The best running water bottles
Looking for a new running water bottle? Here are our top picks!
In the UK, most of us don’t have access to drinking fountains in public. And even if we did, well, they’re not the most hygienic.
So, how do you stay hydrated while running? The best option is to carry a running water bottle – drinking on the go to keep dehydration at bay.
If you’re running for less than 60 minutes, then you likely don’t need to bring a bottle on your run.
But once you start running longer distances, or if the weather is particularly hot (as rare as that may be), you’ll want to start bringing more water to stay cool, hydrated, and focused on your run.
So, what are your options and what are the best running water bottles?
You have handheld bottles, hydration packs, backpacks with reservoirs, and soft flasks. But don’t worry about that – this post is a round-up of the best hydration options and bottles for running.
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1. Nathan handheld ExoDraw insulated soft flask
Best handheld bottle
- Anti-leak valve
- Small pocket
- 500ml capacity
- Ergonomic fit
- Bite valve prevents leakage
- Could be more durable
The Nathan Handheld ExoDraw is a handheld bottle, lightweight and ideal for going the distance.
The handheld strap is comfortable, and the bottle collapses down to prevent sloshing – more common with regular plastic bottles.
You also have a small stash pocket for storing essentials. But the pocket is not large enough to store most phones. Instead, it’s meant for carrying extra gels, keys, or cash.
The only drawback is that the bottle could be more durable. Some runners reported the bottle to begin leaking after a few months of use.
2. Inov-8 soft flask 0.25l
Best collapsible water bottle
- Lightweight and compressible
- Squeeze soft flask design
- BPA & PVC free
- Remove air to reduce bounce
- Easy to clean
- Only holds 250ml of water
The Inov-8 soft flask 0.25l may only hold a small volume of liquid, but this sleek and lightweight design is easy to carry and comfortable to run with.
While we wouldn’t recommend this bottle for longer runs in the heat, this flask is great for runs less than 60 minutes.
3. Osprey Duro hydration vest
Best hydration vest for running
- 1.5-litre capacity
- Plenty of storage space for gels, keys, and other items
- Large mesh pocket for larger items
- Plenty of storage
- Great for long runs & unsupported ultra events
- Some runners may find it uncomfortable
The Osprey Duro hydration vest is meant for those longer trail runs or hikes.
There’s compression straps for a close fit and a hip belt to distribute the weight of the pack evenly for a more comfortable run.
The vest also comes with two 250ml bottles for additional hydration, slotting into the two pockets.
You also have a ton of pockets to store the essentials, whether a jacket, extra gels, or a phone.
And although the design is heavily focused on comfort, some runners tend to find hydration vests uncomfortable. It’s also a more expensive option, especially when compared to something like the Nathan handheld ExoDraw.
4. Ultimate performance runners bottle
Best handheld bottle on a budget
- Choice of five colours
- 300ml capacity
- Won’t break the bank
- Ergonomic design – easy to hold
- May taste like plastic
- Sometimes challenging to drink from
The Ultimate Performance runners bottle is our budget handheld option, coming in five fun colours.
The design is basic but that’s to be expected. There’s a sealable cap to prevent spillage, and the handheld design is comfortable – you know exactly what you’re getting.
Despite this, the bottle can taste almost like plastic. We suggest rinsing with hot water before use to somewhat remove this taste.
5. Camelbak quick grip chill
Best for keeping your drink cool
- Zip pocket (big enough to hold a phone)
- 500ml capacity
- Jet valve seals prevents leakage
- 2 exterior pockets
- Reflective details
- Only one colour choice (black)
If you’re running on a hot day, the Camelbak will keep your drink cool. In fact, make that 2x cooler than other water bottles.
Compared to other bottles that may leak over time (such as the one from Nathan), the Camelbak uses jet valve seals to prevent leaks while you run. The Camelbak uses patented TruTaste technology to keep your water tasting fresh and less like plastic, unlike the above bottle from Ultimate Direction.
While your water is kept cool, you can store a large phone and other gear in the exterior pockets. You’ll also remain seen thanks to the reflective details. But there is only one colour choice: black.
6. Inov-8 2L shape shift reservoir
Best for trail running
- Easy to clean (fully reversible design)
- Versatile piece of kit
- Large 2-litre capacity
- Flatter shape reduces rolling effect
- Requires a running backpack or hydration vest to use
- Not the best option for shorter runs
If heading out for a longer run, you’re going to want the Inov-8 2-litre shape-shift reservoir.
And while it does need to be carried in a vest or backpack, the 2-litre capacity and straw attachment will keep you hydrated for hours off the beaten path.
The flatter design reduces the rolling effect and keeps you comfortable whether you’re running five miles or twenty-five.
With the addition of a backpack and the reservoir, this set up can quickly become expensive.
7. Ultimate Performance running belt with water bottles
Best hands-free option
- Two bottles (300ml)
- Small velcro pockets for essentials
- Fits 26″ to 42″ waist
- Reflective details
- Non-invasive & alternative to a hydration vest
- Belt may bounce ever so slightly
Another product from Ultimate Performance, this time, we have a running belt containing two 300ml bottles. This running water bottle belt is essential for those longer runs, whether on the trails or perhaps even your very first half or full marathon.
