Gone are the days of the clunky, thick, heavy, cylindrical, wide-mouth water bottles of yesteryear; the kids are rocking Smartwater bottles on the trail now!
I have used only Smartwater bottles on my thru hikes, so while I don’t have a good reference for comparison, except for my Nalgene bottle Boy Scout days, I can say that Smartwater bottles are incredibly durable, not to mention cheap and easy to acquire.
Like most disposable water bottles, Smartwater bottles have the standard universal threaded opening to fit most screw-on water filters. Even when attached to a water filter and crunched and squeezed mercilessly each day to push water through to purify it, these bottles don’t crack or burst.
The only time I’ve had to throw them out is when my bottles developed mold around the openings, and I was right by a store, so I picked up some new ones. I suppose in wet and humid enough conditions, that could happen to any bottle.
The major downside to thin, plastic bottles is that you can’t pour or store very hot liquids into them. First of all, even warm liquids in plastic bottles can encourage leaching of plastic chemicals into the contents. Second, very hot or boiling water can warp or melt through these lightweight vessels.
Though the bigger, heavier wide-mouth polycarbonate bottles a rare sight these days, they do still have their place.
The following are the weights and dimensions for every size Smartwater bottle I could find.
Weight: 26.12 g / 0.92 oz
Dimensions: 8.5″ tall / 2.25″ diameter
The smallest of the bunch, this bottle is best suited for trips where you will have frequent reliable water sources and/or are trying to bring the absolute lightest bottle in your kit. Just over 16 ounces or 500 ml, it weighs barely over a pound when full, and holds the exact amount of water needed for most freeze dried meals to reconstitute.
Weight: 26.14 g / 0.93 oz
Dimensions: 8.75″ tall / 2.5″ diameter
Twenty ounces in volume hits a weird size that I don’t find myself reaching for very often. If I want light, I go 500ml, if I need more than that, might as well opt for the 700ml.
Weight: 26.54 g / 0.94 oz
Dimensions: 9.25″ tall / 2.75″ diameter
This is my daily use water bottle around town in the real world. Perfect volume for me; enough to completely fill you up if you are super quenched, but not so much that you can’t chug it all at once.
This is also the only Smartwater bottle size that comes with the flip top “sports cap”, though you can obviously use the cap on any other bottle, or buy the flip caps by the hundreds online.
Not only is the flip cap convenient for quick access, but you can invert your Sawyer Squeeze water filter and it will click in to place backwards on the mouth piece, allowing you to easily back-flush your filter without having to bring the extra weight of the plunger.
Weight: 36.55 g / 1.28 oz
Dimensions: 11.5″ tall / 2.75″ diameter
This seems to be the most popular size on the trail. You will see a pair of these peeking out from behind most thru hikers’ elbows as they approach. Even just one of these bottles should be sufficient to get you to the next source on most sections of trail. I prefer two, because I drink a lot of water and like to have a “dirty bottle”/”clean bottle” system going.
At over two pounds full per bottle, carrying a full load is over four pounds of water, so be wise and carry only what you need.
Weight: 50.67 g / 1.78 oz
Dimensions: 11.5″ Tall / 3.5″ diameter
The party bottle! Find the mule of your group, slap two of these on their back, and boom! you’ve got water for the whole crew!
I see these 1.5 liter bottles mostly in packs of parents taking their kids out for first over-nighters and carrying for the whole group or in coolers or cold creeks at well stocked base camps.
I see no reason to carry these bottles on a thru hike or for any long distance unless reliable water is super scarce, in which case there are probably better solutions. You don’t need to be carrying six pounds of water around.
Disclosure: This website features affiliate links. These links guide you to other websites where you can further research and purchase items. In return for traffic generated from my website, I may receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Any commissions earned go towards keeping this site running and allowing me to continue to hike new trails. Thank you for your support.