There are lots of bottles on the market that are vacuum sealed and insulated so as to keep your cold drinks or water cold or your hot drinks hot. Whether you want to drink a piping hot homemade coffee after you reach work or icy cold water throughout a long and tiring hike, a good insulated water bottle is one of the most useful travel accessories to have. But not all bottles are created equal and it’s the little details in design, form and function that you should look at to choose the right one for you. Our insulated stainless steel water bottle reviews will do just that but we’ll also go over the features that differentiate each.
How are Vacuum Insulated Bottles Made?
An insulated bottle is made up of multiple layers. Or there is a container within a container with space in between that’s either filled with an insulating material or contains nothing at all, i.e. a vacuum. In the beginning of insulated bottle technology, a liquid foam layer in between two plastic or steel layers was used to keep cold liquids cold, while a vacuum layer in the middle was used for keeping hot liquids hot. However, modern technology uses vacuum-packed bottles for both hot and cold liquids. All air between the outer and inner layer is sucked out and the bottle layers are sealed tightly with silicone. Since heat needs some medium to travel through, the vacuum inside creates a barrier and thus helps the liquid inside retain its temperature for a longer period of time.
How to Choose the Best Vacuum Sealed Water Bottle
If your primary use for the bottle is to take it with you to a gym or on hikes, then you can overlook a bottle that doesn’t do a great job keeping coffee hot for long, but it must keep your water or sports drink cold for many hours. If you have long commutes by train or car and you want hot coffee at the end of it or want a mid afternoon pick me up, then you’ll need a bottle that’s good for hot beverages. If you want a hot coffee or tea for work and later a cold drink for the gym, then pick a bottle that is good for both where you can just rinse it out in between.
Here’s a good tip for keeping your liquids at the desired temperature for longer. To maximize the insulation technology, you should either pre-heat or pre-chill the drink bottle just prior to use. All you have to do is fill the bottle with cold or hot tap water, close the lid and let it rest for a few minutes. Before you are ready to use, just empty the water out and fill the bottle with your desired beverage. Closing the lid immediately will further increase the thermal efficiency.
If you usually drive to work and like to store the bottle in the cup holder, the maximum capacity will range between 17 ounces and 20 ounces, depending on the diameter and design of the bottle.
A very long bottle might need an extra long bottle brush to clean inside.
The lid is also important and there are various types you may be able to choose from. If you like not having to tilt your head back to take a sip, there are models that feature a lid with a straw that you can suck through. If you want to be able to sip quickly, choose a flip top instead of a screw cap. However, a screw cap is usually leak proof even if the bottle is dropped on its head. Being leak proof is very important, especially if you’re going to carry the bottle inside a bag.
If it’s a screw top bottle, a few models come with the threads on the inside of the mouth rather than the outside so as to make sipping without liquid run off easier.
A large in-built carabiner clip or loop on the lid allows you to hang it off your bike, backpack, baby carrier, picnic backpack, or belt instead of requiring you to carry it in your bag. It also makes it more convenient to carry in your hand.
Insulated Water Bottles for Hot and Cold Drinks
There’s no need to buy yourself two different bottles if you need to switch between hot and cold drinks. There are enough choices these days that can insulate both types of drinks equally well. Of course, a hot drink or hot water is not going to taste good after more than 12 hours in the bottle so that’s usually the upper limit there. Cold drinks with ice should be able to stay cold for up to 24 hours in the well insulated bottle as long as you don’t open it too often.
As long as the bottle is easy to clean, you can have just one to take turns keeping you hydrated. The following are the best water thermos options for both.
Thermos Stainless King 24 Ounce Drink Bottle
We rate the 24 oz Thermos Stainless King as the absolute best insulated stainless steel water bottle for travel, especially if you want it for hot beverages that must stay hot for many hours. It is not cheap but then the best things in life rarely are.
This is a high quality stainless steel water bottle with flip top lid that seals so tight that you can place the full bottle on the seat next to you in your car and not a drop will leak. That’s good because it won’t fit in standard cup holders.
When you want a sip you unlock the flip lid with just a push of a button on the front. You can do it with the same hand that’s holding the bottle. It is designed for smooth flow such that you can sip straight from it without fear of spilling and the flow is controlled. Or if you prefer, you can pour the drink out into a cup first. This is probably wise if you’re using it for hot drinks that are still piping hot because you risk burning your lips! The insulation is so good that it will keep hot drinks hot for 12 hours and cold drinks cold for 24 hours and is the best hot beverage container for travel.
There are a few rich colors to choose from too.
