Stop buying bottled water.
Bottled water is easy to buy in everywhere in multi packs… or in casks… or in glass… whatever… but bottled water costs us around 2000 times more than tap water. To make the bottles for all of the worlds bottled water takes thirty million barrels of oil per year and the same amount of greenhouse gases as thirteen thousand cars (ditchbottledwater.com). Pre-bottled water shouldn’t even be an option if we have access to reliable and safe drinking water.
Re-usable water bottles are made from plastic, stainless steel, aluminium, glass, and wood.
Most water bottles today are made from plastic. They’re cheap, light, and durable but their quality varies according to price. I reckon CamelBak nailed it a few years ago when they changed plastic water bottles forever by adapting their famous mouthpieces to water bottles. Until then, only screw and flip top chute lids existed. The CamelBak Chute is great but the famous Eddy and Podium bottles are built for fast and easy one-handed use. Importantly, you need to take special care of the lids. They get mould in them if you don’t pay attention and dry them when you’re not using them. Just be careful cleaning the mouthpieces and lids, I’ve had to replace two Eddy bottle lids because of damage to the valve.
Contigo is a new brand with a unique push button opening for single handed use. They’re well-made bottles and they last a long time. I wasn’t sure if the complicated spout would break easily but I’ve never had to do anything special with the Contigo lids and they’re still going.
Stainless Steel water bottles have been around since the early 1900’s. Mind you, hiking water bottles didn’t progress much past military style canteens or thermos flasks until the 1980’s. They’re heavy but when you’re hiking in warm weather you’ll need them to keep things cold.
Aluminium water bottles came around in the late 1800’s and they’re light and generally cheap. There’s a lot of cheap and nasty aluminium water bottles out there. I reckon that only SIGG bottles are worth looking at. SIGG bottles are probably the only water bottle that made any sense throughout the twentieth century but it’s only in the last few decades that anyone could afford one.
Glass water bottles are HEAVY. Glass is the safest material to store liquids in but probably not the safest to carry on the trail, despite all the silicon wrapping some have.
Wooden water bottles were last used by French soldiers in the Napoleonic era. They should stay that way. The wooden water bottles that are being heavily marketed these days are simply stainless steel vacuum flasks with a wood finish. There are some interesting startups, like the ‘Birch bottle’, and plastics are being made from plant fibre… so, who knows… but they’re not worth it right now.
You’ll get what you pay for. A ten-dollar water bottle will probably only be good for a few short walks. Shitty gear does more to hinder rather than help the enjoyment of hiking.
Is it a short walk in the local conservation park, an all-day traverse, or is it a multi-day wilderness expedition? For short walks, plastic is the best. For all day hikes, it depends on the temperature and if you can, plastic is still the best. Throughout summer in Australia you’ll need a stainless-steel water bottle to keep things cold. Warm water isn’t the best refreshment mid-hike on a thirty-two degree day. Multi-day hikes need a bit of planning and a few types of water container.
For me, the best water bottles to take hiking are the CamelBak Eddy or Podium bottles. If it’s going to be hot, I take two plastic bottles but pre-freeze one the night before for later in the day. The original Stanley flask is the best for keeping things hot in cold weather, but it’s a beast of a thing. The Contigo stainless steel bottles are excellent at keeping things cold in hot weather and are still easy to use on the move.
*What about BPA and Phthalate you ask?
BPA stands for bisphenol A. It’s been used since the 1960’s to make plastics and linings of cans and bottles and stuff. Phthalates are in a range of common products including water bottles and naturally occur in foods like milk, butter, and meats. They’re industrial chemicals that can seep into foods and liquids. The concern is that high exposure to them causes birth defects and high blood pressure. They should be phasing it out anyway…not making it a selling point.
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