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Best reusable water bottles

We road-test 14 reusable stainless steel water bottles including Cheeki, Frank Green and Klean Kanteen.

reusable water bottle user trial lead
Last updated: 13 December 2019

Reusable water bottles are convenient, help reduce plastic waste, and can even save you money as you don't need to buy bottled water when you're on the go. 

But with so many options available, it can be difficult to choose the right bottle for you. 

We recruited 30 CHOICE staff to road-test 14 stainless steel reusable bottles from brands including Avanti, S'well, Frank Green and Decor, to see how well they performed and how easy they were to use. 

Oasis bottle

Which is the best reusable water bottle?

Oasis Insulated Drink Bottle (500mL)

  • RRP: $32.95
  • CHOICE Score: 80%
  • Ease of use score: 86% 
  • Keeps water cool for 5 hours: Yes
Good to know:
  • Highest CHOICE Score
  • Second highest score for ease of drinking
  • Double-wall insulated stainless steel
  • Hot and cold liquids
Triallist comments:

The simplicity of this bottle is what really appeals to me. Sleek, smooth lines – nothing fancy, just a straightforward water bottle. The narrow opening means you'd need a bottle brush to clean it properly. But it kept my water cool and the opening was easy to drink out of. 

How the other bottles performed

The products are listed below from highest to lowest score. 

Thermos bottle

Thermos Vacuum Insulated Hydration Bottle (530mL)

  • RRP: $35
  • CHOICE Score: 78%
  • Ease of use score: 84%
  • Keeps water cool for 5 hours: Yes
Good to know:
  • Double-wall insulated stainless steel
  • Cold liquids only
  • Equal third-highest score for ease of drinking
Triallist comments:

It definitely isn't as stylish or pretty as some of the other bottles I've seen, it looks a bit like something my dad would take camping. But the pop top and spout is super easy to open and drink with one hand and it makes a great popping sound when you open it. Good for travelling and walking, but maybe not that handy for running.

Swell bottle

S'well Insulated Drink Bottle (500mL)

  • RRP: $75
  • CHOICE Score: 76%
  • Ease of use score: 81%
  • Keeps water cool for 5 hours: Yes
Good to know:
  • Triple-wall insulated stainless steel
  • Hot and cold liquids
  • Equal third-highest score for ease of drinking
Triallist comments:

Very easy to use and drink from. The mouth of the bottle isn't too wide so I didn't splash water on myself, but it's too small to make it an easy clean – you'd need a bottle brush.

Frank green bottle

Frank Green Ceramic Reusable Bottle (595mL)

  • RRP: $49.95
  • CHOICE Score: 73%
  • Ease of use score: 70%
  • Keeps water cool for 5 hours: Yes 
Good to know:
  • Triple-wall insulated 
  • Hot and cold liquids
Triallist comments:

Very stylish looking. The push-down button to open the bottle takes a bit of getting used to – it only moves a fraction so it can be hard to figure out at a glance if it's open or closed. The hole to drink from is quite small so you don't get much water at once, but the flow was good. The lid is a pain to clean – it comes apart but is difficult to put back together – but that's not as important when it's only used for water and not milky coffee that can smell and get mouldy. I'm not a fan of Frank Green coffee cups for that reason, but I found this bottle pleasant to use. 

Avanti bottle

Avanti Fluid Insulated Bottle (500mL)

  • RRP: $36
  • CHOICE Score: 71%
  • Ease of use score: 77%
  • Keeps water cool for 5 hours: Yes
Good to know:
  • Same CHOICE Score as Target bottle
  • Twin-wall insulated stainless steel
  • Hot and cold liquids
Triallist comments:

Beautiful to look at and I got lots of compliments about the banksia pattern. Simple shape and design and it's easy to drink out of, but it's badly weighted and tips over easily. There was also a bit of a metallic taste and smell after a while. It's fine, but not my favourite.

Target grey bottle

Target Insulated Drink Bottle (600mL)

  • RRP: $12
  • CHOICE Score: 71%
  • Ease of use score: 79%
  • Keeps water cool for 5 hours: Yes
Good to know:
  • Same CHOICE Score as Avanti bottle
  • Insulated stainless steel
  • Hot and cold liquids
Triallist comments:

Solid bottle with no frills and I liked the handle on the lid. The opening was a little too big – I had to tilt it just right to drink without bumping my nose – and it made an unpleasant sound every time I opened or closed it, which made it difficult to drink discreetly in meetings or other quiet environments. Otherwise it's pretty straightforward to use. 

