You’ve probably heard that drinking out of polycarbonate water bottles exposes you to Bisphenol-A (BPA). Why is that bad? Because BPA is a compound that messes with your endocrine system and your hormones — and you do not want something in your drinking water to mess with your hormones.
While there is not yet hard and fast evidence of what Bisphenol-A (pronounced: biss-FEE-nall) will do inside the male body, a recent Harvard School of Public Health study showed that college students who drank out of polycarbonate water bottles had a two-thirds increase in BPA in their urine. BPA is known to disrupt hormonal processes.
Canada, for their part, has already banned the use of BPA in manufacturing baby bottles.
When the negative news about BPA first came out, Nalgene kind of took it on the chin because their polycarbonate bottles contained BPA and they already had that wide-mouth dribbling problem, which meant that when you were in the car and you tried to drink from their bottles you’d end up dribbling BPA-laced water down your shirt. However, Nalegene dove head-first into the consumer confidence waters and brought out a number of BPA-free bottles. Good for Nalgene. Unfortunately, their bottles still dribble. Fortunately, there are many good alternatives to Nalgene bottles.
What are some good BPA-free water bottles to use? Below you’ll find recommendations of the best water bottles you can get that are BPA-free, linked to good sources to get them online…
But first consider what you’re going to put in your healthy water bottle. Are you still buying bottled drinking water? Well, don’t. That stuff is a waste of money, unless you’re dying of thirst. And when was the last time you were dying of thirst? That supposedly healthy bottled water that you buy at the supermarket is often nothing more than tap water. On top of that, a number of brands have been found to contain estrogen-mimicking chemicals. Not to mention other potential contaminants. It’s also more expensive than gasoline.
Tap water in the U.S. is mostly safe, certainly at least as safe as bottled water. And definitely cheaper. But there is one question you might want to ask yourself: are you concerned about things like chlorine in tap water? How about lead?
Though the tap water delivered to your house is supposedly uncontaminated, what is the condition of the pipes where you live? How old is your plumbing? I live in a building that was constructed in the early sixties and I’ll bet the plumbing is original. So I simply filter my tap water using a Brita pitcher and filter. It removes almost all the chlorine and several other potentially unwanted substances and is not too expensive.
It won’t remove traces of compounds such as pharmaceuticals or pesticides (for that your best bet is a multi-phase system that combines carbon filtration and reverse osmosis), but for what it does and the cost, why not? Though I don’t panic if I have to drink water from the tap, it’s nice to know that with a filter the water’s a little closer to the way nature intended.
So, what is a good, healthy water bottle to carry that you can fill up with filtered water? I’m glad you asked. Here are several of the best BPA-free water bottles to choose from…
This is a bottle that everybody likes: the CamelBak eddy Bottle with Sip Valve. You probably have heard of CamelBak in relation to hydration packs. Turns out they’re pretty good at making water bottles, too. Men’s Journal rated the predecessor of this bottle 9 out of 10, and CamelBak has since improved it. ConsumerSearch rated CamelBak as the best BPA-free plastic bottle. It’s available in multiple colors (including black) and 3 sizes: 1 liter, ¾-liter, and ½-liter. It’s got a handle. The Sip Valve lets you drink one-handed, so it’s easy to use when driving in the car or during other activities. (You can also order a “classic cap” for it, which you have to unscrew for drinking.) It fits in most cup holders. The bottle is made of a copolyester polymer called Tritan, which is BPA-free and phthalate-free. Yet it’s still durable like polycarbonate bottles. It’s dishwasher safe. And the price is good — $15 and under for most sizes.
You can also get some nifty accessories for it, such as an insulated bottle sleeve for the ¾-liter (25 oz.) bottle that will keep your liquids hot or cold, and which has a side grip strap and an attachment strap. Darned if those CamelBak people aren’t innovative…
And since they are innovative, they make a stainless steel version of the Better Bottle for those who want to avoid plastic (that’s it to the left). This bottle has also gotten good reviews. And it offers some nifty graphics options. Big Sky Country has this bottle now for a good discount.
Speaking of stainless steel water bottles...
Obviously, if you don’t want contaminants from plastic leaching into your water, you should avoid plastic. That leaves glass or stainless steel. (Of course, you could have a bottle made out of gold, but you’ll probably only do that if you’re a wealthy rapper. And then you’d need to hire a guy to guard it. And he’d probably still shoot you for it.)
