There are dozens of good reasons to stop using disposable plastic water bottles, including cost, environmental impacts, and health dangers, like the leaching of chemicals into your drink. But until recently, nothing has been as convenient or available, particularly for distance and trail runners. Enter collapsible water bottles, a compact and reusable way to stay hydrated while running or traveling. They take up minimal space in your pack or pocket when not in use. And flexible designs shape to your hand and body, so they’re never unwieldy while you’re carrying them. Stow a couple in a hydration vest, carry one in your hand, or just hook a line of them to your utility belt until it looks like you’re a well-hydrated Batman—you’ll never have to buy a single-use plastic bottle again.
What to Look For
There are two basic kinds of collapsible water bottles that work well for runners: the smaller, flask type with an included handheld carrier (like the Salomon Active Handheld), and the larger kind that can be rolled up and stowed in a hydration vest or clipped onto a belt or backpack (like the Vapur Element). The former is ideal for when you actually want to drink while running; the latter is better for traveling or hiking—unless you’re running with a backpack, vest, or jacket in which you can stow it.
Note that the biggest complaint with all collapsible bottles is that they can wear down over time and leak, whether from the soft flask material itself or the valve. Be sure to contact the manufacturer if you start out with a leaky model—there should be no difference in function between a collapsible bottle valve and that of a regular water bottle.
How We Selected
Every product here has been thoroughly evaluated and vetted by our team of test editors. We research the market, survey user reviews, and use our own experience running and traveling with these bottles to determine the best options. Most models have been tested by our staff, and those that haven’t have been carefully chosen based on their performance, durability, ease of use, and value. Here are our favorite BPA-free collapsible water bottles.
Salomon Active Handheld
You barely have to carry this 17-ounce water bottle—the minimalist soft strap clings to your hand so comfortably that it does most of the work. A leak-free bite valve is easy to pull water from, and the cap is a cinch to unlock and remove for refills. As you drink, the bottle collapses down so the remaining water won’t slosh around while you’re running.
Fitly Soft Flask
This light, sturdy soft flask comes in a bunch of different sizes—the smallest 5-ounce size is ideal for packing liquified DIY gels, and the largest 17-ounce size holds a generous amount of water and fits well in a hydration vest or running pack. The flask shrinks down as you drink, so the water doesn’t slosh around inside it. Just give the inside of the bottle a wash before using it to head off any hint of a plasticky taste.
Nathan Handheld ExoDraw
Soft flasks can be hard to get a good grip on as they start to compress. The ExoDraw comes in a lightweight case with an adjustable hand strap for a far more convenient and comfortable carry—one that stays in your hand without you having to even wrap your fingers around the flask. (Note: It’s designed to fit most hands, but the Velcro strap runs on the bigger side.) The case also includes a little bonus pocket for your long run fuel and other small items. The valve is easy to use and hasn’t given me any problems with leakage. Look for it in 14- and 18-ounce sizes.
CamelBak Quick Stow Flask
Available in 12- and 17-ounce sizes, this soft flask is convenient for stowing in your hand or hydration vest when full, and rolling down to fit in your shorts pocked once you’ve drained its contents. The self-sealing silicone bite valve is easy to use and doesn’t drip water into your pack. An antimicrobial treatment on the inside of the flask keeps water tasting fresh; you can just toss the cap in the dishwasher when it’s time to clean.
Vapur Element 0.7L Foldable Flexible Water Bottle
An integrated carabiner makes this 24-ounce bottle easy to carry or roll down and stow in the pocket of your shorts. It’s designed to withstand freezing, so you can pack a frosty one in your hydration vest for summer trail running. It’s also super-lightweight and durable, and dishwasher-safe for cleaning.
Ultimate Direction Clutch Handheld
Getting a good grip on this 17-ounce handheld soft flask is simple—the adjustable Velcro strap fits comfortably and allows for multiple hand positions. A zipper pouch on the front of the bottle carrier is too small for a phone but spacious enough to hold a gel, cash, keys, or other small necessities.
Genius Earth Foldable Water Bottle
Made of BPA-free flexible silicone, this 22-ounce travel bottle rolls down so you can stow it in your pack or jacket until it’s time to fill up or drink mid-run. When it’s time to use, just unclip the strap and slide the protective sleeve into place—both for a handhold and so that it maintains its shape. It has a push-button lid and locking clip so it won’t ever leak in your bag, and it’s safe for hot and cold drinks.
Amphipod Hydraform Soft-Tech Water Bottle
The cleverly designed sleeve that encases this 16-ounce soft flask has an integrated strap to compress the bottle as you drain its contents. It’s comfortable and unobtrusive to carry, and includes a few gel loops for when you want to pack extra long-run fuel. When the time comes to clean the BPA-free flask inside, it’s easy to remove it from its carrier and toss it in the dishwasher.
Hydaway Collapsible Water Bottle
This telescoping 25-ounce bottle stashes down to about an inch-thick disc, so you can use it for travel or stow it in your running belt and whip it out when you get to the drinking fountain. It’s made of a lightweight, food-grade silicone that won’t degrade in your dishwasher, and it has a bottle-brush-friendly wide mouth with a spout lid. There are several sizes and accessory options for the bottle, including a travel pack. For hot drinks, check out the brand’s collapsible drink tumbler.