Glaceau Smartwater Bottle Review

  • Ultralight Backpacker

Glaceau Smartwater Bottle Overview

Water has forever been our lifeblood. But it’s also our leash, tethering humanity to its flow, keeping our pioneers from venturing into the wild unknowns of the world. Over many millennia our brightest minds have worked out new ways to carry water across long distances: everything from animal bladders to woven plant matter to pottery. Human ingenuity never ceases to amaze me.

Modern day explorers are fortunate to live in a time when one of the best water-carrying devices to have ever existed is stocked by the pallet upon grocery store shelves, and it usually costs a buck or two. That’s right, I’m talking about the Smartwater Bottle, brought to you by Glaceau. Don’t roll your eyes — you know the one.

Smartwater bottles are cheap, durable, featherlight, and fit into just about any water bottle pocket on any backpack. You can find them almost anywhere and they come with the water inside!

For these reasons we’re awarding the Glaceau Smartwater Bottle our Budget Pick award for the Ultralight Backpacker.

Now, we know what you’re thinking. A disposable, $1 water bottle as an award winning product? The reality is that many folks on the trail, especially thru-hikers and weight-conscious backpackers, use a Smartwater Bottle. Our goal is to tell you what works in the wild, and this water bottle does the trick.

Read below for the full Smartwater Bottle review.

Smartwater Bottle 1L Specifications

Feature Type Feature Specs What This Means
Weight 1.2 oz. ( 34 g) when empty This is about as light as you’re going to get for any water bottle.
Volume 32 oz. (1 L) One liter of water is typical for backpacking activities.
Body Material Plastic, Generic This is very basic plastic. It will dent, puncture, and crumple if put under heavy strain. Yet it’s stronger than many other disposable water bottles.
Mouth Type Narrow The Smartwater lids are very small. You can’t fit an ice cube in them, and for hydration tabs (like Nuun) you have to break them in half. Easy to drink from.
Lid Very basic screw on cap Basic Smartwater Bottles come with a simple screw on/off cap. You can get them with a squeeze lid with a protector cap if you’re looking for something fancy.
Height 12 in. (30 cm) This is a tall, narrow bottle. Fits easily in backpack side pockets.
Base Diameter 2.75 in. (7 cm) Very narrow, especially compared to other more robust bottles. Good for gripping.
Mouth Diameter 1 in. (2.5 cm) A tiny mouth. Great for drinking, not great for putting anything in the bottle.
Free Of BPA This is a disposable bottle, so it doesn’t win any awards for best materials used. That said, it is BPA free.
Other Sizes 16.9 oz, 20 oz, 23.7 oz, 1L, 1.5 L Glaceau offers the Smartwater Bottle in many sizes. The one liter version is the best suited for backpacking, and the one usually found at gas stations.
Manufacturer Warranty N/A This is a disposable water bottle. You’re actually paying for the water, not the bottle. It’s not refundable.
Retail Price $1.00 This is an estimate, but the price is lower than anything you’ll find on our site!

Gear Review of the Glaceau Smartwater Bottle

Revelation: The Moment I Knew

The Smartwater Bottle has been my backpacking water bottle of choice for years. That said I only used it for drinking clean water until, one day on the trail, I learned it could help me filter dirty water as well.

smartwater-Bottle-review
Smartwater Bottles look good on the trail.

When I first started using the Sawyer Squeeze water filtration system I quickly broke through a number of Sawyer and Platypus water bladders. The seams at the neck would always pop. Those plastic pouches are no match for my super-strong squeezing muscles, apparently.

One day, upon hearing my frustrations, a passing hiker told me to try screwing a Smartwater Bottle into the other end of my water filter. Then simply “squeeze” the dirty water through.

smartwater-Bottle-review-filter-water-with-sawyer-squeeze
Sawyer Squeeze plus Smatwater Bottle equals thru-hiker heaven.

