We Tested 5 Water Bottles From Expensive to Affordable – And the Winner Will Shock You!

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woman holding five water bottles

Get the best out of your water. 💦

With so many water bottles on the market and so many different price ranges, it can be tough to know what is really the best water bottle to buy. That said, I decided to test out some of the most highly-rated options on the market that look good and actually do their job.

row of gray white blue and pink various brand water bottles

From spendy bottles like Yeti and Hydro Flask to less than $10 finds at Walmart, here’s what I liked and didn’t like about all of them.

The most expensive bottle brand that I tried:

1. YETI Rambler Bottle

The most heavy-duty bottle money can buy. 

woman holding dark gray yeti water bottle

This was the biggest and most expensive water bottle that I tried. Hello, $50… GULP! 😳And while the 36 oz. is also a tank to lug around, it’s simply awesome! I’ve got to give it to YETI though – from the design to the durability, they truly thought of everything!

Here are some of my favorite things about the YETI:

    • The handle was the easiest one to grip and open.
    • It never leaked or sweated on the outside.
    • It did a good job at keeping my water cold.
    • It can go in the dishwasher.
    • The DuraCoat on the outside has a sandy texture that makes it easy to grip.
    • The bottom is stainless, so you don’t have to worry about the color coating chipping over time.
    • There are options to purchase a straw lid or MagDock lid for different drinking experiences.

A couple of things I don’t like about it:

    • It’s the most expensive option.
    • I need two hands to drink from it (not the case if you buy their smallest bottle though).
    • It doesn’t fit in my car cup holder.
    • It’s the heaviest bottle out of all the ones I tried.

Mid-range bottle brands that I tried:

2. Hydro Flask Wide Mouth Bottle

The prettiest bottle on the market. 

white hydro flask bottle sitting on table

If you’re more worried about how your water bottle looks rather than being the most functional bottle ever, then the 32oz. Hydro Flask is the prettiest bottle in my opinion. That’s not to say it still doesn’t perform well, too! However, the simple and sleek design won me over. Plus, the chrome detailing is so modern and sleek! I’ve been playing favorites with this one ever since it arrived!

Here are some of my favorite things about the Hydro Flask:

    • The sleek design is my favorite out of all the bottles I tested.
    • The softer handle is comfortable to carry around.
    • It never leaked or sweated on the outside.
    • It did a good job at keeping my water cold.
    • You can purchase straw lids or protective boots for the bottom.
    • It fit in my friend’s car cup holder, so there’s hope for you too!
    • Keeps my water icy cold for hours.

A couple of things I don’t like about it:

    • Still more expensive than I’d like to pay.
    • I’m worried the softer grip handle won’t last as long as other bottles with a more durable frame.
    • Sometimes the lid can be finicky when trying to get it back on.
    • It doesn’t fit in my car cup holder.
    • Handwash only.

3. Takeya Water Bottle

The most kid-friendly water bottle.

hand holding pink lid with takeya water bottle in background

Not only am I a fan of this bottle, but so are my kids! The screw-top is by far the easiest one to open and close and there’s no fussing with the perfect angle to get it back on with a great seal, which is so important for kids and preventing leaks. The 18 oz. bottle that we tried was also pretty easy to tote around.

Here are some of my favorite things about the Takeya:

    • It comes with a silicone boot on the bottom (also comes off easily for cleaning).
    • The easiest lid to unscrew and put back on.
    • The most kid-friendly bottle I tried.
    • The handle is fully adjustable so it’s easy to carry and store in your cabinet.
    • I like the mid-range price.
    • Easy to drink out of with one hand.
    • It never leaked or sweated on the outside.
    • Fits in my car cup holder.

A couple of things I don’t like about it:

    • Handwash only.
    • The lid is a bit more of a hassle to clean.
    • Wasn’t the greatest at keeping drinks cold.

Low-budget bottle brands that I tried:

4. ThermoFlask Water Bottle

The most for your money water bottle. 

woman holding blue thermoflask water bottle with straw lid

This 24 oz. bottle truly is the best value! With two included lids and an extra straw, it’s unlike any other bottles that I tried! The biggest downfall with this bottle was the lid which doesn’t adjust, but if you don’t mind taking up a little extra room in your cabinet, then this one will suit all of your needs.

