The 7 Best Reusable Water Bottles for School

The best reusable water bottles for school
Credit: Amazon

As someone who grew up in the ‘80s and ‘90s, I pretty much only drank water when I was forced to. That’s all changed these days, though, when most kids are hip to the many benefits of staying hydrated. Now, every kid from preschool to college is toting around a water bottle at all times, and some bottles—like the omnipresent Stanleys—have even become status symbols in middle and high schools, with students singing the praises of what they believe to be the best reusable water bottles for school.

But with thousands of different bottles on the market today, which ones actually do what they’re purporting to? Which ones keep cold water cold and hot water hot, and which ones won’t leak all over their backpack? We looked for bottles that were durable, generally affordable, and weren’t too juvenile, and we looked for a range of styles, materials, and sizes. Here are our picks for the best reusable water bottles for school.

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through links on the G&F site, we may earn a commission.

Our Top Picks: 

  1. Best Overall: Owala FreeSip Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle – $23.05 at Amazon
  2. Best Value: Thermos Funtainer – $11.89 at Target
  3. Best Sports Bottle: Sports Buddy – $24.99 at Amazon
  4. Best Glass Bottle: Purifyou Premium Glass Water Bottle $17.97 at Walmart
  5. Best Insulated Water Bottle: Takeya Actives Sports Bottle – $21.83 at Amazon
  6. Best Plastic Water Bottle: Yeti Yonder – $22 at Yeti
  7. Best Tumbler: Stanley Quencher H2.0 FlowState Tumbler – $45 at Amazon

Reviews of The Best Reusable Water Bottles for School 

1. Best Overall: Owala FreeSip Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle

Credit: Urban Outfitters

Owala is the newest player in the “hottest bottle in school” game, and for good reason: The brand’s FreeSip has earned rave reviews for its push-to-open button top, sleek styling, and hip color combinations. We love that while the bottles come in a range of sizes, from 16 to 40 ounces, even the biggest bottles never seem bulky. We also love the bottles’ sturdy carry loops, leakproof lid, and wide-mouthed spout, which lets them both swig and sip, depending on what they’re into. It’s just an all-around great water bottle.

The Specs:

  • Capacity: Available in 16, 24, 32, and 40 ounce
  • Material: Stainless steel
  • Dishwasher safe: No
  • Weight: 14.4 ounces

The Pros:

  • Easy to clean
  • Wide-mouth spout
  • BPA and phthalate-free
  • Fits in most cup holders

The Cons:

  • Can’t be used with hot liquids
  • Not dishwasher safe
  • Anti-slip silicone sleeve sold separately

What Others are Saying:

Wired calls the Owala FreeSip the “perfect” bottle, and Esquire dubbed it the best water bottle of all time. It also has an average 4.80star rating from over 30,000 reviews on Amazon

Buy the Owala FreeSip: 

2. Best Value: Thermos Funtainer

The best reusable water bottles: Funtainer
Credit: Amazon

The Thermos Funtainer doesn’t hold as much water as some of the other bottles on this list, but this bottle proves that good things can come in small-ish packages. At just 16 ounces, the Funtainer is petite enough to be portable, and if they don’t mind a couple of trips to the water fountain or water cooler during the day, the size can almost seem like a blessing, since it means their water is always fresh and cold. The bottle’s stainless steel exterior doesn’t dent or get dings, even after a good deal of roughhousing, and the push-button top keeps the bottle’s spout from being exposed to germs or the elements. 