And it worked! I was done destroying bladders from that day forward. Now anytime you catch me out in the wilds I’ve got one “dirty water” Smartwater Bottle and one clean one. Double fisting, as the kids say.

smartwater-Bottle-review-with-backpack-hiking
The “dirty” Smartwater Bottle sits in my backpack pocket as such, with the Squeeze attached and ready to filter.

Digging Deeper

Lid

The lid is the universal “small” size for disposable water bottles. The threads are the same as most other disposable bottles, and work specifically with the Sawyer Squeeze or Sawyer MINI filters and other, larger filters with water bottle adaptors.

smartwater-Bottle-review-threads
The Smartwater Bottle lid is classic for most disposable water bottles. Tiny, which is great for drinking. These threads are also the “universal” ones that fit with a lot of different water filters.

The lid screws down tight onto the Smartwater Bottle ensuring a good seal, even after a lot of use. That said, it’s small, doesn’t attach automatically, and is therefore easy to misplace or drop down a cliff, so be conscious of that.

Durability

Smartwater Bottles can take a beating. I’ve dropped them on rocks and squeezed the hell out of them when filtering with the Sawyer Squeeze. The bottle will get crinkled and scarred, but I’ve never had one leak on me, and there have been times when I used the same bottles for months at a time on thru-hikes.

 smartwater-Bottle-reviewfiltering-water-with-sawuer-squeeze-2
About a thousand squeezes in, a Smartwater Bottle is still going strong.

Form Factor

This bottle is a little longer and thinner than your average one liter water or soda bottle. It fits well in every backpack side pocket I’ve ever used, and its length just makes it that much easier to grab. Your hand comfortably wraps around it, unlike those chunky Gatorade bottles or more burly water bottles.

smartwater-Bottle-review-straight-on-shot
Easy to store and hold.

Drinkability

Flows well and simply out of the small lid. The best part is that you can squeeze the bottle and gush cool water all over your face on a hot day. Ahh…!

smartwater-Bottle-review-squeezing-water-out

Grievances

What about the penguins?

The only real downside is that it’s a disposable bottle, and you will eventually toss it to grab a new one at the next town or before your next trip (because it comes with free water, so why not?). Recycling is usually an option in trail towns, but not always, and even if you do recycle the bottle who knows where it will really end up.

Final Word

The pinnacle of human engineering? Perhaps. The Glacaeu Smartwater Bottle can hold its own against any outdoor water bottle on the market, and it costs as much as that candy bar you were going to grab anyway. If you need a water bottle, just buy it.

Where to Buy Glaceau Smartwater Bottle

We know, this is a unqiue and surprising review, but the reality is it’s an amazing piece of backpacking gear. You probably know what a Glaceau Smartwater Bottle is and where to get one. In case you don’t, go to almost any gas station, roadside stop with a refrigerated section, or grocery store in the U.S., and you’ll find them. You can also buy in bulk.

A Glaceau Smartwater Bottle typically costs about $1. If you want to buy them in bulk, you can below.

arthur mcmahon outdoor gear reviewer

Arthur McMahon

Arthur loves to walk. It's as simple as that. Whether it be in the mountains, on the beach, or along the city streets-- he believes walking is the best way to experience the world. Thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail was his first backpacking foray, and he hasn't stopped since. He and his wife chronicled their journey in their book Adventure and the Pacific Crest Trail. They now regularly travel into the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest seeking new trails to hike. Follow his adventures on Instagram. As much as he enjoys exploring the real world, Arthur also ventures into the worlds of fiction. You can learn more about Arthur's science fiction novels and his Paracosms podcast on his website.

Review Policy: We do not accept payments or gifts from brands and vendors, and strive to provide unbiased, independent advice. Brands typically provide review samples which we return, and in some cases we purchase the item so we can keep using it long after the review. Affiliate Policy: We support the hours that go into our reviews and testing through affiliate commissions on purchases made through links in this article. These don't effect the outcome of our reviews or selection of gear, as per our Review Policy.

Enjoying the new Backpackers.com?
Help us improve by answering 3 questions.

Yes, sure

No thanks