How Long Do Nalgene Bottles Last?

Over the years, my Nalgene Bottles have survived drops from rock walls, tumbles down the stairs, and, most impressively, a few days with my kids.

One of my climbing friends has had their Nalgene for going on 10 years now and I recently managed to crack one when I dropped it straight onto a rock while hiking, and was a bit surprised to find they’re not indestructible after all.

This all led me to wonder, how long do Nalgene Bottles typically last?

Nalgene Bottles can easily last 5-10 years or more with proper care. After a few years of frequent use, however, the measurement lines may begin to wear off and the cap may need to be replaced. While Nalgene Bottles are very durable, they’re not immune to cracks and leaks from drops and other abuse.

However, the most interesting thing is that Nalgene bottles are backed by a LIFETIME GUARANTEE against not only manufacturer defects but breaks as well!

Nalgene will replace almost any broken bottle (except those broken by freezing, fire or chewing) which means even though individual Nalgene bottles might not last your entire lifetime if they break you can get them replaced for free.

I’ve owned just about every type of Nalgene Bottle and have learned a thing or two about which bottles last, which don’t, and why. 

There are some common problems that seem to occur for a lot of long-lasting Nalgene bottle owners and there are also some clever and easy ways to help your Nalgene last longer and stay in better condition.

How Long Do Nalgene Bottles Last?

Nalgene Bottles are constructed from durable materials with a pretty simple design — typically one piece with a basic, screw-on cap that's connected to the bottle so you don't lose it.

Thanks to this simplicity, there isn’t much that can go wrong with a Nalgene Bottle. 

I have a couple that are approaching 10 years of use and are still going strong (I’d likely have a couple even older, but I recycled any from before 2008 when Nalgene went BPA-free). 

But that’s not to say every Nalgene Bottle will last quite so long. Depending on your usage and how much activity and stress you put them through will affect how long they last.

A Nalgene bottle that sits in a cupboard is much more likely to last longer than a Nalgene bottle taken on regular hikes and camping trips for years at a time…or given to my kids for a single day at school.

I’ve had to replace a couple after only a few years because of leaking caps or small cracks from repeated drops. 

My partner tends to replace hers (or donate them to me) every four or five years because the measurement lines start to wear off, and she likes to track her fluid intake pretty closely throughout the day.

That being said, outside of physical damage, Nalgene Bottles often last for five to ten years, sometimes even longer. 

Do Nalgene Bottles Deteriorate Over Time?

Nalgene bottles are built to last, but like all things they will begin to show some deterioration over time.

The most common early signs of deterioration are the measurement lines starting to wear off or disappear completely. This makes sense as they are just printed onto the bottle and constant rubbing and scratching over the years removes them.

Nalgene bottles are also prone to getting scratches, becoming cloudy and the lids have a great tendency to break compared to the bottle, especially with long term UV exposure.

I think this is due to the lids being made from a slightly different plastic plus they are the main moving part of the bottle so they experience more friction and usage over time.

The connection between the lid and the bottle is also highly likely to break over time as regularly bending of this plastic causes stress and eventually causes the plastic to break.

The bottles themselves are extremely hardy though. While they make get scratches over time they hold up incredibly well and don't really seem to thin out or become extremely brittle until decades into their usage.

Nalgene Bottles Have A Lifetime Warranty

Nalgene Bottles come with a lifetime warranty that covers any leaks, cracks, or damage considered a manufacturing defect. 

And they’re actually extremely generous with what they consider “manufacturing defects.”

In fact, one of the reasons to buy a Nalgene bottle is due to this extremely generous warranty on their bottles. You can trust Nalgene to replace your bottle if it breaks and this epic customer service just makes me want to buy more of their products and give them to all my friends.

Redditor, not-ted, learned so firsthand when his son dropped and cracked his 20 YEAR OLD! Nalgene bottle and was issued a free replacement, no questions asked. 

I had one for 20 years. My son dropped it and the top broke off – below the cap, right after the plastic has straightened out after curving away from the top.

