Staying hydrated is critical to having a good day on the bike, particularly if you’re working hard or riding in the heat of summer. But when you’re focused on the road ahead, a no-brainer plan like “drink when you’re thirsty” can completely fall apart with even the tiniest barrier to fluid intake—like a leaky bottle valve, a hard-to-open mouthpiece, or a gross plastic taste to your water. The best water bottles solve those problems and make staying hydrated a little easier, so you don’t have to think about it. From high-flow valves that deliver more water at once, to inner silica coatings to fight odors and weird aftertastes, something as simple as water bottle design has come a long way. Here are our current favorites—all of which will fit into a standard bottle cage.
How We Tested
Every water bottle on this list has been evaluated and vetted by our experienced team of test editors. We research the market, survey user reviews, and use our own experience to determine the best options. It’s safe to say that we’ve each ridden thousands of miles with every type of water bottle under the sun caged to our frames, and over the years a few standouts have emerged based on performance, value, ease of use, price, and sometimes even aesthetics. Here’s what we recommend.
Specialized Big Mouth
While it’s nowhere near new, the Specialized Big Mouth bottle is one of our Gear of the Year winners this year because it’s still so hard to top. Our senior test editor Matt Phillips says “It’s one of the few perfect cycling products,” thanks to a leak-proof seal and valve that provides great flow, plus a wide mouth that’s easy to fill with ice cubes. It’s also simply inexpensive, easy to clean, easy to squeeze, and doesn’t make your water taste funny. What else could you want?
—NO PLASTIC TASTE—
Salsa Gravel Stories Purist Water Bottle
Bottles listed as using Specialized’s “Purist” design have a silica coating inside to prevent odor, stains, and mold from setting in. This translates to a far less plastic-tasting water that’s easy to clean in a dishwasher or by hand with dish soap, warm water, and zero scrubbing (in fact, Specialized recommends you don’t scrub). You can get Purist bottles directly from Specialized or in lots of variations from other brands, like this 26-ounce gravel-themed bottle from Salsa. My favorite aspect of the bottle is the MoFlo cap, which delivers high volume, never leaks, and is easy to open and close. The sides of the bottle are easy to squeeze for even faster chugging on hot days.
—BEST QUICK VALVE—
CamelBak’s genius Podium bottle has a self-sealing jet valve design that lets you suck water straight from the bottle without having to pull the valve open or push it shut with your teeth. It delivers a fast flow of water, never leaks, and is easy enough to drink from that my toddler always steals mine. You can also twist the cap to seal it off for easy transport inside a bag. The 24-ounce bottle itself is BPA, BPS and BPF-free, and made with a TruTaste material so your water will actually taste like water and never like the walls of the bottle. The only drawback is that it’s a bit harder to clean the valve than it is with a more standard mouthpiece.
—BEST FOR GERMOPHOBES—
CamelBak Podium Dirt Series
Getting a little gravel in your mouth builds character. But some trails are so finely crushed and silty that it’s hard to take a drink without feeling like you just chugged from a bucket of giardia-infested sand. (And let’s not even talk about trails that see a lot of horse traffic.) This 21-ounce bottle has everything we love about the CamelBak Podium, like its leak-free, self-sealing jet valve, plus an added mud cap to keep all the trail muck off the mouthpiece and out of your intestinal tract. The bottle is made of BPA-free TruTaste material so your water won’t have that weird plastic taste to it.
—BEST PRESERVATION OF ICE CUBES—
Polar Bottle Breakaway Insulated Water Bottle
Polar Bottle’s 24-ounce bottle has a triple wall of insulation that’s designed to keep your water cold twice as long. I’ve tested this claim many times over the course of a Texas summer, and while I think “twice” is a bold assertion, the bottle does keep my ice intact longer in dystopian 100-degree heat than any of my regular bottles. I haven’t tested whether the opposite is true on chilly rides (because, again, I live in Texas and 50 degrees is balaclava weather here), but I’ve heard you can also get an extra couple hours of Arctic-temperature pedaling before your hydration completely freezes. The bottle is also BPA- and Phthalate-free, and easy to wash in the dishwasher.
—BEST FOR THE WEIGHT-OBSESSED—
Elite Fly Bottle
Elite makes race-ready water bottles that are ridiculously lightweight. Someone like me—who rides a steel frame road bike with a saddlebag full of snacks, tools, and random roadside treasures—has no real need for a bottle that weighs only 54 grams, about 30 less than a traditional bottle. But for those of you looking to shave grams wherever grams are available to shave, the Fly Bottle is pretty cool. It’s made from a very thin, BPA-free plastic that’s easier to squeeze than most bottles, even with frozen fingers. It has an oversize silicone spout that’s quick to open and shut and doesn’t leak. And it’s also a killer bargain. At 18.6 ounces, the bottle is smaller than most other water bottles but does the job in a race or if you’re not riding long.
—BEST FOR THOSE "CURATING A LOOK"—
Coloral Water Bottle
If you’re the type to call a water bottle a “bidon”—and if you value timeless quality and style over, say, ease of midride drinking—the Coloral water bottle is the bidon for you. Reintroduced in 2018, the Coloral is a cult classic that hearkens back to the golden age of bike racing, before plastic began to dominate the cycling world’s bottle cages. It’s made of toxin-free and non-leaching stainless steel that’s been vacuum-insulated, so you can also fill it with hot coffee or cold brew. The bottle is lightweight and fits in modern bike cages, where it looks absolutely gorgeous resting against your vintage frame outside the coffee shop. The only potential downside is that it has a cork top, so you’ll have to work on your no-handed-riding skills if you want to take it on longer rides.
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