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Water Bottle Slings: Complete Guide (Updated 2020)

Water Bottle Slings: Complete Guide (Updated 2020)

In this post, we reveal everything you need to know about water bottle slings, including tips for buying one and how to make your own. Let's dive in!

Introduction

There are few things better to be “attached at the hip” with than one’s trusty water bottle. The privilege of hydration at your beck and call throughout the day is enough to sell anyone on the idea, and a bottle sling makes it all possible. They are easily one of the most underrated companions in the world.

The industry of water bottle carriers is a labyrinth of both products and information. Use this as a complete guide in preparation to better navigate the market as a prospective buyer. 

In this article we address the following topics:

  • What are Water Bottle Slings?
  • Benefits of Water Bottle Slings
  • Different Style Options for Water Bottle Slings
  • Care Instructions
  • Tips for Buying a Water Bottle Sling
  • How to Make Your Own Bottle Sling

 

What Are Water Bottle Slings?

A water bottle sling, or water bottle holder, is a nifty device used to carry a bottle of water on one’s body with little to no effort on the part of the individual. Essentially, a water bottle sling is somewhat of a unisex handbag, shaped like a cylinder in order to perfectly cradle the bottle within. 

A better way to describe them might be as shoulder strap water bottle holders, as this is where a sling properly sits on the body. Usually made for comfort and functionality, these slings are practical devices intended to make hydration more accessible — especially for individuals who often find themselves in situations that require them to be “hands free”.

Water bottle slings have been an essential item for both adults and children alike, for many years now. Adults tend to find themselves in hands free engagements when it comes to activities such as hiking or rock climbing, while just about everything a child does requires parents to have both hands available at all times. 

Because of the sheer usefulness of these devices, the sling industry is an ever evolving one. A few years ago it would have been considered a rarity to find a water bottle sling made from anything other than neoprene, but today slings have evolved alongside the ‘tech gadget’ industry and are being made in far more functional variations. So much so that water bottle slings are slowly breaking out of their sports oriented shell and into the fashion market. 

Considering that the average human being needs just under 3 liters of water a day, it can be said that water bottle slings are largely helping to close the gap in terms of being able to consume this amount of liquid amidst the busy schedules we juggle in-between. 

What is the Benefit of Water Bottle Slings?

A far shorter tale to tell would be to explain "how can’t a water bottle sling benefit me?". For such a simple, affordable (usually) device there sure are a boat load of benefits that come with it. 

Firstly, as mentioned above, a bottle holder is the most convenient way to begin reaching your daily hydration requirements without having to plan your days around repeatedly finding/buying water. In the past, most water bottle slings were seen as bulky and tasteless, but the modern market is making way for more and more good-looking carriers that become more of an accessory to any outfit, as opposed to an eyesore. 

If you have children, water bottle slings can do the same for them. Kids are notorious for forgetting to hydrate, especially when consumed by the excitement of a playground. No child wants to be the one to repeatedly break from the action in order to run back to their classroom for a quick sip of water. If it’s not within reach there and then, it’s simply not a priority. What’s more, the rate at which children misplace water bottles is alarming in itself. For economical and environmental purposes, a sling could be a fabulous insurance policy!

Of course it is arguable that water bottle slings offer far more benefit to individuals with more adventurous lifestyles compared to those without. For hikers, rock climbers and trail runners, a water bottle carrier with strap is like gold. 

In these instances, having as little to carry as possible is ideal. No one wants to wear an entire backpack unless absolutely necessary, but having access to water while exploring off the grid is absolutely a necessity. With a strap, those who partake in extreme sports can have their water on their person at all times. 

Because of the growing popularity of water bottle slings, merchandisers have been forced to look at the general design of their products and add functionality wherever possible. These days, you’ll find very few bottle carries that don’t have the addition of a pouch or zip pocket as part of the hamper. 

The benefit? A place for keys, cards, cellphones and anything else that you’d prefer not to carry an entire handbag or backpack for.  

Styles for Every Occasion

What you need to firstly understand about water bottle slings is that within the market there are two very distinct branches: the practical, and the fashionable. There are instances where these lines blur and practicality actually meets fashionability — but, for the most part, you will be choosing between one or the other when it comes to style. 

The more practical style of water bottle sling is usually made with the intent to be of service. They are affordable, easy to use and might come with the aforementioned additions of a pouch or zipped pocket. 

Functional styled water bottle slings tend to be bulkier and more obvious on the body. This is because they are made from… you guessed it… functional fabrics! Fabrics intended to not only cradle your beloved water bottle, but also to keep it cold and protected from the outside elements. 

Neoprene, recycled PET fabric and nylon are the most commonly used materials for more industrial water bottle slings. They are usually a single color all round, and appear less creative than their more fashionable counterparts. 

As mentioned, these are the water bottle carriers that your hikers, fishermen and camping-affiliated individuals are more likely to purchase. Even music festival goers, who need to survive multiple days in harsh terrains like the desert, are likely to opt for functional bottle holders because of the advantage of temperature insulation and durability. 

