I have a couple really nice water bottles: stainless steel, dual-walled with a vacuum to act as an insulator, and thick screw-on caps to keep leaks contained and prevent evaporation.

They’re fine.

But they don’t hold a candle to my Nalgene.

I love my Nalgene water bottle for reasons that I’ve had a hard time pinpointing. Some of them are based on concrete facts. Others, I think, purely come down to personal preference and opinion. The truth is that, for whatever reason (I have speculations), when I drink out of a Nalgene, I drink more water throughout the day.

After stewing on it for a bit, I think I’ve figured out most of the reasons why I find the Nalgene to be the supreme portable water vessel:

  1. It’s easy to keep track of the amount of water you’re drinking. The material is transparent and has markings on the outside to show how much water is left in the bottle. And, best of all, it shows not only U.S. imperial measurements but metric as well.
  2. The wide mouth makes it easier to fill, easier to drink out of, and more easily accommodates ice for times when you want it as cold as possible.
  3. They’re dishwasher safe and can just be chucked into the top rack at the end of the day.
  4. They are inexpensive and understated.
  5. It’s almost impossible to lose the cap, because it’s attached with a strap. If you do, you can always get a replacement strap (or 3D print your own).
  6. They are ludicrously durable. They are almost impossible to kill. You can drop them from great heights, or onto traditionally unforgiving ground (looking at you, concrete), yet they almost always bounce off. And, over time, the scuffs and scratches just give it a charming patina.
  7. There’s a community of people who make cool stuff for Nalgenes. Because the sizes are consistent (I hesitate to call them “standardized”), it’s easy to find accessories or even 3D print them. My favorites include adapters for car cup holders so they can fit the wider bottles, as well as bicycle water cages.
  8. In that vein, they’re great for customization purposes! They come in a wide variety of colors (including bottles, straps, and lids), so it’s easy to find something that suits your preferences and tells the world a little about you. You can also cover them in stickers (just don’t run it through the dishwasher if you do).
  9. This isn’t something I personally have used, but I know they’re loved for being very versatile. The measurements on the side make them suitable for use in measuring and storing a plethora of ingredients. And, because they’re BPA free and have a melting point above the boiling point of water, it’s safe to store hot water in them if needed.

So here’s to you, Nalgene bottle! Thanks for keeping me hydrated.