Here are some of my favorite things about the ThermoFlask:

    • You get two different lids and an extra straw.
    • Easy to grip with one hand and drink out of.
    • Great price.
    • Fits in my car cup holder.
    • It never leaked or sweated on the outside.
    • Durable exterior.

A couple of things I don’t like about it:

    • The handle isn’t adjustable which makes storing it in cabinets difficult.
    • Not as many color choices as the other brands.
    • Handwash only.
    • Wasn’t the greatest at keeping drinks cold.

Hip Tip: If you’re a Costco member, you can score a two-pack of ThermoFlask bottles priced at just $24.99 making these bottles just $12 each! And as an even bigger bonus, I noticed that their model comes with a lid that looks adjustable and even has a convenient silicone bottom.

5. Ozark Trail Water Bottle

The most inexpensive, durable bottle. 

hand holding dark gray ozark trail water bottle

If you want to spend a minimal amount of your hard-earned money, then Ozark Trail is a tough competitor priced under $10! 😱 It may be cheap, but there’s nothing cheap about its awesome performance. I actually found this 24 oz. bottle to keep ice frozen for the longest time out of all of them!

Here are some of my favorite things about it:

    • Lowest price on the market.
    • Keeps drinks icy cold the longest out of all the bottles I tried.
    • Has an almost identical design and color options to Yeti
    • Top-rack, dishwasher safe.
    • Fits in my car cup holder.
    • Easy to grip and drink out of.
    • It never leaked or sweated on the outside.
    • Option to add a Chugging Cap similar to Yeti

A couple of things I don’t like about it:

    • I noticed some small chipping on the gray paint after a few uses.
    • The handle is slightly slimmer than Yeti making it a little harder to grip and uncomfortable to open.
    • The lid doesn’t go on as smoothly as other wide-mouth bottles.

Hip Tip: If you’re considering this water bottle, check out Lina’s deeper dive in comparing the Ozark Trail vs. Yeti or also how the brand stacked up against Hydro Flask!

Here’s how they all stood up to my ice challenge:

hand holding bowl of ice cubes with water bottles on counter in the background

I placed 6 whole ice cubes in each bottle. I checked each bottle every 2 hours for 8 hours straight, starting my test at 10:30 AM taking notes every 2 hours and ending at 6:30 PM.

Here’s what I discovered…

various brand water bottles with bowl of melted ice in front of it

It’s pretty clear to see that Ozark Trail (the cheapest competitor amongst the group) dominated in the ice challenge with almost 6 whole cubes still intact and barely any melting. The two most popular brands, Yeti and Hydro Flask, performed about the same, and given that their capacity to hold water is slightly bigger than the rest of the bottles, they still held up pretty well.

That said, the less expensive brands, ThermoFlask and Takeya did pretty poorly in comparison. ThermoFlask only had about 2/3 to 1/4 of ice remaining and sadly, Takeya totally bombed the challenge with almost no ice remaining after the 8 hours.

🥇Ozark Trail for the win!

My overall verdict?

woman holding gray ozark trail tumbler water bottle pointing at it

Ozark Trail totally blew every bottle out of the water (pun intended) 😏. After 8 hours in the ice challenge, this bottle stole the show, boasting 6 completely frozen and barely melted cubes. But if keeping water icy cold isn’t all that matters to you, I also found the Ozark Trail bottle to be almost as heavy-duty as the Yeti and super convenient. Yes, it can even go in the dishwasher making life super chill.

hand holding row of chugging caps in store

Based on appearance, Ozark Trail has this in the bag too. Not only are there multiple and style choices to choose from, but they’re incredibly similar to the trendy and expensive brands like Hydro Flask and Yeti. For less than $10, I can’t believe how rugged, tough, and what a top-performer it is!

