We Tried 9 Water Flavor Packets — These Are the Best

Taste Test: Water Flavorings


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Group of Several Packages of Water Flavorings

Powder Power

There's no denying that the popularity of water flavor packets has exploded in recent years. Often available as powder, squeezable bottles of liquid, or dissolvable tablets, these products can add a splash of flavor to your water. Flavor-enhanced waters can be more convenient, replenishing, and typically much lower in sugar than a soda or a sports drink. Flavor packets for water bottles can really change the trajectory of your day.

For those looking to add a little something extra to their water, the myriad of options on the shelves may seem overwhelming, and there can be a pretty gigantic range in quality. Which water flavoring packet should you reach for, you ask? Great question. Here are our answers.

Editor's note: This story was updated in October 2023. Prices and availability are subject to change.

Gatorade Thirst Quencher Powder, Frost Glacier Freeze

Best Overall Water Flavoring: Gatorade Thirst Quencher Powder

$11 for one 76.5-oz. canister from Amazon
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Key ingredients: Monopotassium phosphate, sodium citrate
Flavors: Orange, Lemon Lime, Fruit Punch, Glacier Cherry, Glacier Freeze
Highlights: This tastes almost exactly like a real Gatorade.

Servings: About 90

It’s probably not fair to hand Gatorade the trophy here, considering most of these other companies are actively trying to provide a lower-sugar Gatorade alternative. Unfortunately, the world of water-flavor taste testing is an extremely serious one, and I must proceed without handicaps. The sad truth is that sugar tastes very, very good. It tastes better than artificial sweeteners like monk fruit and stevia, and zero-sugar water packets don't quite cut it. 

The fact that you can make your own Gatorade with a water bottle-flavor-packet-combo is a game-changer. It’s perfect for people that drink Gatorade frequently and need it in various noble situations, like playing sports or being extremely hungover. Any Gatorade drinker should stock this.

Propel Powder Packets with Electrolytes 4 Flavor Variety Pack

Best Bang for Your Buck: Propel Powder Packets

$19 for a five-box variety pack from Amazon
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Key ingredients: Ascorbic acid, niacinamide, acesulfame potassium
Flavors: Grape, Kiwi Strawberry, Raspberry Lemonade, Berry
Highlights: It’s a great price for the quality.

Servings: 50

Propel’s flavor packets for water are all over the place, but once you know which ones to go for, the quality is pretty solid for the price. They also contain added vitamins E, B6, C, and B12. The Kiwi Strawberry, which is normally the last flavor I'd go for, really isn’t bad, and the same goes for the Strawberry Lemonade. The Grape, however, is horrid and fully unfit for human consumption. Grab yourself one of the other flavors and call it a day.

Nuun Sport Electrolyte Drink Tablets Tubes 4-Pack

Most Fun Water Flavoring: Nuun Electrolyte Drink Tablets

$24 for a four-tube variety pack from Amazon
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Key ingredients: Citric acid, avocado oil
Flavors: Orange, Citrus Fruit, Tri-Berry, Lemon Lime
Highlights: They’re fun to watch and aren’t too gross.

Servings: 40

There’s something about taking out a Nuun tablet, dropping it into the water, and watching it fizz that is incredibly satisfying. It makes me feel like a kid again, with your science teacher doing a volcano in class. It’s almost hypnotic. 

Despite the slight twinge of stevia, the flavors aren’t bad, particularly the Lemon Lime. Tri-Berry is pretty solid, and Orange and Citrus Fruit flavors taste pretty much identical. You’re paying for the experience with this one, something you won't get with tap water or carbonated water.

DripDrop ORS Hydration Electrolyte Powder Packets Variety 32-Count

Best Low-Sugar Water Flavoring: DripDrop Hydration

$31 for a variety pack from Amazon
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Key ingredients: Ascorbic acid, citric acid
Flavors: Watermelon, Berry, Lemon, Orange
Highlights: There’s no artificial sugar here, so the taste truly isn’t bad at all.

Servings: 32

If you’re going for something low-sugar to compete with a name brand sports drink, DripDrop is what you want. It somehow has half the sugar of a Gatorade. The flavors are surprisingly palatable, but the packages are bigger than your average powder packet so it can be easy to use a little too much. Watermelon is the best flavor by far, but lemon isn’t bad at all, and though the berry flavor may be a little too sweet, it’s extremely drinkable. This is a great Gatorade or Crystal Light alternative.

