If you’re in the market for a new water bottle, stainless steel models are a solid option. Stainless steel water bottles are shatterproof, reusable, won’t leach chemicals into your beverages—even if left sitting in the direct sunlight and triple-digit heat of your enclosed car—and they’re eco-friendly since they’re 100 percent recyclable.
Whether the bottle will be used to carry cold beverages or serve as a coffee thermos, the qualities of the best stainless steel water bottles aren’t all that different from those desired of any well-made water bottle: It should be leak-proof, BPA-free, durable, easy to carry, and easy to clean. Finally, depending on your water intake, you’ll want to search for a size that holds enough liquid to quench your thirst while on the go.
Ahead, learn about the features of today’s stainless steel water bottles and find out why the following are well suited to various activities.
- BEST OVERALL: Hydro Flask Water Bottle
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Pogo Vacuum Stainless Steel Water Bottle
- BEST INSULATED: Contigo Autoseal Chill Stainless Steel Water Bottle
- BEST WITH INFUSER: GROSCHE Chicago fruit infuser water bottle
- BEST WITH FILTER: Brita Stainless Steel Water Filter Bottle
- BEST FOR SPORTS: Takeya Actives Insulated Water Bottle w/Spout Lid
- BEST FOR THE CAR: S’well Stainless Steel Traveler
- BEST FOR KIDS: YETI Rambler Jr. 12 oz Kids Bottle, with Straw Cap
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Stainless Steel Water Bottle
Stainless steel water bottles cost anywhere from around $15 up to $30 or more, depending on quality, but unlike cheaper plastic bottles, they can last for years with minimal care. To get the most service from the bottle, consider its primary use—what type of beverages it will hold, how long it needs to retain the temperature of the contents, and whether design and style make a difference. Also, avoid choosing before considering the bottle’s care and maintenance requirements.
While stainless steel bottles obviously contain stainless steel, at least on the bottle’s interior, they may also feature a variety of other materials, such as cork and vinyl sleeves, neoprene bottoms that act as coasters, and lids made from molded plastic. Not all materials are suitable for putting in a dishwasher, so if a stainless steel bottle features other materials, it may require hand-washing.
A vacuum-sealed stainless steel bottle without seams or any other types of materials is usually dishwasher safe. When looking for the best stainless steel water bottle, narrow your search to models made of 18/8 stainless steel, which is the most commonly used type of food-grade stainless steel.
A bottle’s capacity indicates how much liquid it will hold. Small coffee-type bottles may hold as little as 8 fluid ounces, which is equal to a single cup measure. Larger models can hold up to 2 liters or more of cold liquids, so there’s a wide range of capacity options. When choosing a bottle, consider its intended use.
If the intent is to take it to work and fill it up multiple times during the workday, it’s probably fine to have a bottle that holds a relatively small amount. Those who cannot refill the bottle frequently, such as cyclists preparing for a lengthy bike ride, may want to choose a bottle that holds enough to last throughout the entire ride.
Insulation and Heat Retention
Insulation (that is, how efficiently a bottle keeps cold drinks cold and hot beverages hot) is another feature to keep in mind. Stainless steel bottles tend to offer two types of insulation: “double-wall” or “vacuum-sealed.” Double-wall insulation means there are two stainless steel layers between your hand and your drink. A layer of air between them insulates the bottle by making it more difficult for heat to pass through.
Vacuum-sealed stainless steel uses a vacuum to create a barrier and stop convection to keep your drink at a steady temperature. To keep cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot, look for double-wall, vacuum-sealed insulated water bottles rather than ones with just a single layer of steel. While glass water bottles are also a favorite of joggers and cyclists, they don’t offer double-wall insulation, so they may not keep beverages at an optimal temperature for as long as stainless steel bottles.
Most of the weight in a stainless steel bottle usually comes from the contents rather than the bottle itself, but if minimizing weight is desired, a single-wall bottle may be the better choice. While a double-wall provides more insulation, it also doubles the bottle’s weight, which is a consideration for those who need to carry the bottle for any distance.
The average stainless steel bottle ranges in weight (when empty) from around 0.5 pounds for small-capacity bottles up to 2.5 pounds or more for larger vacuum-sealed bottles designed to hold a quart or more of liquid.
Even for bottles at the low end of the weight range, most people prefer not to carry a bottle around in hand, especially when walking or hiking. A handle makes it simpler to hold the bottle. Many of today’s manufacturers have taken it a step further.
Stainless steel water bottles may include shoulder straps for carrying bottles or sell generic-size bottles that fit easily into bicycle cup holders, car cupholders, or loops on fanny packs. A tight-fitting lid also gives the bottle a greater degree of portability, since the user doesn’t have to worry about the contents sloshing out of the bottle.
Aesthetic and Additional Features
Stainless steel bottles run the gamut in design from shiny or brushed steel surfaces to coated exteriors that feature a wide range of attractive colors or images (sports teams are favorites). Some can even be personalized when ordered, making them well suited as gifts. Additional options include:
- Built-in straws: These are a part of the bottle’s lid, so there’s no need to hunt down a fresh straw every time you want to enjoy your beverage. Many twist off for easy cleaning.
- Glass or steel straws: Users can remove glass and steel straws for washing, they last a long time, and they won’t stain or degrade as plastic straws can. Some bottles that come with glass or steel straws also come with tiny straw scrubbers that simplify cleaning the inside of the straw.
- Easy-open tops: Stainless steel bottles with lids that flip up without detaching or that twist to open make it easy to get a sip of coffee or cocoa. These tops are more common on smaller bottles designed for hot beverages. In addition to being handy, they allow the user to close the lid between sips to help keep the beverage warmer for longer periods of time.