As a bonus, we even spotted the Ozark Trail Chugging Cap in Walmart (which is also just like Yeti’s), so if you want to totally transform your drinking for less than $5, this is a great option to score online or the next time you shop at Walmart. 🙌

BONUS TIP: If you’re buying a handwash only bottle…

hand holding a blue handle bottle brush

I did a lot of research on bottle brushes and I came across this affordable option at Target. It’s long enough to reach into any bottle for easy cleaning and I love the stainless handle so you can assure that it’s going to be durable enough to last a long time. Most importantly, it’s designed to stand on its own which makes it a more sanitary and cleaner choice as well.

You can find this exact brush at these online retailers:

These are our favorite straws to use (and one we don’t like).

Join The Discussion

Comments 55

  1. Lauren

    Thanks for all the thorough reviews! From a chemistry perspective, the smaller bottles had an advantage in the ice cube test because there was a greater mass of water in each of the larger bottles to facilitate the melting. It’d be a fairer test to keep the ice-water ratio consistent among all the bottles (though it would admittedly require a teensy bit of math).

    • Julie

      I was thinking the same thing. The Yeti had quite the disadvantage in this experiment.

    • Sara

      That’s a great point, Lauren. I’m definitely no chemist, that’s for sure! The Ozark still performed amazingly better than the two 18 oz bottles we compared it to…which is still very impressive! Although I ultimately picked the Ozark, it was based on a lot of other factors as well and I still love the Yeti and Hydro Flask. 😊

      • Lauren

        Yes, even with the advantage the other two small tumblers performed very poorly! I liked that you did the ice cube test. This was a really interesting post to read.

        • Sara

          Thanks so much, Lauren! I’m glad that you found this post valuable!

    • Momof4

      100%. The Yeti had twice the water to ice ratio to start out. Compare 18 ounce bottles apples to apples.

  2. Kandice

    I have a several Yeti’s and a Hydro Flask I have run them all through the dishwashers multiple times per week for a couple of years. They are all fine.

    • Sara

      Good to know, thanks for sharing Kandice. I just went off of what was recommended by each manufacturer. 😊

    • Stef81

      Same here!

  3. jobird78

    I have a takeya and I have had crushed ice remain intact overnight. I love mine.

    • Sara

      Glad to hear you love it, jobird78! It is a great bottle overall and so easy for my daughter to use!

  4. Bunny

    Thanks so much for your very thorough research! Great job Sara 🙂

    During the winter months I like taking hot tea to my yoga class. Are any of these bottles safe to use with hot water?

    • Sara

      Thanks so much, Bunny! I’m glad that you enjoyed this post so much. As far as the hot water, I believe all of these stainless steel bottles can be used with hot water. That said, I would double-check online or with the manufacturer for the one you’re thinking about buying since I haven’t personally tested any of them with hot contents. I hope this helps!

    • 3boys

      Hot liquids depend on the lid and how you want to drink from it. In this instance the Takeya and ThermoFlask (actually made by the same company) would be your best bet. (I have the Takeya’s and bought a “sipper” lid from Takeya to use for my hot drinks).

  5. Leslie Milner

    I have tried several as well and the Simple Modern ($18.99 for 22 ounce) is my fave. It keeps my water cold, doesn’t leak, and fits in my cup holder. Plus, you can put a silicone straw in the chug lid, which is what my daughter prefers. You can find them on Amazon.

    • Sara

      Awesome! It sounds like a great bottle, thanks for the tip Leslie!

  6. shop4mybabies

    my competitive ballerina daughter was desperate to have a hydroflask, EVERYONE ELSE HAS ONE!!! so she got a lilac one for christmas…i will say despite the price tag (42 dollars for the bottle and another 10$ for the straw lid and straws) that we’re very happy with it. She fills it with ice and then water and throughout the school day and dance evening she just refills the water and most of the ice is still there. i’m sure in summer it won’t last quite as long. durable, pretty and if it matters, you’re now in the in crowd

    • Sara

      Thanks so much for sharing this, shop4mybabies! I love the Hydro Flask too!

  7. Jervine87

    I got a Larq water bottle for Christmas. It’s expensive but SO worth the investment. It cleans itself and your water and keeps cold cold and hot hot for like 12-24 hours

    • Sara

      It cleans itself?! I’m already sold, Jervine87! haha! Thanks for sharing, we’ll have to check it out!

