Water Bottle Tips for Hiking at High Elevations

Find the best water bottle for your Swiss Alps hiking tour

With hiking trails full of ups and downs, you’ll definitely want to quench your thirst. Here are some water bottle tips to pick the perfect water bottle for your Alpenwild Swiss hiking trip.

Metal and vacuum sealed water bottles

Metal Spout Water BottleVacuum sealed metal water bottles are all the rage; a vacuum seal means no leaks. However, due to basic laws of physics, vacuum sealed water bottles can’t be opened at high elevations, like those in the Alps. Be sure to check that your metal water bottle has a pop-up spout or half turn cap rather than a mouth screw-top lid. There’s nothing like having a bottle full of water, craving a drink and not being able to quench your thirst.

Due to metallic properties, metal bottles can be loud and clunky. Naturally, they may give beverages a slight metallic taste, unless the metal is lined with BPA or another sealant. Is BPA good or bad? We’ll address that down below.

Metal and vacuum sealed water bottle insulation is dependent upon bottle wall thickness. Keep in mind that metal conducts and/or reflects heat. Bottles with just one wall, in contact with a heat source, may heat up beverages faster than plastic bottles. However, bottles with two metal walls can keep beverages heated and/or cooled for up to 24 hours.

  • Eco-friendly ( Is it reusable? 1 – 5 scale, 1 = poor, 5 = excellent.): 5
  • Durability (Can the bottle withstand drops, moderate wear and tear?): 4
  • Insulation (Does it keep beverages hot/cold for a long time?): 5
  • Functionality (Is it easy to carry and wash?): 3

Popular metal water bottles:

Reusable plastic water bottles

Reusable plastic water bottles are wonderfully quiet, shock absorbing water bottles. Unlike their aluminum water bottle brothers, plastic water bottles will not clank loudly or dent if dropped. Cracking is possible, but only in the case of a large fall or if the integrity of the plastic has been  compromised. Beware of plastics with BPA, we’ll talk more about BPA below.

Reusable plastic water bottles’ insulating capabilities vary based on bottle wall thickness and attributes. Unlike metal, plastic doesn’t conduct heat and is considered to be an insulator. Bottles that contain just one layer of plastic do not insulate as well as those with more layers/walls. For example, the Polar insulated water bottle has foil between two layers of plastic. This bottle can certainly maintain cold liquid temperatures longer than a single-walled plastic Contigo bottle.

  • Eco-friendly: 5
  • Durability: 5
  • Insulation: 4
  • Functionality: 4

Popular plastic water bottles:

Disposable, plastic water bottles

Disposable water bottleDisposable plastic water bottles are relatively light compared to reusable water bottles. However, don’t rely on purchasing plastic disposable water bottles when you get to Switzerland. They can be expensive. Elevation changes can crush plastic water bottles, making them prone to leaking. Thin plastic bottle walls don’t insulate well so water temperatures will equalize more rapidly. Many plastic bottles are only used once, this creates incredible amounts of waste that cannot disintegrate for years. As an Alpenwild hiker, you’ll frequently use a water bottle; consider investing in one you can reuse and help save the planet!  

  • Eco-friendly: 1
  • Durability: 1
  • Insulation: 1
  • Functionality: 3

Flexible water bottles

Water bladderBag water bottles do not succumb to elevation pressures but simply “Go with the flow.” CamelBak Reservoirs are among the most popular water bottle bags; like the back of a camel, the Reservoir sits in a backpack (your day pack or a CamelBak pack), evenly distributing the carry-weight of the water. Not only that, the pack acts as insulation, keeping your water cooler, longer.  Some reservoirs also have straws that can lead from the pack to your mouth! There’s no need to stop for a water break, Reservoirs offer hydration on the go! We love flexible water bottle packs!

  • Eco-friendly: 5
  • Durability: 4
  • Insulation: 4
  • Functionality: 5

Popular bag water bottles:

Should my water bottle be BPA free?

BPA is an abbreviation for bisphenol A. It is a chemical used as sealant in many container products. Bottles containing BPA pose health concerns as BPA can leak into foods and drinks as containers deteriorate over time. The FDA has stated that BPA is acceptable in small doses. However, larger doses may affect the brain, “behavior and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children,” according to the Mayo Clinic. We recommend investing in water bottles that are BPA free.

Recommended water bottle size

According to Alpenwild’s Hiking Tour Packing List, water bottles that hold between 32 and 64 oz (1-2 liters) seem to be the perfect size for Alpenwild Hikers. Bottles between those sizes hold enough water to refresh hikers but aren’t so big that the water carry-weight becomes an issue.

Water bottle care

It is important to properly care for your water bottle as doing so will maintain the integrity and maximize the lifetime of your water bottle.

We do not recommend putting any type of water bottle in the dishwasher. For example, the high heat of the dishwasher can warp the walls of aluminum and plastic bottles and discolor bottle colors and finishes. Plastic water bottles especially become prone to leaking and cracking when exposed to extreme temperatures. Not only that, if a plastic bottle contains BPA, the high dishwasher temperatures can cause the BPA to leach into drinks through the worn plastic. Instead, it is best to hand-wash your water bottle with hot, soapy water and a bottle brush. Set your water bottle upside down on a dish rack to air dry afterwards.

Tip of the iceberg

In summary, when looking for your new reusable water bottle, keep an eye out for these traits:

  1. Can be opened at high elevations (No wide-mouth/flex mouth lids)
  2. Reusable
  3. Sturdy build
  4. Insulation
  5. BPA Free

Water bottles come in many shapes, colors and sizes. Have fun picking one that fits your taste and can easily be used on the Swiss Alp trails. You’ll be a hydrated, happy hiker!

See you on the trail!

Emily Jones
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