The small velcro pocket is perfect for storing essentials, whether a large phone, a set of keys, nutritional items, or some emergency cash.
Some runners reported the belt to run a little tight. But, this can be adjusted and should contain more than enough adjustment for most runners.
8. Ronhill 500ml fuel flask for runners
- 500ml capacity
- Soft silicone design
- Bite valve
- Bite valve prevents leakage
- Lightweight (38g)
- May taste like plastic
The Ronhill soft silicone flask is super versatile – great for short runs but easily stored away in a pack for long days on the trail.
The bite valve prevents leakage, even when the bottle is upside down and vertical. This, paired with its lightweight design, makes it a great option for throwing in a pack as extra fluid if needed.
As with many similar bottles, you may find it tastes a little like plastic. Ensure to wash with hot water before use.
9. Soft flask foldable running water bottle
Best value soft flask
- Foldable design
- Straw attachment for easy drinking mid-run
- Freeze and chill overnight
- Fits conveniently into many backpacks and hydration vests
- Soft flasks often taste like plastic
During the peak of summer, you can’t go wrong with a soft flask bottle. This one from Aonijie is 250ml (other sizes are available), and easily folds up – stored in a bag or packed away until you need them.
This flask contains a straw attachment for mid-run hydration, best used with a hydration vest or backpack.
When you’re done with the bottle, it can easily be folded and packed away. There’s no extra luggage to carry around.
You can also freeze and chill the bottles overnight for a refreshing drink following a morning training session.
10. OMM running vest – hydration system compatible
Most storage space
- 7 easy access pockets
- Ergonomic shape design
- Flask pockets (fit up to two 500ml soft flasks)
- Hydration system compatible
- Reflective design
- Water-resistance roll-top back pocket
- Only one colour choice
Another hydration vest, the OMM vest has more storage space than the Duro – great for long trail runs and endurance events.
In total, there’re seven pockets, with plenty of room to store all the essentials (and more) with quick access.
The design is ergonomic, and you may find it more comfortable than the Duro. But that’s down to personal preference and fit.
Once again, there is only one colour choice: black and orange.
For other backpack and hydration vest options, read our best running backpacks post.
How to choose the best running water bottle
While you may be tempted to grab your regular flask or a bottle of Evian, choose a proper water bottle for running for increased comfort and convenience.
A proper bottle for running is easy to hold – it carries plenty of fluid and, in some cases, also has pockets to store other essentials.
And if you’re planning a long run, then that bottle of Evian really won’t cut it. You should consider a hydration vest for marathon training and long events. This allows you to carry more liquid with less effort – a good pack is comfortable, does not bounce, and increases storage.
If a pack isn’t your thing, you can also try a belt. This is a great option for when you’re unsure how much water you’ll need – consider a belt for your weekly long run.
Finding the best running water bottle is all about choosing one that’s right for you and your training. If you’re running longer distances or maybe training for a marathon, a hydration vest or backpack is usually a good option. But if you’re looking for a basic bottle for less than a 60-minute run, a soft flask or handheld bottle is likely a good shout.
What to look for when buying a handheld bottle for running
The most popular way to stay hydrated while running is by carrying a handheld running water bottle.
But what should you look for when buying one?
- Comfort: holding the bottle should feel like second nature. Look for one with a strap or an ergonomic handle.
- Capacity: how much water does the bottle hold? Look for 250ml plus and larger for longer runs.
- Design: is the bottle foldable? Is it easy to carry? Can you put it in your pocket when you’re done?
- Pockets: Are there pockets to stash your keys and other essentials?
Below you’ll find some frequently asked questions about hydration and finding the best bottle.
Should I carry a water bottle while running?
We suggest carrying a bottle when running in the heat or when running longer distances.
Where to put your water bottle when running?
Most handheld designs are easy to hold. But you can store your bottle in a backpack if that's easier. Hydration vests are also another option to consider.
What bottles do runners use?
There are handheld options, soft flasks, bottle belts, backpacks, reservoirs, and hydration vests.
How much should you drink while running?
Drinking enough fluid is vital to prevent dehydration (which has many severe side effects). For runs less than 60 minutes, you likely don't need a drink. But if it's hot or you're running for longer, then it's advisable to take on water during your run. Drink too little, and you may experience cramps, nausea, and heat stroke.
Should you carry water when running a marathon?
During a marathon, you can carry your own water or use the aid stations set up throughout the course. Carrying your own water saves time, but you will have to carry it a long way (this can be uncomfortable for some runners). A hydration vest is a great option if you choose to carry your own water.
Matthew is a lifelong runner, chief tester of all products, the founder of Running101, and freelance content writer for active brands. When he’s not writing, he enjoys lifting weights, cycling in the Lake District, and watching fast cars drive in circles on a Sunday. He also has a BA in sport, exercise and physical activity from the University of Durham.