Reviews you can trust.

See why.

Plastic and Metal Water Bottles

Smart, durable, and spill-proof, one bottle clobbers the competition.

Updated May 16, 2023
Update, May 2023

Our winning plastic water bottle, the Nathan LittleShot, has been discontinued. In its place, we recommend the Nalgene Wide Mouth. We will be publishing a new review of plastic, metal, and insulated water bottles soon.

Top Picks

See Everything We Tested

What You Need To Know

The alley behind the test kitchen isn’t exactly a bucolic place to spend a breezy afternoon, but I, along with a photographer and videographer, had important work to do: dropping refillable water bottles onto the pavement, over and over again, to test their durability. Call it a cold, hard real-world test.

We were evaluating eight different water bottles. There are thousands for sale, so we narrowed our lineup to stick with a few key parameters.

First, we focused on basic single-walled bottles and considered only BPA-free models. (BPA stands for bisphenol A, an industrial chemical used in some plastics. It’s currently under review by the FDA, but critics claim that it can leach into food and cause health problems.) Also, we nixed straws because they’re difficult to clean thoroughly and tend to get funky fast. We avoided bottles made from glass, too, because it’s heavy and, of course, breakable. And we were strict on price; anything north of twenty bucks was out. Our final lineup of eight bottles, each costing between about $10 and $20, was made up of five plastic bottles, two stainless-steel ones, and a soft plastic pouch.

We wanted a bottle that was easy to fill, open, close, carry, clean, and sip from. It also had to be spill-proof and exceptionally durable. Before each bottle plummeted toward the pavement, a succession of testers evaluated its basic functionality. We then filled them with an electric-yellow sports drink and let them sit for 24 hours to check for unwanted staining. Some were dishwasher-safe, while others weren’t; we hand-washed or ran each through the machine 10 times, depending on manufacturer instructions, to check for wear and tear.

We bought extras of each bottle and assigned them to staffers, with the stipulation that they use them every day for two weeks and take them wherever they go. The bottles went to work in the test kitchen and at local restaurants; they went on long walks around the city, hiking in the mountains, to the gym, and to yoga; they rode in cars, trains, and buses and sat on the couch through Netflix marathons; one even took a weekend trip to Cape Cod.

Meanwhile, we ventured into the alley with our eight testing copies. We shook each full bottle vigorously upside down for 10 seconds and then dropped each from shoulder height onto the hard pavement—upside down, right side up, and sideways. Only half the bottles survived.

Of the three materials the bottles were made from, the soft plastic pouch was too squishy and awkward for everyday use. The stainless-steel canisters were problematic, too; testers sometimes spilled while filling them because they couldn’t see inside, and they dented ea...

Everything We Tested

Good : 3 stars out of 3.Fair : 2 stars out of 3.Poor : 1 stars out of 3.


Recommended with reservations

Not Recommended


*All products reviewed by America’s Test Kitchen are independently chosen, researched, and reviewed by our editors. We buy products for testing at retail locations and do not accept unsolicited samples for testing. We list suggested sources for recommended products as a convenience to our readers but do not endorse specific retailers. When you choose to purchase our editorial recommendations from the links we provide, we may earn an affiliate commission. Prices are subject to change.
accolades badge

Reviews you can trust

Reviews you can trust

The mission of America’s Test Kitchen Reviews is to find the best equipment and ingredients for the home cook through rigorous, hands-on testing. We stand behind our winners so much that we even put our seal of approval on them.