Glass is nice, but it breaks too easily. Still, if you’re only going to be keeping a water bottle at your desk or in your car’s cup holder, glass would be okay. And it’s cheap. For example, you could get yourself some exotic European mineral water (bottled in glass, of course) and then re-use the bottle. Something of known quality. Something like Vichy Catalan (click the text link at left or bottle photo at right and see “Vichy Catalan” at La Tienda). Try some Vichy Catalan bottled water and let me know in the comments section below what you think. Not that the average American would have a clue what Vichy Catalan was. But you would know.
But when it comes to active uses — I mean, like, sports — nothing sucks worse than being on a 22-mile training run on the road outside Badwater, California, stumbling in a hole and dropping your glass water bottle and having it shatter, splashing your precious liquid all over the asphalt, where it dries up in the 108° heat in about 4 seconds, and then you have to turn around and try to jog back to town and you get dehydrated, go into severe protein catabolism, your core temperature reaches 106°, and you die from heat stroke.
All because you carried a glass water bottle because you were afraid of plastic compounds leaching into your water.
Stainless steel water bottles are tough and don’t contain BPA. There are a number of steel bottles out there and I reviewed a bunch of them. Some of the more popular ones are not that great. For example, a number of people like the bottles from Klean Kanteen. But Men’s Journal only gave them a 7 (that’s a C in my book) and there is enough other criticism of Klean Kanteen in reviews that I don’t feel comfortable recommending them as your top choice.
So, what are the best steel water bottles?
First of all, it’s not Sigg. Some people seem to like Sigg. Their bottles are, however, made of aluminum, and since aluminum has health-related issues of its own, the bottles have an inner liner to protect you from the aluminum. Sigg formerly had a good business relationship with Patagonia. But then Patagonia found out that Sigg lied to them about the inner liner not being made with BPA, when in fact it was. Patagonia severed their relationship with Sigg and pulled Sigg’s products from their stores. Sigg now says that its liners are made with a co-polyester coating that is BPA-free. But why believe them?
Here are some top-rated stainless steel water bottles, both insulated and uninsulated…
First: the Thinksport 750 ml Stainless Steel Sports Bottle. It’s gotten good reviews, both from customers, online, and in publications. The bottle is made with several thoughtful approaches: it’s double-walled and vacuum-sealed, so it keeps liquids hot or cold; the lid has two opening options (a smaller opening for drinking and a bigger one for adding ice cubes); it’s got a mesh filter in the opening so ice or tea leaves don’t come out when you’re drinking; it’s made of medical-grade 304 stainless steel.
The company has a cool, informative website. Plus they’re nicely designed. You can get it in a 25-ounce size, and in several colors, including silver and matte black. The price is discounted here. This bottle has been well-reviewed by, among others, ZRecommends, The Gear Journal, Tennis Magazine, and BigFire Camping Gear. Another good thing: I did not come across any complaints that the water from the Thinksport bottle had a metallic taste as sometimes happened with other stainless steel bottles. Plus I also like the company’s approach to customer service — I read an account of them solving a customer’s problem in a couple of days, and a company representative wrote a response to an issue a reviewer raised on one website. These guys apparently care.
Among the best stainless-steel water bottles is the Thermos Stainless Steel Insulated Hydration Bottle. This bottle is also insulated, as you might expect from Thermos, and comes in 18- and 26-ounce sizes. It’s got two opening options: a push-button “sipper lid” (which is lockable), and a screw top for pouring and inserting ice cubes. It fits most auto cupholders. In checking customer reviews, it was praised by users for its everyday versatility and ruggedness, plus its ability to keep hot things hot and cold things icy. A cyclist found that it fit well in his bicycle’s bottle holder. A hunter liked that he could fill it with coffee, toss it in his backpack without worrying about leakage, have the coffee stay warm all day, and that the bottle opens and closes quietly. In general, customers seem to love this bottle. It’s not only a good-quality product, the price is quite reasonable.
