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With our eyes open to the scourge of single-use plastic, a reusable water bottle is a must-have for the responsible traveller. But they take up a lot of space. Enter the collapsible water bottle. They’re reusable and when empty, can be compressed down small enough to fit in your pocket. The perfect choice for those of us with limited space in our travel backpacks.
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To save you trawling through the hundreds, if not thousands of rubbish bottles available on the internet, we’ve picked out the 7 best collapsible water bottles for travel.
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Best Collapsible Water Bottles – Quick Answers
- Best Collapsible Water Bottle – Platypus Platy Soft Bottle
- Best Collapsible Water Bottle with a Filter – Katadyn BeFree
- Best Large Capacity Collapsible Water Bottle – Nalgene Wide Mouth Cantene 3-litre
- Best for Hiking – Katadyn BeFree
- Best for Travel – Platypus Platy Soft Bottle
The 7 Best Collapsible Water Bottles
- Capacity: 590 ml
- Cost: $
Made from food-grade silicone, the Baiji collapsible water bottle is both flexible and super durable. When empty, it can be rolled, folded or squashed down almost flat. The silicone is stain resistant and after a couple of washes, it transfers no flavours or smells to your water.
It’s also freezable. If you want a bottle full of ice, a real treat on a hot day, ensure you only fill the bottle about two thirds full before putting it in the freezer. This will prevent the expanding ice from damaging the lid or stretching the silicone too much.
When fully rolled, the Baiji bottle is only around 8cm tall and can easily fit into your pocket or bag. It only weighs 180g when dry. You’ll barely notice it in your pack!
It also features a strap that can be used to carry the bottle when full or to keep it rolled up when empty. The wide cap makes it easy to fill and after screwing the lid back on, the small mouthpiece controls the flow rate very well.
The name Baiji comes from the Baiji Dolphin. This is thought to be the first dolphin species to have been made extinct because of human action. Baiji donate 10% of all their profits to dolphin protection and conservation.
- Capacity: multiple sizes .50-litres – 1.5-litres
- Cost: $-$$ depending on size
The Vapur anti-bottle was one of the first collapsible water bottles ever made. It’s made of a triple-layer ultra-durable plastic that can be flattened, rolled or folded. Unlike collapsible silicone bottles, the Vapur has a much more plastic feel to it. However, it passes on no smell or taste to your water.
It features a wide mouth so you don’t spill water all over yourself when filling the bottle. The mouthpiece is then screwed into place, where it holds well and doesn’t leak at all. In fact, the Vapur bottle comes with a LeakProof Guarantee and 1-year warranty!
Attached to the lid is a plastic carabiner. It’s ideal for attaching the full bottle to your back but can also be used to keep the bottle compressed when empty. The bottle can be freestanding, no matter how much water is in it – although it’s more stable when full. When empty it weighs so little (just 56 grams!) that even a slight breeze will knock it over.
The bottle is dishwasher and freezer safe so you can have cold water from a clean bottle at all times.
I used a 1-litre Vapur for well over a year before it finally broke on me. During this time I hiked 500 miles of the Camino de Santiago, one of Europe’s best hikes, travelled in South America for nine months, including taking on the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu, and spent a few weeks travelling around Europe.
- Capacity: 1-litre
- Cost: $$
Platypus are market leaders in the collapsible water bottle space. Their 1-litre Platy Bottle is made from a similar material to the Vapur mentioned above. It has a smooth, plastic feel and can be rolled, flattened, folded or just squashed in your bag. There are silver ions, which protect against mould and bacteria, built into the bottle.
When full, it’s freestanding and has an easy hold hourglass shape. It can also stand when empty but because it weighs so little, it’s not stable. When dry the bottle weighs just 49 grams, ideal for ultralight backpacking!
The screw cap is less obtrusive than on most collapsible bottles. It’s about the same size as a standard coke bottle lid. The cap has a downside though. It’s pretty easy to lose! Because it’s not attached to the bottle, it can be easy to drop or misplace while having a drink – a problem that doesn’t occur with flip-top or sports caps.
Thankfully, the thread is a standard size so you can easily replace the cap with a lid from any normal bottle. The actual mouth of the Platy is on the small side. It makes it harder to fill than much of the wide-mouthed competition.
