Top up your fluids on the go with these top rated water bottles.
Staying hydrated is an essential element of mountain biking given the level of exertion involved, and this only gets more crucial with time, distance and temperature. With that in mind, it makes sense to use the best water bottle on market either as a standalone water source – for short blasts without a pack – or longer epics to supplement a hydration bladder.
To attach the bottle to your bike you’ll need a decent bottle cage as well. In recent years these have evolved considerably, with side entry cages for frames with limited space, cages with built-in tool storage, and even magnetic cages that leave a minimal, clean look for your bike when not in use.
Magnetic system for increased convenience on-the-go.
Weight: 79g bottle, 22g cage | Sizes: 450, 590, 600ml | Rating: 10/10
Reasons to buy: Secure attachment, available in multiple sizes
Reasons to avoid: Pricey for a bottle cage, needs the bottle cage mount holes on the frame
Fidlock’s magnetic connectors have been popularised in cycling by helmet brands, where they have been utilised as strap buckles, as well as these innovative bottle and base systems. Rather than a cage, there’s an interlocking plastic mount with one half attached to the frame’s bottle bosses and the other bonded to the side of the bottle. To remove, simply twist the bottle away from the base. Putting back requires holding the bottle at a slight angle above the down tube, at which point the magnets will attract the connector to locate onto the base spigots.
The whole system is easy to use and very secure. And if you like a clean looking frame, it’s super discreet when there’s no bottle attached. Although you can get an adaptor to strap the connector to any standard water bottle, if you want to take advantage of the Fidlock system, it’s recommended to buy the brand’s own bottle with the connector pre-fitted. The bottles come in three sizes, including a compact 450ml version if space is at a premium.
Extra protection on winter rides
Weight: 89g (620ml bottle) | Sizes: 620, 710ml | Rating: 10/10
Reasons to buy: Grab and squeeze convenience.
Reasons to avoid: Slightly more difficult to clean. No small volume option.
For a brand that is synonymous with hydration packs and bladders Camelbak also makes a mighty fine water bottle. Easy to squeeze, the Podium bottle stands out from its competitors with a locking valve. Just twist the base of the valve to stop leaks – ideal for when you’re using the bottle for travelling. Because you don’t need to bite the valve open, like most bottles, you can just squeeze fluid into your mouth.
It’s quick and convenient. There’s also a large neck for adding energy powders and ice cubes and the Podium Dirt bottle has an additional rubber cover that fits over the valve to provide extra protection from mud and other contaminants.
3. Specialized Big Mouth
Benchmark bottle used by loads of brands
Weight: 82g (620ml bottle) | Sizes: 620, 710ml | Rating: N/A
Reasons to buy: Wide opening for adding energy powder and cleaning.
Reasons to avoid: No small volume option.
If you have a branded water bottle kicking about in one of your kitchen cupboards, chances are it was made by Specialized. It’s a huge business in its own right for the big S, producing custom bottles for everyone from bike companies to event organisers and local bike shops. Ubiquitous as they are, the design of the basic Specialized water bottle is simple but effective.
There’s an extra wide screw top mouth for adding energy powders and ice cubes, while the large bite valve provides a good flow of liquid.
Squishy bottle that thinks its a bladder
Weight: 30g bottle | Sizes: 500, 750ml | Rating: 9/10
Reasons to buy: Lets you carry liquid if your bike doesn’t have bottle bosses.
Reasons to avoid: Harder to clean than a rigid design.
This clever hydration, er, sock is a great solution for riders without room for a bottle cage on their frame that don’t want their style cramped by a hydration pack or chunky hip pack. Small enough to fit in a pocket and squishy so that there’s less chance of injury should you crash on it, the Flexi Flask has just enough capacity for a quick after-work blast. And when it’s empty, you can just roll it up and tuck it away.
How we tested
The highly experienced product testers at MBR have tried and tested a lot of water bottles, with a whole lot of different bikes and bottle cage systems. The water bottles here have been checked for ease of use when refilling and drinking on the go, while riding, and how compatible they are with different frames and cages.
Best water bottles for mountain biking: need to know
How much do I need to drink?
Dehydration is bad news. It can mean as little as fatigue and dryness of the throat at the start, but it can quickly develop into heatstroke, dizziness and confusion if left unchecked. So staying hydrated is super important. How much you need to drink is very much an individual question, depending on how much you sweat, as well as the weather conditions on the day. But as a rough rule of thumb, 500-1,000ml per hour is a good place to start. Remember to drink little and often, try to figure in refill points along your route if possible.
With modern full-suspension and e-bikes, often the biggest limitation in terms of bottle size is your frame design. Most won’t take more than a full-size 600ml bottle. Some even have special reduced capacity bottles with custom shapes to fit into awkward spaces.
What’s the best way to clean a bottle?
If you’ve got the energy, try and remember to swill some hot water and washing up liquid around inside your bottle immediately after you get back. Shake the solution inside the bottle and squirt it out through the valve. Then you can go back to giving it a more thorough clean and rinse later. If the exterior is muddy, then rinse that off as well. This will help prevent bacteria forming inside. The lazier option is to unscrew the cap and chuck it in the dishwasher – check your bottle is dishwasher safe first. Try to leave your bottles to dry thoroughly before reusing.
Can you recycle water bottles?
Check at the base of your bottle for the little recycling logo. Next to it will be a code of letters to indicate what it’s made out of. If your bottle is made from LDPE (low-density polyethylene), HDPE (high-density polyethylene) or PET, then your council may be able to send it for recycling. In either case, check with your local council.