Words Louise Mahé
Cycling magazines are always nagging you to keep your hydration levels up, but the problem is, on longer rides you often find your drink taking on the ambient temperature you’re riding in — which is often the opposite of what you actually want. A good quality water bottle will help keep your drink cool.
On a freezing day, as drinks become Slush Puppies, a few sips can bring your core temperature right down. And in hot weather when all you crave is a nice cool drink, you take a swig and it’s lukewarm. This is where insulated bottles come in. They keep your drinks at the right temperature — hot or cold — at least for part of your ride.
Read on further down the page for advice on exactly what to look for in an insulated water bottle for cycling – but first, here are our favourites…
7 of the best insulated water bottles for cycling
CamelBak Podium Chill 610ml
(Claim: twice as long as a regular bottle)
Simple pattern and colours on the Podium Chill make it easy on the eye. The insulation makes it a bit of a squeeze to get it into the cage. The bottle uses a Jet Valve twisting lockout cap which is quite secure but can sometimes be incredibly tricky to open on the fly. One of the most popular bottles on the market, Camelbak originally started out with hydration packs but this number shows they are a dab hand at bottles too.
Elite Turacio Jossanova Cork Water Bottle 610ml
(Claim: thermal for three hours)
One of the greenest insulated bottles, both in colour and design, the Turacio Jossanova went against the grain of scientific advancements and uses cork as the basis of insulation. Insulated bottles are usually quite large to incorporate the insulation making the actual water volume smaller than expected but this debunks that, offering a good amount of space.
Elite Corsa Water Bottle 500ml
(no claim on insulation benefits)
We thought we’d find out if there really is a need for the insulated bottle and decided to throw a regular, uninsulated, bottle into the mix. Unsurprisingly, it’s not as protective as others in the mix. That being said, by having a larger body of water it takes a good hour or two before it started to warm our gullet instead of cooling it. So you could get away with a normal bottle on shorter rides.
Elite Nanogelite 650ml Water bottle
(Claim: up to four hours with cold liquid)
Getting a drink at the right temperature is a difficult task when you are out riding. The Elite Nanogelite water bottle uses an insulating layer of “nanogel” between the outer bottle and its inner container, which is claimed to be the lightest solid insulation in the world.
Polisport Hot and Cold 500ml Thermal Water Bottle
(Claim: up to three hours)
The Polisport’s clear cap that goes over the lid, while slightly irritating, is actually a great idea as it prevents the lid from getting dirty while on mucky, wet roads. However, getting liquid from the bottle was like getting blood from a stone; trying to squeeze this thicker-than-usual exterior was far too much effort. Also, its ability to retain temperature wasn’t great as by the third hour our drink was cold, but luckily didn’t get much colder over the fourth hour.
Zefal Arctica 500ml water bottle
(Claim: 2.5 hours)
One of the cheapest insulated bottles out there, the Zefal Artica boasts odourless technology, claiming that no matter what you put in it you won’t be tasting it for weeks after. The neat little bottle feels the same as a regular bottle but with a three layer lining it has to be a little bigger to incorporate 500ml of liquid.
Fabric Insulated Cageless water bottle
(Claim: not specified)
Taking their lauded cageless bottle design, Fabric have now combined that with their very own insulation design. Ridding the world of ugly bottle cages is one thing but to do so while keeping your water’s temperature down? We’re intrigued. Fabric don’t have any specific claims on how long the bottle keeps liquids insulated for but we welcome the addition.
What to look for in insulated water bottles for cycling
Insulated bottles often have to be a lot larger to hold the same amount of liquid as a regular bottle. this can sometimes make fitting it into your bottle cage a struggle, especially for those riding smaller frames. Some insulated bottles can be too large to even fit on your bike at all.
Obviously one of the main things to look for when buying an insulated bottle is how well it actually works. Different companies have come up with varying methods of retaining the liquid’s temperature, but sometimes thicker sidewalls that help insulate mean the bottle ends up not only being a lot larger but also harder to squeeze your liquid out of.
Even in non-insulated bottles there are various different types of lid, from the twist-lock cap that needs a squeeze (similar to a ketchup bottle) to the regular pop caps on normal cycling water bottles that you can open or close using your mouth. Often people have personal preferences regarding lids and we often feel it’s best to use what you know works for you.