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Everything you need to know: Nalgene bottles, uses and tips

Water is an essential element. For hiking, sports or for everyday use, at work, carrying water to drink should not be a constraint. On the contrary, it should be synonymous with reliability, safety, good health… Nalgene ticks all the above boxes, if in doubt read more below !

What are Nalgene water bottles ?

Before getting there, let’s provide some background here. Besides being a reference in water bottles, Nalgene is an (American) brand specialized in manufacturing plastic products and containers for laboratory use. Their catalogue is rather large, and includes such items as jars, bottles, test tubes and Petri dishes. They made a name for themselves through the high quality of their plastic, which is inert (we’ll talk more about it later), extremely impact resistant, and lighter than glass. Without entering into details, the properties of their plastic products make them more suitable than glass products for work with many substances in various temperature ranges. Nalgene products are manufactured by Nalge Nunc International. The name Nalgene is a registered trademark and almost a common name !

The relevant line for our purposes is Nalgene outdoor products. Their range is large including options and special features for each model. Nalge Nunc International Corporation Outdoor Products Division offers several water bottles ranging from 0.5 to 1.5 liters. There are many variants based on the country of origin (US-Eur.), you can find models in oz (14, 16, 32, 38, 48 oz) ; the main models available in France and relevant to us, are as follows : 0.5 liter, 1 liter and 1.5 liter, wide mouth (opening ø 4.5 cm for the smallest one and 5.3 cm for the two largest ones).

Why choosing Nalgene water bottles ?

For once, no marketing nor advertising had got the better of your wallet on this one. Rather if you choose to use a Nalgene bottle, it’s because of its technical features and convenience. Here below are the main points that should convince you.

Health :

Taking in enough fluid is a must. Adults should drink 2 liters of water daily. Printed graduations on the bottle help you keep track of how much water you’re drinking each day. Nalgene water bottles are made of Tritan (Eastman Tritan copolyester), and are BPA free. You can drink safely without risking contamination by harmful substances (such is the case for some bottles of mineral water made of number 1 plastics (PET or PETE) containing polyethylene terephthalate, a chemical likely to leach antimony trioxide.). Something to know about, in addition to being virtually indestructible, Tritan doesn’t transfer any taste or smell from bottle to contents.

Design :

With their simple design cylindrical shape featuring a wide mouth, Nalgene water bottles can fit easily into any bag or case of rucksacks. They have become a benchmark and many brands have developed specific sleeves and transport cases to hold Nalgene bottles. Because of their dimensions and diameter, there is necessarily one that will fit your mug or cupholder. The 20oz version (ø 7.6 cm) will nest perfectly into the Titan Cup MSR while the 1 and 1.5 liter versions (ø 8,9 cm) will fit easily into the Optimus terra Solo.

Wide mouth :

This is where it gets serious. Nalgene has placed all of its bets on the bottle wide mouth opening. The screw-on cap, that stays attached when the bottle is open, is guaranteed not to leak. The large cap makes it easy to unscrew and open with one hand, with gloves on, even under degraded conditions, in rain or snow…

The wide mouth is ideal for water collection and transfer, and important in the great outdoors when you need to harvest water prior to its filtration (caution, always collect water from swift flowing or running sources and never while facing downstream ! If not, you could easily collect suspended particles full of nasties !).

The wide mouth allows you to store some small gear, food (flour, grains, leftovers…), care or fire kits, electronic devices… in your water bottle.

The wide mouth makes cleaning simple. Smooth transparent Tritan allows you to see every nook and cranny of the bottle or signs of mould growth.

Miscellaneous technical features :

Nalgene bottles withstand very high temperatures (boiling water) without distorting their shape or deteriorating. Caution, avoid direct contact with flame. Hence, your bottle can become a hot water bottle under your duvet by a cold night or in your car if caught in a storm. Testimonials tell that in some sensitive situations, using a Nalgene bottle to pee into at night, without getting out of their sleeping bag, allows people to maintain a safe vital body temperature.

The classic water bottle is a recognized benchmark and many manufacturers design and develop key accessories, such as transport cases or MSR Miniworks and Guardian filters for example, compatible with this specific item. There is even screw-on led lights, creating a waterproof lantern with a glow effect !

Nalgene water bottles are virtually indestructible. Only a bad fall of several meters would eventually break them. The cap and its loop-top are sturdy. Many videos show how a Nalgene bottle gets run over by a multi-ton 4x4 vehicle without breaking, what a reliable water bottle, you’ll get sick of it before the end of it !

Hints and tips

The Nalgene water bottle will become your daily companion "For Your Everyday Adventures". As you’ll notice over time, there are all kinds of ways to use it.

Here are some hints at random :

  • If you use a water bottle in a very cold weather, get the Nalgene wide mouth, it’s more suitable. Why? Because it will be much easier with a large opening to break up iced water or to fill your bottle with snow.
  • Wash your water bottle with dish soap and rinse it out, then leave open to air a few hours, see to it that it’s dry before storing (but believe me, you’ll use it every single day…).
  • Use a removable narrowing cap to drink out of the spout without spilling water out. This system is compatible with Nalgene wide mouth 1L and 1.5L bottles.
  • Use your bottle with your pot when cooking in a water bath.
  • Take advantage of the bottle graduations and use the markings to measure the amount of water required to rehydrate your meals or the quantity of flour needed for your bannock bread for example.
  • Avoid the more sophisticated models (like the multidrink model). Although attractive, they are prone to break easily or to leak due to the many parts on the lid.
  • Avoid counterfeit bottles, the plastic used is usually of a lower quality and is not always “BPA free”, the lid can break. Also, dimensions may be slightly different from the genuine bottles and so they won’t be compatible with all optional elements.

Here below are some tips :

  • Heat a few stones on a fire then drop the hot stones into the water-filled bottle to boil water easily.
  • A bandana or handkerchief made of cotton can be used as a great makeshift prefilter. Place it on the bottle large opening and catch running water (always facing upstream), then use a water filter and chemical water treatment (like Micropur for example).
  • Use the lid loop to fix a hook. You’ll be able to secure your water bottle to your pack or a tree branch. – Nalgene bottles are leakproof, so they can be used to carry money (even cash) or your ID, perfect when you’re out at sea or on the beach.
  • The bottle opening is wide enough for eggs to pass through, you can then fill your bottle with flour, rice, or semolina, that way you’ll be able to carry your eggs without breaking them !
  • The bottle wide mouth (again !) is also ideal if you need to fill up your Nalgene bottle in a compact washbasin with a small tap.


Nalgene has become a reference in the water bottle industry. They have found their place by focusing on the quality, simplicity, sturdiness, and large opening of their bottles. In addition to being practical and versatile, the Nalgene water bottle takes care of your health by using products with no risk of water contamination.
Today, if you are looking for an affordable container that will be your daily companion, then you can count on the Nalgene brand.

Discover the Nalgene range, which includes water bottles in sizes 0.5L, 1L, and 1.5L (9.95€ to 14.95€) and the removable narrowing cap (2.79€).