Remembering to drink water can be hard. For some, the solution is enabled by technology. You can download a water tracker app that reminds you to drink up—or skip the middleman altogether and go for a smart water bottle. These are fancied-up vessels with features like hydration trackers, water purifiers, speaker systems, and more. Most offer incentives to drink via convenient, hourly reminders, although some go beyond that by making the water taste better, too. Some—but not all—smart water bottles even connect to an app on your phone to provide real-time stats about your water intake.
In the pursuit of better hydration—and possibly a new emotional support water bottle—we decided to try ‘em out. The technology is new, and it shows. We tested six of the most popular “smart” bottle options and found the overall experience to be mostly disappointing. Still, we picked a favorite: the Hidrate Spark PRO.
Here’s the TL;DR on how the best smart water bottles stack up:
- HidrateSpark PRO
- LARQ Bottle PureVis
- Dot Water Bottle
- Icewater 3-in-1 Bottle
- Giotto Large Motivational Bottle
The Best Smart Water Bottle
- Material: BPA-free stainless steel
- Capacity: 17 or 21 ounces
- In brief: A truly smart water bottle with personalized recommendations and hourly reminders to drink
- Goals set based on your unique body type
- Most motivational option
- No leaking
- Keeps liquids cold
- App sometimes lags
- Mouthpiece is in a weird place
Of all the bottles we tested, the HidrateSpark PRO rose to the top of the pile as our favorite, mostly because it offered an individualized experience and a well-built app. The water bottle itself is a bit complex. You’ll need to unscrew a circular part at the bottom (which the brand calls a “puck”) to charge the bottle daily. (We found that depending on how many times we synced the puck each day, the battery lasted between 24-48 hours before needing to be charged again.) The lid can go into the dishwasher but the body of the bottle must be hand-washed with the puck removed. To set it up, download the Hidrate app, charge the puck, then connect your device to the bottle via bluetooth.
On the app, Hidrate Spark helps you set a hydration goal. We liked that it took testers’ individual heights, weights, and physical activities into account when setting these goals; our 120-pound, pregnant tester was given a goal that was nearly half the amount of our 200-pound healthcare worker tester. (68.8 ounces per day vs. 130 ounces per day, to be exact.)
Every hour, the Hidrate Spark lights up to remind you to drink water, and it also sends frequent notifications to your phone if you choose to allow them. (Some of our testers found this to be overzealous and annoying, and some liked it.) Still, our testers drank more water using this bottle than any of the others they used.
A few downsides: The mouthpiece has a clip placed right where most people’s bottom lip goes, which didn’t exactly make it feel ergonomic. And the app often took a while to update with our data; instead of showing the water our testers drank in real time, the app updated every 3-4 hours with total consumption. That said, the numbers were always accurate once they updated. And the bottle kept liquids cold (the brand claims it will do this for up to 24 hours) and tasting good, didn’t leak, and looked sleek. Overall, we think improvements could be made with all the smart bottles we tested, but this one offers a good start.
Why Does Hydration Matter for Health?
Human beings can live without food for a few days, but we can’t live for long without water. Water is a critical nutrient for the human body, and many studies have shown its importance for human health. For example, a 2011 review found that Nutrition Review “Water, Hydration, and Health” View Source , with dozens of positive effects to staying hydrated. European Journal of Nutrition “Hydration for health hypothesis: a narrative review of supporting evidence” View Source can help slow the formation of kidney stones and limit UTIs, as well as preventing metabolic disease, chronic kidney disease, and beyond. Drinking water also helps to European Journal of Nutrition “Cognitive performance in relation to hydration status and water intake among older adults, NHANES 2011–2014” View Source , which improves cognitive performance; Applied Ergonomics “The effects of hydration on cognitive performance during a simulated wildfire suppression shift in temperate and hot conditions” View Source , on the other hand, slows mental performance. Other Harvard Health “How Much Water Should You Drink” View Source include the improved regulation of body temperature, aided digestion, a well-maintained electrolyte balance, cushioned joints, and more.
How Much Water Should You Drink?
This is up for debate, but Harvard Health “How Much Water Should You Drink” View Source recommends following the four-to-six cup rule per day for generally healthy people. That’s about 48 to 64 ounces of water total, although this recommendation will vary from person to person based on body weight, height, physical activity, and the climate you’re in. Most of the smart bottles we tested recommended drinking far more than that; for a 200-pound person, the average recommended water intake was about 100 ounces of water per day. Someone lighter—a 120-pound person—received an average recommendation of about 80 ounces of water per day. Either way, it’s a significant amount of fluid, and it’s important to drink up.
Are Smart Water Bottles Worth It?
If the concept of smart water bottles seem a little foreign to you, that’s OK. Smart water bottles are relatively new in the scheme of things. The idea popped up as a result of new bluetooth technology and the Educational Technology “The Quantified Self (QS) Movement and Some Emerging Opportunities for the Educational Technology Field” View Source , which is the trend of using wearable or smart technology as a way to gather data about your everyday, health-related activities. But all signs point to market growth. (One The 3 Best Smart Water Bottles for a Hydration Upgrade “” View Source says the smart water bottle industry will be worth $48.7 million by 2025.)