Takeya Originals Vacuum-Insulated Water Bottle
This Takeya Originals Vacuum-Insulated Stainless-Steel Water Bottle can be used by the active traveler when hiking or riding a bus, as the leakproof spout lid will prevent your drink from spilling out onto your clothes or in your bag. No straw necessary! When you want to take a swig, just twist and flip the spout lid back with the same hand’s thumb. The hinge lock will prevent the cap from falling back on your nose when you lean back for the sip! It doesn’t matter if your other hand is busy with something else. The narrow spout also prevents your drink from spilling when you sip or pour out a drink, but the bottle’s mouth is wide enough for allowing a standard bottle brush through and filling it fast from a pitcher or ice machine.
This double wall 18/8 food-grade stainless steel vacuum-sealed bottle will keep your cold drinks cold for 24 hours and the outside wall will stay dry throughout. Your hot drinks will stay hot for up to 12 hours and you can hold the bottle by its body even immediately after you fill it up with the hot drink. The lid is also insulated so that your drink’s temperature can stay stable for much longer. The flavor of your drink won’t be affected even after many hours, as the materials used are all BPA and rust-free.
The lid has a silicone grip so that it’s easy to open for refilling even if your hands are sweaty. The double powder coating on the outer wall allows you to get a sure grip, but you don’t have to hold the bottle that way if you don’t want to because there’s a big and strong carry loop attached to the bottle’s cap. This loop can also be clipped onto your belt or backpack using a carabiner.
Choose a bottle from several sizes ranging from 14 oz to 40 oz. The 24 oz size will fit in all car cup holders, while the 32 oz one will fit in most except a few. The 40 oz size is probably the best 40 oz insulated water bottle on the market.
Simple Modern Wave Water Bottle
Sometimes simple but effective is the name of the game. If what you’re looking for is an insulated water bottle that’s sleek and smooth in design, then there are two great options for you. Just like its name suggests, the Simple Modern Wave Water Bottle is one and it may also be the best double wall water bottle you can buy.
The largest capacity available is 34 ounces, while the smallest is 9 ounces. Best of all, you can choose from over 30 different colors and designs to make your bottle stand out in a crowd. Most cup holders will hold the 9 and 17 ounce bottles but not the 25 and 34 oz ones. The mouth is narrow to prevent spills when drinking from it and the simple twist cap is also insulated and leak-proof. The caps of the various sizes are not interchangeable.
These double wall vacuum insulated stainless steel water bottles have the exterior of the inner wall dipped in copper for added insulation. The largest capacity bottle keeps cold liquids cold for 36 hours and hot liquids hot for 14 hours, while the smallest bottle is rated for 18 hours and 5 hours.
You should only hand wash these bottles but the simple design makes that very easy with a bottle brush meant for narrow neck bottles.
MIRA Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Water Bottle
At first glance, the MIRA Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Cola Shape Bottle does look almost identical to the Simple Modern Wave bottle above but there are some subtle differences. While the one above has a sleek and shiny surface, most of the Mira color options have a matte finish that is more susceptible to scuffs. You get this bottle in 3 sizes, 12 oz being the smallest and 25 oz being the largest. There is no added copper insulation here and this means that your drinks won’t hold their temperature for as long as the Simple Modern Wave, but most people find that it’s adequate for their needs. Everything else is almost the same – narrow neck mouth for easy drinking and leak-proof twist cap.
You may find that standard ice cubes won’t fit through the necks of these bottles.
If you like the simple design but prefer a wide mouth stainless steel water bottle, then Mira also makes a Wide Mouth Water Bottle. These are available in many more sizes, including a 40 oz capacity. However, the size of the opening is the same for all the sizes at 2.2 inches, so if your ice dispenser makes standard or large ice cubes any of these bottles will work. The stainless steel caps are similarly twist type but they won’t fall or get lost when you open them, as they are anchored to the neck of the bottle. You can also buy any of the other Mira caps, like the Straw lid, Flip lid or Spout lid to fit these bottles. Note that those lids are not insulated like the stainless steel one that comes with the bottle. Overall, the wide mouth bottle is better at keeping cold drink cold than keeping your hot drink hot.
Klean Kanteen Classic or Wide Mouthed Insulated Stainless Steel Bottle With Loop Cap
If you’re looking for a wide-mouthed bottle that’s sleek, simple and functional, then the 20 oz Klean Kanteen Wide Insulated Stainless Steel Bottle is a great choice. If you prefer a standard-sized mouth, then choose the Klean Kanteen Classic that’s available in 4 sizes from 12 oz right up to 64 oz. Both come with a leak-proof loop cap.
