If you want to stay hydrated and need something to help you track daily water intake, consider using gallon water bottles. We tested eight-gallon water bottles in different shapes, designs, insulation levels, and prices to figure out the best way to carry more than enough water for your daily recommended serving.
Our favorite plastic option is the Toba – 1-Gallon Water Bottle because it’s lightweight, has handles to make it easy to refill and drink, and is affordable. If you want to keep your drinks refreshingly cold, we like the RTIC – 1-Gallon insulated water bottle because it keeps water under 40 ℉ for over 36 hours. Our upgrade choice is the Yeti – 1-Gallon Rambler because it keeps drinks just as cold as the RTIC, but it has additional details like a magnetic cap and comfortable rubber handle that give you an enhanced experience.
When purchasing a gallon water bottle, be mindful of the design. The way a gallon water bottle is designed is more than just aesthetics and colors, it also affects ergonomics. Carrying, lifting, or pouring a gallon-sized water bottle is rather heavy, and you want a water bottle designed to be easy and suited for your needs. Some bottles are designed with side handles, carrying straps, top swinging handles, and grippy textures that enhance the drinking experience.
Gallon water bottles come in two primary materials: plastic and stainless steel. The material also affects the weight and insulation. Since carrying around one gallon of water is already heavy, plastic gallon water bottles are great if you want a lighter-weight option. However, if you prefer your water iced cold at all times, consider a stainless steel water bottle that is insulated. Stainless steel is heavier than plastic, so you will also carry a heavier load in preference for longer-lasting cold water.
Similar to our experience testing glass water bottles, the fewer parts, and the simpler the design, the easier it is to clean. Designs with built-in side handles are often the hardest to clean because there are few cleaning tools to reach all the nooks and crannies, like a long, thin, and malleable brush. In contrast, water bottles with wider mouths and no handles are the easiest to clean. Also, if you like drinking from a straw, you will need a straw brush.
Other features (motivation, sleeve, magnet top)
There are also other features we’ve encountered while testing gallon water bottles. For example, some plastic water bottles have encouraging labels on the outside to promote hydrating throughout the day at each hour. If you want a plastic water bottle but hate condensation or want a carry strap, you can also choose a water bottle with a neoprene sleeve. Lastly, some water bottles also have magnets to keep screw caps from getting lost.
No matter your budget, there are affordable and upgrade options for anyone. While many of the plastic water bottles we found were under $35, the insulated stainless steel water bottles ranged from $50 to $150.
How we selected
We picked eight-gallon water bottles priced from $25-$150. Of the eight bottles, four are lightweight plastic, and four are insulated stainless steel. Some of these bottles also have sleeves with other features like carry straps and pockets. There are also various ways to drink from water bottles, like sippers or straws.
How we tested
We used each of these gallon water bottles for daily errands and gym classes for two months. We also created controlled product tests to review how easy they were to clean, how tight the seals were on each lid or if they leaked, and analyzed their overall usability.
We cleaned each water bottle over a dozen times. Since most of them were not allowed to go into the dishwasher, we hand-washed them and made notes on the number of pieces we had to wash, the difficulty it was to clean thoroughly, if we needed to remove additional sleeves, and any tools we needed to clean. The easier a bottle was to clean, the higher they scored out of 10.
We filled each water bottle with red-colored water and tightened the lids. We laid each water bottle over a paper towel-lined counter and timed how long the paper towels stayed dry. Most of these bottles stayed fully sealed throughout 30 minutes except the RTIC and the Yeti bottles, which needed to be tightened after the first five minutes.
Usability & Insulation
For two months, we made notes on using each water bottle. Was the bottle easy to carry? Did the width of the mouth affect easy refilling? How many handles did each bottle have? Did the design of these bottles help with the ergonomics of carrying and drinking from this bottle? We also noted additional features like insulation, weight, infusers, etc. The easier and more accessible the design of each bottle, the higher it scored out of 10.
