Why Backpackers are Obsessed with Smartwater

If you’ve been doing research for an upcoming backpacking trip, you might have noticed that many backpackers use Smartwater bottles in place of a Nalgene. This seems counter-intuitive.

Why would a backpacker — a lover of nature — use a disposable water bottle?

The answer to this perplexing question can mainly be answered based on how that backpacker filters water in the backcountry. But there are a few other reasons why Smartwater is a smart choice on the trail.

Smartwater Bottles are Compatible with Sawyer Squeeze

If you use the Sawyer Squeeze system to filter water, ditching the bag for a Smartwater bottle is one of the best backpacking hacks I can give. The Sawyer Squeeze bag is a pain to fill. You can’t just dunk it in a stream and be done with it; you need to use repeated scooping motions to gather water. And even then it’s difficult to fill all the way.

Enter: Smartwater.

Smartwater Backpacking

Place the bottle in your stream of choice and listen to the glug glug of it drinking up all that precious water in just seconds. Then affix your Sawyer Squeeze to the mouth of the bottle (they connect seamlessly). The squeezing part is still cumbersome, but it gives you the chance to work on your forearm strength. Or you can skip the squeezing and drink straight from the Sawyer.

If you use this system, let me make one more suggestion: Pack two Smartwater bottles.

Smartwater Backpacking

I use one bottle to gather water and the other as a drinking source. Since I use a hydration bladder as my main means of hydrating on the trail, it’s nice to have a water bottle for eating dinner, brushing my teeth and cleaning cookware. If you’re not a fan of drinking directly from the Sawyer, simply add another bottle. Two Smartwater bottles can fit in one mesh side pocket.

Smartwater Bottles are Lightweight but Sturdy

Even if you don’t use a Sawyer Squeeze to filter water, ditching a Nalgene for disposable plastic still has its charms. You can drop a few ounces from your pack weight simply by trading out a heavy plastic bottle for a light one. Smartwater bottles are lightweight but offer a sturdier plastic than other disposable bottles. You’ll still have a respectable water bottle that’ll last on long backpacking trips rather than a crumpled up mess.

Smartwater Bottles are the Right Shape

Mmm… What a tall drink of water. Yes, backpackers often choose Smartwater bottles for their tall, slender shape. You can buy a one liter bottle without the bulk of other bottled drinks of the same size. And if you’re planning a backpacking trip in the Sierras, one or two liters of water is all you really need to carry with you, making Nalgenes overkill. You could save a bit of space along with weight by packing Smartwater.

Smartwater Backpacking

So there you have it. Three simple but legit reasons why backpackers use Smartwater bottles. I’ll even throw in a bonus: They feature a photo of a goldfish on the inside of the bottle, making you feel like you are traveling with a little animal companion.

What kind of water bottle do you pack on backpacking trips? What do you like about your method?

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