The Specs:

  • Capacity: 16 ounces
  • Material: Stainless steel
  • Dishwasher safe: Yes
  • Weight: About 9 ounces

The Pros:

  • Slim 
  • Integrated handle 
  • Easy to clean

The Cons:

  • Small size 
  • Spout must be cleaned with a bottle brush 

What Others are Saying:

Wirecutter named the 12-oz. Funtainer the best kid-friendly water bottle, and it has a 4.7-star rating from over 7300 reviewers on Amazon

Buy the Thermos Funtainer:

3. Best Sports Bottle: Frost Buddy’s Sports Buddy

The best reusable water bottles for school: Sports Buddy
Credit: Amazon

If you’ve got an athlete in the house, you’ll know the beating a good sports water bottle can take. Those things go from practice to game, from sideline to locker room, and without proper maintenance, they can end up smelling as bad as a pair of old hockey skates. Fortunately, cleaning up Frost Buddy’s Sports Buddy is a breeze, with the bottle’s wide mouth and easy sip straw lid wiping clean with a good old-fashioned bottle brush. It’s also got a cool paracord handle to help your teen tote it around, and the climbing clip means they can snap it onto whatever backpack or duffle bag they’ve got without a problem. 

The Specs:

  • Capacity: Available 24 and 32 ounce
  • Material: Stainless steel
  • Dishwasher safe: No
  • Weight: 12.8 ounces

The Pros:

  • Keeps water cold for more than 24 hours
  • Has a handle and paracord strap

The Cons:

  • Prone to leaking 
  • Hand wash only
  • Hard to clean 

What Others are Saying:

The Frost Buddy has an average 4.4-star rating from over 1200 reviewers on Amazon

Buy the Sports Buddy:

4. Best Glass Bottle: Purifyou Premium Glass Water Bottles

The best reusable water bottles for school: Purifyou
Credit: Amazon

Don’t love the feel or look of a big old metal water bottle? Or maybe your teen wants to keep something chic inside their cup, like cucumber water or Liquid IV. Why not consider a glass water bottle, which not only lets them peek inside their beverage but also helps reduce their carbon footprint? That’s certainly the case with Purifyou’s Premium Glass Bottles, which are made of leak-proof borosilicate glass that’s non-porous, meaning they won’t be tasting yesterday’s coffee the next time they go to take a swig of nice cold water. The bottles’ silicone sleeve means they’re anti-slip and durable, too, so they won’t shatter after an accidental drop. 

The Specs:

  • Capacity: Available in 12, 22, 32, and 40 ounce
  • Material: Borosilicate glass
  • Dishwasher safe: Yes
  • Weight: 1.19 pounds

The Pros: 

  • Silicon sleeve has time and volume markings on the outside
  • Stainless steel stopper helps thwart leaks
  • One-year warranty for breaks and cracks

The Cons: 

  • Narrow open
  • Glass won’t keep water cold as long as metal
  • Cap is easy 

What Others are Saying: 

Wirecutter called the Purifyou Premium the best glass water bottle on the market today, and Food & Wine dubbed it most durable. It also has a 4.4-star rating from over 6000 reviewers on Amazon

Buy the Purifyou Premium Glass Water Bottle

5. Best Insulated Water Bottle: Takeya Actives Sports Bottle

The best reusable water bottles for school: Takeya
Credit: Amazon

There’s something to be said for a good, old-fashioned stainless steel water bottle. Takeya Actives’ bottle doesn’t have a bunch of design innovations or sleek and shiny features, but it keeps cold things cold and hot things hot, and that’s not always easy to find. It also has a spout they can open with one hand, a hinge lock so the cap isn’t always banging into their face mid-sip, and it comes in a robust range of sizes and colors. Who can ask for more than that, really? 

The Specs: 

  • Capacity: Comes in 18, 22, 24, 32, and 40 ounce models
  • Material: Stainless steel
  • Dishwasher safe: No
  • Weight: 12 ounces

The Pros: 

  • Mix and match straw and spout lids 
  • Sweatproof and relatively lightweight
  • Gasket seals are easy to remove and wash

The Cons: 

  • Bottle isn’t dishwasher safe
  • Not dent resistant
  • Not BPA Free

What Others are Saying: 

The Takeya bottle has a 4.8-star rating from more than 25,000 reviews on Amazon, and Wirecutter calls it the most versatile bottle on the market. 

