One of the simplest and oldest ways to hydrate is the water bottle.  It is perfect for your around-town adventures, walking the dog, office work, hiking and other sports where a free hand is possible.  Water bottles are inexpensive and easy to clean, most are dishwasher safe and user friendly.  The downside of the water bottle is you often have to stop what your doing to take a swig, lest you end up with water down your shirt. They can also add unwanted weight to your backpacks and be a bit bulky.  I am a firm believer that even if you’re not going to use a water bottle for your extreme sports, you should own one for around-town to help reduce the plastic waste in this country.  Biting the bullet and spending $10-30 one time could save you thousands in your life time of non-resuable bottles of water.  The most popular brands carried in your local outdoor retailer include Nalgene, CamelBak, Sigg, and Klean Kanteen.

Nalgene is one of the most recognized brands: Nalgene is to water bottles as Kleenex is to tissues these days.  They have quite an extensive line of styles to choose from, but the original and most popular is the 32oz widemouth.  It works well with most water filters, and is easy to clean in both the back-country and in your kitchen.  The wide mouth makes it easy for you to have your ice water on hot days, and if you’re a big clutz, there are splash-guard attachments for the wide mouth that close it in a little- so you’re less likely to spill.  My favorite thing about the wide mouth from Nalgene is the cap-  it is easy to screw on and off. The attached loop not only keeps you from losing your cap while hydrating, it also makes for a convenient little handle to clip a carabiner to your belt, backpack or office chair.  Nalgene has also taken the guess work out of hydrating by printing the graduations on the side.  The traditional 32oz wide mouth retails for around $10.

CamelBak’s most popular water bottle is the 25 oz Better Bottle.  The Better Bottle sports a straw with the same bite valve as you’d get on one of their hydration reservoirs.  They use the phrase, “Flip, Bite-n-sip” to let you know that you don’t have to tilt their bottle in order to drink from it.  I’ve seen little kids and adults alike get rather confused from this system.  To me, a water bottle is meant for tilting your head back to get that satisfactory GULP of water.  You’re guaranteed to not lose your cap, as there is no need to remove it except to fill with water and/or ice.  The CamelBak Better Bottle is dishwasher safe and the top can fit most any other bottle you have lying around the house.  The spill-proof lid also comes equipped with a carabiner loop and is the perfect size to hook a finger around for easy carrying. This bottle also comes with the graduations printed on the side to help you keep up with how much water you’ve consumed and like the Nalgene, fits most water purifiers. I also like that the Better Bottle fits into my hand a little better than the Nalgene, but I’m not too thrilled with the straw.  The Better Bottle retails for  $14.

SIGG is a company from Switzerland that’s been around for over a hundred years, but only started to infiltrate our gear shops in the last ten or so.  Sigg offers us aluminum bottles in a variety of sizes with a BPA free EcoCare® liner that helps keep your water tasting as it should, without a metallic aftertaste.  Sigg claims to have the “World’s Toughest Water Bottle,”  but I have to disagree. I have managed to destroy two- the only two water bottles I’ve ever destroyed.  One bottle met its tragic end in a freezer (did you know water expands when it turns to ice!?) and the other was crushed under the tire of my car.  I’ve found the aluminum dents pretty easily, but that can just make you look more epic, so that’s cool.  My problem with the Sigg is the cap.  The threaded cap has to be on JUST RIGHT or it’s not actually water-tight.  I have ruined many a dry sock on camping trips due to user-error.  The cap is easy to lose since it is small and not attached to the bottle itself.  My favorite thing about the Sigg is the style.  You can get any color, pattern or slogan under the sun and even customize the .6L (20oz) and 1.0L (30oz) for your company picnics, local sierra club meetings or your business logos.  Water stays cooler in the aluminum bottle than it does in the plastic, which is good because it’s nearly impossible to get ice through the narrow mouth of the SIGG.  A thorough cleaning is harder to get, but it is recommended that you wash your bottle by hand with warm, soapy water at the end of each use and allow it to air dry with the cap off. Of course, Sigg offers a variety of cleaning brushes and tablets as well.  Just try not and leave Jagermeister in the bottle for an extended period of time, you can’t get that taste out for anything! The Sigg bottles retail for $24.99 for the 1.0L (30oz) bottle.

Klean Kanteen is a fairly new company, their first bottles hit the shelves in 2004 with an entirely new perspective.  Instead of plastic, or even plastic-lined aluminum, Klean Kanteen brings us reusable water bottles made from 18/8 food grade stainless steel.  Klean Kanteen sports a similar look to the Sigg and gives us serval choices in size, from 20 to 64 oz bottles available in both narrow and wide mouth.  The cap is also threaded, but not nearly as much trouble to get tight as with the Sigg. Klean Kanteen is a dedicated steward to the environment, partnering with 1% for the Planet, Green Mountain Energy and several others to bring you bottles while giving back to others.  They don’t offer thousands of designs and graphics like Sigg does, because the company believes in keeping you safe with 100% lead-free, acrylic paint. The bottle is curved all around, eliminating harsh corners that can trap dirt and bacteria.  Klean Kanteen’s bottles without color or insulation are dishwasher safe, although they recommend hand washing the others, and you can scrub them as hard as you like, because there is no lining to scratch.  There also isn’t a lining to absorb other flavors, like Jagermeister, so you can use the bottle to store other things and still have a pleasant experience with water again.  The Klean Kanteen crew spent countless hours researching the happiest medium of durability and weight so that your water bottle will be easy to carry and last forever.  They have thought ahead and offered you an option of purchasing a sport cap, which is not a straw like the CamelBak, but a sippy-top with a carabiner loop so if you’re screw-top challenged like I am, you can still enjoy a nice head-tilting gulp of water without having to remove the cap. The Klean Kanteen Classic retails for $17.95 for a 270z bottle with the regular cap.