Stainless Steel Water Bottles Smackdown

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Here we’ve compared the best stainless steel water bottles available. Our family has tried over 40 water bottles over the years. We’ve chosen our favorites with their pros and cons. Here we compare and contrast the best stainless bottles on the market. We are still on our eternal quest for a water bottle made in the US but that is not a reality yet. There’s lots to consider when choosing a water bottle. Here’s what to think about:

  • Is it heavy empty
  • How many ounces it holds
  • Where will you bring it
    • Will it fit in backpack, lunch bag, purse, car drink holder, bike rack
    • Will you carry it on walks or hikes
  • Do you want to be able to put ice in it
    • How wide is the mouth
  • How do you carry it
    • Is there a handle on the lid
  • Can you buy replacement lids
  • How to access the water (screw top lid; pop-off lid)

Other considerations:

  • Is it painted or it is just stainless steel
  • Food grade stainless steel 18/8 or 18-8
  • Made in USA
  • Any plastic parts
    • Are they BPA-free

In the meantime, we have our favorite brands, including Klean Kanteen, CamelBak, Thinksport, and HydroFlask. We’ve decided to wrap it up once and compare these stainless steel water bottles in one go. We’ve put together this post which reviews and compares all of the best stainless steel water bottles on the market. Below you’ll see which bottles we like best, and why.

Stainless Steel Water Bottles

We detail which bottles are best that are insulated, which bottles aren’t made in China, which bottles have straws, even bottles that fit in bike holders.

Here are the Stainless Steel Water Bottle contenders:

  1. Klean Kanteen – You can read our full Klean Kanteen Stainless Steel Water Bottle Review here.
  2. CamelBak – You can read our CamelBak Stainless Steel Better Bottle Review here.
  3. New Wave Enviro – Another popular brand of water bottles.
  4. Thinksport – One of the first insulated stainless steel water bottles on the market.
  5. HydroFlask – The brand that made “keeping drinks cold for so long” popular to everyone. With the variety of colors and wide-mouth bottles that kids and teens everywhere wanted to own and decorate with stickers.
  6. Sigg – Disqualified! Contrary to popular belief it’s made from Aluminum.
    stainless steel water bottles

Stainless Steel Water Bottles Round-by-Round Winners


Want your drink to stay cool and not drip condensation? We have previously compared all of the best insulated stainless bottles in this post and these were our top choices for bottles: Thinksport and CamelBak both come insulated.


BPA-Free bottles are a must – you don’t want all of those hormone disrupting chemicals in your bottle.

So, which bottle was the best in this category?

All of our contenders passed tied this round as they are all BPA free water bottles.

Tops/Cap Options:

Do you want to hook your stainless steel bottle to carabiner some days and other days want a sport cap?

We like this option: Klean Kanteen offers 6 different types of tops.

Ease of Drinking:

Don’t like tipping your bottle upside down and risking water dribbling all over you? We have become huge fans of water bottles with straws.

You can read a full review of water bottles with straws here. The best choice in this category is CamelBak. Their Bite Valve and straw system makes drinking easy.


Want a good looking water bottle?

CamelBak has some fun designs, but I think Thinksport wins overall for a sleek, yet professional, yet fun look.

Variety of Sizes:

Depending on your activity you may want a large 40 ounce bottle or a small 12 ounce water bottle or perhaps somewhere in between.

CamelBak and Thinksport have two sizes, while New Wave Enviro and Klean Kanteen both come in four sizes.

Bike Water Bottle Holder Friendly:

If you bike a lot you definitely want a stainless steel water bottle that fits in your bike’s water bottle holder.

Which ones do?

With the exception of the 40 ounce bottle, all of Klean Kanteen’s bottles fit in a bike water bottle holder, making the Klean Kanteen the most reliable brand.

I use these while I commute on my hybrid bike.

Sippy Cup Option:

If you have kids, a stainless steel sippy cup is handy. But check out our list of the best bottles for kids. If you are looking to transition your child off of sippy cups, read our article about straws.

CamelBak stainless steel water bottle

Just a few week after pouring my heart out about Klean Kanteen stainless steel water bottles, CamelBak emailed me to let me know about their brand new line of insulated water bottles. They offered to send me one to try out and another to give away. I accepted. I’m the first to admit my bias towards Klean Kanteen and my initial thought was, ‘What can CamelBak’s bottle have that Klean Kanteen doesn’t?’

Well, turns out that the CamelBak stainless steel water bottle (BPA Free) has a upped the Klean Kanteen on several fronts. First, they offer an insulated water bottle. The CamelBak stainless steel water bottle is pretty amazing. It’s been my water bottle of choice for the past few weeks. The insulation does two things:

  1. It keeps the water cool and
  2. it prevents “sweating” or condensation build up on the bottle.

While my Klean Kanteen gets hot in the sun, the CamelBak does not. I had my CamelBak stainless steel water bottle filled with water while gardening in the sun for several hours and the water didn’t get warm. Or if I fill it with ice water and set it on my nifty roll top desk, I don’t have to worry about water marks from condensation. 