Buy the Takeya Actives Insulated Stainless Sports Bottle: 

6. Best Plastic Water Bottle: Yeti Yonder 

Yeti Yonder
Credit: Amazon

If metal and glass don’t float your water bottle boat, you might want to check out something plastic. Our favorite in that space is the Yeti Yonder, which is both lightweight and shatter-resistant. The “lightweight” is key because, depending on the size you pick, one bottle can hold up to 50 ounces of water, which definitely isn’t light. Leakproof and see-through, the Yeti Yonder helps them keep track of exactly how much they’re drinking, and the bottle’s wide mouth makes it a breeze to clean. 

The Specs: 

  • Capacity: Available in 20, 25, 34, and 50 ounce
  • Material: Made from 50 percent recycled plastic
  • Dishwasher safe: Yes
  • Weight: 9.2 ounces

The Pros: 

  • Bottle has a lightweight clip attached, so you can attach it to any backpack
  • Comes with a wide mouth and a “chug cap” attachment
  • Completely leakproof

The Cons: 

  • Not very insulated 
  • No volume markings
  • Can’t use with hot or carbonated beverages.
  • Expensive 

What Others are Saying: 

The Yeti Yonder gets high marks from  Wired, CNN, and Reviewed, It also has a 4.7-star rating from over 1,800 reviews on Amazon

Buy the Yeti Yonder: 

7. Best Tumbler: Stanley Quencher H2.0 FlowState Tumbler

Stanley Quencher
Credit: Amazon

At this point, as a parent, you’d practically have to be living under a rock not to know about the Stanley Quencher. A massive steel water bottle with an oversized handle and opaque straw, the Quencher seemed to be on every teen’s Christmas list this past year, and now people are lining up for hours to snag limited edition Stanleys. But while the Quencher’s popularity is certainly, in part, driven by hype, it’s also a virtue of its quality. The 30- and 40-oz. bottles are large and in charge, and they come in a very cute and diverse range of colors. The double-wall vacuum insulated cups purport to keep water ice cold for up to 48 hours, and the cup’s FlowState lid gives you the option to drink with a straw, slurp through an opening, or lock the whole thing down to (allegedly) keep all your liquids safe inside.

The Specs: 

  • Capacity: Comes in 30 and 40 ounce sizes
  • Material: Stainless steel
  • Dishwasher safe: Yes
  • Weight: 1.4 pounds

The Pros: 

  • Wide range of colors and looks 
  • Can be used for hot and cold beverages 

The Cons: 

  • Not leak-proof
  • Loud when dropped 
  • Very expensive

What Others are Saying: 

The Stanley Quencher has a 4.7-star rating from over 48,000 reviews on Amazon.

Buy the Stanley Quencher H2.0 FlowState Tumbler: 

Other Reusable Water Bottles for School to Consider

Nalgene 38-ounce Stainless Bottle

There’s something comfortingly classic about the Nalgene, a bottle that’s been used by campers and hikers for decades. That being said, not much has changed about the brand’s design in that time, and while they do make a stainless model now, we’re just not sure it’s as good as everything else on this list. The Nalgene 38-ounce Stainless Bottle is available at Amazon for $34.99.

Hydro Flask Stainless Steel Wide Mouth Bottle

We like Hydro Flasks a lot. That being said, they’re not the “best” of anything on our list, and we tend to find the bottle’s flip-up straw top a little annoying to clean. We love all the colors they’re going for these days—the berry is especially pretty—but at almost $50 for a 32-ounce bottle, it just feels overpriced for what you get. The Hydro Flask Stainless Steel Wide Mouth Bottle is available at Amazon for $49.95.

Ello Cooper Stainless Steel 40-ounce Water Bottle

While we were swayed by how many Amazon reviewers seem to really love this bottle, we just can’t get behind the fact that the only way to really drink out of it is through a silicone soft straw, or as one Amazon buyer calls it, their “adult sippy cup” spout. While it’s well-priced and the design is nice, we prefer options in our cup lids—or at least an actual straw. The Ello Cooper Stainless Steel 40-ounce Water Bottle is available at Amazon for $25.99.

