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Go Light – Ditch Your Nalgene Bottles

A 32 ounce Nalgene bottle weighs 6.2 ounces
A one liter Nalgene bottle weighs 6.2 ounces

Whenever I see a backpacker carrying wide-mouth Nalgene bottles, I cringe, because I know that three of them add 15 ounces to the weight of their backpack that could be easily eliminated. For example, a one liter wide-mouth Nalgene bottle weighs 6.2 ounces, empty.

A 1 liter Pepsi bottle weighs 1.2 ounces
A 1 liter Pepsi bottle weighs 1.2 ounces

If you want to save some money and some pack weight, empty soda bottles make equally good water containers for backpacking. This empty liter bottle of Pepsi only weighs 1.2 ounces and cost $0.99 cents at a gas station. Granted, soda bottles have to be replaced more frequently than Nalgenes, but you probably buy enough bottled water or soda yourself or know someone who does, to get a regular supply of these bottles whenever you want.

The only real functional limitation of soda bottles is that they’re no good for holding hot water, but if you need that capability switching to a Platypus reservoir is an even more weight efficient alternative.

A 2 liter Platypus bottle weighs 1.2 ounces
A 2 liter Platypus bottle weighs 1.2 ounces

For example, a 2 liter Platypus bottle ($.95) weighs 1.2 ounces and a 3 liter Platypus weighs just 1.5 ounces. Both are safe to use with hot water, stand up by themselves on flat surfaces like regular bottles, but fold up flat when empty.

Whatever you decide, ditch your Nalgene bottles. They’re just not worth the extra pack weight.

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20 comments

  1. All of these are full of bisphenol-A which is an estrogen mimicker. Only titanium for me, no slowly turning this guy into a high pitch voice, low testosterone, masculine deficient, androgynous humanoid.

  2. no they don’t contain bpa. they do contain other estrogenic compounds, but then again so does your nalgene: http://www.npr.org/2011/03/02/134196209/study-most-plastics-leach-hormone-like-chemicals

  3. The Only reason i see to take a nalgene over a wide-mouthed soda bottle is the hot water bottle. There’s no reason why a hdpe version couldn’t do this just as well is there?

    I don’t want to be a gram weenie but I don’t see any reason to carry unnecessary weight. Carrying enough of that already.

  4. Actually, they can be used as hot water bot water bottles. But, you cannot fill them with boiling water. Up to 160F is safe enough. Boiling water can pose a leakage and burn threat. You really don’t want to sleep with it. It is too hot. It is easy to burn yourself if filled with boiling water. 160F water might burn you, but not badly. A better solution is to wrap a hot rock in a bandana/hiking shirt or other clothing. It holds heat well and is NOT wet in your bag. Small pebbles can be used in a sock. (Sand makes a mess.)

    • This is a good point. I was just in the Adirondaks last week at -10° and a +15° sleeping bag with an added liner. With all my layers and jacket i was ok, but not as warm as id have liked. I boiled water for a nalgene inside my sleeping bag. I double and triple checked the lid and it still leaked. Boiling water can cause leaky bottles. Only thing worse yhan cold is cold and wet! If i was wearing cotton, id probably be dead. Fortunately i knew enough to wear wool, fleece and synthetics with a downtek fulled bag. I woke up partially wet, but i was wark enough due to the material of clothing. As far as hot rocks, i would typically agree, but in the eastern Adirondaks, fire is not allowed, only small backpack stoves, which would be less than ideal trying to heat rocks. Moral of the story, dont ever wear cotton.

  5. I always carry large Smartwater bottles. One good thing about wide mouth bottles though, is when you plan to use a SteriPen.

  6. When backpacking with my boy scouts, I insist that one of the bottles they are carrying is a nalgene like this. All of the others can be as light as possible. Reason? They can’t destroy or poke a hole in the nalgene.

  7. I hate to be a stickler but 3 Nalgene bottles at 6.2 ounces each is a total of 18.6 ounces, or more than a pound just for the bottles alone.

  8. I’m with Philip. While Nalgenes and bladders have their uses my regular 3 season kit is 2 (20 oz./591 ml) Smart Water bottles and the 2L Platypus. Light, cheap, tough and the caps are interchangeable. As for potential punctures, who isn’t packing duct tape, urethane or equivalent?

  9. Actually I’d rather carry the extra weight than support an industry (plastic water and soda bottles) that does so much harm to the environment.

  10. Thanks for sharing, Phil! To your point, Nalgene does make a soft bottle called the Cantene if you like the convenience of the wider openings and connected cap. Although a tad heavier, these puppies weigh in at 2.1 ounces. Their other HDOE bottle weighs in at 3.7 oz., still ‘way’ better than their heavyweight.

  11. Excuse? But I want the Wide Mouth bottle. Answer,…. Hydrapak Flexible Bottles. http://hydrapak.com/shop/water-bottles/ PACKS SMALL when not in use. Small to WIDE!!!! Mouth choices.

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