You can’t go wrong with either of the above stainless steel bottles. But you may not be a fan of stainless steel or you may have other requirements for your bottle. Well, there are other options. Here are a few more that should meet your hydration needs…
Sport bottles and other useful water bottles
Sometimes you want to carry more water than a 12- or 25-ounce bottle holds — for example, for an all-day road trip in your car. Or a day-long picnic at a place without drinking fountains. Or at a construction job site. Or you want to have enough for more than one person. This bottle will fit the bill: the New Wave Enviro 2.2-Liter Eastar Resin Bottle (it also comes in a 1-gallon size). It’s made of a BPA-free material that has a number 1 recycle code. The company describes the material as being a rigid, glass-like material that will not shatter. I don’t know if it’s exactly “glass-like” except that you can sort of see through it, but it is tough, it’s easily recyclable (though you should be able to use this bottle, with occasional washing with soap and water, or a little vinegar, for a long time), and is FDA-approved and NSF 51 certified (NSF International is an organization that develops standards for products relating to public health and safety). At less than $7, this product is also a bargain. I’ve used it; it works well. I’ve also used New Wave Enviro stainless steel water bottles for years and have no complaints.
A platypus is a combination of a duck and a beaver. (Well, not really, but you didn’t come here for natural history, did you?) What that has to do with Platypus water bottles I’m not sure, unless it relates to adaptive multi-functionality in an aquatic situation. You see, the 1-liter Platypus PlusBottle is like no other water bottle on the market. It’s made of flexible, tough plastic that smooths flat or rolls up when empty, taking up much less space (even when partially full) than a similarly-sized hard bottle. Stash it empty in your shoulder bag when you’re going through airport security, then fill it up at a drinking fountain to carry on your flight. Shove a couple in your backpack to fill later when you boil/filter/treat water.
The BPA-free PlusBottle holds one liter of water. It’s made with an improved “film” and has the addition of a new, natural, silver-ion-based anti-microbial treatment to prevent “gunk” and preserve the fresh (not plasticky) taste of the water. The mid-section is tapered for easy handling and there’s a hang loop. You can use different tops with this bottle, including hydration tubes and related accessories. And, unlike other healthy water bottles, it can be a conversation-starter as well. One reviewer said this bottle will get you a girlfriend, guaranteed. I don’t know about that, but you can start out by offering to let her hold your swollen bottle (or help you fill it up). This healthy water bottle is made in the USA (the Platypus company has been around for awhile) and is not expensive. It’s maybe the most versatile 1-liter bottle available. Platypus has won the award for “Best Hydration System Brand” from Dandelion Magazine (now Women’s Adventure). Right now it’s under $13 at Moosejaw, one of my favorite outdoor retailers.
Last, I don’t want to neglect you sports-minded, athletic types, especially bike riders, so following are some healthy, BPA-free bottles that should do the trick for you — first, the Polar Insulated Water Bottle. It will keep your liquids cold on long rides and should fit most bike water bottle cages. The smaller size might also fit in day-pack and some fanny-pack water bottle holders for hiking. They come in 20-ounce and 24-ounce sizes and a variety of colors. The 20-oz. is 9 inches tall and the 24-oz. is 10½ inches tall (measure your cage clearance before ordering). They cost only about $9 from TriVillage.
Finally, we began with CamelBak and we’ll conclude with CamelBak. The CamelBak Podium Bottle is made to fit bike water-bottle cages. It comes in 21– and 24-ounce capacities. The bottle material is called “TrueTaste,” which is a proprietary blend of polypropylene, is BPA-free, and supposedly does not affect the taste of your beverage (a couple of reviewers complained about taste but it could have been a case of not cleaning the bottle thoroughly).
It has a “Jet Valve,” which is a valve designed to let you suck or squirt the liquid without having to raise or lower a stopper. (It’s also different than CamelBak’s “bite” valve.) Reviewers praised this feature, especially it’s leak-proofness and lack of mess, but again, a couple said their bottle leaked. CamelBak (or Moosejaw) would most likely replace a bottle that had any problems; both companies have good customer service. They’re around $10, so get a couple so you can go long and hard without getting thirsty.
A superior version of the CamelBak Podium Bottle is the CamelBak Podium Chilljacket bottle. Men’s Journal picked the 21-ounce Chilljacket Bottle as the best water bottle of the year last year. The Chilljacket adds insulation to the regular Podium Bottle. The magazine’s testers praised its ability to keep water or a sports beverage cold for several hours — just the thing for long mountain bike or road rides during the summer. Click the image to get it from Rock Creek or here to get it from Mountains Plus.
If you prefer a hipper style of water bottle that’s also as functional as the ones reviewed here (and will still work for sports), see my post on the unique and useful bottles from MiiR.
Stay hydrated, my friend.
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