The wide mouth model makes it very easy to fill it with several cubes of ice straight from your freezer’s ice dispenser without worrying that some will spill. It is also easy to clean with a regular bottle brush. If you prefer a narrower mouth, the Classic model is a good choice but the mouth is still wide enough to add large ice cubes one at a time. The rim on this model has a new rounded off lip to make it comfortable to sip from. Use a narrow bottle brush to clean inside. You have to make sure that you tighten the loop cap properly so that it stays leakproof.
The slim design makes it fit easily in most car cup holders and the rounded edges and stainless steel threads keep it easy to clean. The screw type loop cap means you can hold the bottle with just one finger if you need to. Otherwise, fit it into a backpack water bottle pocket or use a carabiner clip to hang it from your backpack or even baby carrier if you’re traveling with your small child..
With the 20 oz wide mouth model, you can keep hot drinks hot for at least 6 hours, while iced drinks will stay iced for over 24 hours. The Classic model takes advantage of the narrower mouth and the 20 oz size keeps hot drinks hot for up to 20 hrs and it’s up to 50 hrs of cold for cold drinks! The steel walls outside and inside are high quality and tough so it won’t dent easily and the inside won’t retain old flavors after cleaning.
For the wide model, if you don’t want to keep unscrewing and opening the loop cap everytime you want a sip of coffee and thus allowing the beverage to cool faster, there’s a separate food-grade plastic Cafe Cap 2.0 that you can buy that fits all Klean Kanteen Wide Mouth bottles and acts as a leak-proof lid as well as a coffee cup. When you’re ready to drink, you just twist the lever on the top of the cap and that reveals a small sipping hole to appear. You take a sip right from the hole in the cap and twist the lever to close and seal the bottle again until your next sip. There are several components to this cap but that’s what makes the design truly leakproof. They are top rack dishwasher safe too.
Best Insulated Water Bottle with Straw
Prefer a straw to sip through instead of a spout or directly from the rim because you’re afraid of spilling your drink when on the move? Then choose a bottle that comes with a straw lid as an option.
Hydro Flask Double Wall Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Leak Proof Sports Water Bottle
This Hydro Flask Vacuum Insulated Water Bottle with Wide Mouth or the Hydro Flask with Standard Mouth both come with a BPA Free Flex Cap but there are other caps that you can buy separately to better fit your needs on the day, making this a very versatile option.
The standard mouth bottle can also be used with the Hydro Flask insulated Sport Cap, while the wide mouth bottle can also be used with either the insulated Straw Lid or the Hydro Flip Lid. However, only the Flex Cap is leakproof and the Hydro Flip Lid is not insulated. The Flex Cap cannot be used one handed but it does feature a strong handle strap so you can carry the bottle just looped around one finger or clipped by a carabiner to your belt or backpack strap. All the other lids are designed for one handed use. The straw lid is pretty easy to clean compared to many other straw lids.
Both the bottles come in various sizes, but among the wide mouth models the 18 oz is the only one narrow enough to fit into a standard car cup holder. The largest capacity here is a whopping 64 oz! All the standard mouth bottles (which go up to 24 oz) fit into cup holders. Both bottles easily accommodate large ice cubes but you have to but them in one by one for the standard mouth bottles.
The No-Sweat TempShield Insulation for hot or cold drinks keep the former hot for 6 hours and the latter cold for 24 hours. The powder coating on the outside makes gripping easy and prevents any condensation, however, the coating does scratch easily. This sweat proof water bottle has to be hand washed only.
While the Hydro Flasks are on the expensive side, they have proven to be among the most popular.
the Flow Stainless Steel Water bottle – Wide Mouth with Straw Lid, Carabiner Lid and Flip Lid
So the Hydro Flask Wide Mouth bottle above can be used with a separately bought insulated straw lid but that will cost you extra. If you are an adventure traveler or just prefer to sip your drinks through a straw and want the flexibility without the extra cost, then the flow water bottle with a wide mouth plus a straw lid, carabiner lid and flip lid is the choice for you. Yes, you actually get 3 different lids along with the bottle!
All the lids are leak-proof and dishwasher-safe, although the bottle should be hand washed. A standard bottle brush will do. The straw lid is perfect for cold drinks, the flip spout lid is great for hot drinks, and if you like to backpack, the carabiner lid makes it easy to hang the bottle off a strap on your pack. The straw lid is well designed, as it folds down under the cap when closed instead of sticking out. All the lids have a carrying loop that’s perfect for carrying the bottle by two fingers. Select from an 18 oz or 32 oz bottle. Only the smaller will fit into a standard cup holder.