If you’re not spending extensive time in nature, then practicality can be tossed out of the window entirely. Let’s explore the world of fashionable water bottle slings, shall we?

This branch in itself has another two branches: affordable, and the antithesis of affordable. 

Bouncing off of the ever growing trend, many clothing brands around the world have, at some point, made and sold a trendy water bottle sling in line with their individual style. This is where manufacturing materials got a bit more exploratory, and the world started seeing bottle carriers made out of everything from latex to embroidery. 

The water bottle sling was now an accessory, not something to only be used in instances of extreme ‘hands free-ness’. It was intended to be seen, and shown off, rather than stored away until that camping trip you take once a year.

For the most part, fashionable water bottle slings remained affordable. Yes, they were an investment in their own right, especially when purchasing one that was handmade by a designer or artist within a small business, but in no way were they ever considered outrageous style items. That is until the high fashion industry got hold of them.

In 2019, the Spanish fashion house, Balenciaga, sent a $750 water bottle holder down the runway at their autumn winter show. The model wore the handbag styled sling across her body, with the carrier and bottle resting proudly on her right hip. The carrier was made entirely from black leather, with the label’s name printed in bold white across the body.

Shortly thereafter, many more elite fashion houses followed the trend, offering different styles of water bottle carriers to the luxury fashion market. Chanel’s stylish bottle and carrier costs an impressive $7990. They’ve been cleverly marketed as an alternative to plastic, which in a sense is an important movement, but it really all depends on how much you’re willing to fork out for style. 

Taking Proper Care of a Water Bottle Sling

Proper care of a water bottle sling depends entirely on the style route you opted to take, and the fabric that was used to make said sling.

Practically styled water bottle slings tend to require less care and maintenance compared to the more fashion-savvy ones. They are made to last, and even thrive in harsh conditions. While a hike through a rainforest will likely bring an untimely end to a bottle carrier crocheted for that “bohemian look”.

If your water bottle carrier is made from functional material like neoprene, PET or nylon, simply make sure to air dry the device after every use. Since water bottles perspire, your carrier will likely be damp after a day out. Putting it into a drawer or closet immediately will encourage mold to grow slowly overtime, especially within the seams of the holster. This won’t be the type of obvious mold you find in a refrigerator, but you’re likely to notice a smell developing which can be off-putting when swigging from your bottle. 

Similarly, these materials are easy enough to keep clean on the outside. Give the surface of your carrier and sling a good wipe down should any dirt ever cling to the surface. Almost all water bottle carriers are machine friendly, so a monthly or bi-monthly run through the wash would be sufficient. 

If your water bottle sling has been made using more delicate, artisanal fabric such as cotton, hemp or even wool, then your care routine will be slightly different. These materials naturally collect dirt, and wiping them down is usually not effective. Inquire with your retailer as to what the necessary care instructions are and follow them accordingly. Proper following of stipulated instructions will add to the longevity of your sling. 

Because of the highly consumerist system in which we exist, noticing flaws in items like water bottle carriers might prompt a person to simply purchase a brand new one, and do away with the old. The thing to keep in mind with bottle carriers is that, more often than not, they can be easily mended into being as good as new. 

Splitting seams where the sling meets the carrier pouch is common over time, due to the gravity created by the weight of water. Any tailor or seamstress will be able to easily re-sew these points, or even attach a brand new sling altogether. 

Tearing in fabric is another quick fix, and not something that warrants purchasing a brand new device if you can help it.

What to Keep in Mind When Making a Sling Purchase

The most important thing to keep in mind when making a water bottle sling purchase is your personal expectation from the device itself. 

Are you intending for it to accompany you in nature? Do you fancy the idea of a water bottle sling as a daily accessory? Is this something you want to use on occasion or quite regularly? 

All of these factors will come into play and lead you to the product that best suits your needs. This will also help in navigating the vast online world of available bottle carriers; a rabbit hole of both options and information. 

If you are purchasing a water bottle sling for a child, be conscious of the stipulated measurements stated on the product advertisement. The appropriate sized bottle carrier for children remains a grey area; you will need to compare the size of their daily water bottle to the carriers on offer. 

Something harder to do when shopping online is to assess the comfortability of the water bottle sling itself. Generally, there aren’t many slings that you can’t grow to love with time, but if you’re the type of person who gets easily annoyed by sound or friction then extra thought needs to be applied. 

Some slings will come with the addition of a shoulder pad that slides up and down the sling itself as needed. This is intended to cradle the strap when it is resting on the top of the shoulder, and prevent chafing or stress after long periods of wear. If sensitive skin is something you struggle with, and you intend to wear your water bottle for long periods of time, then a pad is definitely something to keep in mind while shopping. 

For anyone purchasing intending to use the sling during more intense activities, such as mountaineering or camping, one might keep in mind to look out for warranties, especially with more expensive models. Getting a warranty on is rare, but there are heavy-duty water bottle holders available that come with some sort of guarantee, or at very least, a single repair card. 

