How to Choose Reusable Water Bottles for the Whole Family

Seeing as how so many people are still using reusable water bottles, I figured it was time to update my reusable water bottle shopping guide. Before I do that though, here’s a primer on how to pick the best reusable bottles for your various family members.

Safety First:

No matter what, choose reusable water bottles that are BPA-free. There are so many BPA-free water bottles on the market nowadays that it doesn’t make sense to choose shady plastic.

Avoid giving a glass water bottle to a kiddo. I’ve owned various glass water bottles and never had even one break, but still, it could be a hazard.

Reusing plastic disposable water bottles is not the same as buying a dedicated reusable bottle. Some research shows that reusing a disposable plastic water bottle does decrease waste, but over time chemicals in the bottle may leach out and these bottles may harbor excess bacteria. Choose a real reusable water bottle, don’t just reuse a disposable.

Make sure you can clean the bottle well. Some reusable water bottles have very small mouth openings and that makes them harder to clean. A bad batch of bacteria can make you sick and ruin your day, so why go there? Same goes for the lids. Lids or mouthpieces with weird small openings and hard to clean areas are just waiting to become gross. The best reusable water bottles are ones you can pop into the dishwasher.

10 cool BPA-free reusable water bottles for kids

Material Options:

BPA-free Plastic: Some people avoid all plastics at all costs. When it comes to reusable water bottles, sure I do suggest glass or stainless steel over plastic, but it’s way better to buy a reusable BPA-free plastic water bottle than use disposables. Pros of plastic include durability during mishaps – such as your kid tossing one on the ground, they’re usually easy to clean, usually recyclable, lightweight and are less expensive than other types of bottles. Cons include possible exposure to chemicals (even in BPA-free bottles), short life span, inability to keep fluids cold, unsuitable for hot liquids and they tend to look cruddy after a while. Also, plastics can make your beverage taste funny

Stainless Steel: All my most favorite water bottles have been stainless steel. Look for food grade, high quality stainless steel bottles. The perks of stainless include a very long life span, fully recyclable, zero taste imparted into your beverage, fluids stay hot or cold for a long time, they stand up to kid mishaps and they look great. Stainless steel cons include a bigger price tag, heavier weight and some people don’t like how stainless steel feels on their lips – you can buy a BPA-free plastic mouthpiece to overcome this issue.

Aluminum: Most aluminum bottles are lined with materials that haven’t been proven safe. Plus these linings may degrade after time. Aluminum bottles last a long time, but that’s pretty much their only pro. Aluminum bottles, beyond not being very safe, show off dings and dents, aren’t recyclable due to the lining, often impart odd tastes into your beverages and are hard to clean. Plus, even though they’re not as safe as stainless steel, they tend to have a higher price tag than even safer BPA-free plastic bottles.

Glass: I have a glass water bottle and I really like it for the most part. Glass looks great, holds up surprisingly well, imparts zero flavors into beverages, is super easy to clean and is fully recyclable. Glass has some major downsides though too such as it’s extremely heavy. In some ways heavy is a pro – like I take mine on walks and use it for an arm weight, but on hikes it’s too heavy. Glass bottles are also more breakable (obviously), expensive, don’t keep fluids cold at all, the bottles sweat a lot, and most glass bottles have wacky too-large mouth openings that slosh water all over you.

Life Factory Beverage Bottles

Life Factory Beverage Bottles

Which Bottle to Use When

If you become a dedicated reusable water bottle user, it’s best to own a few different kinds.

Personally I think stainless steel bottles are a perfect everyday choice. Stainless steel is a little heavy, but not too heavy for a hike and fits easily into almost every situation. Glass bottles are best on short adventures, car trips or at home. BPA-free plastic bottles are great on longer hikes or in situations where you need to lighten your load. I do not suggest aluminum bottles for any occasion.

What Size of Bottle to Buy

We own many different sized water bottles to fit our various needs. When choosing water bottle sizes for your family, consider the following issues…

  • How much water each person drinks per day – also how much they should be drinking.
  • How active each person is. For example, my son has been carrying around a 27 ounce bottle for a long time, even when he was younger. That may seem too big for a little kid, but he’s very active so he drinks a lot.
  • How often the person is near a water source. For example, a small water bottle is fine at home but on a long hike, you’re not near a tap, so you’ll need to be able to carry more water.
  • How much bottle someone can easily carry. For instance, a young kid will have trouble with a larger bottle and guess who will end up carrying that bottle? Yup – you. Note: I highly suggest adjustable water bottle carriers for kids.

Other Common Water Bottle Q&A

Should you buy a bottle with a filter? It’s less expensive to buy a home water filter IMO. Plus if you hike or exercise a lot, every little bit of excess weight counts and filters add weight.

How many bottles does a family need? I count on my son losing or somehow breaking bottles once in a while, so I keep extras around. It’s easy to lose bottles when you’re on the go. Also, it’s smart to keep a few extra water bottles in the car, so when you forget a bottle, you can simply stop and fill it and you won’t need to buy a disposable water bottle.

What if my bottle sweats? There are tons of water bottle carriers on the market that solve this issue.

What if my bottle leaks? There’s no such thing as 100% perfect water bottles. Some do end up being leaky or lame in some other way. That doesn’t mean you should give up on reusable water bottles though. There are tons that work great.

For more helpful reusable water bottle Q&A plus a newbie’s guide to using reusable water bottles read No More Bottled Water.

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