One of the most common questions I get is “What do you use to carry water?” The short answer is: “I use a Nalgene for short hikes less than 10 miles and a Camelbak for over 10 and pair it with the Nalgene or the collapsible Vapur bottle because I don’t want the added weight. ” (Since I take a lot of notes and photos and typically hike with the kids I am already carrying plenty of gear weight!)
I also try to only use products Made in the USA and look out for BPA which can be used in the lining of water bottles without the manufacturer having to tell you. (More info on BPA)
Go into an outfitters or sporting goods section of a box store and the array of choices is overwhelming. Here is a breakdown of my experiences and opinions about each kind of water bottle:
Nalgene: Made in the USA, no BPA, great design, various sizes to choose from, seals tight, some sizes have wide mouths big enough for ice cubes, and the bottles are nearly indestructible. I have one that is green and I have accidentally left it on top of the van, started to drive, had it tumble off, smack the ground and only have a small nick on the bottom edge! The only downside is the weight of the bottle which is why I use it on short hikes and for road trips.
CamelBak: Rugged and is literally a plastic bladder with a tube attached and the entire contraption is housed in a backpack. At the end of the tube is a bite value. Bite the value and it is like slightly turning on a spigot. This is a great water carrier if you are doing mileage or have other things to balance with your hands i.e. walking rambunctious children or dogs or trying to push a stroller. There is no downside to this pack if you do everything correctly (all the connections connected correctly) and keep the bladder clean and dry between uses. One time I didn’t properly close the lid and had the bladder slowly leak. Not much water leaked but hiking with a wet back isn’t fun. Also, if you have just the CamelBak version it is cumbersome to carry it and a backpack. But, you can buy a CamelBak backpack — problem solved.
Vapur: I discovered this little guy in my favorite store. The collapsible water bottle is Made in the USA and it has fairly wide mouth (can fit in crushed ice), screw on lid, flip top opening, and a clip. I haven’t used the clip because it didn’t look hearty enough to take a beating. But I have used this water bottle as the hidden back-up bottle. Since it is collapsible–it is easy to hide it in my pack or slide it into my makeshift compartment underneath the pack.
Metal: Durable and seals tight. I tried to use metal but the added weight frustrated me. I got the bright idea to freeze a half bottle of water (angled and on a side) and actually busted the sidewall! And, if you have kids here is a link to a hidden danger I would have never thought of: http://www.today.com/news/metal-water-bottles-can-endanger-kids-1B7904393. Make sure the bottle you are getting really is stainless steel and not aluminum which will come with a plastic lining.
Thermos: Keeps your drink hot or cold. While it would be nice to have a cold drink of water I don’t think I could handle the extra weight without having a conniption fit somewhere along the way. But, there are times during the summer heat a nice cold drink would be a welcome retreat! But, now that I think about it, I must say it would be pretty awesome to do a winter hike to Buzzardroost and then enjoy a steaming hot cocoa with the kids!
All in all the choice is a personal one and you’ll likely try a few different things before finding the perfect solution for how you hike. If you find cool new gear let me know by sending me a message on Facebook!