The Best Handheld Water Bottles, According to a Running Coach

The Nathan SpeedDraw Plus water bottle makes it easy to stay hydrated on the run

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The Best Handheld Water Bottles, According to an Expert

Verywell Fit / Sabrina Jiang

If you’re running outdoors and don’t have access to drinking fountains, you may need an alternate way to stay hydrated. Convenient and easy to use, handheld water bottles are a great option for keeping water or sports drinks right at your fingertips. Many of them are insulated, so they help with fluid temperature control and prevent your hand from getting too cold.

Reviewed & Approved

The Nathan SpeedDraw Plus Insulated water bottle is our top pick for its race cap and grip-free hand strap that is fully adjustable. If you're looking for a larger size bottle for long runs, the Amphipod Hydraform Thermal-Lite bottle holds 20 ounces.

“Runners want to make sure that a handheld water bottle has a high-quality nozzle that’s easy to open and close so that they can drink on-demand without worrying about it leaking,” says Lauren Sheu, certified running coach and owner and founder of Running for Wellness. Whether you need a large bottle for marathon training or a more compact one for short runs, there are many great options for every type of runner.

We selected the best handheld water bottles by researching more than 25 bottles and reviewing product details and feedback from runners. We considered features such as comfort, convenience, design, adjustability, and price, and also asked runners and running coaches for recommendations of their favorite handheld bottles.

Here are the best handheld bottles for running on the market, according to a certified running coach.

Best Overall: Nathan SpeedDraw Plus Insulated Water Bottle

4.6
Nathan SpeedDraw Plus Insulated Flask

Courtesy of REI

Pros
  • Insulated

  • Includes zippered pocket

  • BPA-free

Cons
  • Some may prefer larger capacity

  • Storage doesn’t fit large phone

Who else recommends it? Runner's World also picked the Nathan Insulated Water Bottle.

What do buyers say? 90% of 300+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.

Nathan is known for its well-made, high-performance bottles for running, and their SpeedDraw Plus Insulated Flask water bottle lives up to the reputation. It tops our list for its quality, comfort, performance, and affordability. Just slide your hand into the fully adjustable hand strap with a thumb hole for a comfortable, grip-free hold.

With its easy-to-use race cap, you can get quick sips of fluid with just a squeeze of the bottle. The double-wall insulated flask keeps your fluids cooler for longer in warm weather and prevents liquid from freezing when it’s cold.

With an 18-ounce capacity, this BPA-free bottle is the perfect size to hold enough for your runs, without weighing you down. The expandable, zippered pocket provides plenty of room for your phone, keys, ID, credit card, and other essentials. This bottle comes in several different fun colors and patterns, and it also features some reflective materials for increased visibility when running in low-light conditions.

Materials: BPA-free plastic, polyethylene | Storage: Zippered pocket | Insulated: Yes | Capacity: 18 ounces

Best Budget: Aonijie Quick Grip Handheld Water Bottle

Aonijie Quick Grip Handheld Water Bottle

Amazon

Pros
  • Collapsible

  • Has reflectivity

  • Good storage options

Cons
  • Some say it’s too small

  • Bite valve a bit stiff

This well-designed bottle is proof that you can get a quality handheld water bottle at a budget-friendly price. With an adjustable hand strap and thumbhole, it allows for grip-free running and an easy, comfortable hold. The soft flask is collapsible, so you can tuck it away in a pocket once it’s empty.

Runners also love all the storage options, which include multiple zippered pockets and easy-access slots to store gels. The 17-ounce bottle even features waterproof material and reflective trim, which are often only found in higher-priced bottles. If you’re skeptical about converting to a handheld, this bottle is a good entry-level option.

Materials: Nylon, BPA-free plastic, silicone | Storage: Zippered pockets | Insulated: No | Capacity: 16.9 ounces

Best Large: Amphipod Hydraform Thermal-Lite Handheld 20oz

Amphipod Hydraform Thermal-Lite Handheld 20oz

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Adjustable strap

  • Minimalist, ergonomic design

  • Large capacity

Cons
  • Storage doesn’t fit large phone

  • Expensive

When you’re carrying a large bottle, hand cramping or discomfort can sometimes be an issue. But that’s not the case with the Amphipod Hydraform Thermal-Lite handheld 20-ounce bottle. It features an ultra-light, minimalist design with an ergonomically contoured bottle, allowing for a comfortable, easy hold, even during long runs. The adjustable, no-slip strap keeps the bottle close, so you don’t have to worry about it slipping and sliding.  