  8. Luv

    I bought a couple of 2-pack 32oz simple modern bottles from Sams club a couple of years ago for about $7 per pack. They are great and performs as good as my yeti. I keep a bottle filled with water in the car at all times and change it out every couple of days so we don’t drink from plastic bottles that may have been seating in hot car with health concerns; it’s also good for the environment. The bottles are thick but my kids are still able to maneuver them without issues. Highly recommend them. 🌺

    • Sara

      Thanks for sharing Luv! We’ll have to check those out!

  9. Michelle

    We have the Thermoflasks from Costco and the handles do move and the cards that were inside the bottles when we bought them said they are dishwasher safe (which was a pleasant surprise). They are great little bottles!

    • Sara

      Thanks for letting us know Michelle! Our whole team has the ThermoFlask and loves it!

  10. amypearce

    I buy Takeya lids to put on my Hydroflasks—much easier to drink from at the gym and they don’t leak like the Hydroflask sport caps do. Best of both worlds. 🙌😄

    • Samantha

      I did that too! plus, I have the “coffee/tea” version of the Hydroflask, so it fits in cup holders

    • Sara

      Wow, what an interesting hack, Amy! I’ll have to try that out to see if it works with mine.

  11. Teresa W

    This article and the comments are so helpful!

    • Sara

      I’m so glad you enjoyed this post, Teresa! Thanks for stopping by!

  12. J

    Off topic, Ebates has $10 cash back for those who get a Disney+ subscription.

  13. Jennifer

    The ozark trail bottle does actually have a smaller drinkable lid that you can buy. It isn’t as convenient as having a straw lid though which I like for driving.

    • Erin

      I got super cheap lids and silicone handles for my Ozark Trail cups on Amazon.

    • Sara

      Awesome! Thanks, Jennifer, I’ll have to check that out.

  14. Sara

    I love my Ozark Trail bottle! I had no idea it was dishwasher safe so thanks for sharing that! I have the chug cap (Ozark Trail brand from Walmart) and love it. It keeps the ice from “splashing” you when you’re drinking.

    • Sara

      That’s awesome, Sara! Thanks for sharing, I’ll have to check it out!

  15. Hilary

    We have 6 Thermoflask water bottles from Costco and they have lasted forever (3-4 years). They have some chipping but are used for school for kids and I drop them all the time and they have been thrown. Dented and still working.

    • Sara

      That all adds character, right, Hilary? LOL! I’m glad you’re getting so much use out of them, that’s wonderful!

  16. moBacon

    I love RTIC’s bottles and tumblers. I also have the Costco Thermoflasks and a generic/unlabeled version that my work makes (not sure which company they compare theirs to) but considering I got them for free and they work pretty well, I’m happy with them.

    I interchange them based on what is clean and if I want a spout/wide opening, bigger handle, flexible handle or color (indoor versus outdoor use). I often have two (one with hot tea/water and one with cold) – I “can’t” drink lukewarm/room temp water.

    I might have too many bottles.

    • Kelsie

      We love our RTIC bottles also. We have all the various sizes for different needs/purposes and they all work great!

      The 20oz bottle is $12.99 and 32oz is $19.99 but they have more options on their website.

  17. Peaches

    The bottle brush is an absolute must and I have that exact one you show. I love that the brush heads are replaceable and the brush is fantastic at cleaning pretty much any size bottle or lid including the infamous Contigo lid.

    • Sara

      Wow, Peaches! I didn’t know the brushes were interchangeable. Thanks for letting me know!

  18. bipwop

    OK, I don’t get it!!
    I bought a 20 oz Ozark Trail tumbler, and it didn’t seem to be doing a very good job at all at keeping my drinks cold.
    I figured it must be defective, so I bought another one (30 oz this time).
    I just put them to the test. This is just happened – I kid you not.
    I put one cup of water and 4 ice cubes in each one. 30 minutes later, the ice cubes were completely gone in both.
    I think I could have done as well with just plain glasses!
    Any theories?
    I don’t understand all the glowing reviews for Ozark Trail tumblers (that’s why I bought them).