Do you need a smart water bottle to stay hydrated? Short answer: No. Most smart water bottles claim to improve hydration—or at least hydration motivation—by connecting to your phone and tracking how often you fill it up and drink from it. While testing, we found the process of tracking our water intake via bluetooth connected apps to be more cumbersome than helpful, and our overall water intake didn’t increase drastically after several weeks spent using these smart bottles.
In some cases, the apps sent such constant notifications that we learned to ignore them. In other cases, the technology made the water taste better, but it didn’t give us a way to track hydration goals. Overall, after testing, we think that tracking your water intake through a water bottle is just one way to manage hydration. Some people may prefer to use apps or even hand-written logs to track how much water they’ve consumed every day. Whatever works for you is great!
Are Smart Water Bottles BPA Free?
Mayo Clinic “What is BPA, and what are the concerns about BPA?” View Source —more commonly referred to as “BPA”—is a chemical that’s often used to make some plastics and resin. Some studies show that it can seep into food or drinks that contain the chemical. BPA was been found in the urine of most subjects in a CDC “Bisephenol A Fact Sheet” View Source , indicating “widespread exposure” in the US population. More research is needed to determine how BPA affects human health. Still, many people seek out water bottles and food storage containers—including smart water bottles—with “BPA free” labels.
All the smart water bottles we tested are BPA-free. Both the Hidrate Spark and Larq are made of stainless steel, which automatically makes free of the stuff. And the Joseph Joseph, ICEWATER, and Giotto bottles are all made of BPA-free tritan, according to their manufacturers.
How We Got Here
Who Did This Work
I’m Jenni Gritters, a journalist with 10 years of experience covering science, health, and psychology. I’ve written product reviews for publications like Reviewed, Wirecutter, and Slate, and you can find my essays and reported stories in the New York Times, Slate, and the Guardian. I was previously an editor at Wirecutter. There, I covered parenting gear, outdoor gear, and travel apparel as a writer and editor.
Our Testing Process
First, we scoured the market for smart water bottles and read dozens of reviews of the newest, hottest bottles out there. Then we ordered the six most popular to test. Some, like the Hidrate Pro, were undeniably smart (and pricey), with bluetooth-enabled chips that connect to users’ phones to give personalized advice and track every sip. Others (like the Giotto Motivational bottle) were more on the dumb side, with labels on the side to track water consumption through the day. But with all bottles, the overarching question was simple: Will this actually help people drink more water?
Two testers spent two days each with each water bottle. I was 32 weeks pregnant at the time of testing, and very focused on making sure I stayed hydrated. And my husband, Sean, is a healthcare worker who spends most of the day on his feet. He took the bottles to work and solicited feedback from his coworkers as well. Together, we took notes on overall hydration, feelings of motivation, ergonomic features, ease of use, and beyond. Each app (as applicable) was tested on both an iPhone and a Google Pixel. In the end, all testers were relatively underwhelmed by all the options, but we found ourselves gravitating toward some better-designed options. You’ll see them featured in this guide.
How to Pick a Smart Water Bottle
Who Should Buy a Smart Water Bottle?
If you need to track your water intake for any reason, or you’re hoping to be reminded to drink more water, a smart water bottle may be a good option for you. People with health conditions related to hydration (kidney stones, chronic health conditions, and beyond) may find this technology especially useful, as will athletes. Plus, these water bottles just look really cool—which means you might want to purchase one to make drinking water a fun, tech-enabled process.
Which Features Matter Most When Buying Smart Water Bottles?
When you’re choosing a smart water bottle to buy, you should consider:
- Hydration reminders: It doesn’t matter what method you’re using; this water bottle needs to remind you to drink water throughout the day! After all, the ultimate goal is that you drink more water with one than without it.
- Personalization: Not everyone needs to drink the same amount of water. A truly smart bottle should allow you to mold its guidelines to your height, weight, lifestyle, and location. (A very tall runner who lives in Los Angeles will probably need to drink more than a smaller, more sedentary person who lives in Burlington.)
- Technology syncing: Many of these water bottles sync up to an app or smartwatch via bluetooth. The sync should be seamless.
- Extra features: Water purification, speakers, chargers—you name it, it’s an option.
- Leak-free: As you tote this around, make sure it doesn’t leak!
- Easy to operate: The water bottle should be easy to use right out of the box. And it should be easy to drink from, too. It doesn’t need to be super smart, either—if it helps you drink more water, it’s an asset.
- BPA: If BPA is a concern for you, check the manufacturer label to ensure it’s free of the stuff. (All the smart water bottles we tested are BPA-free!)