Additionally, we tested the insulation of the four stainless steel bottles to analyze if they really did keep drinks as cold as they boast on their labels. We filled each bottle with 60 fluid oz of room-temperature water and 65 oz of ice. We checked the temperature throughout 48 hours with an instant-read thermometer and compared each bottle’s results.
Toba - 1-Gallon Plastic Water Bottle (Best Plastic)
The Toba is our favorite plastic 1-gallon water bottle because it’s lightweight, easy to hold and refill, and comes with two lids for different drinking options. This water bottle is made of lightweight, 100% BPA-free plastic and has no weird plastic odors. Designed with two handles and an additional fabric strap, the Toba makes for an effortless drinking experience. We especially like the side handle for lifting the heavy 1-gallon bottle for sipping.
This water bottle comes in four different ombre colors and also includes a grippy texture to prevent the holder from dropping it. There are motivational texts on the side of the bottle to help you drink water on the hour. Each lid also comes with a locking flap and one-touch opening so that you can open it with a push of a button. The sipper lid has a filter to infuse your water with flavors, and the straw lid has a soft silicone tip that makes drinking during workouts accessible.Read more…
The only issue we had with this bottle was that it was difficult to clean because of the handle design. Few tools will reach the inside handle like a thin and malleable brush, so we recommend filling the bottle with soap and shaking vigorously to get between those spaces. We also recommend cleaning your bottle regularly to prevent any mold from developing. With cleaning aside, we still enjoyed using the Toba – 1-Gallon water bottle the best because it made drinking water so easy.
RTIC - 1-Gallon Insulated Stainless Steel Jug (Best Insulated Metal)
Our favorite pick for the best insulated stainless steel bottle is the RTIC – 1-Gallon Jug because of its coated outer layer for extra grip and a swing-top handle for easy pouring. This water bottle is designed similarly to the Yeti – Rambler but is more affordable at a third of the cost. They’re both made of kitchen-grade stainless steel, feature a wide mouth for easy refilling, and a screw-top cap.
There are minor differences in make and user experience from our upgrade pick, the Yeti, but we didn’t find these differences an issue. For example, the RTIC swing-top handle is thinner, and its foam grip moves around compared to the heavier-duty Yeti handle and rubberized, ergonomic handle. The RTIC lid is also not insulated like the Yeti Fatlid™.Read more…
During insulation testing, we noticed that the RTIC and the Yeti performed similarly even though the RTIC was lighter and the insulation wasn’t as thick as the Yeti. After filling each bottle with room-temperature water and ice, the RTIC stayed relatively at the same cold temperature of 32 ℉ for over 36 hours. If you want an affordable insulated stainless steel gallon water bottle to keep your drinks super cold, we recommend the RTIC – 1-Gallon Jug.
The Yeti – 1-Gallon Rambler is our upgrade choice because of its durable and well-made materials, magnetic screw-top lid, and comfortable and rubberized swing handle. Comparing the materials of this water bottle to others we’ve tested, we noticed a significant difference in the level of materials.
The kitchen-grade stainless steel in the insulated body feels thicker than other insulated water bottles we used. Yeti also has Fatlid™ insulation, which means that the lid has at least one inch of insulation that keeps your drinks at the right temperature for longer. The Yeti was the only insulated water bottle with an insulated lid. During testing, the Yeti – 1-Gallon Rambler kept drinks cold for over 36 hours.Read more…
It’s also completely dishwasher safe–a feature none of the other bottles allowed. The swing-top handle has a rubberized grip that gives you a comfortable grip while pouring out water and is also stabilized by two screws attached to the lid. One feature we liked was the Magcap Dock which uses magnets to keep your cap on the lid while drinking. If you like all these features, you may think the $150 price tag is worth your upgraded drinking experience.
Fidus - 1-Gallon Plastic Motivational Water Bottle
The Fidus – 1-Gallon Motivational Water Bottle is made of BPA-free plastic and comes with a detachable paracord handle to carry around the gym. The body is designed in a slimmer shape with indents on either side for you to grip with your fingers. We found the texture of this bottle slightly slippery.