Second, the Bite Valve is a nice addition to the water bottle. At first I was wary of the CamelBak bite valve — the water bottle acts more like a glass with a straw than a traditional water bottle. But, it turns out the Bite Valve is handy because while driving, working out, or sitting at your desk, you don’t have to turn the bottle upside down and awkwardly tilt your head (dribbling water down your shirt).

CamelBak Stainless steel water bottle – What’s Not to Love

While the new addition to stainless steel water bottles is pretty amazing, the CamelBak Water Bottle falls short in a few ways:

Not 100% Stainless Steel

The straw and cap of the CamelBak is BPA free and Phthalates free, but they are still made out of plastic and silicone. If you’re looking to get rid of plastic in your life, then you’ll have to look elsewhere.

Here’s what CamelBak says about what’s in the cap:

“The CamelBak Better Bottle caps used on our stainless steel bottles are made primarily from polypropylene, with other plastics that are all BPA- and Phthalates-free. The bite valve is medical-grade silicone for long life and taste-free performance. The straw is made of polyethylene, the same material used in milk jugs.” Not Dishwasher Safe – In our new house we don’t (yet) have a dishwasher, but for folks who do – know that the CamelBak stainless steel water bottle is not dishwasher safe. The cap is, but the bottle itself isn’t.

Only holds a .5 Liters

Unfortunately the stainless steel water bottle only holds .5 liters of water. This is good enough for short treks, but not for longer ones. The .5 liter insulated bottle is actually the same size as the .75 liter non-insulated stainless steel bottle. But because of the vacuum insulation the insulated bottle weighs more and holds less.

CamelBak Overall Review

My dislikes aside, I think the CamelBak stainless steel water bottle are a great addition to the stainless steel water bottle market. If you’re already a CamelBak user and like the bite valve, I highly recommend either the insulated version or the regular version. If you don’t currently have a CamelBak water bottle and are looking for an insulated bottle, the insulated version is definitely worth purchasing. You’ll no longer have to worry about BPA.

CamelBak Frequently Asked Questions

On the CamelBak website they have a great question answer set about their water bottles.

What are CamelBak® Stainless Steel Bottles made of?

All materials in CamelBak bottles are selected for their safety, durability, and cleanability. All materials are BPA-free, phthalate-free and safe for use in a hydration bottle. The new CamelBak Better BottleTM Stainless Insulated .5L, Better BottleTM Stainless .75L, and CamelBak Kids BottleTM Stainless .4L are made with medical-grade stainless steel. Stainless steel is a special type of steel that is naturally stain-resistant, corrosion-resistant and taste free.

Because of these unique benefits, stainless steel is used in a variety of products from cookware and mugs to medical and surgical devices and food processing equipment. Stainless steel is strong, scratch-resistant and provides a naturally bright, clean finish without coatings or paints. The CamelBak Better Bottle™ caps used on our stainless steel bottles are made primarily from polypropylene, with other plastics that are all BPA- and phthalate-free. The bite valve is medical-grade silicone for long life and taste-free performance. The straw is made of polyethylene, the same material used in milk jugs.

Why stainless steel and not aluminum?

When we design a product we look for the best material to satisfy customer requirements. For metal bottles, consumers tell us they prefer the durability and purity of stainless steel. Aluminum bottles have to be made with an inner coating or liners—often with undisclosed ingredients—to protect the metal, which isn’t required on a stainless steel bottle. Stainless steel is also stronger, harder and more scratch resistant than aluminum, making a more durable long-lasting bottle for all your adventures.

What is BPA? Are the CamelBak stainless steel bottles BPA-Free?

Bisphenol-A is an ingredient used to make polycarbonate and certain other plastics. In recent months, there has been increasing consumer demand for a bottles made without Bisphenol-A (BPA). CamelBak is proud to offer all of its bottles in BPA-free materials, including the Better Bottle, the Classic Bottle, the Podium Bottle and the Performance Bottle. The new Stainless Steel bottles are also all BPA-Free.

All of our bottle products receive rigorous 3rd party testing to ensure that no harmful chemicals have been detected to come in contact with, or leach into food/beverage surfaces. Testing is completed to demonstrate compliance with the following US and international standards:

  • U.S. FDA (Food and Drug Administration) food safety standards
  • European Community food safety standards
  • Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare
  • California Prop 65

What are phthalates (pronounced Thal-ates)?

Phthalates are a component added to some plastics to make them soft and pliable. None of CamelBak’s bottles have ever contained phthalates. Some other bottles talk about “extruded” construction.

How are your stainless steel bottles constructed?

Metal extrusion is a process by which a single piece of metal is compressed under extremely high pressures to stretch it into a new shape, like a bottle. Extrusion processes place a lot of stress on the material and also consume a lot of energy. Our stainless steel bottles are made with a welded construction. At the start, a precision-rolled sheet of steel is cut and formed under low pressure into the shape of the bottle, then welded. Finally the bottle is ground and brushed to provide a finished appearance.

