Gear Guy

What Are the Best Glass Alternatives to the Plastic Water Bottle?

How breakable are the new glass water bottles? Can you take them outdoors, or are they only for the office?

What Are the Best Glass Alternatives to the Plastic Water Bottle?

Photo: Maridav/

Glass has emerged as a popular alternative to plastic water bottles, and it’s part of a general trend toward more sustainable, healthier beverage containers. Since scientists began putting the word out about BPA as a potential hormone disruptor about five years ago, plastic alternatives, such as stainless steel and glass, stepped up to challenge the status quo.

Then there’s the taste issue. Some plastics leave water tasting funny, especially if you use the bottle to hold something other than water—moxie, green tea kombucha, and vodka appletini are some of the worst culprits in my own experience (and particularly bad in combination with one another).

Stainless steel products such as the Klean Kanteen are chemically inert and don’t impart a taste for most users, but they can be difficult to wash completely. You peer down the stainless steel throat and scrub with a long-handled brush, but you can never quite know whether you’ve removed all the schmutz. (Inventors are addressing this issue with a square stainless steel bottle that opens on both ends—coming in December.)

Enter glass. More pitched toward intrepid cubical warriors than hikers, these bottles weigh more than twice as much as stainless steel. Where an empty Klean Kanteen pulls in at around a half pound with the cap, most glass bottles weigh well over a pound. Yet you can’t beat the beauty and simplicity of glass. My hiking friend Adam (a luddite, who wears thick woolen socks with everything—boots, sandals, cycling cleats) swears by glass water bottles, extra weight be damned. “We’ve been drinking out of glass for 3,500 years,” says Adam, and he intends to use it for another half century.

The only hitch for outdoor use is possible breakage. Yet I found these bottles aren’t as fragile as they seem. They are covered in protective silicone (or in one case, bamboo) and they don’t shatter easily. With deference to vintage David Letterman and his scientific experiments atop a five-story tower, I sacrificed a new CamelBak bottle on a large outcropping of rock in the woods. It took four hard throws to get it to break. Most times it landed on the soft silicone bottom or the plastic top and survived. At last, it landed square on its side (the shards were easy to pick up).

So if you go glass, you have to take care, but not extraordinary care. These bottles are heavy, but they also stay extraordinarily clean. This week I tried out the CamelBak Eddy Glass. (I probably won’t be returning the review unit.) I’ve included two more popular glass bottles after the jump from Takeya and Bamboo Bottle.

CamelBak Eddy Glass
Takeya Classic
Bamboo Bottle

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