We're not big fans of bottled water. One of our most popular articles — you'll usually find it on the first page of results when you search Google for the phrase bottled water — is Five Reasons Not to Drink Bottled Water.

To be blunt, bottled water is a rip-off. Paying a dollar or more for water that would cost you a fraction of a penny from the tap shouldn't require further discussion. Add to this 1.5 million tons each year of plastic waste, only a small percentage of which will be recycled. The rest ends up in landfills or the environment.

Bottle your own

Most of us are blessed with safe tap water. Safe doesn't necessarily mean good-tasting, so (for some people) a water filter is a good investment. For drinking on the go, it's tough to beat the combination of filtered water and a durable water bottle. Together, they can save you hundreds of dollars a year that would otherwise be spent on commercially bottled drinks.

But you can't take most filters with you. That's where Ecousable's new Ech2o bottle comes in. Ecousable bills the Ech2o as the "world's only environmentally safe stainless steel filtered water bottle."

A look at the Ech2o filtered bottle

An Ecousable representative sent us a pair of Ech2o bottles for evaluation. We were not otherwise compensated for publishing this article. Our samples arrived in a compostable cardboard box, packed in paper shavings.

Stainless steel is a good choice for personal water bottles. With proper handling, they'll last for years, and can be recycled when you're ready for a new one. The food-grade stainless used to make the Ech2o is non-leaching and BPA-free, unlike some plastic models. Our 25-ounce bottles are obviously well machined, with seamless construction. One features a brushed steel finish, and the other is painted in a rich metallic red. The bottles feel hefty, but not heavy.

The filter and cap assembly has a rubber gasket to prevent leaks, and the plastic parts are marked for recycling. In terms of appearance, the Ech2o is a quality product.

How it works

The Ech20 bottle has a built-in microfilter that attaches to the cap and bite valve. It's similar to a survival straw, which means the Ech2o bottle goes beyond simply making tap water taste better. Ecousable says the filter removes up to 99.9 percent of sediment, dissolved solids, chemicals and biological pathogens — making pretty much any source of fresh water drinkable. You could fill the Ech2o bottle from a pond, river, swimming pool or a puddle. The only thing it's not designed to handle is salt water.

The replaceable filter is rated at 100 gallons, or a little over 500 refills. Filtered water from the Ech20 works out to less than 10 cents per bottle — more than tap, but a vast improvement over what you'd buy at the store.

So how would you use the Ech2o? While it could certainly replace a daily water bottle, Ecousable makes less expensive stainless models for that purpose. The Ech20 is in its element camping, hiking and during times of emergency. It would be great in an office or retail setting where there's no filter available. But perhaps the most likely use for the Ech2o is as a second water bottle, tucked away in a glove compartment or bicycle pannier. Used this way, the Ech20 filtered bottled could last for years, providing the assurance you'll have access to quality drinking water pretty much anywhere you go.

Pros: Flawless construction, attractive finish, fully recyclable parts, replaceable filter, good ergonomics, unique function.

Cons: At $39.99 for the 25-ounce size, the Ech20 is an investment purchase. Replacement filters are $24.99.

VendorEcousable of Redondo Beach, Calif. 877-544-0429, support@ecousable.com

Ech2o: Filtered water when you don't have a filter
Bottled water is a rip-off -- unless you bottle your own. Here's a stainless steel water bottle with a handy, built-in filter.