Although this BPA-free bottle has a large capacity, it feels like a smaller bottle when you’re holding it on the run. The insulated, cushioned neoprene sleeve keeps your fluids from getting warm and prevents your hand from getting cold, while also adding to the overall comfort. You can use the expandable zipper pocket on the handle strap for your snacks, keys, and other essentials.

Materials: BPA-free plastic, Polyethylene | Storage: Zippered pocket | Insulated: Yes | Capacity: 20 ounces

Best for Marathons: Ultimate Direction Clutch Water Bottle

Ultimate Direction Clutch Water Bottle

REI

Pros
  • Easy to remove bottle from pouch

  • Easy push-pull valve

  • Leakproof

Cons
  • Expensive

  • Can’t hold phone

If you want to carry a water bottle during a marathon, having one that's extremely comfortable is crucial. With an easy-to-adjust, breathable Velcro strap, the Ultimate Direction Clutch bottle offers a secure, glove-like fit, and is an excellent pick for your race or long training runs.

With a push-pull, leakproof valve, the 17-ounce bottle is easy to use on the run. It also has a zippered pocket that’s perfect for carrying energy gels or other sports nutrition. The cross bungee retention system makes it easy to remove the bottle for cleaning.

Materials: Flex Mono Mesh, nylon, polyethylene | Storage: Zippered pocket | Insulated: No | Capacity: 16.9 ounces

Best Small: Osprey Duro Handheld Running Flask

Osprey Duro Handheld Running Flask

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Includes safety whistle for emergencies

  • Storage for small items

  • Easy bite valve

Cons
  • Only good for short runs

  • Can’t hold phone

Made with the minimalist runner in mind, this 8-ounce bottle from Osprey works well for shorter runs and for those who find larger bottles to be too heavy or cumbersome. It features an ambidextrous design with a comfortable, bounce-free grip that easily slides on and fits either hand. The bite valve ensures you don't have to fuss with opening and closing a cap on the run.

Despite its diminutive size, the bottle has two pockets for running essentials. The mesh shove-it sleeve is ideal for quick access to gels or other nutrition, while the zippered pocket can securely hold other small items. Another cool and helpful feature is a built-in safety whistle to use in case of an emergency. This small but mighty bottle is perfect for runners who don’t want to be weighed down on the roads or trails.

Materials: Nylon, foam, BPA-free plastic | Storage: Shove-it pocket, zippered pocket | Insulated: No | Capacity: 8.45 ounces

Best Easy Access: Nathan Handheld ExoDraw Insulated Soft Flask

Nathan Handheld ExoDraw Insulated Soft Flask

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Lightweight

  • Easy to access fluids

  • Can be tucked in a pocket when empty

Cons
  • Storage is small

  • Expensive

Lightweight and comfortable, Nathan’s ExoDraw soft flask bottle is ideal for the runner who doesn’t like to be weighed down. As you drink from the BPA-free flask using the bite valve, the 18-ounce bottle shrinks down and can be tucked away when it’s empty. Runners also love that the collapsible flask doesn’t make a sloshing noise you get with some hard plastic bottles.

The rigid ExoSpine provides support for the soft flask, while the ergo-designed, adjustable hand strap allows you to carry it comfortably, grip-free. Just slip your hand in, relax it, and the bottle will stay put. There’s also a small stash pocket that’s perfect for energy gels, keys, and money.

Materials: BPA-free plastic, mesh | Storage: Stash pocket | Insulated: No | Capacity: 14- or 18-ounce options

Best Soft Flask: Amphipod Hydraform Soft-Tech Water Bottle

Amphipod Hydraform Soft-Tech Water Bottle

REI

Pros
  • Great storage options

  • Auto-sealing bite valve

  • Adjustable strap

Cons
  • Not as easy to clean as rigid bottles

  • Expensive

The Amphipod Hydraform Soft-Tech bottle is perfect for runners who like to tuck their water bottle away once it’s empty. Lightweight and collapsible, the 16.4-ounce bottle folds into a compact size so you can store it in your pocket or running belt. Runners also love the adjustable and slip-free minimalist hand strap, which has two quick-access slots for energy gels.