If you’re hiking, you can attach a standard thread filter, like the Sawyer, to the Platy.
Platypus also produce a range of water bladders.
To clear up any confusion from the off, this collapsible bottle does not come with a filter. It’s produced by a company called Survivor Filter. It is, however, compatible with their own filter as well as the Sawyer filters and any other filter that utilises a standard thread.
The bottle is made from a polyethylene construction, the same as both the Vapur and Platypus. It comes with a sports cap which can be easily popped up whenever you want a drink. There’s also a protective cover to prevent any dirt or grime from getting to the mouthpiece. This cover is attached to the bottle with a small plastic tab so you can’t lose it while drinking!
It’s freestanding when full and can be rolled, folded or flattened when empty. The dry weight is an impressive 34 grams. You will not notice this bottle in your bag.
The Survivor Filter Collapsible Canteen features a grab handle and carabiner. It’s easy to hold and can be attached to the outside of your bag with ease, no matter whether it’s empty or full.
The main downside of this bottle is the small spout. It’s more challenging to fill than much of the competition.
- Capacity: 1-litre
- Cost: $$$
The Katadyn BeFree differs from the collapsible bottles we’ve discussed so far. It’s made from TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) and has an inbuilt filter included in the cap.
The Katadyn bottle looks, acts and feels more like a silicone bottle. It’s almost soft to the touch and is designed to be squashed or crushed down rather than folded or rolled. It’s durable too. Designed for long-distance hikers and outdoor use, this bottle will easily handle a standard backpacking trip.
There’s a flip cover that keeps the sports cap clean and free of debris. It’s also attached to the bottle so you can’t drop and lose it. The filter is attached to the lid. It cannot be removed. When the time comes to replace the filter, you must replace the entire cap. The wide mouth is easy to fill but Katadyn have used a non-standard thread size, so you’ll need to get replacement filters through them. Standard bottle caps will not fit.
The filter removes 99.9% of bacteria, cysts and Protozoa from your water. It means you can fill up from almost any outdoor water source – just ensure the water is flowing and isn’t too cloudy. Disappointingly, the filter does not remove viruses or heavy metals, so will not make unsafe tap water potable. It’s good for 1000-litres but by following Katadyn’s cleaning instructions and taking a little care, you can make it last much longer.
Weighing just over 60g dry, this bottle is barely noticeable when crammed into your bag. It’s also available in a smaller 600ml version.
- Capacity: 500ml
- Cost: $ (2 pack)
Tap’s collapsible bottle has the unique addition of an antibacterial coating. This prevents the build-up of germs and bacteria. Great if you’re travelling and don’t have time to wash it every day!
It’s smaller than most of the bottles we’ve discussed, holding only half a litre of water at a time. This means it’s not ideal for long days out but thanks to its smaller size, it fits into any daypack with ease.
The mouth of the bottle is easy to fill but it’s not the standard size and a normal bottle cap won’t fit it. Thankfully, Tap provide a couple of spare lids with each purchase, so your bottle isn’t useless if you lose one!
There’s a carabiner attached too. This makes it easy to attach the bottle to a backpack, or thanks to its smaller size, even a belt loop on your trousers.
It’s made from the same plastic material as the Vapur or Platypus bottles but isn’t quite as durable. Don’t expect it to last months of constant use like those other bottles. However, it’s much cheaper and comes in a pack of two.
- Capacity: 1-litre
- Cost: $$
Featuring the classic Nalgene wide mouth and screw top, this collapsible canteen is a great choice for backpackers and travellers alike. It’s leakproof, quick to fill and super easy to drink from. When opened, the cap remains attached to the bottle via a plastic loop. This prevents you from dropping and potentially losing the lid – which would make the bottle essentially useless.
The multilayer film construction and heat welded seams mean it’s durable enough to deal with long term travel. The plastic is a little thicker than in cheaper collapsible bottles. Combined with the gusseted bottom, this thicker material allows the bottle to easily stand up when full.
When empty, it can be rolled or folded but it shouldn’t be crushed down like a silicone bottle. Doing this too many times damages the plastic and causes leaks.
The Nalgene Wide Mouth Cantene handles extreme temperatures better than the other bottles. It holds it’s structure down to -29°C and can easily handle having boiling water poured into it. It’s also dishwasher safe.
