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Best running water bottle 2023: Top bottles for runners to quench their thirst

Our choice of the best water bottles for runners, hikers and others

Many of us struggle to consume the recommended two litres of water a day, with those who partake in strenuous activity – such as runners – at even greater risk of a shortfall in their H2O intake and therefore performance. Short of setting yourself reminders by way of an alarm on your phone or scribbling a note on your palm, a good water bottle will encourage you to increase your intake of liquids while exercising to ensure you’re operating at your peak at all times.

Investing in a reusable water bottle will also do away with the need to buy a new water bottle every time you’re thirsty, which many of us are guilty of doing, helping you and the environment.

But with manufacturers making numerous claims about their water bottles, making a choice can prove tricky. So we’ve done the hard work for you, testing a range of the best on the market, covering a variety of shapes, sizes and functionality, to help you decide which is right for you.

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How to choose the best running water bottle for you

How much water should my water bottle hold?

This will depend on the individual. If you’re the sort of person who tends to get fairly thirsty while out on a run, then you’d do well to opt for a bottle that maximises capacity without becoming too big or heavy to hold. Conversely, if you only sip water a few times on the average run, then there’s no need to carry around liquids that won’t ever be drunk.

Do I have to hold it the whole way?

The majority of water bottles need to be held in the hand, which could become annoying – and uncomfortable – over long periods. Thankfully, there are other options aside from a running belt or carrying a backpack. These include ergonomically designed flasks that are more comfortable to hold and bottles made of flexible materials that compress as you drink. There are even options that strap to your arm, allowing you to concentrate on the task at hand.

Can I stop the water getting warm?

There’s nothing worse on a hot day – or any day, for that matter – than a sip of lukewarm water. It won’t do much to quench your thirst. This is especially true for runners as, in addition to possibly requiring a drink en route, a quick splash of water over the head will do wonders to cool you down quickly. If warm water is your running nemesis, then you’ll want to get a bottle that keeps liquids cool – sometimes for half a day or more.

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The best running water bottles to buy

1. Salomon Soft Flask 500ml: Best soft flask water bottle

Price: £23 | Buy now from Salomon

Soft flasks have one significant advantage over other types of water bottle in that the more you drink from them, the less cumbersome they are to carry. Once empty, you can stuff them into a small pocket, too, rather than having to hold on to an empty bottle or throw it away every time you race. The water also doesn’t slosh around inside when you run, which can be an annoying noise with hard bottles.

The Salomon Soft Flask brings all those standard collapsible bottle benefits to the table, but adds a couple of new ones as well. The key one is the thermomoulded bottom, which comes to a hard point so it’s much easier to push the bottle into a pocket, especially on a running belt that’s tight around your waist.

Another handy feature is that the bottle has an unusually large opening for a soft flask, which makes filling it easier, and even allows you to drop in ice cubes to keep your drink cool. The sports cap is also reliable in preventing leaks, which again is important when squeezing a soft flask into a tight pocket.

Capacity: 500ml; Strap: No; Nozzle: Sports cap with anti-leak valve

Buy now from Salomon

2. Osprey Duro Solo Belt: Best belt water bottle

Price: £27 | Buy now from Osprey

If you’re looking to carry a lot of water with you without using a backpack, a belt like the Osprey Duro Solo is your best bet. By tightening up the straps you can carry 570ml of water against the small of your back where it won’t bounce around annoyingly while you run, and after a little practice you’ll become adept at grabbing the bottle out of its angled pocket in a way that brings a little joy each and every time you do it.

Along with the bottle holder, the belt has a large zip pocket in which you can stash your phone and other essentials for your runs. The pocket even has a TPU touchscreen window that allows you to use your phone without taking it out, though you’ll have to twist the belt around to your front to do this, unless you’re especially adept at texting behind your back.

