Indestructible Nalgene Water Bottle




This Instructable will detail how to replace a Nalgene classic plastic lid retainer with a steel cable. I have done this to all of my water bottles because it eliminates a low chance of losing my water while rock climbing. There are other variations of this idea that I have seen. I prefer this method because it is the fastest and most forgivable.


a water bottle with a lid. Ideally this lid already has a retainer on it, but a small lip could be cut into a bottle lid without one. This will not be as secure.

Cable- I use 1/16th inch because its relatively flexible. About 18 inches does the job, 14" is the bare minimum.

Ferrules- sized for your cable, 2 of these

Something to crimp the cables- I use wire cutters

Optional: Something to cut the wire (dremel cutoff disk) , Rope sheath or cord to pad the wire

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Step 1: Cut Off Useless Plastic Piece

I can pull this plastic to failure by hand, so Im not comfortable climbing with 1L of water attached only by that. Its a long shot but I dont want to get nailed by that and this is cheap and easy.

Angle whatever your cutting with across the plastic retainer. I used a pocket knife. Be careful, its easy to cut yourself. I find that pulling on the loop makes it easier to cut. Avoid cutting the top lip of the lid, that will decrease the safety margin.

When doing several of these at once I tend to use my dremel. The cutoff wheel can be lowered directly into the lip on the lid.

Step 2: Replace the Plastic

Run the steel cable through a ferrule on both sides creating a loop. Crimp the shorter side of this closed. Be careful not to close it entirely before adjusting it tight to the lid. See image. Adjust the outside edge of ferrule even with the outer edge of the lid, or until you're happy with it. It will be easier to open the bottle if the lid can spin inside this loop.

Repeat this process for the lip of the bottle. I try to leave my lids removable from the bottle for easy washing.

If you throw away the plastic remember to cut all loops on it.

Step 3: Add Padding


Add the sheath of a cord or rope to make carrying more comfortable. Also protects hands from fraying metal if the ends of your ferrules aren't cleanly cut. When finished, simply push the wire through the rope sheath. If using smaller cord, move this step ahead of the bottle side crimping.

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    6 Discussions


    2 years ago

    Very nice. I've had a few of those straps break on me before.

    While cleaning my bottles, I accidentally discovered an easy way to remove the retaining strap.
    Every now and then I will give my bottles a deep cleaning where I drop them in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes. Normally I fish them out with the handle from a wooden spoon, but this particular time I used a pair of tongs and tried grabbing them by the strap. It turns out that plastic gets very pliable in hot water, and the straps just slid off the bottle. A little tug from the opposite direction and the strap came off the cap.

    Obviously this is slower than just cutting them off, but if your are already going to be cleaning your bottles, it is an easy way to combine tasks.


    2 years ago

    Similar idea, yours is a cleaner look.


    2 years ago

    You can get adhesive lined heat shrink, and that would last even longer.


    2 years ago

    Thanks for the suggestion! I happen to have lots of rope scraps around and have found it to last about 3 years so far without significant wear. The sheath of climbing specific ropes is crazy durable. I bet the heat shining would make the connections more secure. I'll try that on the next one

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    Heat shrink is a great idea. Could be used to cover the ferrule to keep it from scratching and cover rough cable ends, too. Silicone tape might also work for this. Sticks to itself and makes a nice, tight seal without the need for heat.

    I really like the rope sheath for the cable. Pull the core out of scrap rope or cord and it would make a great cable cover.

    Well done!

    Rowan Vader

    2 years ago

    Nice instructable you could probably use heat shrink for the sheathing too it might last longer