- Shaker: Stainless steel shaker bottles come with an oval or circular whisk that fits in the bottle and helps blend protein-powder drinks by shaking the bottle. This is a handy option for those who don’t want to use (or clean) a traditional blender when making protein drinks.
Our Top Picks
The following are some of the top picks for the best stainless steel water bottles for many of the most common hydration scenarios.
Hydro Flask’s wide-mouth bottles can be used not only to tote both icy cold and piping hot drinks, but their vacuum insulation will keep these beverages cold for 24 hours and hot for 12 hours. The bottle is compatible with a variety of Hydro Flask lids, including a flip lid, a straw lid, and the standard flex cap lid, offering flexibility in how users hydrate.
The design includes a slip-free powder coating that doesn’t sweat and is dishwasher safe for easy cleaning and convenience. As if that doesn’t make the Hydro Flask enough of a chameleon, the bottles come in a cornucopia of colors as well as sizes, including 20-ounce and 40-ounce versions.
This 26-ounce bottle may be one of the more minimalist choices on this list of top picks, but don’t be deceived. Its leak-proof flip lid and side carry loop make it perfectly portable, while its vacuum-insulated walls keep water cold for 24 hours.
This bottle’s wide mouth and lack of nooks and crevices also make it a breeze to clean. All parts are top-rack dishwasher safe—a rarity for stainless steel water bottles, and all parts are BPA-free.
Besides its ability to keep water cold all day long and then some, one of the most impressive features of this 24-ounce bottle is its “smart technology” lid that, when pressed, opens the spout for sipping. When released, the cap automatically seals to eliminate the possibility of spills and leaks and makes one-handed operation a breeze. While the Contigo Autoseal bottle’s lid can be placed on the top rack of the dishwasher to clean, the stainless steel body is hand-wash only.
If you plan to use a water bottle for more than just water, consider this option from Canadian-based housewares brand Grosche. It boasts a large-capacity infuser that’s roomy enough to hold whole slices of fruit and long enough to infuse every sip of water (not just the first few sips) with a burst of flavor.
The infuser’s strainer can be used solo to keep ice and tea bags from sliding upward when drinking. The leak-proof, double-wall vacuum-insulated body keeps beverages cold for up to 24 hours or hot for up to 12. However, it’s only able to hold 15.2 ounces of liquid, so expect to make frequent trips to a water source for refills.
Transform ordinary tap water into delicious filtered water with this genius bottle from Brita. A carbon filter (which attaches inside the drinking straw) cuts chlorine taste and smell from tap water, filtering every sip. The premium water bottle features double-wall insulation, which keeps drinks cool for up to 24 hours.
This Brita 20 Ounce Premium Filtering Water Bottle has other must-have features, too, like a leak-proof lid that opens via push-button, an enclosed drinking straw, and a built-in carrying loop. The bottle includes one replacement filter.
This BPA-free Takeya Actives water bottle is designed for life on the move. Featuring an innovative leak-proof insulated spout lid that lets one sip, chug, or pour a drink without removing the entire lid, this bottle allows for one-handed use. The lid’s hinge lock keeps the cap out of the way while drinking, and a wide-loop handle makes for easy grab-and-go carrying.
A double-wall design not only keeps the bottle’s main body cool to the touch and condensation-free, but it also keeps water ice-cold for up to 24 hours and wellness teas hot for up to 12 hours. Another bonus is that the Takeya Actives is available in multiple colors and sizes (ranging from 18 to 64 ounces), so it can be mixed and matched to workout gear and thirst level.
Tired of too-tall water bottles that tip over every time a corner is turned while driving? This 16-ounce short and stout water bottle not only fits in a car’s cup holder, but it’s also ergonomically designed to fit snugly in hand. Featuring a vacuum-insulated, triple-layered construction, it promises to keep water ice-cold for over 20 hours or morning coffee or tea hot for 10 hours or more—long enough to outlast the day’s errands and traffic.
While S’well is notorious for its narrow-necked bottles, this model boasts a wider mouth that allows more room for stirring or adding small ice cubes. The Traveler is also available in 12-ounce and 20-ounce sizes and is BPA-free.
Kid-size, leak-proof, and dishwasher safe (yes, both the bottle and the top), the Yeti Rambler Jr. is the perfect water bottle for adventurers ages 3 and up. Its spout flips open and closed, which makes sipping a breeze. Spanning the top of the lid is an extra-wide handle, plenty broad for an entire hand to grip securely.
What’s more, the bottle is non-sweat, non-crack, non-peel, and comes in a handful of vibrant colors that kids won’t outgrow. One con to consider: The lid isn’t spill-proof when opened, so keep this in mind if little ones will use the bottle to sip on fruit juices. While this isn’t the cheapest kids’ stainless steel water bottle, it is made to last.
FAQs About Stainless Steel Water Bottles
Buying a stainless steel water bottle is an investment in staying hydrated during the day even if a water fountain isn’t nearby. A quality stainless steel bottle can last for years, but for those new to shopping for one, a few questions are to be expected.
Q. Are stainless steel water bottles safe?
Stainless steel doesn’t leach chemicals, as some plastic types can, so stainless steel is a safe water bottle option.
Q. How often should you wash a stainless steel water bottle?
If the user carries only water in the bottle, cleaning it once a day is recommended. For bottles used to hold coffee, cocoa, soft drinks, or food, wash thoroughly after every use to sanitize the bottle before using it again.
Q. Can stainless steel water bottles go in the fridge?
It’s ok to put a stainless steel bottle in the fridge, but be prepared for the bottle’s exterior to be very cold when it’s taken out.
Q. How long does a stainless steel water bottle last?
A stainless steel bottle can last a decade or longer, but the lid may not last that long if it’s made from plastic.