On a lark, I sent a photo to Nalgene – they responded by sending me a new water bottle! Awesome company.

Seriously, stories like this amaze me and I can imagine would lead to so much word of mouth referral.

Or when this Redditor learned that Nalgene Bottles may not be tough enough to survive the heat of Sub-Saharan Africa.

My friend's Nalgene bottle melted in sub-Saharan Africa. They sent her another one when she got back to the USA, as well as a thank you note for serving in the Peace Corps.

With one of the most lenient lifetime warranties I’ve heard of with any product, a single purchase of a Nalgene Bottle will keep you covered for years to come. 

Nalgene Bottles Tend To Last Longer Than The Cap

Most often when a Nalgene bottle needs replacing, the cap is the root of the issue. 

The classic screw top caps are just about as indestructible as the bottles themselves, though the straps tend to wear out or snap after a few years of use — even sooner if you hang the bottle by the loop on a carabiner like many climbers and backpackers do. 

The On-The-Fly and MultiDrink caps aren't nearly as durable.

The OTF caps have problems with the silicone seal leaking or growing mold, sometimes after only months of use. You need to make sure you clean your Nalgene lids properly to avoid this issue. You don't want to be drinking mold!

The MultiDrink caps often leak, sometimes straight out of the box, and the straws tend to lose suction after only a year or two. Mine lasted about a year before I grew frustrated and went back to a classic screw top cap — and I haven’t looked back. 

If you’re having trouble with your cap, don’t toss your bottle quite yet though. Nalgene covers their caps under their lifetime warranty, and if not, sells replacement lids for only a few dollars.

If you're in the market for a new lid check out my list of the best Nalgene lids you can buy. There are some really unique and convenient options in there.

Tritan vs HDPE vs Pre-Tritan Bottles

17 year old pre-tritan (made with BPA) Nalgene bottle found in storage. Source: Reddit

Nalgene primarily uses two types of plastic for their bottles, Tritan and HDPE.

Tritan, the most common material, is a harder, heavier plastic that’s durable enough to withstand most drops. Nalgene started making their bottles with Tritan plastic back in 2008 when the harmful effects of BPA were discovered.

I have a few that I’ve used since Tritan bottles were first released in 2008 that show no signs of slowing down.

The main complaint with the Tritan bottles is that they sometimes crack when dropped. 

HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) is the type of plastic Nalgene uses for their lightweight bottles and is notable for being softer and more flexible than Tritan.

I actually prefer the HDPE bottles, not only because they’re lighter but because I’ve yet to crack one. In fact, this is the same plastic that is used to make the nearly indestructible Yeti coolers and fun fact – it's also BPA free.

Yeti Cooler Tough

Because HDPE is malleable, HDPE bottles are better able to absorb the impact of drops. But these bottles are translucent not transparent and some people don't like this.

Older bottles, manufactured before 2008, used a third type of plastic that contained BPA — an industrial chemical found in some plastics that has been linked to a variety of medical conditions. 

Some users, like this Redditor, report that their pre-Tritan bottles were more durable, but I haven’t noticed any meaningful difference in my own experience.

Regardless of their (possibly) increased durability, it’s best to replace older Nalgene Bottles with a newer Tritan or HDPE bottle regardless. If you’re unsure, just look for the “BPA-Free” stamp on the side or bottom of your bottle. 

One of my newer Nalgene bottles only says “BP FR” with the A and EE being cut off in the making of the bottle But obviously it's meant to say BPA FREE.

Final Thoughts 

  • Nalgene Bottles are surprisingly durable and commonly last for five to ten years or more.
  • Nalgene Bottles come with a lifetime warranty that protects against defects and breakages – meaning your Nalgene can be replaced free of charge if it breaks. 
  • Drops are the most common cause of damage to Nalgene Bottles.
  • Nalgene caps typically won’t last as long as the bottle itself, but can be replaced. 
  • The classic twist on caps last much longer than the OTF and MultiDrink caps. 
  • While all Nalgene Bottles are durable, the HDPE bottles are more resistant to damage from drops.