Gear Review: Nalgene HDPE Water Bottle

The narrow mouth (left) and wide mouth Nalgene HDPE water bottles (the wide mouth is about 8 years old, thus the color difference)

The narrow mouth (left) and wide mouth Nalgene HDPE water bottles (the wide mouth is about 8 years old, thus the color difference)

What can I say?  The Nalgene HDPE Wide Mouth Water Bottle (1-Pint) have done us incredibly well.  Over the last 8 years they’ve been sat on, kicked, dropped, tossed, jostled together in a backpack, lost, found, and bumped all over the place.  (One group member told me ran over their bottle with a bike, and it’s still in one piece!) They’ve survived temperature extremes from the 100s to well below freezing, 41 states, a couple provinces, hundreds of miles on the trail, and even toddlers (quite the accomplishment!)  And are they in perfect condition for it?  Not at all!  None of them have their original writing, one is lost somewhere in the desert of Utah, and two are beginning to leak.  But when the time came to replace them, it wasn’t a hard choice to go for Nalgene HDPE bottles again…albeit with a narrow mouth tops for a change.

 


 

Our water bottles (peaking out of the packs) made it to within a couple miles (as the crow flies) from the cone of Mt. Baker! Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington

Our water bottles (peaking out of the packs) made it to within a couple miles (as the crow flies) from the cone of Mt. Baker!

We switched over to the Nalgene HDPE water bottles around 2005 or 2006 due to BPA being in the water bottles we’d used for years.  We got 10 of them – one for each member of the group – and somehow we’ve managed to only lose one of them.  For a while, some of the younger ones used “splash guards” to make it easier to drink out of the wide mouth, but it was so hard to fill the bottles with the guards installed that we eventually gave up and taught them to drink with the regular wide mouth.

 

So, without further ado, here are what I consider the pros and cons of the water bottles.

 

Water bottles, ready for a hike. The Nalgene (in the back) bottles were much more durable than the no-name bottles that came with our packs.

Water bottles, ready for a hike. The Nalgene (in the back) bottles were much more durable than the no-name bottles that came with our packs.

Pros of the Nalgene HDPE Wide Mount 1 Pint Water Bottle

  1. They’ve survived the impossible. Any water bottle that can make it through what we’ve done to these must be pretty robust!
  2. The pint size fits in our water bottle carriers. I’d have liked the 32 oz. variety to fit, too, but they don’t. So, I go with the 1 pint (16 oz.) version.
  3. The cover attaches to the bottle via a plastic strap, so it’s basically impossible to drop the cap on the ground. This is so nice when you’re traveling who-knows-where and have no way to sanitize the cap if it drops.
    The water bottles, ready for dinner (as soon as it's cooked!)

    The water bottles, ready for dinner (as soon as it’s cooked!)

  4. It’s translucent, so you can easily see how much water is left in the bottle.
  5. You can write on the bottles with a sharpie and it will stay for a while. If we’re traveling for more than about a week, we usually have to reapply the sharpie, but it’s very convenient to write each group member’s name in bold letters so it’s easy to find. The good news is if you want to write something new, the old will wear off with time!

 

Nalgene HDPE wide mouth water bottle - sharpies work great on it!

Nalgene HDPE wide mouth water bottle – sharpies work great on it!

Cons of the Nalgene HDPE Wide Mount 1 Pint Water Bottle

  1. The original writing (ounce lines, etc.) comes off. I think ours lasted until the second use when we applied sunscreen with our hands to our arms, faces, etc., then took a drink…writing gone!
  2. No pretty colors. You’re basically stuck with whitish grayish almost-clear with blue lids. Sad face 🙁
  3. They can start to leak after a while. After about 6 years of use, two of the ten began to leak around the rim. I think this was due to over tightening the caps a few too many times, but maybe not.
    Top view of the Nalgene wide mouth and narrow mouth water bottles

    Top view

  4. Hanging the bottle from the loop for the cap gives the cap a “stressed plastic” look. One bottle has been hung so much, it’s almost light blue on top instead of the more royal blue. I realize this isn’t what the loop was made for, but it’s so convenient it would be nice if you could hang the bottle from it.
  5. They do discolor after a while. As I said, we’ve used them for 8 or 9 years, so I suppose it isn’t a surprise that their nice whitish color is more of yellowed grey after all that dust and dirt!

 

All in all, though, the Nalgene HDPE water bottle is my bottle of choice.  And I hope I can get another 8+ years out of the new ones!

 

Nalgene narrow mouth water bottle

Nalgene narrow mouth water bottle

UPDATE:  After using the narrow mouth variety (Nalgene HDPE Narrow Mouth Water Bottle (1-Quart)) on a short trip, here’s what I have to say about them vs. the wide mouth variety.  The narrow mouth makes for easier drinking, no doubt about it.  I love that.  It’s really not that much more difficult to fill, either.  However, they look more ungainly (not that they were great lookers to begin with) and are a bit taller than their wide mouth counterparts.  It also seems like the cap begins to smell much more quickly (like, I never had that problem with the wide mouth bottles), but I’ll have to use it more to confirm this.  Overall, though, I’m very happy with the narrow mouth Nalgene HDPE water bottles!

 

UPDATE (one year later): I love these!  They’ve held up great; the smell in the cap isn’t a problem, and the height hasn’t bothered me.  Here’s to quite a few more years of good service!

 

Quality ★★★★★

Value for Price ★★★★★

Usability ★★★★★

Longevity ★★★★☆

Safety ★★★★☆

Would I buy the Nalgene HDPD water bottle again? ★★★★★

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

 

This Week’s Featured Product!

The very bottle reviewed above!

 


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