By Nigel Wynn
Whether you are riding on the hottest, coldest, wettest or even just a regular day in a temperate climate, on the bases that 60 per cent of your body is composed of water, it's important to keep liquid levels topped up with the help of the best cycling water bottle.
With dehydration and carbohydrate depletion both leading to mental and physical fatigue, it's vital to ensure both are topped up on the bike year round.
Read on further down the page for advice on exactly how to pick your perfect cycling water bottle, but first, here's a few of our favourites...
Best non-leak cycling water bottle
- Pros: Leak-proof, BPA, BPS and BPF free, Trutaste, easy squeeze, size, colour & function options,
- Cons: Tricky to clean lid, price, almost too much choice
- Sizes: 20oz/ 620ml - 24oz/ 710ml
- Options: Insulated, size, custom, replaceable lid & dust cap.
If there's one do it all range of bottles, it's the CameBak Podium series. There are around 13 to choose from, which can make narrowing down the choice pretty tricky.
We think it's hard to go wrong with starting out with the standard CameBak Podium, as of the best cycling water bottles on the market.
Features on event the most basic and smallest version include easy squeeze for quick bottle to mouth transfer on the move and a plastic free taste thanks to what CamelBak call Trutaste, which prevents odours and nasty tastes to keep your drink fresh.
But the best thing about the CamelBak Podium range is the anti-leak lids. From preventing sticky damp kit and bags, boots of cars or even just prevention of energy drink cascading over your white cycling shoes when descending altitude the twist lock cap does the best job we've come across.
All of the range is BPA, BPS and BPF free, and there is a range of colours and sizes to choose from, even insulated, for warm or extra cold drinks and dust caps for off road rides. There's even an after market lid available to buy, which is a good job as from experience these are one of the more tricky valves to keep clean.
Camelbak say that the bottles are optimised for cage fit, ensuring that the bottle stays put no matter the terrain.
With so many features, the range is more expensive than other cycling water bottles, but you do get what you pay for.
Elite Jet biodegradable
Best cycling water bottle for ease of use
- Pros: Flow regulation, easy to use, biodegradable, size range, lightweight, rubber nozzle, BPA, BPS and BPF free
- Cons: Can be tricky to get popular sizes
- Sizes: 12oz/350ml, 19oz/550ml, 25oz/750ml and 32oz/950ml
- Options: Sizes, colours
With it's rubber nozzle and easy squeezy bottle, the Elite Jet has become a go to option for a few folk here at Cycling Weekly.
We've found that managing fluid flow rate on the bottle one of the easiest we've come across, and the fact that it's biodegradable is a big bonus too, which Elite claiming a compost breakdown of up to five years, over several hundred for a regular plastic bottle.
There are four sizes in the range and on test we've found the 19oz/550ml the perfect size for an average sized bike frame with two bottle cages.
The largest option is great for hot rides with limited/ no refill options, but if you have a small bike frame, you may struggle to get it to fit.
There are a handful of colours to choose from, with the clear our favourite as you can ensure it's been thoroughly cleaned.
A perfect cycling water bottle with no compromising eco-credentials.
Science in Sport 600ml water bottle
Best cycling water bottle on a budget
- Pros: Price, easy to clean, BPA free, wide neck
- Cons: Harder plastic than others, Can pinch lip on closing, can leak
- Sizes: 20oz/ 600ml, 25oz/750ml, 34oz/1ltr
- Options: Sizes, two colours
There's probably not many cycling households who haven't owned a Science in Sport (SiS) water bottle at some point, often coming free with energy / electrolyte drink bundles.
There are three sizes to choose from and even a opaque Fluro yellow version which all cost not much more than a take out coffee, the SiS water bottle is a great cycling water bottle for anyone on a budget.
The wide neck makes filling with energy or hydration powder very easy, and it's simple pull-push nozzle effective, although the firmer rubber has been known to pinch a lip on closing if not careful, and does have a tendency to leak if shaken vigorously or on it's side, especially after being used a while.
The 600ml version fits easy in to most bottle cages, although the firmer plastic does mean it's not as easy to grip by the cages, or rider so can be easy to drop, as well as making the flow rate a bit harder to control.
Best cycling water bottle for matching with your kit
- Pros: Colours, BPA free, 100% recyclable plastic, Purist technology
- Cons: Price, opaque only,
- Sizes: 21oz/ 625ml , 34oz/1ltr
- Options: Sizes, two colours
Made by Specialized , the Rapha Bidon features the well know Purist technology which protects the inside of the bottle from external taste, mold or staining.
Having previously used the Camelbak Podium bottle, there was slight outcry when Rapha moved to using Specialized and it's unlockable nozzle system, but from experience the wide and soft nozzle is easy to use on the move and open and close with just your mouth, if not quite a leak proof.
The malleable bottle is easy to squeeze and regulate flow as well as helping you or your bottle cage keep a secure hold.
There are two sizes to choose from and a handful of colours to match Rapha's classic kit colourways, but it doesn't come cheap, although it's probably the most affordable piece of Rapha kit you'll own.
Specialized Purist MoFlo
Best cycling water bottle for plastic-free taste
- Pros: Purist technology, BPA free, easy flow, easy-to-squeeze, easy clean
- Cons: Price,
- Sizes: 22oz/ 650ml , 26oz/760ml
- Options: Sizes, other options in range
With so many bottles in the Specialized range to choose from, the MoFlo stands out for it's simplicity.
