Did Nalgene Change Their Logo? When + Why?

I was digging through my garage the other day and stumbled across one of my old Nalgene Bottles. The first thing that stood out to me was how much I actually miss the old logo.

It made me wonder when Nalgene changed to their current logo and why they decided to get rid of the old one. 

Nalgene changed their primary logo only twice in the 70+ years they’ve been in business. The current logo was introduced in 2003 in an effort to maintain consistent branding across all of their products and to combat the growing number of knock-off Nalgene bottles coming from overseas. 

As it turns out, the logo on my Nalgene wasn’t even the original. But to get a true OG Nalgene, I’d need to find a bottle that’s (almost) as old as I am. 

Did Nalgene Change Their Logo?

Nalgene has had three primary logos (with many minor variations) throughout the company’s history.

The original logo was used from the 1970s, when Nalgene officially started offering reusable water bottles, to the late 80s. Their second logo lasted from the late 80s to 2003. The modern Nalgene logo was introduced in 2003 and is still used to this day. 

The “No Real Logo Era” (Prior to 1970s)

The first Nalgene Bottles didn’t actually have a logo at all. They were plain HDPE bottles intended for use in a laboratory setting. 

In the above image you can see the NALGENE brand name in the bottle right corner of the bottle.

Less of a “logo” and more of a generic text stating the brand name.

The Original Nalgene Logo (1970s to late 1980s)

When Nalgene inadvertently started gaining popularity among conservationists, hikers, backpackers, and other outdoorsmen in the 70s as reusable water bottles, the Nalgene Corporation expanded into Nalgene Outdoor Products — and introduced a new logo along with it.

Source: Nalgene's Facebook | Original source: @ducsiducsi

The first Nalgene logo featured the silhouette of a mountain lion atop a peak. The brand name, Nalgene Trail Products, was often included beneath in all caps and bold lettering. 

As an outdoor enthusiast and someone who owns a lot of Nalgene bottles I've wanted to get my hands on one of these old logo variants for a while now. Unfortunately, they are very difficult to find.

Interestingly, these original bottles are made from polyethylene or HDPE which is BPA free. It was only later they made the fully transparent bottles from polycarbonate (which contained BPA).

Interesting that these older plastic bottles could still be used safely today – 50+ years after they were made. Now that's a long lasting water bottle.

Nalgene’s Iconic 90s Logo (late 1980s to 2003)

Left: Nalgene 90's logo | Right: New Nalgene logo

In the late 80s, Nalgene updated their logo for the first time, and I don't blame them.

The perched mountain lion remained (although typically much smaller), but TRAIL PRODUCTS was cut from the brand name and the font was changed to be sleeker and more streamlined. 

“Made in the USA” also features strongly underneath the logo.

Nalgene also began experimenting more with their logo during this period — some bottles having a small lion logo beside the Nalgene name, others with a larger lion logo and Nalgene in small letters diagonally across, some with only the name Nalgene and no lion logo at all, and many other designs. 

Nalgene’s Modern Logo (2003 to present)

In 2003, Nalgene changed their logo to the circle of water droplets, often followed by their stylized, lower-cased brand name.  

This logo (in a variety of colors) is still found on all Nalgene products to this day. 

The regular transparent Nalgene bottles tend to feature a colored version of the logo while the Ultralite Nalgene bottles feature a single color, paired down version of the same logo.

Which do you like better?

Why Did Nalgene Change Their Logo?

The issue with Nalgene’s 90s logo was the lack of consistency in its branding — which led to two major problems for Nalgene. 

First, with all the variations, it became a challenge to quickly spot an authentic Nalgene Bottle by its logo.

Low quality knock-offs from overseas began to flood the market and were often mistaken for Nalgenes because they were large transparent bottles with looping lid straps. 

Second, in the early 2000s, Nalgene started expanding beyond just water bottles (which ultimately didn't end up working out so well). 

Naturally, they wanted consistent, easily-identifiable branding on all of their offerings.