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Reviews > Hydration Systems > Bottles > Nalgene loop-top bottle > Owner Review by Derek Hansen

Nalgene 32 oz (~1 L) Polycarbonate Water Bottle

Owner Review by Derek Hansen

DATE: March 15, 2008

Nalgene 32 oz (~1 L) Polycarbonate Water Bottle Photo

Photo courtesy


NameDerek Hansen
Height5’ 10” (1.78 m)
Weight165 lb (75 kg)
Email Address derek·dot·hansen·at·mac·dot·com
City, State, CountryAlexandria, Virginia, USA


I’ve hiked and camped growing up near the Rocky Mountains and National Parks of Utah. I began serious backpacking in 2005 after becoming a Scoutmaster for a local Boy Scout troop in Virginia. Now, I overnight camp at least once a month with two or three week-long high adventure treks every year. I also fit in a hike or two with my family in-between. I am venturing into lightweight backpacking and keep my base weight under 18 lb (8.2 kg). I use a hammock year-round, trees or no trees.


Manufacturer: Nalge Nunc International Corporation, Outdoor Products Division Year of Manufacture: 2005
Weight listed: Not listed
Weight Measured: 6.4 oz (181 g)
MSRP: US$9.00
Lid Diameter Measured (inner): ~2 in (5.3 cm)
Bottle Height Measured: 8.25 in (21 cm)
Bottle Width Measured: 3.5 in (9 cm)
Fluid Capacity Measured: 35.37 fl oz (1.05 L) filled up to the threads, but not to the top.


The Nalgene 32 oz (~1 L) Polycarbonate water bottle (hereafter Nalgene or bottle) is a rigid plastic container that has a loop-top water-tight lid. The bottle is manufactured in many different colors and designs and is translucent. The bottle features a very large opening that “easily accommodates ice cubes” and “fits most water purifiers and filters.” The attached lid is connected with a swivel loop, so the lid can easily turn independent of the plastic fastener that is connected to the bottle. Common among most all designs is a printed measuring scale giving a somewhat accurate look at how much volume is contained in the bottle.

The manufacturer states the polycarbonate bottle can withstand temperatures from -211 F to 275 F (-135 C to 135 C). The manufacturer also warns when washing with a dishwasher to use the top rack and do not let the bottle touch the heating element or it will melt.

The bottle is very rigid and would not collapse when I squeezed or tried to crush it with my hands.


I have used the Nalgene bottle on most of my treks from 2005 through 2007, primarily in northern Virginia. The outside temperatures ranged from 20 F to 90 F (-7 C to 32 C) during that time period. I have also used the bottle in many rain storms and light sprinkles. Altitudes ranged from sea level to about 2000 ft (0 m to 610 m). I have never exposed the bottle to the extremes in temperature it is rated for, but I have put boiling water (roughly 212 F/100 C) in the bottle without problems.


I was first introduced to the Nalgene polycarbonate water bottle at a Boy Scout training event in 2005 where I was familiarized with its amazing uses and particular features. I’ve since purchased several of these bottles in a variety of colors. One of the features I most enjoy on the bottle is the attached lid. The swivel loop works great because I can twist the cap without having to rotate the entire lid component. The loop keeps the lid from falling into the dirt—a handy feature. The measurement marks on the outside of the bottle are also nice, but not precisely accurate. However, I’ve found that the scale is close enough for my backpacking needs; I scarcely need scientific measurements for cooking and drinking.

The first couple of times I used the bottle I nearly choked on the gush of liquid coming out of the ginormous opening (not to mention the spilled water all over my clothing). Up to this point I was used to much smaller spout openings so my technique had to be modified. I did purchase a “sipper” accessory later that really helped keep the splash down. The large mouth opening is wonderful for filling the bottle; it is easy to put ice cubes or “thick” liquid like soup and stew inside. No funnel required.

I mostly used the bottle for carrying water, but on occasion I put drink mixes and food items inside. For water and drink mixes, there is virtually no plastic after taste, but I did notice that some drink mixes left a scent in the bottle if kept in the bottle for a long period of time. My worst experience came after I used the Nalgene for storing some soup. I refrigerated the left-over soup in the Nalgene for about a week and there was a strong odor for many weeks afterwards. Even after constant scrubbing, I could not get the smell out. The only thing that worked was after I put a strong drink mix into the bottle and let it sit for a few days to replace the soup smell.

After this experience, I have not used the Nalgene for food storage and I stick to water or mild drink mixes inside the bottle.

I took my Nalgene on a conservation project in the Shenandoah mountain area where I worked clearing trails and rebuilding foot bridges. My Nalgene stood up to being dropped several times as I hiked around to the various work sites, which included compact dirt, rocks, and mud. One of my companions didn’t fair so well. He left his Nalgene on the ground, and when a service truck drove up to our area, his bottle was shattered. Up to that point, I felt my Nalgene was invincible, but I now know they are not immune from destruction. The bottle is very tough, however, and I don’t doubt mine will last for a very long time, provided I don’t place it under the wheel of a moving vehicle.

I have also used my Nalgene as a hot bottle during cold nights. On one very cold night (15 F or -9 C) in the George Washington National Forest, I boiled 32 oz (~1 L) of water and put it inside the Nalgene and screwed the cap on tight. I put the bottle inside my 20 F (-7 C) sleeping bag and it worked wonderfully all night and helped me keep warm. I felt confident that it wouldn’t leak and I wasn’t disappointed. To date, I have never had the bottle leak, but I do make sure to keep the lid tight when I place it in my sleeping bag or backpack.

On a day hike up the Bull Run/Occoquan Trail, I had my Nalgene and other items in a small daypack. It was raining and my pack was soon soaked. Eventually the zippers came loose and at once I noticed my pack was slowly getting lighter and lighter. I looked back and noticed all my gear was strewn on the muddy path, including my Nalgene. Thankfully everything was double bagged inside plastic bags, but my Nalgene was terribly dirty. Mud and grime covered the outer ring of the lid, but the contents were safe. The trouble was that when I later opened the bottle, mud was in the lower threads of the opening, which complicated my already mechanical method of drinking out of the wide-mouth bottle. The threads were a little difficult to clean out, and I wasn’t able to finish the job until I got home.

The more I backpacked, the more I wanted to eliminate weight and bulk. I took a careful look at everything I regularly carried. My Nalgene was not immune to this scrutiny and was eventually eliminated from my regular backpacking because of how heavy it is compared to other water containers. I typically carry 64 oz (~2 L) of water when I backpack, which meant two Nalgene bottles. At 6.4 oz (181 g) a piece, I was carrying almost a pound (12.8 oz or 363 g) just in empty plastic! For many people 6.4 oz (181 g) is probably trivial, but for me it was enough to consider other options.


The Nalgene bottle has been a great companion over the past few years and I continue to use it on many day hikes, Boy Scout events, at home, and at work. I love the wide-mouth opening and the attached lid, making filling and emptying a breeze. I also appreciate the water-tight closure. I have taken advantage of this security many times and feel confident in its leak-proof claim. I wish the plastic didn’t absorb the smell of some liquids, as it has in my experience, so I avoid using the bottle for anything other than water or mild drink mixes.


  1. Wide-mouth opening; easy to fill, clean.
  2. Water-tight lid.
  3. Brutally tough plastic; nearly unbreakable.


  1. Plastic retains strong odors from food and liquids.
  2. Heavy.
  3. Needs a “sipper” attachment to keep spills at minimum while drinking.
Updated: Sat, Mar 15, 2008 at 11:30 PM

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Reviews > Hydration Systems > Bottles > Nalgene loop-top bottle > Owner Review by Derek Hansen

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