Cheeki bottle

Cheeki Classic Single Wall Bottle (500mL)

  • RRP: $27.95
  • CHOICE Score: 70%
  • Ease of use score: 91%
  • Keeps water cool for 5 hours: No
Good to know:
  • Highest ease of use score
  • Single-wall stainless steel (Cheeki also sell insulated water bottles)
  • Dishwasher-friendly insulated lid
  • Hot and cold liquids
Triallist comments:

Small, chunky, not aimed at the fashion-conscious. The lid is easy to open and close, the handle is good to hold onto, and it's very simple to clean. When filling with cold water the condensation was instantaneous. But it was easy to drink out of as the opening is slightly larger than normal, but not so large the water spills out over me.

Kathmandu bottle

Kathmandu Top Ring Insulated Drink Bottle (590mL)

  • RRP: $49.98
  • CHOICE Score: 69%
  • Ease of use score: 79%
  • Keeps water cool for 5 hours: Yes
Good to know:
  • Double-wall stainless steel
  • Hot and cold liquids
Triallist comments:

Large, utilitarian (ugly but functional) design. The lid has two sections – a large opening (good for adding ice) and a smaller opening so you can drink easily. Very easy to dismantle and clean, but wasn't able to securely place it in my car's cup holder. Overall a bit too bulky and ugly for me to want to use.

Kmart leaf bottle

Kmart Double Wall-Insulated Bottle (500mL)

  • RRP: $7
  • CHOICE Score: 67%
  • Ease of use score: 72%
  • Keeps water cool for 5 hours: Yes
Good to know:
  • Double-wall insulated stainless steel
  • Hot and cold liquids
  • Cheapest bottle we tested
Triallist comments:

I liked it better than I thought I would. It's very simple, with no bells and whistles. The lid unscrews easily but the steel rim opening is a little sharp on the mouth. You'll need a bottle brush to clean it thoroughly, but it's solid, durable and didn't leak. 

Klean Kanteen bottle

Klean Kanteen Insulated Classic (592mL)

  • RRP: $48.95
  • CHOICE Score: 63%
  • Ease of use score: 68%
  • Keeps water cool for 5 hours: Yes
Good to know:
  • Hot and cold liquids
  • Double-wall stainless steel
Triallist comments:

It looks like a bright red fire extinguisher, but otherwise it's a pretty stock standard bottle. The mouthpiece was very large, which resulted in some pretty bad spills – I wouldn't attempt a sip while walking or on a bus. I also had some difficulty opening and closing the lid, but the carry handle is useful.

Decor pumped bottle

Decor Pumped Soft Touch Stainless Steel Bottle (500mL)

  • RRP: $11
  • CHOICE Score: 59%
  • Ease of use score: 67%
  • Keep water cool for 5 hours: No
Good to know:
  • Cold liquids only
  • Stainless steel
Triallist comments:

Love the colour and the matte finish, but it was difficult to drink out of. The straw mouthpiece needs to be fully extended in order for the water to flow, but if you don't fold it down properly water can leak from it. I eventually just took the lid off and drank directly from the bottle. The carry handle is also strangely designed – not enough space for fingers to slip under handle when the straw is closed, but OK when open. The lid and straw also look like a bit of a germ and mould trap – you'll need a special brush to clean the straw properly.

Sistema bottle

Sistema To Go Stainless Steel Bottle (600mL)

  • RRP: $12
  • CHOICE Score: 46%
  • Ease of use score: 57%
  • Keeping water cool for 5 hours: No
Good to know:
  • Cold liquids
  • Stainless steel
Triallist comments:

Relatively easy to clean by hand. Medium-sized neck easy to fill or slip small ice cubes into. Fits snugly in bottle pouch of backpack and OK in handbag. But it's difficult to open the drinking nozzle without unscrewing the cap entirely, meaning potential leaks. And the water flow was too slow – very annoying if you're thirsty and want a good gulp of water.