A high-flow bite valve auto-seals after you take a drink, so you don’t have to worry about dripping and spilling. Adding ice cubes to your drink is a cinch, thanks to the bottle’s large opening. The insulated sleeve keeps your fluids cold, while also providing a comfortable, cushioned hold. With an expandable zippered pocket, the bottle makes it easy to store and access your phone and other essentials.

Materials: Nylon, polyester, foam, rubber | Storage: Expandable, zippered pocket | Insulated: Yes | Capacity: 16.4 ounces

Best Mid-Size: Nathan QuickSqueeze Lite Insulated Handheld Water Bottle

Nathan QuickSqueeze Lite Insulated Handheld Water Bottle

Amazon

Pros
  • Dual-layer insulation

  • Ergonomic design

  • Has reflectivity

Cons
  • Storage is small

  • Some think plastic is too hard

This ergonomically-shaped, lightweight handheld bottle from Nathan is easy to hold and squeeze for a sip. The fully adjustable hand strap with a chafe-free thumb hold and no-slip insert allows for comfortable, grip-free running. The 12- or 18-ounce bottle also features a flat bottom so you can easily set it down and fill it.

The dual-layer insulation keeps your water from getting warm in the summer and prevents it from freezing in the winter. Getting a drink is simple and quick, thanks to the bottle’s high-flow, push-pull valve cap. Other nice-to-have features include the stash pockets for holding keys and credit cards and the 360-degree reflectivity.

Materials: Plastic, polyester, Spandex | Storage: Small stash pocket | Insulated: Yes | Capacity: 12- or 18-ounce options

Best Ergonomic: Amphipod Hydraform Minimalist Handheld Water Bottle

Amphipod Hydraform Minimalist Handheld Water Bottle

REI

Pros
  • Comfortable hold

  • Low-profile design

  • Large capacity

Cons
  • No zippered storage

  • Not insulated

Another fantastic option from Amphipod is their Hydraform Minimalist Handheld water bottle. The leakproof 20-ounce bottle features the company's signature ergonomic design and thumb-lock hand sling, providing a comfortable, grip-free hold. With an adjustable strap, it’s easy to customize the fit. The low-profile, minimalist style allows your hand to rest in a natural position, which helps avoid hand cramping and reduces fluid sloshing.

The BPA-free bottle’s wide mouth makes it easy to clean and fill with ice cubes. Two quick-access slots of the handle are perfect for holding sports gels. Taking a drink is simple and neat with the squeeze-and-release design and self-sealing spout.

Materials: BPA-free plastic, polypropylene, Hypalon rubber, neoprene, elastic, nylon, polyester | Storage: Two outside nutrition slots | Insulated: No | Capacity: 20 ounces

Best Insulated: CamelBak Quick Grip Chill Handheld Water Bottle

CamelBak Quick Grip Chill Handheld Water Bottle

 Courtesy of REI

Pros
  • Large storage capacity

  • Leakproof

  • Adjustable strap

Cons
  • Not as comfortable to hold as some other bottles

  • Too big for smaller hands

With its patented self-sealing Jet Valve technology, CamelBak delivers a leakproof bottle that’s also insulated to keep your fluids cold in the summer and prevent them from freezing in the winter. At 17 ounces, it has the capacity you need for longer runs. Beyond the high quality and construction, another outstanding feature of this carrier is the zippered, extra-stretch mesh pouch that’s roomy enough to hold your keys, card, a couple of sports gels, and your phone—even the larger models.

The Velvetex-lined strap will keep your hand comfortable and safe from chafing. Runners also love the carrier’s reflectivity for morning and evening runs, key clip, and adjustable cinch strap for a secure, comfortable hold.

Materials: BPA-free plastic, nylon, Velvetex | Storage: Zippered pocket | Insulated: Yes | Capacity: 17 ounces

Final Verdict

Versatile and well-made, the Nathan SpeedDraw Plus Insulated water bottle (view at Amazon) definitely delivers when it comes to comfort, convenience, and temperature control. The adjustable hand strap allows for a grip-free, comfortable hold, while the quick-squeeze bottle makes it easy to hydrate on the run. Plus, the bottle has plenty of storage space for your phone, keys, and other essentials.

