This was a category that I avoided for a long time because I didn’t think I’d find a lot of options. But after a bit of digging, I’m happy to report I found some
Who do the review sites say are “the best”?
Wirecutter’s published a list of its “8 Best Water Bottles. Their #1 recommended water bottle is Takeya. Made in China. #2 is Hydro Flask. Made in China. #3 and #7 is CamelBak. Made in China. #4 is a brand called Purifyou. Made in China. #5 is a brand called MIRA. Made in China. #6 is Thermos. Made in China. #8 is Purist. “Designed in California”, which of course you know means, Made in China.
Undeterred, I went to Good Housekeeping. Their #1 recommendation was Yeti. Made in China. They also recommended Takeya, Hydro Flash, CamelBak, Kleen Kanteen, Brita, Stanley, and Porter. ALL made in China. But they also recommended Zojirushi and Nalgene, so they weren’t completely in the tank like Wirecutter was.
I went through about a dozen other Web sites before I found these highly rated, highly recommended brands, none of which went through China.
What kind of water bottles should I get?
I was a bit surprised at the sheer number of different water bottles there are to buy. Material-wise, you can find plastic, glass, stainless steel, or aluminum ones. There are ones you use in the gym and ones you use for travel. There are ones with spouts and ones with straws. There are insulated and non-insulated ones. There are round ones and tapered ones. There are ones that purify water and ones that infuse water.
The good news is that I found models that weren’t made in China for most of these, which I share below. If there’s a specific kind of bottle you don’t see, definitely let me know in the comments and I can do some further research.
Best Water Bottles Not Made in China
1. Air Up Water Bottle – Best for Infused Water
By far, the most frequent search I see on Google for infused water bottles is for a brand called Cirkul (which a lot of people misspell as “Circle Water Bottle”). Cirkul is a brand that sells plastic water bottles that “infuse” water using a cartridge that you buy separately. Unfortunately, Cirkul bottles are made in China.
What a lot of people jumping on the Cirkul bandwagon don’t realize is that there’s a better solution out there called Air Up. Air Up was a company founded in Germany. Like Cirkul it features “pods” that you can install into your water bottle. Unlike Cirkul (or other “hydration” solutions that involve you squirting chemicals into your water) you never drink the flavoring. You (with the help of your nose) basically trick your brain into believing that you’re drinking all kinds of delicious fruit flavors, but in reality you’re just drinking pure water.
Cirkul used to make all of its bottles in China, but according to several news reports it intends to move the majority of bottle production to Europe (using plastic sourced from the USA). I’ve reached out to them to confirm that this is true for bottles intended for the US market.
Air Up has been so popular that dozens and dozens of Chinese counterfeiters have copied it and went to Amazon (hint: DO NOT buy the bottle or the flavoring at Amazon!). The good news is that you can go directly to Air Up’s US site to buy bottles and flavoring.
2. Zojirushi Stainless Steel Insulated Bottle – Best overall insulated bottle
I’ve of course extolled the virtues of Zojirushi before on this site in my writeup on electric kettles. I also own and use this rice cooker made in Japan which makes—bar none—the best white rice and brown rice on the planet (if $400 for a rice cooker is beyond your price range there are cheaper versions, just make sure they’re not made in China).
Zojirushi’s high quality comes through in its stainless steel insulated bottles as well. I’ve been buying these for years, back to the time when you could buy ones that were made in Japan. These days you can only find them made in Thailand (when I was in Taiwan recently I tried finding a made in Japan one, but it seems that they’ve permanently stopped making them there). But the good news is that the quality is still excellent. Its tight fitting lid and two layers of stainless steel ensure that hot liquids stay hot and cold liquids stay cold for 6 hours (or more). It’s easy to clean and pleasant to drink from. It is one of the few brands not made in China that I see over and over again on “best of” lists, for good reason.
3. Nalgene Sustain Wide Mouth Bottle – Best for everyday, practical use
This bottle may not win any fashion awards, but if you value function over form, you’re not going to do much better than Nalgene. It’s indestructible, leak-proof, dishwasher safe and can stand a lot of abuse, whether it’s being moved around at school, dropped while hiking, or used in the gym.
While you may not have heard about Nalgene, it’s actually the oldest brand of plastic water bottle, dating back to 1949 in Rochester New York when chemist Emanuel Goldberg invented pipette jars so leakproof and lightweight that scientists started bringing them on hiking trips. Nalgene was also first to the “Carry In / Carry Out” camping trend in the 1970s, which led to Nalgene being born.
Over the years they’ve achieved a reputation of being practical, safe, and indestructible. Best of all, they’re still made in the USA in Rochester, New York from BPA-free plastic material sourced from Tennessee.
