Like nutrition, hydration is a vital part of any training and racing strategy, particularly if you’re covering large distances or exercising in warm conditions.
When it comes to the run, there are a few options available to you. Running backpacks normally have integrated hydration with large capacities and a comfortable back harness, but they can feel like overkill and aren’t the coolest to wear.
In a race setting you could, of course, rely on aid stations, but another alternative is to carry a running water bottle.
It may not be everyone’s choice, but using one means you have fluids close to hand, don’t get such a sweaty back and can stick to what you know if you’re using electrolyte tablets or powders.
There are many different types of water bottles to choose from for running, not only in terms of size, but also in how you carry them on the run and what materials they’re made from.
Here are a few different options to consider…
Best water bottles for running
Osprey Dura Dyna Handheld
That’s a very steep price (£40) for a running bottle, but if you’re prepared to pay that much, will you be pleased with your purchase? Well, this is a quality piece of kit.
The 360ml soft flask is made by HydraPak and uses the same bite valve as the Montane, left. That means it’s leakproof and delivers a consistent flow of water, though there is a bit of an aftertaste initially, too.
The hand strap isn’t as padded as the Ultimate Performance option, but still proved comfortable and the ergonomics were spot on for this tester.
The smaller size combined with the hand strap delivers a secure hold, while a zip pocket and small elastic strap offer enough space for cards, a key and an energy gel.
It’s BPA-free and the hand strap is made from 100% recycled materials.
Verdict: Great quality, but hard to escape the price.
UP Runners Bottle
What you see is what you get with this running bottle from Ultimate Performance.
The classic design allowed us to grip the bottle easily enough, but if you have small hands it may feel a little insecure and cumbersome.
That’s partly down to the 580ml volume, which is great for hydration, but does make for a bulkier (and heavier) bottle than smaller-capacity options.
The drinking valve itself is nothing to write home about either, as it closes up somewhat while being drunk from and it’s hard to get a solid flow of water.
There’s also a plastic cap to help avoid any leaks, but it does get in the way a little when drinking.
The bottle is BPA-free and, while not as strong as the soft flasks on test, there is a slightly unpleasant aftertaste to begin with.
Verdict: A classic bottle that performs as you’d expect it to.
Montane Ultraflask 500ml
Although branded with Montane’s logo, this soft flask is made by Hydrapak. It’s collapsible, which means it’s easy to stash away somewhere when empty or not in use.
The bottle is also designed to fit into pockets on running backpacks, which it does well, but it’s not the nicest to hold while running.
That’s because it becomes floppy as you drink from it and flaps around when in motion.
You can, of course, bunch it up in your hand, but that feels like a bit of a pain over long distances.
The valve is very good, however, with a high flow rate that allows you to drink quickly, and it doesn’t let any water out unless you bite down on it.
It’s BPA and PFC-free, and dishwasher-safe, but if used with water there’s a bit of a plastic aftertaste initially. It’s not cheap (£18), either.
Verdict: Not the nicest to hold but great bite valve.
UP Kielder Handheld Bottle
This 600ml bidon-style bottle from Ultimate Performance offers the highest volume out of the four options on test here.
That means it is quite heavy and bulky, but there’s a padded and adjustable hand strap so you can hang onto the bottle without actually having to grip it.
Aside from the added weight to your arm, it proved comfortable in testing, while the reflective detailing helps boost visibility when running in low light. There’s also a zip pocket that’ll happily take a gel, key and credit card.
The valve is easy to drink from and delivers a solid flow of water. When closed it forms a solid seal, though we wouldn’t say it’s 100% leakproof.
The wide screw-top lid helps with cleaning, while the bottle is also BPA-free.
Verdict: A bulky option, but the strap is handy and comfy.
High5 Sports Run Bottle
For a classic hand-held running water bottle, this pick from High5 holds 350ml within the BPA-free food-grade plastic bottle.
This type of bottle can be gripped in the hand thanks to a central cut-out and could also be looped through a running waist belt for hands-free hydration. High5 claims the bottle is ‘leak proof’, designed with a wide screw top and plastic nozzle.
Considering your hydration needs and running conditions, this bottle could keep you hydrated for runs of up to 10km, but longer distances will require a larger capacity or re-filling.
There’s also matching 500ml and 750ml options available in the range, though these are standard bottle shape.
Bearactive High-Vis Running Water Bottle
If you like the hand-held design but are after a bit more oomph, this option from Bearactive offers a larger capacity at 500ml and is hi-vis yellow to add to visibility and safety when out running on the road. In fact, Bearactive claim that the bottle is ‘glow in the dark’.
The handle is designed with ‘ergonomic grip’ indentations to make gripping the bottle on the run easier and more secure, while the nozzle is suction operated with a ‘one-way capless valve’.
The large capacity should help keep you hydrated, while being a work out for your arms!
Kalenji Running Hand Flask
If you like the idea of a hand-held bottle but suffer with sweaty palms on the run, a bottle with adjustable hand strap incorporated is the way to go.
This pick from Decathlon takes 350ml of fluids, with a strap that attached under the screw top and around the bottom of the bottle.
While Decathlon say that an in-built valve is designed to ‘project water directly into your mouth’.
Osprey Hydraulics SoftFlask
Soft flask bottles are ideal for sliding into running backpacks or offering softer solutions to hand-held, hard plastic bottles.
This 500ml flask from Osprey comes with a BPA-fee plastic straw with nozzle that creates a vacuum when used, this means that the water in the bottle does not slosh about loudly when running.
We’ve tested this particular bottle for over a year and can attest to its durability and practicality, the long straw making sipping swiftly on the move super accessible.
What’s more, once empty the soft flask is extremely light and can be packed down small and stashed away.
Check out our review of the Dyna 6 running pack to go with the Hydraulics soft flask.
Salomon Soft Flask
Another soft flask option is this pick from Salomon. Like the Osprey, this 500ml flask is designed to fit into different shaped pockets and shrinks as you drink to ‘minimise water bounce’.
The cap’s also made with extra grip which aims to ease re-filling, with a high-flow valve and welded seams.
Camelbak Quick Stow Flask
For a smaller soft flask option, this quick stow flask from Camelbak has 355ml capacity and is designed to be stowed away into smaller pockets and bags for hydration on the go.
It’s also designed with a ‘self-seal’ bite value which aims to avoid any spills and leaks.
Platypus Big Zip EVO Hydration Bladder
Those after hydration for endurance running and cycling sessions may prefer a bottle with larger capacity.
This platypus is designed to hold 1.5l, with a ‘self-sealing bite valve’ hose that can be threaded through a side strap on a running pack.
It also claims to be BPA-free with embedded silver ions that aim to protect prevent mould and bacteria from growing.