I’ll admit it right up front: I’m a Nalgene girl. Always have been. I honestly can’t recall a time in my life where I had any other brand of water bottle. Since high school when I first learned about the brand and how not only was it indestructible, but if you did manage to break some part of it they would replace it for free, I was sold. And when another adventurous woman showed me her Nalgene bottle that she had had since the 80’s, I knew I would be a Nalgene fan for life. However, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t occasionally room in my cabinet for another exceptional water bottle, and that might just be LARQ: the world’s first self-cleaning water bottle.
At first glance, LARQ was just another pretty stainless steel water bottle. And an expensive one, at that ($95). And I’m not really a fan of stainless steel water bottles on principle. They tend to start smelling faster than plastic, they dent and scratch easily, and, probably most importantly, I am not gentle with my belongings and my water bottles have to hold up to repeated dropping, falling out of car doors, tipping off of rocks, falling into creeks, and rolling across parking lots. Stainless steel just doesn’t seem like it can handle that. Stainless steel seems like it should be reserved for yoga studios and trendy music festivals. But to my surprise, LARQ is so much more. Read on to learn why it’s a water bottle worth the price tag.
The LARQ Look
Yes, LARQ is stainless steel but isn’t it so much sleeker than those other metal bottles? I don’t know if it’s the shape or the powder coating, but especially in black (my eternal color of choice), it’s ultra-smooth looking. I mean, you could use this bottle as a vase and set it next to a potted succulent and a framed wedding photo and it would practically be art. I have to admit I was taken with the look of the water bottle. Plus it keeps water cold up to 24 hours in the double-walled container.
LARQ Kills Germs
But looks are secondary to LARQ’s true purpose, which is to kill germs. I mean, the company claims you never have to wash the water bottle because the thing sanitizes itself! It uses a UV-C LED light in the lid to automatically sanitize the bottle and the water in it as often as you’d like. Press the button on the top once to start the 60-second sanitation cycle or follow the instructions to set it to sanitize automatically every hour. The ring around the lid will light up when it’s doing its thing so you know what’s going down inside the reservoir.
It neutralizes up to 99.99% of bacteria and viruses (including E. coli and mold) in adventure mode (there are 3 modes: normal, adventure, and manual/off). There’s no filter to replace like in other purification bottles, and the rechargeable battery lasts 1-2 months per charge.
Naturally, that doesn’t mean you should never wash it. If you fill it with hot chocolate or a homemade juice cocktail for surreptitious sipping at the beach or use it to scoop muddy pond water to extinguish your campfire, (I don’t know your life) you’re still gonna wanna wash that sucker out. The UV light doesn’t reach the mouthpiece, either, so scrub your gross mouth germs off every once in a while, OK?
Just watch this hilarious video to see how it works. Best water bottle video we’ve ever seen, BTW.
What We Loved
Hands down, the best part about this water bottle is that it doesn’t require frequent washing. When we’re traveling, especially on road trips where we’re camping, the opportunity to wash dishes rarely arises. I’ve never made a huge deal about it as I’m not a super germaphobe (as long as the germs are my own), but occasionally the thought that I can’t remember the last time I washed my bottle is a little…unsettling.
And I do like the fact that there’s an optional travel sleeve for it, though it’s a bummer that if I use it it will cover up all the stickers this water bottle will invariably collect. The long battery life is great, too. Add the fact that it is easily charged via USB means you can charge it just about anywhere. It is also waterproof so you can use it around the lake or pool without worrying about the exposed USB port shorting out.
I was dubious that I would like carrying around the bottle because it didn’t have a loop or finger hold. Fortunately, the bottle’s slim profile fits comfortably in my hand. And if that wasn’t enough, you can also order a neoprene travel sleeve. I think it takes a little something away from LARQ’s sleek and modern look (I’d love if it were all black, but that’s a personal preference), it creates a lot more carry options as it has a vegan “leather” strap (yay for stylish items with non-leather accents!) with a fixed loop, a snap-able (and unsnap-able) loop, and a small round carabiner (which seems like it would have limited use at best–a full-size carabiner would be more utilitarian).
What We Didn’t
I was, however, surprised when a week after normal use (I hadn’t even dropped it yet!) the powder coating was already starting to chip around the rim. Fortunately, you can only see it when the lid is off, so it’s not a big deal, and though I don’t own many powder-coated bottles, I hear this is a pretty common occurrence.
While the instructions that came with the bottle seemed complete, there are several color modes (solid, “breathing,” orange, red, light blue, dark blue, etc.) that were similar and/or confusing. For example, it’s suggested that you move the bottle around during a purification cycle so the light hits all the water. But sometimes when we did, the cycle would end early with an orange (or red?) flashing light signaling that “something was wrong.” But orange flashing lights also mean the battery is dying. Fortunately, the LARQ team was quick to respond to email.
Lastly, it’s heavy. We likely won’t be taking this bottle on any multi-day backpacking trips into the wilderness as we like to pack as ultra-light as possible. And it’s much heftier than a Nalgene. But for other types of travel, it’ll definitely be in my pack.
Alisha is a freelance writer and photographer based in Austin, TX. She loves her tiny house, vegan food and experiencing the community of travel in far away places. She’s also pretty sure she’s addicted to coffee. alishamcdarris.com