Typo bottle

Typo sip top metal drink bottle (500mL)

  • RRP: $29.99
  • CHOICE Score: 37%
  • Ease of use score: 43%
  • Keeps water cool for 5 hours: Yes
Good to know:
  • Lowest score for ease of drinking
  • Double-wall metal
  • Hot or cold liquids
Triallist comments:

The nozzle needs to either be opened with your hands (full of germs) or your teeth (which tends to deform the mechanism). You have to suck really hard on the  nozzle to get any water out – it took 19.75 seconds to extract a single mouthful of water. I ended up drinking from it with the lid off. My kids liked it, but I feel sorry for anyone who's spent money on this bottle.

Sigg bottle

Sigg Hot & Cold One Accent bottle (500mL)

  • RRP: $50
  • CHOICE Score: 34%
  • Ease of use score: 41%
  • Keeps water cool for 5 hours: Yes
Good to know:
  • Lowest CHOICE Score
  • Second-lowest score for ease of drinking
  • Lowest score for ease of cleaning
  • Hot and cold liquids
  • Double-wall insulated stainless steel
  • Comes with a tea filter
Triallist comments:

I didn't think I could have strong opinions on water bottles. I was wrong! This is the worst water bottle I've ever used. Over-complicated, difficult to open, difficult to drink from, ugly, heavy, clunky. The lid is very hard to unscrew so if you had any hand weakness it would be nearly impossible. And it comes with instructions! I'm sorry, but if a water bottle needs instructions it's not a good water bottle. I don't know if there's a score low enough to adequately convey how deeply I loathe this water bottle. It makes me feel stupid, and thirsty, and enraged.

What to look for

Materials

We tested stainless steel bottles as they're sturdy and generally resistant to smells and stains, unlike some glass or plastic bottles, and many are insulated – ideal for the hot Australian summer. 

But some of the water bottles we tested also contain plastic or silicone elements, usually in the lid or on the exterior of the bottle.

Insulation

The three single-walled bottles in our test didn't keep water cool for 5 hours. So if this is important to you, you might want to consider buying a bottle with double- or triple-wall insulation. 

Height

Aside from the variation in design and pattern of the water bottles we tested, we thought it was interesting that they varied greatly in height.

That's partly explained by the differing volumes each bottle holds, but the tallest bottle (Typo, 29cm) had the same 500mL volume as the shortest (Cheeki, 19.5cm).

So if you're looking for a bottle that will fit easily into a small bag or handbag, the height of the bottle is worth taking into account.

How much could you save by switching to a reusable water bottle?

If you're inclined to buy water in single-use plastic bottles when you're out and about, getting into the habit of carrying a reusable water bottle could save you a significant chunk of money. 

If you buy three single-use bottles of water a week, switching to a reusable bottle costing $12 could save you nearly $160 in the first year of use, not to mention a mountain of landfill.

Cleaning tips

It's important to clean your bottle thoroughly with warm soapy water to get rid of any mould or germs and eliminate odours. 

  • Bottles with narrow necks or drinking straws will generally need to be cleaned with a bottle brush or straw brush. 
  • You can also soak tricky parts such as drinking straws and lids using effervescent water-cleaning or sterilising tablets.
  • When cleaning the lid, pay particular attention to any nooks and crannies, or complicated locking mechanisms. 
  • Leave your bottle to dry with the lid off – keeping the lid on could trap humidity and odours inside.

How we test

User trial 

30 CHOICE staff were recruited to each trial five different reusable water bottles. Triallists used each bottle over two days – drinking out of it, refilling it, cleaning it (hand wash only) – then completed a survey form for the bottle, which included giving each bottle an overall rating out of 10. Each bottle was trialled 10 times in total.

How we chose our products

When we first start looking at trialling water bottles, we were overwhelmed with the number of different products available. To narrow our selection, we chose stainless steel reusable bottles ranging in volume from 500 to 600mL. (Where there was more than one option from a brand, we selected a bottle at random.) While this isn't an exhaustive trial of all the different bottles available, we chose products that range in price, features and design to better reflect people's differing requirements. 

Scores

Ease of use is made up of ease of drinking (70%) and ease of cleaning (30%). 

Keeps water cool for 5 hours is based on the results of our lab thermal test. Each water bottle was filled with cold water (4℃) and then placed in a 30℃ oven for five hours. The temperature of the water in each bottle was then measured.