throw out) plastic water bottles.
Thailand alone is littered with up to a billion (with a B!) plastic water bottles according to some estimates. And water bottles are also an issue in the developed world. In the Washington DC area 1 in 5 single-use plastic water bottles sold end up in a public waterway. In London single-use water bottles became such a problem that their sales were banned.
In the face of that you wouldn’t think that you could make much difference. But let’s say you and a partner go on a two week tropical trip and each drink three bottles of water per day. If you each bring your own reusable water bottles that alone will prevent 84 disposable ones from clogging land fills or being strewn across the landscape. That’s enough water bottles that, were they placed end to end, would be higher than an eight story building!
What to look for in a good water bottle
• BPA Free . . . unless cancer, endocrine disruption, thyroid troubles and the other possible side effects of ingesting Bisphenol-A appeal to you.
• Durability – A quality Spot Cool Stuff tests with every product we review. Many water bottles don’t stand up well to the rigors of travel. Of particular concern is the lid which has a tendency to loosen or come off altogether, especially when a water bottle lid also doubles as a handle.
• Materials – The best water bottles are made with recycled—or at least environmentally-friendly—materials. The material also effects a water bottle’s weight, durability and even the taste of the liquid inside. With the important exception of water bottles made by GoodLife and Sigg (see below) we’ve found that stainless steel and aluminum bottles tend to give water a slight metallic taste.
• Cleaning – Some water bottles are difficult to wash; not all are dishwater safe. Bottles with a wide lid are easier to clean than those with a narrow one.
• Temperature – If you are planning on using your bottle for only cold liquids this isn’t an issue. We prefer bottles that can hold hot water too, mostly because we are tea- and coffee-holics but also because a water bottle is also a useful way to pre-heat a bed or sleeping bag on a cold night.
• Looks – An unimportant quality to some. But not Spot Cool Stuff.
Some water bottle options
Add up all those qualities and which water bottle is best? Our choice are those made by a company called GoodLife.
To see why it helps to look at some of the other popular BPA-free water bottles on the market. Note also that for your particular needs one of these options might be better:
SIGG – Our selection of the best water bottle came down to a tough choice between GoodLife and this high-quality Swiss manufacturer. Sigg bottles come in a wide variety of designs and styles—in terms of looks and personality Sigg is superlative. We also like the Sigg bottle’s lids, which are rock-solid and doubles as a handle. Sigg bottles are also a little less expensive than GoodLife’s. So what’s the downside of Sigg? They weigh more, they aren’t made from recycled materials and, most important, they don’t maintain a liquid’s temperature near as well as GoodLife bottles do.
KOR ONE – Form and function meet up well in these cool-looking, practical water bottles. We are fans of the large, easily-gripable handle. The KOR ONE is also the easiest to clean of the bottles on this list—it has a wide opening and is dishwater safe. The potential problem is that the KOR ONE doesn’t work with hot liquids and its translucent plastic body doesn’t keep cold liquids cold for long. It is also the most expensive water bottles reviewed in this post. That said, the KOR ONE is absolutely our choice for a cold-liquid water bottle to use around home and on short car trips.
NALGENE Tritan – NALGENE’s Tritan bottles have most of the same benefits and drawbacks as the KOR ONE bottles (above). Compared to KOR ONE, the Tritan bottles are much cheaper but significantly less durable and not nearly as stylish.
Gaiam – Looking for the cheapest good quality bottle? Gaiam is it. You can get one for under $10 plus free shipping (in the US). Gaiam is a great online store for yoga and fitness equipment. And therein lays a hint as to why we don’t suggest their water bottles for serious travel—they are not durable. They are built well enough for trips to the yoga studio and back but not for multiple hikes or adventurous journeys.
Klean Kanteen – This about as generic a water bottle that you can get. It’s look, durability, price and ability to maintain liquid temperatures is exactly average. You are unlikely to be unhappy with a Klean Kanteen. But there’s nothing to get excited about either.
New Wave – These bottles are cheap and come in a variety of colors. But those are the only positive statements we can make the water bottle offerings from New Wave. Their exterior paint quickly peels off, their lids tend to leak and these bottles tinge their stored liquid with a metallic taste. Stay away.
Our choice is: GoodLife
So, finally, we come to GoodLife.
Here’s what most amazing: GoodLife bottles maintain a liquid’s temperature longer than any other we’ve tried. The company’s claim of keeping liquid warm for 24 hours a bit exaggerated in our experience. But you can pour hot coffee into your GoodLife bottle in the morning and still find it warm in the late afternoon. This incredible temperature retention the result of a lid that closes with a vacuum seal (and thus won’t leak), a cleverly-conceived dual-wall design and the build quality. Which brings us to . . .
High quality, food grade materials. That’s what’s used in a GoodLife’s bottle construction. These bottles will stand up to nearly any travel situation. Had we a tank we’d try running over one—and would bet on the GoodLife bottle surviving intact.
GoodLife bottles also excel in terms of taste. The water they store doesn’t take on a metallic taste, unlike all alloy water bottle we tried (with the exception of SIGG’s). Also, surprisingly to us, GoodLife bottles don’t seem to hold taste over from one drink to the next. Have a coffee, wash out your bottle, fill it with water and when you drink from it all you’ll taste is, well, water.
Finally, GoodLife bottles are themselves made from recycled materials and are 100% BPA, toxin and lead paint free.
So, to sum up
We suggest SIGG if a distinctive-looking bottle is paramount to you, KOR ONE is you need a bottle for cold-liquid only (and aren’t concerned with the contents staying cold for long), Gaiam if you’re on a tight budget and GoodLife for everyone else . . .
. . . and that’s probably more about water bottles and the process of selecting one than you ever wanted to know.
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