Capacity: 570ml; Strap: Belt; Nozzle: Sports cap

Buy now from Osprey

3. Ultimate Performance Runners Bottle: Best for comfort

Price: From £4 | Buy now from Amazon

A cheaper option that’s easy to hold yet is still able to hold a good amount of liquid, this Ultimate Performance flask even has individual finger grooves that ensure it stays well gripped in your hand while running. The nozzle is protected by a removable cover, the ergonomic shape is comfortable and lightweight, and the plastic is BPA-free. It certainly isn’t fancy, but for those who find it difficult to keep hold of a full bottle, it’s definitely a decent option. Also available in hot pink.

Capacity: 580ml; Strap: No; Nozzle: Sports cap

4. Inov8 Race Ultra 0.25 Running Pack: Best handheld bottle

Price: £35 | Buy now from Amazon

A bottle so intuitively designed that you don’t even have to hold it, this flask attaches to your forearm via bungee cords and allows you to run at your best without worrying about having to grip a bottle. The cords are attached to a pocket that can hold all manner of items from keys to running gels and more. The only drawback is the capacity, which comes in at just 250ml. Still, you probably wouldn’t want to carry anything heavier in this position, and it’s plenty for a short run.

Capacity: 250ml; Strap: Yes; Nozzle: Bite valve

5. Kalenji 250ml Running Bottle: Best budget water bottle

Price: £5 | Buy now from Decathlon

Not one for the chronic sippers among you, this petite hip flask-style bottle stores a much smaller amount of water – but, as a tradeoff, it’s so slim that it can easily fit in a pocket. It would be a great choice to go with a running belt, or for those who simply don’t like carrying anything while exercising; its lightweight design allows you to tuck it away until you actually need it. There’s nothing high-tech on offer here; it’s simply a solid bit of kit if you don’t want to spend a lot of money on a more sophisticated water bottle.

Capacity: 250ml; Strap: No; Nozzle: Sports cap

Buy now from Decathlon

6. Camelbak Classic Light Hydration Pack: Best hydration vest

Price: From £34 | Buy now from Amazon

The most comfortable way to carry large amounts of water on long runs is a hydration vest. This will contain a bladder connected to a nozzle via a long tube. The tube usually secures to the rucksack straps so it doesn’t bounce around on the run.

This lightweight rucksack from Camelback comes with a 2l bladder and has 4l of storage overall, with the pockets able to carry all the other essentials you might need on your run. The sports cap has an on/off lever to ensure it doesn’t leak all over you when you’re not drinking, and the tube feeds through a loop on the rucksack strap to keep it in place.

Capacity: 2l; Strap: Rucksack; Nozzle: Sports cap with on/off lever

7. Higher State Soft Flask: Best budget soft flask

Price: From £4 | Buy now from Sports Shoes

Higher State makes all kinds of affordable and reliable running gear, and this soft flask is a classic example. It’s a no-frills option with a simple design, but it certainly gets the job done, and we’ve used these flasks to carry drinks with no major problems in three marathons.

There are 125ml, 250ml and 500ml options, and the flasks have a bite valve to prevent leaking when stashed in a running belt. This valve isn’t quite as reliably leak-free as some other options, but, at worst, we’ve had a few drops of liquid seeping out on a run. It’s never been a real concern, and you can’t argue with what you’re getting at such a low price.

Capacity: 125ml, 250ml or 500ml; Strap: No; Nozzle: Bite valve

Buy now from Sports Shoes

8. Nathan Trail Mix Plus: Best double-bottle belt

Price: £44 | Buy now on Amazon

When one bottle won’t do, take two! The Nathan Trail Mix Plus belt holds two 300ml bottles comfortably in place in holsters against the sides of your back, with the nozzles pointing away from your body so they won’t poke up into you. The holsters make it easy to grab either bottle with one hand, and the push-pull caps ensure you don’t leak any liquid before you’re ready to take a drink.

The central pocket has a little stretch in the sides so it can accommodate a large phone plus a gel or two if you stuff them in, and the bottles in the belt are insulated so they’ll keep your drinks cooler for longer. The belt comes in a few different colours, and it also has reflective trims to increase your visibility at night.

Capacity: 2 x 300ml; Strap: Belt; Nozzle: Push-pull cap

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