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What Is a Bota Bag?

By Megan Shoop
Updated May 16, 2024
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A bota bag is a beverage receptacle native to Spain. These drinking bags are usually made in a pear-shape, with the drinking spout at the tip of the pear and the rounded body of the bag holding up to 3 quarts (about 3 L) of any beverage. Traditionally, the Spanish often use bota bags for drinking wine, but they can hold almost any beverage.

Campers, hikers and eco-conscious individuals often carry bota bags for many reasons. They hold significantly more liquid than many water bottles, making them ideal for long walking trips. These bags also usually feature a shoulder strap, making them no more difficult to carry than a shoulder bag. Some also come with clips, allowing them to be attached to backpacks and belts.

Eco-conscious individuals tend to favor bota bags over water bottles because they’re usually made from organic materials. Leather is generally more environmentally-friendly than plastic, and the bags are also reusable. Those that choose these bags over disposable water bottles help reduce waste.

Most bota bags feature a watertight outer layer with an industrial-grade plastic bladder on the inside. The original Spanish bota bag was made of leather and pig or sheep stomach. In both cases, the pocket of air between the inner and outer layers often insulates the beverage within. This means water, wine, sports drinks, and juice may all be kept cool for several hours. Hot tea and coffee may also be stored in a bota bag, though such beverages may lose heat quickly in cooler weather.

Washing these bags can be slightly complicated. Ideally, a bota bag should be washed after every use. The usual method involves filling the bag with boiling water, shaking it vigorously, and emptying it. This is usually done about four times. The first two rinses may show residue from the beverage in the bota bag. The last two rinses should be clear, showing that the bag is clean.

Hiking and camping supply stores, as well as hundreds of shops online, sell bota bags in several different sizes and colors. Most of the bags are brown, but some stores sell black and red bags. A few even feature blue, green, purple, and other dyed patterns, allowing consumers to choose a bota bag that fits their style. Typical sizes hold anywhere from about a pint (about .5 L) of liquid to almost a gallon (about 4 L). The smaller bags may be more suitable for those who use them daily for short trips, while long-distance travelers may want larger sizes.

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