Anytime you're exerting yourself, hydration is incredibly important. This is especially true on a mountain bike where you may be far into the backcountry without easy access to water so choosing the best water bottle for MTB is important to stay properly hydrated.
Without the right access to water, it doesn't take long before your body starts to dehydrate. In the beginning that might mean just a loss of performance but keep it up and you can experience heatstroke, dizziness, and confusion. It happens faster than you might think so you have to stay vigilant and on top of those fluids.
Part of staying vigilant is making sure you have the right water bottle with you. A bottle that fits your best MTB bottle cages, matches your style, and carries the amount of water you need. To help with the process of finding the right bottle, we've put together a list of what we think are the best water bottles for MTB on the market right now.
Best water bottle for MTB
You will never need to open or close the Camelbak Podium water bottle. In fact, you can’t. There is no cap, and in its place is a self-sealing valve that opens as soon as you give the bottle a small squeeze. In this sense, the Camelbak Podium is one of the easiest cycling water bottles to use because all you need to do is pick it up and squeeze it.
There is even a lock that you can close with a twist in case you are traveling or going somewhere that your bottle might bounce around and end up upside down. The locking feature isn’t super practical, but it is a quiet perk. You can also disassemble the valve for a thorough cleaning too.
Camelbak also does an insulated version of the Podium so you can keep your liquids cold on the hottest days of racing and there are plenty of color options to choose from so you can make sure that it matches your kit.
Camelbak Podium takes the Editor’s Choice award for its self-sealing cap. I never thought that a self-sealing cap would make that much of a difference, but after many months of use, it’s hard to go back to a traditional cycling water bottle. Overall, the Camelbak Podium leaks the least amount of any cycling water bottle that I’ve used – and believe me, I’ve tested hundreds over the years.
It doesn’t get much simpler than the Specialized Purist cycling water bottle. There are no fancy caps, grips, seals, or insulated add-ons with the basic Purist bottle. Yet the standout feature of the Purist cannot be seen from the outside – each bottle is coated with ultra-thin silica which prevents sticking on the inside of the bottle. This prevents mold and bacteria from congregating and keeps a neutral taste every time you take a sip from the bottle.
There are three different caps to choose from, including lockable caps, one-way valves, and more, and you can quickly disassemble the Purist for a full cleaning. Perhaps the best part of the Specialized Purist is that you can completely customize your bottle with colors and designs. Somewhat surprisingly, this is a pretty unique feature for a cycling water bottle to have, and it is one that makes the Specialized Purist truly stand out.
The Elite Fly claims to be the most popular water bottle in professional cycling, and it’s easy to see why. Made with 30 percent less plastic than the average bottle, according to Elite, the 19oz version weighs just 54g, which is a little more than half the weight of comparable cycling water bottles.
Elite used less plastic material in the midriff of the bottle, and more material at the top and bottom to create a lightweight cycling water bottle that is simultaneously easy to handle and more secure in cycling bottle cages.
There are tons of different colors and designs to choose from, including designs from the three cycling Grand Tours. With 25oz and 32oz sizes available, you’ll have plenty of options for all kinds of cycling from road racing, to MTB and gravel riding.
The Fidlock Twist Bottle is a cageless cycling water bottle that uses magnets and a mechanical locking system. At the base of the contraption is a connector with two magnets and an internal latching system, with the magnets fitting to the bike base and guiding the bottle into the correct position. This makes for an easier mount and remount compared to other cageless water bottles, though the Fidlock Twist Bottle is significantly more expensive than most competitors.
As for the bottle itself, our test model is relatively small at 20oz (lots of other sizes are available), but it is dishwasher-safe and BPA-free. The base weighs only 16g, so the entire setup is around half the weight of most other cycling water bottles when you include the weight of the cages.
Mounting and removing the bottle is easy, as it just needs a clockwise twist in a similar way to cleats in clipless pedals. The magnets will help guide the Bottle back into place, making the Fitlock more suitable for high-intensity efforts and racing compared to some other cageless cycling water bottles.
You can get seriously ill riding through farm roads in the wet and mud then drinking whatever your tires fling at your bottles. Even if you find yourself in less extreme weather, each time you take a drink could mean a mouthful of dust as the water gets flowing. If you like the idea of the Camelbak Valve but would rather keep dust, dirt, and any other muck out of your water then the Camelbak Podium dirt adds a cover to it.
Like many other bottles on this list, the Camelbak Podium Dirt is also made of BPA-free TruTaste material, which means that it contains none of the Bisphenol A chemical often used in manufacturing plastic containers. Products that are not BPA-free may come with an unpleasant plastic aftertaste.
The Camelbak Podium Dirt comes in a standard and insulated version, but it only comes in a relatively small size of 21oz. Camelbak offers a few accessories to help add on more volume, including a belt that can carry the Podium Dirt bottle, or you can switch out a standard Podium bottle cover. `
The Polar Bottle Breakaway Muck Insulated has a bold claim in that its triple wall insulation can keep water cold twice as long as other cycling water bottles. In our testing, it’s difficult to say if it was truly twice as long, but the Breakaway Muck certainly outlasted most other insulated water bottles when it came to keeping our liquids cold.
A bonus feature of the insulation is that it works in reverse as well – in very cold conditions, the Breakaway Muck can keep your water from freezing. Offered in various colors and patterns, the Breakaway Muck isn’t the best-looking water bottle for racers. It is medium-large at 24oz, which is perfect for training but maybe not for racing.
The long-neck design of the Polar Bottle Breakaway Muck isn’t the easiest to clean, but it is dishwasher-safe which is a huge plus.