What to Look for in a Handheld Running Water Bottle

Comfort

A handheld water bottle should offer a comfortable hold that doesn’t require too much effort. “It should fit easily and comfortably around your hand so that it feels natural to hold it while you’re running,” says Lauren Sheu.

Most models feature straps, which help you hold the bottle securely. Take into consideration how the strap fits your hand and look for materials that will prevent chafing, cramping, and general discomfort. Also, look for models with ergonomic designs if you’re going to be using the bottle frequently. Some bottles come with adjustable straps, which help ensure a secure fit.

Capacity

The length of your runs and the availability of places to refill water along your routes will determine how big of a water bottle you need.

“Runners should look for something that will be appropriate for the distance and time that they will be running,” says Greg Cohen, Nathan Sports athlete, and certified health and wellness coach. “I tend to use my handheld for shorter efforts.”

While being able to carry more water may sound like a good idea, you also want to make sure the bottle isn’t so heavy that it weighs you down. It should fit your hand well and not be so big that it’s difficult to hold.

Features

If water is all you want to carry, then a basic model will probably suit your needs. If, however, you want to carry your keys, a credit card, fuel, or your phone, there are handheld water bottles with enough pocket space to accommodate them all. Some even have reflective features for extra visibility when you’re running in the dark.

Materials

Some handheld bottles are made from hard plastic while others feature a soft flask that’s collapsible. Both types have pros and cons, so it’s a matter of personal preference.

“While the hard plastic fits the shape of my hand better and gives my fingers a place to rest, I enjoy a soft bottle because it allows me to squeeze my drink and allows my hand to have the freedom to move, and my fingers to wiggle more than hard plastic does,” Cohen says.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do I hold a water bottle while running?

    When running with a handheld bottle, be sure that your hold is not too tight but not overly loose either. Most bottles have an adjustable strap, so you should use it to get a comfortable but secure fit.

    “It’s best to keep a relaxed grip as if you were running without the bottle,” Cohen says. “A closed running fist or a tight hand on a bottle builds undue tension where you want to keep your hands and arms in a more relaxed and comfortable position so as not to waste energy.”

    Be sure to periodically switch hands. “Holding a water bottle in one hand adds extra weight and can affect your arm swing,” Sheu adds. To avoid fatigue and create more balance in your run, try alternating hands every ten minutes or so.

    When you give one hand a break, use the opportunity to stretch it out. “It helps me to shake out my hand, wiggle my fingers, and roll my wrist so that I do not cramp up and to release unnecessary tightness or tension that may affect my rhythm and tempo,” Cohen says.

  • Do marathon runners carry water?

    When running a marathon, you should have access to water at the aid stations that are set up throughout the racecourse. However, some marathoners choose to carry their own water in a handheld bottle or hydration belt.

    Some benefits of carrying your own fluids include having easy and spill-free access to water when you need it and avoiding the crowds and chaos at aid stations. On the other hand, some marathoners say they feel weighed down when carrying a bottle and they still have to stop and periodically refill the bottle.

  • How much water should you drink while running?

    Staying hydrated while running is critical, since dehydration in runners may lead to fatigue, headaches, nausea, muscle cramping, light-headedness, and serious heat-related illnesses, such as heat stroke.

    Hydration needs for runners may vary greatly, depending on the runner’s daily water intake, sweat rate, pace, and other factors. When running for less than 90 minutes, you should drink for thirst. Research has shown that drinking when you're thirsty can help prevent drinking too little, which may lead to dehydration, and overhydrating, which may cause hyponatremia or low blood salt levels due to abnormal fluid retention.

    For runs or races longer than 90 minutes, a planned strategy of drinking may lead to better performance. A general rule of thumb is that you should consume seven to ten ounces of fluid every ten to 20 minutes when running. If you’re running in hot or humid conditions, you may need more water.

Why Trust Verywell Fit

As a marathon runner and certified running coach, Christine Luff has experimented with dozens of handheld water bottles over her decades of running. She’s spent years researching, testing, and recommending fitness and athletic products and knows that the right gear can tremendously improve performance and comfort.

1 Source
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. The 15 Best Water Bottles for Runners. Runner's World. https://www.runnersworld.com/gear/a20860369/best-water-bottles/

By Christine Luff, ACE-CPT
Christine Many Luff is a personal trainer, fitness nutrition specialist, and Road Runners Club of America Certified Coach.