Finally, something great to keep in mind when shopping for your water bottle sling is whether or not said sling comes with an actual water bottle. Few people remember to even consider this, but it sure makes for a more convenient purchase in the long run. In addition, imagine the frustration of buying a bottle holder online, only for it to arrive and not fit your own existing water bottle. Opting to purchase one that comes with a bottle is a safe way to ensure you’ll always have the right fit. 

At present, copper, bamboo and flask-material water bottles are superior to plastic, and sling makers are quickly realizing this. Purchasing a sling in today’s market is likely going to pose a combined opportunity for you to shift away from harmful plastic, and start storing your water in a healthier, environmentally friendly way. 

For a great water bottle sling that is both fashionable and functional, check out this 100% natural canvas sling.

DIY: Make a Water Bottle Sling at Home

So, what if you’ve scoured the market extensively and nothing has really managed to tickle your fancy when it comes to water bottle carriers? When the perfect sling and holder just doesn’t seem to exist? You make your own, of course!

Water bottle slings were a big hit amongst home-craft communities during the late 2010s, when the psychological benefits of adult arts and crafts fell under global spotlight. Adults, particularly women, began making anything and everything from scratch, including carriers for groceries, shoes and water containers. 

Similarly, the crochet community got on board with water bottle carriers early on in the trend, too. If you are interested in making a water bottle sling at home, crochet is one way to go. There are numerous patterns available for free, or at a small cost, on various websites.

Unfortunately a water bottle carrier is considered more of an advanced item to make through the art of crochet, so you will need a basic understanding of the skill before you’re able to execute this properly. 

So, for those not familiar with the world of crochet, read on! Here’s how to make a basic water bottle sling of your own.

A Fabric Water Bottle Sling

This is a guide for the making of a fabric-based water bottle sling from scratch at home. The execution of this activity requires only basic sewing skills, and you will need to be able to measure & cut accurate lengths. 

While any fabric can be used for this particular activity, it is advisable that you do not use stretchy fabrics or velvet, as these will not last long in practice. Canvas makes for the sturdiest fabric when it comes to home production of bottle slings.

You will need:           

    • Half a meter of any fabric that is most appealing to your eye
    • A sewing machine or adequate needles for hand sewing
    • Thread to match chosen fabric
    • Fabric glue

Steps:

    1. Cut two identical rectangles from your fabric. They should both be 20cm x 14cm in size. 
    2. Cut two identical strips of fabric both spanning 70cm x 10cm. 
    3. On the short edge of one side of your rectangles, cut a square from the right corner and a square from the left corner. The squares should be 3cm x 3cm in size. Do this to both rectangles (one side only!).
    4. Lay the matching ‘rectangles’ on top of one another, print side inward. Sew three sides of the cuts together (both long sides, and the side with the cut out squares).
    5. You will now be able to flip the fabric inside out, to reveal the print on the outside and a cylindrical shaped carrier in the making. 
    6. Sew around the top rim of the cylinder to prevent any fabric fraying. 
    7. Take your two 70cm strips of fabric and sew them together on their shortest ends. This will make one long 140cm strip that will form your sling. 
    8. Fold the strip in half, width-ways, so that the 10cm width becomes a doubled over 5cm. Sew together to reveal your sling. 
    9. Attach the finished sling to the cylindrical bottle holder by sewing each end of the sling into either side of the holder’s rim. You can adjust the overall length of your water bottle carrier by either placing the sling deeper or shallower within the holder, and sewing at your most ideal length. Use your fabric glue to get the initial application point right, and sew on top of it. This will provide extra reinforcement. 
    10. Once completed, you’ll have a stylish and unique water bottle carrier to use at your leisure. Apply the appropriate care procedures as needed. 

A Ring Water Bottle Sling

If the idea of a full fabric bottle cover doesn’t tickle your fancy, you’ll probably be far more drawn to the simpler ring sling. 

This is one of the simplest bottle carriers to make at home. It is best made with recyclable plastic bottles as the ring in question tends to be universal and fits best. 

You will need:           

    • A rubber o-ring from the plumbing section of any hardware store
    • Two meters of heavy-duty, woven ribbon (in a pattern of your choosing)
    • A needle and thread

Steps:

    1. Use your own body as a measuring stick for where to cut your ribbon. Start by slinging the ribbon around your body, making sure that it starts and ends exactly where you would like your water bottle to rest. 
    2. Cut when desired length is determined. 
    3. Feed one end of the ribbon through your o-ring. Only feed approximately 3cm through, and then bring it back in line with the rest of the ribbon so that it holds the o-ring in place. Sew the ribbon onto itself.
    4. Now, with the other end of the ribbon (the open side) do the exact same. The o-ring will then be cradled between two ribbons grasping it securely, and you need only feed your bottle top through the ring in order for it to be held securely. 

Conclusion

We hope this guide to water bottle slings has been of help to you! If you are looking for a fashionable and functional water bottle sling, check out this 100% natural canvas sling.

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