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Crystal Light Sugar-Free Fruit On-the-Go Variety Pack

Sneakiest Water Flavoring: Crystal Light On-the-Go Packets

$17 for a variety pack from Amazon
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Key ingredients: Phenylalanine, acesulfame potassium
Flavors: Lemonade, Cherry Pomegranate, Raspberry Lemonade, Wild Strawberry
Highlights: They are dirt cheap.

Servings: 44

You know the deal with Crystal Light — the flavors all start out with a sort of "Hmm, that's not bad!" type of feeling; you may even think about any of them, "This is the best Crystal Light flavor!" Then, quickly, there is an aspartame-flavored mutiny, and all you're left with is the horrible taste of artificial sugar. This is the case with every single Crystal Light flavor. Every single time I take a sip, I go through this emotional up and down, and I can’t take it anymore. It just hurts too much.

Related: Is Alkaline Water Good for You … or a Scam? We Asked Experts

Fluid Tactical Variety Pack

Most Upsetting Water Flavoring Smell: Fluid Tactical Electrolyte Drink Mix

$21 for a variety pack from Amazon
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Key ingredients: Potassium citrate, cane sugar, citric acid
Flavors: Fruit Punch, Wild Berry, Lemon Lime, Orange, Grape
Highlights: Cane sugar means no gross aspartame aftertaste.

Servings: 25

Despite the fact that Fluid Tactical’s variety of flavors is truly pretty solid (except the Grape — avoid that at all costs), it’s a little hard to get past the smell. No other non-acidic water flavoring I tried made a smell when the powder hit the water, but Fluid Tactical’s sure did. And let me tell you: That smell was extremely disagreeable. Every single flavor did this. Hey Fluid Tactical — what’s going on with that?

Related: Trader Joe's Sells Frozen Water Bottles for Dirt Cheap So You Can Keep Your Frozen Groceries Cold During the Drive Home

MiO Sugar-Free Berry Variety Naturally Flavored Liquid Water Enhancer

Least Appealing Visual Experience: MiO

$14 for four-bottle variety pack from Amazon
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Key ingredients: Malic acid, citric acid, acesulfame potassium
Flavors: Lemonade, Fruit Punch, Cherry Blackberry, Orange Tangerine
Highlights: If you find any, please let us know.

Servings: 96

MiO is very, very weird. It comes in a tiny plastic bottle, and you squirt it into your water to add some flavor. I was not, nor could I ever have been, ready for how incredibly vivid and bright the colors are. When it hits the water, it looks like blood spreading out across the top of the water in “Lake Placid.” The colors range from “a human being’s blood” all the way to “a space alien’s blood,” so any drink you make with MiO is going to look positively radioactive. 

If you do use it, try a small amount for a less visually arresting experience. All in all, preparing a MiO is a highly unpleasant experience, and I suggest you avoid it.

True Lemon Assorted Beverage & Lemonade Drink Mixes 5-Pack

Biggest Whiff: True Lemon Lemonade

$19 for a five-box variety pack from Amazon
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Key ingredients: Citric acid, cane sugar, and (for some reason) beet juice
Flavors: Original, Mango, Raspberry, Black Cherry, Peach
Highlights: It’s a good idea in theory, and there’s a lot of variety here.

Servings: 50

This one was almost there. The idea to do different types of lemonade is a good one. If you’re thirsty, would you rather go with a glass of lemonade, or "blue raspberry?" No, you want something that’s normal and naturally occurring, and maybe even resembles the classic Country Time lemonade powder. The different lemonade flavors, particularly Peach and Mango, are interesting, but every True Lemon flavor suffers from the same thing: way too much artificial sugar flavoring, which is jarring for a product that claims to "cold-press and crystallize fruit juices and oils" for a "100% natural" flavor. It’s extremely difficult to finish one glass.

Stur Liquid Water Enhancer 4-Pack Founder's Favorites

Worst Overall Water Flavoring: Stur

$24 for a four-bottle variety pack from Amazon
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Key ingredients: Citric acid, stevia extract, vegetable juice
Flavors: Fruit Punch, Strawberry Watermelon, Lemonade, Blueberry/Blackberry
Highlights: It’s sort of fun to squeeze.

Servings: 80

I take no pleasure in bestowing this award, but this madness simply must stop. Stur is out-of-this-world gross. You’re dealing with all the worst parts of MiO, but since the color is consistently murky and grey, this looks a lot more like that weird silver soup that Dumbledore has to eat in that nasty cave. Every flavor is loaded with what tastes like 10 pounds of Sweet ‘N Low, and they’re all pretty undrinkable. Don’t buy this (unless you’re Dumbledore).