You can find Nalgene products at Amazon and other retailers, but I prefer to purchase directly from the manufacturer, to avoid counterfeiters and to make sure that the manufacturer gets to keep most of the profits. There they have a full suite of products, including sippy cups for babies, options from 48 ounces to 12 ounces and everything in between, and even some stylish options I didn’t know about (which actually may win some fashion awards).
4. Polar Sport Insulated Squeeze Water Bottle – Best sports bottle
If you’re a biker, you probably have heard of or seen Polar Sport Insulated bottles. WIth over 20,000 positive ratings at Amazon, they’re certainly well loved. They were also the first 100% BPA-free insulated plastic water bottle, and still the best. And at under $20, they’re incredibly affordable.
One of the reasons they’re affordable is that they’re entirely made in the USA, in the beautiful state of Colorado. Not only does manufacturing happen there, all of their parts are sourced from the USA as well.
It boggles my mind that sites like Wirecutter completely ignore bottles like this, preferring instead of hock cheap brands made in China, which lack either the labor laws or the environmental laws that the United States has. That a brand like Polar can produce these bottles in the United States and sell them at a competitive price should put them instantly on the top of your list over sellouts like Camelbak. On a positive note, Consumer Reports (who is less prone to be affected by affiliate revenue) did name it as one of their best.
Two other excellent choices for sports bottles that Consumer Reports highlighted include the Co-op Cycles Insulated Water Bottle, available at REI (made in USA), and the Elite Fly Bottle, available at Amazon (made in Croatia).
5. Exquisite 316 Pocket Mini Thermal Water Bottle – Best mini bottle
h/t to 5mosa on Reddit for finding this one. It’s a stainless steel bottle that’s made in Taiwan. It has a 4.8 ounce capacity, so it’s “pocket size”, about the size of a mobile phone, perfect for when you need just a quick sip of water (or whatever other beverage you choose to put in there). It’s great for a purse or for a kid’s lunch box, and it’s rare to find any bottle of this size that’s not made in China (the China-made Thermos that Amazon is asking me to compare it to is MORE expensive).
6. Liberty Reusable Aluminum Water Bottle – Best aluminum bottle
One brand that you’ll see noticeably absent is SIGG. SIGG was a brand from Switzerland that dated back to 1908 and for years became famous for their aluminum bottles. Sadly, in 2016 SIGG was acquired by HAERS (full name: Zhejiang Haers Vacuum Containers Co.,Ltd.). So while SIGG continues to make some of its bottles out of Switzerland, most of the profits go to Communist China. Yet another once-iconic brand lost to a China company flush with cash by selling cheap plastic stuff to the West.
Liberty Bottleworks is a small American company based out of Union Gap, Washington. If you need an aluminum bottle like SIGG that’s super lightweight, is food-grade and doesn’t have a “metal” taste (as I’d often experience with my SIGG bottle), and has a threaded lid that prevents spills and leaks, look no further than than Liberty. As a bonus, their bottles come with some beautiful designs.
Note that while Liberty produces its Aluminum bottles out of Union Gap, its stainless steel bottles are imported from China so be sure to avoid those.
7. Lifefactory 22-Ounce Glass Water Bottle – Best Glass Bottle
Sometimes you just want to drink out of a clear, pure glass bottle and not deal with plastic or metal, not matter how BPA-this or food-grade-that they are. There’s just something extra refreshing about drinking a cold glass of water from actual glass.
I was extremely happy to see that Lifefactory produces its glass bottles out of France. These bottles have silicone sleeves to help prevent breakage and slippage, and are dishwasher safe (including the sleeve). Their Web site is refreshing (no pun intended) in that it provides clear information about where each component is made. The bottles are made in France, the caps (depending on the variation you buy) may be made in the USA or Poland, and the silicone sleeves are made in the USA. The only Lifefactory product you want to avoid are their stainless steel bottles, which are made in China.
This is a product out of South Korea that uses a filter to add ions to your water, changing it from neutral to alkaline (increasing the pH level of your water). The process is actually not as mysterious as it sounds; you can achieve a similar effect just by adding baking soda to water.
Some people swear by alkaline water, saying that it helps them stay hydrated, increases their bone health, and helps them improve everything from acid reflux to their skin to their weight. Others say that it’s just another fad people are jumping on. There isn’t a ton of long-term scientific research on the topic, so ultimately it just comes down to your preference. As always when considering changes to you diet, be sure to ask a doctor. This is especially important if you a history of kidney issues.
For those who do swear by alkaline water, this water bottle is definitely going to save you some time and money. Just pour regular mineral water into the filter and use the bottle during your day.
Do you know of other water bottles not made in China worthy of mention here? Let us know in the comments!
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