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I’m told that I don’t drink enough water.  It’s probably true.  Americans, however, buy a lot of bottled water. I did a little research and I don’t want to start citing figures (because there’s a fairly wide range), but we are talking tens of billions of bottles per year. The point is, if I am going to start drinking more water, I want to invest in a bottle.

Water bottles. Ugh. All I’ve been thinking about for the last few days is water bottles. It started the other day when I was riding in my car listening to news on the radio. There was a story about clean water and possible shortages in the future. “I should write something about water bottles,” I thought. It seemed like a good idea at the time. What a quagmire.

For people who carry a water bottle, there are basically three camps: Plastic, metal, and glass.  After looking into this for several hours, it seems that there is no perfect solution.  It all comes down to what you think is important.  With the possible exception of Sigg, all of these companies are based in the States.  Only Nalgene’s plastic bottles are manufactured domestically.

Which brings me to the Nalgene Tritan. It’s 1 quart, with a wide mouth (for easy cleaning). If that’s too big for your dainty hands, Nalgene makes a 24 Oz bottle. Nalgene makes it very clear on their website that their bottles are now BPA-free. For those who don’t know, BPA (Bisphenol A) is an organic compound used in making plastic that has been linked to all sorts of nasty disorders. Despite BPA being gone, some people still have reservations about chemicals leaching out of plastic.  You can do your own research and decide if you are concerned about that or not. The upside of plastic bottles is that they are lightweight and durable for an “active lifestyle.”

You can also get an assortment of neoprene sleeves for these bottles to highlight your own sparkling personality.

Next comes the metal water bottle. The cheapest is probably the aluminum bottle. These are the kind of bottles that are often handed out for free as promotional material. Many people notice that these bottles oxidize, producing a whitish crud here and there. From what I gather, this crud is not good to drink. Therefore, the metal bottle of choice seems to be made of stainless steel. Metal bottles are extremely durable, keep water cool, and can last a lifetime. The problem is, I haven’t been able to conclusively find a stainless steel water bottle that is manufactured domestically. Finally, I found the Nalgene Stainless Steel Water Bottle. I had heard that all of Nalgene’s products are manufactured in the US, but I noticed that this particular product says “…by Guyot Designs.” Rumor has it that this is an overseas operation. I’ll try to contact Nalgene and see if I can get an update.

If we don’t have a domestic manufacturer, I would go with either Sigg or Klean Kanteen. By all accounts, they both make excellent water bottles in a variety of sizes. In my book, Sigg gets the edge for not using ridiculously unnecessary “k”s in their brand name.

Finally, we talk about glass bottles. There are some obvious problems with glass bottles, namely weight and durability. We can’t do anything about weight, but some manufacturers have taken to selling their bottles with neoprene or silicone sleeves for improved grip and impact resistance. What people love about glass is that the water doesn’t have the metallic or plasticy taste that some folks find with other bottles.

Can also be used for storing magic potions...

For those who want to buy something manufactured domestically, you may be out of luck. Again, there doesn’t seem to be a perfect solution.  A popular choice is the Lifefactory bottle, with the the glass coming from France and the sleeve manufactured in the US. If your concern is environmental, there are two other new companies that you might want to look into. Love Bottle currently manufactures in China, but plans on moving their manufacturing to the States. Then there is bottlesUp, which does its glass manufacturing in Mexico (and tries to make the point that this produces a smaller carbon footprint than producing in China). It’s cap and protective rings are made in Maine.

Both of these glass bottle companies try to work the environmental angle, but if you are really concerned about the environment and are willing to use glass, just clean out an old Grolsch bottle or keep your eyes peeled for a cool old bottle and reuse that. Be creative.