Simple Modern 40-ounce Trek Tumbler

If you want the style and size of a Stanley Quencher without the hefty price tag, consider picking up Simple Modern’s 40-ounce Trek tumbler, which comes in a wide range of colors and styles and is a full $10 to $15 cheaper. While the brand offers simple, muted colors, a la the Stanley, they also offer cool combinations like Owala. The Simple Modern 40-ounce Trek Tumbler is available at Amazon for $29.99.

Why You Can Trust Us

As a reporter and critic for over 15 years, I’ve spent a measurable portion of my life separating the proverbial wheat from the chaff. I love to shop, and I take great pains in finding not only the best products on the market but also the best deals. Like so many other people, I’ve been trying to drink more water lately, so I’m always trying out and testing cups, just to say where my loyalty really lies. 

To put this piece together, I pulled from my own (shamefully extensive) water bottle cabinet, which is full of things I’ve bought and countless water bottles either my husband or I have received as promotional items over the past five years. I asked my kids what they liked the best, and I considered what I really love, too—and what I hate. (Shoutout, tiny straws that are impossible to clean!) I also looked at user reviews on sites like Amazon, TikTok, and YouTube videos and checked out other review sites and listings to see what I needed to make sure to evaluate on my own. I tried to spread the list across brands and bottle sizes, and I tried to address the different needs teens of tweens, teens, and young adults.

Everything to Know Before Buying a Reusable Water Bottle 

Takeya water bottle
Credit: Amazon

What to Consider Before Buying a Reusable Water Bottle 

Spout Style: There are straw, spout, and wide mouth options, so find out which they prefer and go with that. If they want a choice, some reusable water bottle lids offer multiple ways to drink. 

Material: If they’re into keeping their cold drink cold for the longest time possible, they’ll want an insulated metal bottle. If they don’t want to taste yesterday’s leftover cold brew flavor in today’s nice cold water, then maybe get a glass bottle since it’s non-porous. 

Weight: An already heavy water bottle is just going to get heavier once it’s full of lots of water. If they’re already bowing under the weight of an overloaded backpack, they may need a smaller, lightweight bottle rather than a heavier tumbler. 

Ease of Cleaning: It’s something that’s important to consider, not just because it’ll save you some aggravation, but because it’ll definitely come into play if they’re taking the bottle with them to college.

What Size Water Bottle Should I Get?

Stanley Quencher
Credit: Amazon

This is probably the biggest question when it comes to what kind of water bottle to get. You can get cups that range anywhere from about 12 to 60 ounces, so it’s worth considering a few things on how your teen plans to use their water bottle. If they’re trying to drink a ton of water, or they do a lot of sports and need to stay hydrated, then they might want something bigger. Then again, if they don’t want to lug around a truly massive cup, a smaller water bottle may be a better choice. 

Another thing to consider is whether or not their water bottle will fit into cup holders in both their cars and in their backpacks. While backpack side pockets can certainly stretch to accommodate larger cups, they also become loose and floppy over time, meaning they won’t be able to hold smaller cups or bottles in the future. 

What’s the Best Material for a Reusable Water Bottle? 

That all really depends on what you like. Metal bottles are better insulators, meaning they keep water cold longer and hot drinks warm for hours. Glass bottles are less porous, though, so they tend to drink “cleaner,” meaning you won’t taste leftover flavors from previous beverages. They’re also more eco-conscious in some sense, since you can recycle all or at least part of them if you’re done using them. Some plastic bottles are recyclable as well, though that can vary wildly, and plastic bottles are also generally less durable and more prone to cracks and scuffs.

How to Clean a Reusable Water Bottle

While some reusable water bottles claim to be dishwasher safe—and some are, for sure—you really need to make sure to get into your bottle’s crevices and cracks with a good quality bottle brush. Hot water alone won’t clean inside a straw, either, so make sure you grab a straw brush if that’s something your bottle needs. 

If you notice your bottle getting a funky smell or taste, don’t worry: Just put a teaspoon of bleach and a teaspoon of baking soda in your bottle and fill it with water. Let it soak overnight, then rise it out completely the next day. (You might want to do it multiple times, because we are talking about bleach here.) Let the bottle dry completely before using it again.

Prices were accurate at time of publication. 

About Marah Eakin

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