A collapsible water bottle is a must-have travel accessory. Not only is a reusable water bottle a great green option, in general, to help cut down on disposable plastic bottles in the trash, but it also saves you a lot of money buying drinks on your travels. Plus, you can take an empty bottle through airport security and will it up at a fountain or bathroom tap by your gate to have plenty of free water for your flight.
A collapsible water bottle, specifically, is a big plus for travel, especially if you are trying to save space with carry-on only luggage or in your day pack as you are out exploring. There are many different styles of collapsible bottles out there with features that work best depending on different needs. I’ve tried many varieties of collapsible water bottles and found what works best for me.
In this post, I’ll talk about 5 important factors to consider and in what situations they are pluses or minuses, and give some examples of brands with that feature. Plus, scroll to the end for a handy chart comparing all the features I discuss so you can decide the best option for you.
1. Flexible vs. Rigid
There are 2 main styles of collapsible water bottles. A flexible bottle collapses naturally as you drink the contents versus a rigid bottle that holds its shape until you deliberately fold or press it into a smaller size.
If the bottle is flexible, it’s easier to pack and fit into tight spaces. It generally collapses smaller than a rigid style. Something like the NatureHike, Platypus, or Vapur can be completely flattened (other than the mouthpiece) or the Hydrapak bottle is almost fabric-like and folds right down into its base.
A rigid bottle, however, is easier to drink from. It won’t deform no matter how little liquid is in it, so you can have a solid, one-handed grip. This kind is best for road trips and biking, as it stands up in cup holders and can be clipped into wire bike bottle holders.
Maybe the best marriage of the two is a thicker silicone bottle like the Nomader, Jerrybox, Luckystart, and Genius Earth, which are soft enough to roll up fairly small but rigid enough to stand on their own.
2. Size When Collapsed
The size and shape of the bottle when collapsed is another consideration. Some rigid collapsible water bottles, like the Que, Gogo, and EVXVE, don’t actually get that much smaller, just a bit shorter. This style is great if you want to have 2 different sized bottle options to bring a little or a lot of water with you.
If you are just trying to save a little space, this is fine, but if true space-saving is your aim, look for something that can fold completely flat like the NatureHike, Platypus, and Vapur or into a small disk like the Hydaway or Hydrapak. These you can easily slip into a purse or bag, or even your pocket, when you’re not using them.
Another popular style that is sort of a middle ground between flat and rigid is the silicone roll-up bottles. The cap and mouthpiece take up a bit of space, but the bottle itself rolls into a relatively small tube underneath them.
When I say “cap”, I mean an extra protective piece that covers the mouthpiece. I think a cap is pretty important to keep the area you actually put your lips on clean, especially if the bottle is rolling around in your bag all day or strapped to the side of a bag or bike where it might collect dust and dirt as you are walking, hiking, or biking.
A cap may be attached and flip up, like the EVXVE, Koin, Platypus Duolock, and Jerrybox or at least connected with a cord so you can’t lose it like the NatureHike or Ecosylife. I wouldn’t opt for one where the cap isn’t attached at all. It’s way too easy for that to fall off or for you to drop it somewhere irretrievable when you take it off to drink.
Bottles like the Hydaway and Luckystart do not come with a cap because the mouthpiece folds down. If you are not that concerned with the mouthpiece getting dirty, this option is easier and quicker to be able to drink, and you could maybe even open it without using your hands.
4. Hot & Cold Liquids
Most collapsible water bottles are only rated for cold liquids. This is fine for most people. If you are a big tea or coffee drinker, though, and don’t want to bring a separate hot-drink-specific container, you might want to consider one that can handle hot liquids as well.
The Nomader and Genius Earth are semi-rigid silicone but have a “cozy” style sheath to protect your fingers if you decide to put hot liquids in. Other thick silicone bottles like the Luckystart can also handle hot drinks.
As a former zip line tour guide, I’m all about carabiners and clipping my gear to my belt or bag. It makes it very handy to get at easily, saves space inside a bag, or allows you not to carry a bag. So I like a bottle such as the Gogo, Ecosylife, or Platypus Duolock that comes with a carabiner, or the Hydaway with a place to easily add one.
These are the 5 features I think are most important when choosing which style of collapsible water bottle will work best for your needs. I’ve compiled the features and brands into a chart so you can easily compare. Whichever style is your favorite, a collapsible water bottle is a top travel accessory you should definitely consider getting. Plus, it’s not travel exclusive – I use mine all the time when I’m not on the road as well.
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