The other difference between the straw caps of the Flow vs the Hydro flask is that the latter’s straw cap is insulated while the former’s is not. So, the Flow bottles remain sweat-free and cool to the touch while keeping cold drinks cod for up to 24 hours and hot drinks hot for up to 12 hours, but because the caps are not insulated you may have a condensation problem with them.
Water Bottle That Keeps Water Cold for 24 Hours
You may notice that some insulated bottles do a much better job keeping cold liquids at a constant temperature than keeping hot liquids warm. The ones that do a good job at both probably come with a sealed water bottle lids that’s also insulated stainless steel. Since hot liquids steam up and release hot air upwards, heat loss through a plastic lid can happen faster. Cold liquids don’t lose their cool temperatures as fast because cold air moves downwards, so the cap’s material is less important here.
The following bottles can still keep your coffee warm for a few hours but they’re best used for cold drinks.
Contigo AUTOSEAL Chill Stainless Steel Water Bottle
The Contigo AUTOSEAL Chill Stainless Steel Water Bottle is another great one-handed drinking bottle for bike rides and other times when your other hand is full, but it is only meant for cold drinks. However, the Thermalock vacuum insulation helps to keep your drinks cold for 28 hours!
The flip top lid opens by just pressing on the Autoseal button at the back and you just press down on the lid to close it after drinking. Under the lid is a spout cover that you flip up with your thumb and you can drink from the spout. This shield keeps the spout free from dirt. Rounding off the features of the lid is the carry handle. Filling the bottle with ice is easy due to its wide rim that you access by unscrewing the lid. It is designed to be leak-proof.
The lid is made of 100% BPA-free plastic and is dishwasher safe. The body of the bottle is stainless steel and should be hand washed. This bottle will fit in bike and car cup holders but it is quite tall so you’ll need enough clearance on top.
CamelBak Chute Mag Vacuum Stainless Water Bottle
Camelbak is known for its hiking bottles so it stands to reason that the line would include an insulated water bottle for cold drinks. This CamelBak Chute Mag Vacuum Stainless Water Bottle comes in 4 sizes starting at 12 ounces, with a 40 oz capacity being the largest.
The twist cap here too is made of BPA-free plastic and is not insulated. However, the new design has a magnetic spout cap that flips back and attaches to the cap’s tether carry loop so that you don’t get slapped on the face when you tilt your head back to drink. The spout is ergonomically angled to give you a high rate of flow without causing spillage. The spout cap threads internally to the spout so that it’s comfortable to sip from.
While you can use this bottle to keep hot beverages warm for up to 6 hours, a cold drink will stay cold for 24 hours. The wide mouth makes it easy to clean and fill with ice cubes. Only the two smaller sizes will fit in a standard cup holder.
Under Armour Dominate 24 Ounce Vacuum Insulated Bottle Flip Top Lid
This Under Armour Dominate Bottle is rated to keep your drink cold for 20 hours but several users say that it will stay pretty cold for even 24 hours.
It features a twisting flip top lid that’s spring loaded so that it’s fast and easy to sip from with one hand when you’re driving or taking a quick sip in the middle of a game or a run. The lid can be flipped open by a simple press off a button with just the one hand and it locks into place when you’re done by just pressing down. Nothing will spill out when set down because of the gasket seal when the lid is shut. The silicone grip also makes it a great choice for one-handed use.
The lid also features a handy carry loop that you can use to clip the bottle onto your backpack or bike, although it is split by design, which means that using a carabiner to hang it off a bag is risky. It is better to carry it in a pocket on even inside a bag, as it won’t leak but will be safe. This 24 ounce bottle has a 3 inch diameter base and will fit in all standard console cup holders.
The actual bottle is made of durable stainless steel layers around the vacuum layer, but the cap does have some plastic components that are not made to withstand heat from piping hot beverages, therefore it is not made for keeping drinks hot.
Although hand washing is recommended so as to thoroughly clean under the gasket and the other narrow spaces as well as prolong the life of the sealing lid, it can be washed in the top rack of the dishwasher in a pinch.
Although this model comes with a flip top lid, Under Armor bottles feature an interchangeable lid system with other options that include a screw top, a quick shot, and a straw top. If the flip top ever stops working properly you can buy a replacement lid alone.
If there’s anything to be careful about is to try not to drop this bottle on its head as the plastic locking mechanism is a bit fragile and might crack.