    • Ann

      I agree me too. Ice melts in mine. Am I missing something here?

    • Sara

      I’m sorry to hear that Bipwop, I’m not sure what could be causing stuff to melt so quickly. Maybe try using more ice if you’re trying to make your water stay colder for longer?

    • 3boys

      Make sure it’s not a single-wall tumbler; you want a double-wall (“insulated”) tumbler.

  19. mom2three

    Just a heads up for anyone with a Ozark Trail bottle there is another option for a lid. Our Walmart has started selling lids that are like the design of the Yeti’s Rambler chug cap that fit the bottles. They are made by Ozark Trail and they were in the same section in sporting goods as the cups. Also RTIC wasn’t one of the brands mentioned above but wanted to say the older style RTIC bottles (pre-lawsuit) will fit the current YETI rambler hot shot lids and the RTIC lid with the easy screw top spout w/handle attached (I think these were also the older style pre-lawsuit) fits my YETI rambler. I will mix and match the lids with my YETI and RTIC often.

    • mom2three

      I don’t know if we can post links in the comments but I found the Ozark Trail “chug cap” on Walmart website to show what it looks like. It’s $4.37 in our area but prices may be different other areas. If links aren’t allowed try this to find it on the Walmart site, it didn’t come up with a basic search but its description says OT Water BTL LID Walmart # 572153574

      • Sara

        Thanks so much for this information, mom2three! I went ahead and added this information to the post so all our readers know about it! Thanks again, have a great day!

  20. Emily

    We just discovered Takeya! My kids have been using them for about 1.5 weeks. The double walled ones keep things SUPER cold overnight. It’s been dropped several times and no evidence of damage. And the kids size is big enough that my kids don’t have to refill all the time but small enough that my 2 year old can carry it around. Cleaning has been a breeze. Easy to get to parts and no place for mold to hid. We do have the straw lids and there has been ZERO leaks🤗

    • Sara

      That’s awesome to hear, Emily! I’m so glad your family found a reusable water bottle that they love! My daughter is also loving her new pink Takeya and as you said, it’s so easy for them to carry around without needing to be refilled constantly!

  21. patricialavenz-goff

    Interesting. I have never used a bottle. My coffee cup fits in the truck cup holder and I just use that. Thanks for all the hard work.

  22. patricialavenz-goff

    I guess we don’t drink as much water as everybody else cause neither my brothers or myself have used or bought reusable bottles. We don’t buy water either so that is why I guess. We pretty much live on coffee and since our coffee cups fit in our S10 we just use them. I will admit when we are travelling we do buy coffee from gas stations and use their cups while on the road.

  23. RMendenhall

    I love my Contigo water bottle. Leak proof lid is great. I have used this bottle all day every day for the last 3 years and still love it. Keeps my water cold all day even though I have dropped it a lot over those years. The coating has started to come off after all these years of dishwasher cycles but the stainless steel color below is not a problem. When my nephew visits, he drinks a ton of water because he loves my water bottle.

  24. 3boys

    I have several of the Takeya’s, I bought them based on their cap/drinking spout style. I put the bottle and lids in the dishwasher for several years and haven’t had a problem. No chips either. (Note that the lids are doubled / insulated, so they won’t quite last as long, but if I’m drinking it, I don’t need it to stay cold to the last drop for two days, lol).

    What convinced was I took a Takeya *cup* (clear plastic lid) filled with cold lemonade and only 2 ice-cubes out on a 90-degree day, in a car with no a/c and open sunroof. I left it in the car while I ran errands and after several hours and me sipping it between stops, it stayed cold the entire time.

  25. Christine

    I live in Phoenix and don’t leave home without water in the summer! I bought those ThermoFlasks last summer when they were on sale at Costco and they keep my drinks cold overnight, even when sitting in a hot car. I agree that the sport caps leak and they are a two handed operation. I have prettier ones that fit in my cup holders but they are only 17 oz which isn’t really enough water for a hot day. That said, I’m happy with them. I have a couple of Tal and Built bottles from Wal-Mart that I like when I don’t need a larger size but they are more difficult to add ice because of the narrow mouth.

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