Other Smart Water Bottles Worth Considering
LARQ Bottle PureVis
- Material: BPA-free polished stainless steel
- Capacity: 17 or 25 ounces
- In brief: A self-cleaning bottle that’s less smart than it’s fancy
- Purifies water every two hours
- Keeps liquids cold
- Ergonomic and stylish
- Not technology-enabled
- No reminders to drink water
The LARQ is an attractive smart bottle, but it’s more focused on purifying water than reminding you to drink it. That said, if you live in a place where the tap water doesn’t taste good or you need to filter the water you’re drinking on a regular basis, the LARQ might be a good option. We didn’t keep track of how much water we drank while using the LARQ, but we found ourselves reaching for it more often than expected. It has an ergonomic drinking spout and the water it produces tasted really, really good. It purifies water by using a “proprietary,” UV-based technology that eliminates bio-contaminants from the water in a self-cleaning process. (Its certification is based on removing 99.8% of E.coli bacteria within 20 minutes).
There’s no bluetooth technology associated with the LARQ, except for a light on the lid that shines every two hours to indicate that the UV system is purifying the water within. Due to its double-insulated, stainless steel material, the brand claims it keeps water cold for 24 hours. (We found this was true.) That said, it’s also heavier than the others we tested, which could make it a pain to lug around.
- Material: BPA-free tritan
- Capacity: 20 ounces
- In brief: An affordable water bottle with a manual tracking system
- Easy to use
- Ergonomic drinking spout
- Budget friendly
- Not truly smart
The Dot Water Bottle isn’t a “smart” water bottle. But it is a good system for luddites who want a visual method to increase hydration. It has a system for tracking your water intake. But it doesn’t connect to your phone, so it’s up to you to use it. To use it, you simply twist the lid until you hear a click. This fills in a “dot” on the lid, which indicates that you’ve finished drinking one bottles’-worth of water. Then, you fill it up again. Each bottle contains about 20 ounces of water. The goal set in the user manual is to finish four bottles by the end of each day. (The four-bottle recommendation may be too much for some; if so, three should be enough.) When you click the lid, you’ll see a new dot appear to “track” your progress.
You can’t put the lid in the dishwasher (and its ridges make it tough to hand wash well), but the bottle itself can go in the dishwasher. And it looks sleek, is made with BPA-free tritan, and is easy to drink from with no leaks to be seen. That said, it’s easy to accidentally twist the lid when you put the cap back on the bottle. This means you have to click through from the beginning to find your previous tracked intake. You may also lose track of how much water you’re drinking during the process. Still, if you want a budget-friendly, analog way to track your water intake, this is an option to consider.
Water Bottles You Can Skip
ICEWATER 3-in-1 Smart Water Bottle
- Material: BPA-free tritan
- Capacity: 20 ounces
- In brief: A not-so-smart bottle that’s also a speaker, for some reason
- Contains a speaker
- Easy to wash
- Glows to remind you to drink
- Not durable
- Not technology-enabled
If you’re looking for a smart bottle that tracks your hydration, this isn’t the right option. But if you’re looking for a fun bottle that will give a reminder to drink and bring some life to a party, you might consider the Icewater 3-in-1. It has a speaker screwed to the bottom and glows with rainbow-colored lights every hour to remind you to drink. The speaker connects to any device via bluetooth. It has surprisingly good sound, although the exterior of the speaker is not waterproof. It does not offer any technology-enabled hydration tracking, but it certainly glowed consistently.
Giotto Large Motivational Bottle
- Material: BPA-free tritan
- Capacity: 128 ounces
- In brief: A water bottle with written-on visual reminders
- Attention-grabbing colors
- Heavy to lug around
- Motivation technique may not work for some
- Not tech-enabled
You may have seen people lugging around these giant, one-gallon, motivational water bottles. They’re not “smart,” with no tech-enabled features, but they are motivational for some, with markers to show how much you should be consuming throughout the day, hour-by-hour. The goal is for everyone to drink 128 ounces per day (so, one single bottle a day), and the ergonomic top and handle make it easy to carry this giant vessel around. This isn’t quite a smart bottle, and some testers found the sheer size to be overwhelming and demotivating. But it might work for you if you’re competitive, hate having to make return trips to fill your bottle up, and want a visual reminder of how much water to consume every day.
- Bethancourt, et. al. 2020. Cognitive performance in relation to hydration status and water intake among older adults. European Journal of Nutrition.
- Cvirn, et. al. 2019. The effects of hydration on cognitive performance during a simulated wildfire suppression shift in temperature and hot conditions. Applied Ergonomics.
- Harvard Health. 2020. How much water should you drink? https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-much-water-should-you-drink
- Lee, Victor R. 2013. The Quantified Self (QS) Movement and Some Emerging Opportunities for the Educational Technology Field. Educational Technology Journal.
- Perrier, et. al. 2020. Hydration for health hypothesis: a narrative review of supporting evidence. European Journal of Nutrition.
- Popkin, et. al. 2010. Water, Hydration and Health. Nutrition Review.