What to look for in a collapsible water bottle
It goes without saying, you need your collapsible water bottle to be durable. If it’s only going to last a few weeks it’s not worth buying.
Almost all collapsible water bottles are made of plastics. Whether it be thicker foldable polymers or silicone that can be crunched down super small, these reusable plastic bottles are way better for the planet than their single-use brethren.
Both the silicone and plastic bottles come with pros and cons. Silicone bottles are generally more flexible so can take more of a battering whilst the more “plasticky” options are often cheaper and still reliable enough to see you through your travels. Silicone bottles can also handle extreme temperatures much better than other plastics and don’t absorb strong flavours in the same way.
Until recently, you needed a separate device to filter or purify your water before storing it in a collapsible bottle. Not anymore.
As the demand for lightweight filtration systems has risen alongside the popularity of hiking and general outdoor activities, companies have been quick to fill a gap in the market. Why carry a water bottle and a separate filter when you can just combine the two?
Many collapsible bottles that claim to have a good filter are pretty rubbish. Be careful to check reviews before purchasing one. Or go for the tried and tested Katadyn BeFree, a favourite among hikers and travellers.
If you plan on only drinking fresh clean water, or water that has already been cleaned for you then a filtered water bottle isn’t necessary.
We all hate being caught short of water when out exploring. If you plan on being away from water sources for most of the day or are just an incredibly thirsty human being, make sure you get a bottle with a large enough capacity to see you through. Most collapsible water bottles come in multiple sizes ranging from 300 millilitres to 3 or more litres.
Don’t waste your time, money and valuable bag space on a 3-litre bottle if you don’t need it but at the same time, don’t bother buying a tiny bottle that won’t sustain you for more than an hour or two.
The big downside of having a reusable water bottle is having to clean it. Most collapsible water bottles are dishwasher safe but realistically, how many hostels have you been to with a dishwasher?!
The majority of collapsible water bottles come with cleaning instructions but you can often tell visually how hard the bottle will be to clean.
Does it have a wide mouth that allows you to give it a proper scrub or will it just be a matter of flushing it with clean water from time to time? If you are going to use the bottle a lot, the easier it is to clean the better as this will prolong its lifespan and help prevent you from getting ill!
Are collapsible water bottles eco friendly?
Collapsible water bottles might be made of plastic but using one can have a big impact on how eco friendly you are. Across the world, 1 million plastic bottles are bought every minute. More than 50% of these end up in the oceans or in landfill. By reusing a collapsible water bottle, you’re reducing the amount of single-use plastic bottles in circulation.
Are collapsible water bottles safe?
Yes, collapsible water bottles are safe. To ensure your bottle of choice is the safest option, check that it’s BPA and BPS free. It’s good to avoid phthalates where possible too.
All the bottles mentioned on this list are free from harmful chemicals or materials. They’re all safe to use.
How to wash a collapsible water bottle?
Washing a collapsible water bottle is easy. Most are dishwasher safe. You can just throw them onto the top rack and let the dishwasher work its magic. If you don’t have a dishwasher, hot soapy water and a brush or cloth will do the trick. Just make sure you get into all the corners and scrub well around the lid.
How do I dry a collapsible water bottle?
After washing your collapsible water bottle, you’ll want to dry it. The best thing to do is to leave it upside-down to drain and air dry.
When should I replace my collapsible water bottle?
It’s advised that you should replace a plastic water bottle once a year. Longer than this and the plastic within the bottle can start to break down. Not only does this mean you will be ingesting tiny amounts of plastic but it also means your bottle will become less durable.
What is the best size for a water bottle?
The best size water bottle will differ from person to person. A good starting point is 1-litre. That’s enough to see you through half a day of normal activity.
It’s advised that we drink between 2-3 litres of water a day, especially if you’re somewhere hot or partaking in vigorous exercise. A 1-litre collapsible water bottle is ideal for those long overnight bus journeys that are common when travelling.
Can I fill my collapsible water bottle with liquids other than water?
Yes, you can fill your collapsible bottle with different liquids. Be aware that if you use your bottle for a strong flavoured drink like coffee or orange juice, it will be hard to remove the flavour completely from the bottle.
Have we missed your favourite collapsible water bottle from our list? Leave a comment below and tell us your thoughts!