As the manufacturer behind so many other branded bottles, it only seems right to have the founder included in the best cycling water bottle buyers guide.
Having tested the Purist technology across multiple bottles, it's one of the best for ensuring that the liquid inside retains it's own flavour, with even water still tasting the same after a few hours in the bottle, even on warm days.
The MoFlo nozzle is easy to use on the move thanks what Specialize call a wider than average water channel, delivering up to a claimed 50 per cent more than other brands of bottle, although be warned - this will overwhelm most small children, making this probably the best cycling water bottle for hosing down kids!
The easy-to-squeeze low density plastic (LDPE) ensures both rider and cage have a secure grip on the bottle as well as delivering a controllable flow rate (unless grabbed with the force of the above mentioned small child).
It's not the cheapest on the market, but a no regret purchase that does a great job.
Best cycling water bottle for weight-weenies
- Pros: Uber lightweight, easy to use, multiple colours and sizes, price, BPA free, 100% recyclable
- Cons: can leak
- Sizes: 16oz/ 550ml , 25oz/750ml, 32oz/950ml
- Options: Sizes, colours
At just 54g for the 16oz/ 550ml bottle, the Elite Flyweight is the ideal cycling water bottle for anyone looking for every ounce of weight saving they can find, and comes with a 'lightest cycling bottle in the world' claim.
Elite say this weight saving is made by using a changing density of plastic body, which also makes the bottle very malleable, so easy to control the flow rate on the move.
The softer than average body along with the design also helps to keep this great cycling water bottle secure in both the cage and rider's hand, meaning less chance for it to get dropped (although might be a tricky one to hand up in a feedzone).
The compact design of all three sizes also makes it easy to fit smaller sized bike frames, great news for rides with limited refill opportunities.
The soft push-pull nozzle is easy to use and does come apart for cleaning, but can be prone to leaking when on its side after significant use.
There is a huge choice of colours to choose from in the range, making it easy to match with any colour scheme, but if in doubt, go with transparent for ensuring that you've thoroughly cleaned it.
What is the best cycling water bottle for cycling?
There is not such thing as the ultimate cycling water bottle. In fact it's highly likely that you'll have a few favourites depending on the ride, terrain, weather, bike. So it's worth thinking about the kind of riding you do and buy for your needs. For example, if you like the occasionally off road adventure, look for easy to grip bottles, if you're planning a long day in the saddle, a large volume bottle means less re-fill stops.
Are insulated cycling water bottles worth it?
On cold day on the bike, your drink can soon become a Slush Puppy, as the wind chill will make the cycling temperature much colder. A few sips of this icy liquid will reduce your core temperature, making you feel even colder.
On a hot day in the saddle, when all you crave is a nice cool drink, taking a swig of tepid liquid can make you feel even thirstier.
While an insulated bottle won't offer endless hours of hot or cold fluid, the best insulated cycling water bottle will keep it closer to the original temperature for longer. This will certainly provide a more appealing drink, and the likelihood of keeping hydrated on even the coldest days on the bike, and reduce the chances of cycling and cramp.
The double wall body and insulation will impact on the malleability (squeezibility) of the bottle though, which in turn can reduce grip for both rider and bottle cage, as well as the control over the flow rate.
Insulated bottles also are often limited to larger sizes too, so make sure you can fit one on your bike.
Does the size really matter?
Absolutely. It's a little frustrating that there is no standard size, as this would make mixing your energy or hydration drink a lot easier, so make sure you take account amend the dose accordingly.
The most common cycling water bottle is around the 20oz/ 550ml size. Even small frames should be able to accommodate two bottles of this volume at the same time.
While it can be tempting to go for the biggest volume, remember that unless you have a large frame, or very low bottle cage mounts, you might struggle to accommodate one, or remove and drink safely from it on the move.
An alternative is to mix and match and have the larger bottle mounted in the seat tube bottle cage, and a smaller bottle in the downtube one. There should be enough space for this double act on most bikes, allowing you to decant from the larger bottle to refill the smaller one.
Even if you have a large enough frame to fit two 34oz/ 1ltr bottles on, don't underestimate the weight this will be when trying to drink from it while riding one handed, let alone the extra haul on your bike.
What is the healthiest water bottle for cycling?
Like any drinking bottle, dedicated cycling water bottles need to be cleaned after every use.
Almost all reusable cycling water bottles are now made from BPA-free plastic and all will use food-grade materials.
Some of the water bottles will use a system to reduce odour and mould build up. These are often a coating, but again will be a food-safe standard.
While it's tempting to selected the best cycling water bottle colour to match your bike or kit, it can be tricky to tell if all residue has been removed and that no mould has built up on the darker and more opaque bottles, so if you have questionable washing up skills/ time then go with transparent, it's also easier to see how much liquid you have left at a glance.
The biggest area to keep an eye on is the lid and nozzle. Most will pull apart, but the more complicated the drinking mechanism, the trickier it will be to ensure it's thoroughly clean. Most will pull apart (check manufacturers for how too guide rather than brute force) and ideally give everything an overnight soak in a sterilisation solution or put in a dishwasher (ensuring it's dishwasher safe) on a hot wash to sanitise.
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