It features a sliding lock and one-touch button that opens to a dual sipper and straw design. We did have issues with the straw design. Every time we opened the lid, we had to move the straw to drink properly. This was an issue when we were working out, and our hands were dirty. Sipping the water bottle was a great experience, we just had to ensure a good grip when lifting the bottle.Read more…
On the side of the bottle, motivational quotes help you drink every hour, so if you need help getting hydrated, this could help. This bottle also comes in an array of colors so that you can pick one best suited to your preferences.
Fimibuke - 1-Gallon Plastic Water Bottle
The Fimibuke – 1-Gallon Water Bottle comes with a neoprene sleeve, carry strap, extra pocket, two handles, and optional sipper or straw experience. We were excited about the carrying case because it allowed us to keep our valuables with our water bottle at the gym. However, we quickly learned that the neoprene case made the water bottle extra slippery. We often removed the case while drinking and held the bottle with two hands, fabric strap, or top handle.
Since the water bottle is made of BPA-free plastic, it’s lighter to carry than the stainless steel brands we tested. Like the Fidus, we also disliked using a combination straw and sipper lid because of the awkward fit that prompted us to move the straw every time we drank. What we liked best was the wider mouth for easy refilling and cleaning and the motivational labels on the outside of the bottle. However, we recommend skipping the slippery neoprene sleeve and buying the Fidus water bottle because they’re made similarly and are cheaper.
Manna - Titan 1-Gallon Insulated Stainless Steel Bottle
The Manna – Titan carries more than one gallon and is easy to hold and pour. We liked using the Manna – Titan because of the thoughtful design, like the rubber-lined lids, folding handles, and a removable rubber bottom. Well-designed handles are essential with larger water bottles because they help with ergonomics and prevent injuries while drinking water. The Manna – Titan water bottle had the best handle design because there are two handles that fold up to help with transporting the water, drinking, and refilling; and then, they fold flat when you’re not using them.
It boasts of keeping liquids cold for 120 hours (with ice) and hot liquids for up to 24 hours; however, we tested this, and it performed the worst in retaining cold temperatures in our insulation tests. It was also harder to fill with lots of ice than wide-mouthed bottles like the Yeti and RTIC. Note that because it carries 134 oz (instead of 128 oz like other brands), the Manna is significantly heavier than other water bottles when it’s full. If you want a lighter load, fill it up 3/4th of the way.
Buzio - 1-Gallon Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle (not recommended)
The Buzio – 1-Gallon Insulated Water Bottle came with a neoprene sleeve, carrying strap, two stainless steel cups, extra straws, and a straw brush. There are two ways to drink from the bottle, a screw cap sipper and a straw flap that pops up. While we appreciated the dual drinking experience without changing out lids, we didn’t like that the straw and sipper were constantly exposed to potential dirt and germs.
Knowing that this bottle would likely be in our car rolling around on the seat, we wanted a water bottle with a sealed sipper or straw. Another issue we had was the tight neoprene sleeve. While we liked the grippy texture and handles, we couldn’t remove the sleeve during cleaning, and this posed an issue because it could cause mold in the future if the sleeve got wet. We wouldn’t recommend this bottle due to design issues.
Aquafit - 1-Gallon Plastic Water Bottle (not recommended)
We initially thought the Aquafit – 1-Gallon Water Bottle would be a similar experience to the Toba water bottle because they had a similar bottle and lid design. However, we disliked the two caps and locking mechanisms. It made drinking water by sipping or even with a straw unpleasant.
Both caps snap into place to cover the sipper or straw fully, but opening and closing the cap was difficult with even two hands. Our fingers hurt after opening them with every use. The cap lid would fall towards our face when drinking from the sipper. The straw lid is also designed to pinch when closed, and this prevents leakage, but it was a lazy design that made it difficult to close the cap. With the added difficulty in cleaning the bottle similar to the Toba, we wouldn’t recommend this water bottle.