Welded construction gives more freedom and control over product shape and design, and also enables us to create a lightweight double-wall vacuum bottle for our .5L insulated Better Bottle. What is vacuum insulation and how is it made? To make our Insulated .5L bottle we first construct an inner and outer bottle which are sealed together and welded shut to be completely air-tight. Then the bottle is connected to a high-power vacuum pump which removes all the air from the gap in between the inner and outer bottle. Since there’s nothing to conduct heat across the gap, vacuum insulation is more effective than foam or other common insulating materials.

Vacuum insulation works so well, it is the technology of choice for cryogenic storage tanks and other high-performance insulating vessels. Our vacuum insulated bottle can keep your beverages cool for hours. The Better Bottle Stainless Insulated .5L and Better Bottle Stainless .75L are the same size and shape.

Why the volume difference?

Both the .75L and Insulated .5L bottles feature the iconic shape and design of the award-winning original Better Bottle. The double-wall construction of the Insulated .5L occupies some of the internal volume of the bottle, resulting in the reduced water capacity. I prefer the Stainless .75L bottle but still want insulation.

What other options do I have?

One option we can recommend is the CamelBak Insulated Bottle Sleeve. This neoprene sleeve fits the bottle like a glove, insulates the bottle in hot and cold weather, and comes in three color options.

Do I need to clean the bottle before first use?

The stainless steel bottle is easily cleaned by hand with a bottle brush, using warm water and mild soap if desired. The cap assembly can be cleaned in the top rack of a household dishwasher. The straw and bite valve may be removed from the cap to help provide better cleaning of the inside passages of the cap. It’s a good idea to place small parts in a top-rack basket, if available.

What’s the clear thing (or pink or green or blue) on top of the bottle for? Do I remove it or cut it to drink?

The silicone ‘cap’ is the CamelBak Big Bite™ Valve. This patented feature provides easy drinking and spill-proof safety. Do NOT remove or cut this piece to drink. Simply bite it slightly and sip as you would out of a straw.

What happens if I put sports drinks/juice in the Better Bottle?

Use of any of these drinks in the bottle is fine, but thorough cleaning after each use is recommended.

Can I use carbonated beverages?

We do not recommend the use of carbonated beverages in the bottle. Because of the spill-proof sealed construction of the bottle, carbonated beverages can cause pressure build-up in the bottle. This is not at all dangerous but can result in an experience like opening a shaken-up can of soda! If you want to use carbonated beverages with the Better Bottle, we recommend that you remove the straw and drink via “tip and sip.”

Is the CamelBak Better Bottle microwave safe?

Like any metal product, the stainless steel bottles should not be used in a microwave oven.

Can I freeze the CamelBak Better Bottle with Bite Valve?

You can freeze the bottle but make sure:

  • The bottle is not completely full when you do this (we recommend only 3/4 full to allow for expansion of the water as it freezes to ice).
  • The bottle is right side up
  • We also recommend that the bite valve stem NOT be flipped up or down if there is any frozen water in the tube.
  • Wait until thawed.

What happens if I take the straw off?

Removal of the straw allows a “tip and sip” mode of drinking.

How do I clean the CamelBak stainless steel bottles?

The stainless steel bottle is easily cleaned by hand with a bottle brush, using warm water and mild soap if desired. The cap assembly can be cleaned in the top rack of a household dishwasher. The straw and bite valve may be removed from the cap to help provide better cleaning of the inside passages of the cap. It’s a good idea to place small parts in a top-rack basket, if available.

Best Stainless Steel Water Bottles

So who won the Stainless Steel Water Bottle Smackdown? It depends on what you’re looking for. All four contenders offer something unique. Our personal favorite is the CamelBak. If you want a complete list of the winners by category, here they are:

The Winners: Best Stainless Steel Water Bottles

Best Insulated Bottle with Straw: CamelBak is your best bet.

Best for Cheapest Price and Overall Value: New Wave Enviro.

Best Overall for Brand Reliability: Klean Kanteen.

Stainless steel water bottles made in USA

Best for not made in China: Unfortunately, all stainless steel water bottles are made in China.

You can buy a BPA free Nalgene (plastic) or a glass water bottle if you want something made in the US.

If you want a company with sustainable practices and want stainless steel, we recommend Klean Kanteen.

You may also be interested in our post about ;Eco Vessel Surf vs Zulu glass water bottles.

You also might want to check out our:

It’s always a great idea to use a reusable water bottle whenever possible.

It’s an easy way to go green too.

You can get more fruits and vegetables in your diet by using a fruit infused water bottle for on the go and a NutriBullet while at home.

Check out our post about Best Stainless Steel Cookware: Set Showdown, which will help disentangle the safety issues with nonstick cookware.

Never buy a plastic water bottle again.

There are so many benefits to using stainless steel water bottles while on the go.

They are better for our environment than plastic and will save you money as well. Bring one with you wherever you go.

Others to consider:

  • Alex Stainless steel water bottles
  • New Wave Enviro