Elite has taken a big step forward in the creation of its Jet bottles, which are made from food-grade, BPA-free polyethylene. This material is also treated with a special bio additive which makes Elite Jet bottles completely biodegradable. In other words, the Elite Jet is one of the first biodegradable water bottles for cycling.
The sport of cycling has made a few drastic changes to the way they treat the environment in recent years, and now there are cycling companies jumping onboard as well. Elite has used biodegradable plastic and an odorless BPA-free design to create the Elite Jet, which comes in a huge range of sizes from a tiny 12oz to a mammoth 32oz. That makes the Elite Jet an appealing option for kids’ bikes, gravel bikes, MTB, and everything in between.
Elite Jet bottles are designed in the same way as other Elite cycling water bottles, which means that they are lightweight and easy to use. There is significantly less plastic material used in Elite water bottles than in competitors, though the range of Elite Jet bottles doesn’t include a self-sealing cap or insulation.
The Fabric Cageless bottle is a truly unique design that ditches the traditional cycling bottle cage and instead uses a lightweight mounting system to secure the bottle to your bike. Removing the bottle cage saves the majority of the weight, but the bottle itself is quite light as well.
As for the mounting mechanism, the Fabric Cageless bottle attaches to two studs through fitted grooves on the bottle itself. All you need to do to remove the bottle is slide it up and out, though remounting requires much more precision. In a race situation, the Fabric Cageless bottle might not be the best option - but for aesthetics, simplicity, and training, there is hardly a better minimalist option.
The Fabric Cageless is decently secure if you tighten up the studs sufficiently, despite its free-floating look. There are two different sizes to choose from, and you can take the larger 25oz version with you on longer rides. The cap isn’t self-sealing, so you’ll have to open and close it each time you take a drink, but the material is BPA-free so you won’t get that off-putting plastic taste.
The BackBottle is a specially-designed bottle meant to fit inside one of your jersey pockets. Its plastic core is molded in a way to fit your lower back in the cycling position, which means that you’ll hardly notice it for hours on end.
Most bikes have two bottle cages and that’s it - the BackBottle allows you to bring a third bottle without having to forcibly stuff a full-size cycling water bottle into your back pocket. Its unique design does make the BackBottle a bit low on storage capacity, but it still holds 18oz of liquid compared to most cycling water bottles which are 20-24oz. Made from BPA-free materials, the BackBottle won't add any unpleasant tastes, and it could save you on a long ride in the heat.
At an affordable price, the BackBottle can be a cheap alternative to a hydration pack for riders on a budget. Though it doesn’t hold as much liquid as a hydration pack, the BackBottle is one of the most affordable bottles on our list despite having a very unique design.
How to choose the best water bottle for MTB
What size bottle do you need?
Mountain bike frames are the biggest limiter when deciding on the right bottle. Can your frame fit two bottles or one? What size bottles will fit? Maybe you actually need to check out our list of the best hydration packs or best hip packs. You might also be able to fit a larger bottle if you have the right bottle cage, so check out our list of the best MTB bottle cages and see what's best for you.
Once you've got an understanding of what your frame can handle then you can decide what style of bottle is going to work for you.
Should you choose an insulated bottle?
If you are riding for long periods of time then an insulated bottle won’t do much late in the ride. Even so, there's very little downside to insulated bottles. They may warm up before being empty but at least for a while, you'll get to enjoy the cool water.
Insulated water bottles contain an internal lining that helps to keep your water at the same temperature for longer. There's nothing worse than taking a mouthful of warm water when you're craving something cold and refreshing. The design of insulated bottles helps prevent that from happening.
However, they can be overkill if you're just going on a short ride on a comfortably temperate day. While there's not a lot of downsides to insulated options, the insulation reduces the water volume they can hold and they cost a bit more for the same function. When deciding whether or not they're worth it, think about how long you tend to ride for, and whether your local climate is likely to badly affect the temperature of your water.
How do you clean your water bottle?
The best thing you can do for bottles is to immediately rinse them with soap and water following a ride. No matter how exhausted you might be, take a few minutes to put a little soap and hot water in your bottles, give them a shake, then squeeze soap and water through the valve, and finally rinse thoroughly. Those few minutes will save you lots of hassle later and make sure nothing starts growing in your bottles. After that initial rinse then you can think about a more thorough cleaning.
The first thing to keep track of is what your particular bottle can tolerate. A dishwasher can be an excellent way to get a bottle clean but the high heat can also destroy a bottle, so check to see what yours can handle. Along the same lines, some bottles can handle a good scrubbing while others only need a rinse.
When it comes to mountain bike bottles you will likely need to spend some time on the exterior as well. Just using your hands and water might be enough to get the dirt off but if not be careful about getting too aggressive. A plastic bristle brush is a good option and some, gentle, non-scratch scour pads can work as well.
After you've got everything clean make sure to also let them dry completely. You'll have to remove the top and leave it off while they are drying or it's unlikely they will fully dry before the next ride. The exposure to air and a thorough drying will do a lot to make sure your bottles are clean and fresh the next time you grab them.
How often do you need to replace your bottle?
There's no hard and fast rule to this one. Plastic water bottles will last forever in practical terms. There's also not much available in terms of sustainably sourced water bottles. It's a piece of plastic that can't always go through the recycling system. These are all good reasons to keep using them as long as possible.
The challenge is that over time water bottles get difficult to use. The outsides get scratched and it starts to be harder and harder to get them out of the cages. They also start to look worn and can be hard to clean after a while. These are all reasons to replace them often.
Looking at both sides, there's no right answer. Replace them as infrequently as possible but do it when you need to. If you are careful about cleaning them, they will last longer. It's also helpful to clean the inside of your bottle cages from time to time as a way to extend the life of your bottles. If you want something that lasts even longer consider the Fidlock bottles and cages or a metal bottle instead of plastic.