What's the Big Deal with Hydro Flasks?
Today we’re answering the question, why are Hydro Flasks so popular and expensive, and are they still worth it in 2022 and 2023? Are Hydro Flasks good, and are they worth the price?
At BottlePro, we’ve been involved in the niche world of large water bottles since we released our first cup holder adapter in 2015, so we’ve seen and tested our fair share of bottles. Here we’ll give you a quick history of Hydro Flask, and by the end of it you’ll know more than you thought you ever needed to know about water bottles. Then we’ll give our thoughts and recommendations about Hydro Flasks in particular, and we’ll also let you know some good alternatives to Hydro Flasks in 2022 and 2023, especially if you’re looking for a gift for the Holidays.
We know you're busy!
If you're looking for less expensive alternatives to Hydro Flask, here are some of our favorites.
Keep reading the rest of the post or watch the video for more details.
Click the links below to see these products on Amazon
Why are Hydro Flasks so Popular and Expensive, and What are Good Alternatives? (A Video Review)
If you'd rather watch a video than read a post, you're in luck! In this video, we review the history of Hydro Flasks and give our recommendations on whether it's still worth buying one in 2022 or 2023. We'll also let you know some good alternatives. The video mostly reviews the same info as the blog post below.
What's with big water bottles?
For most people, water bottles are not a huge part of their life or their daily routine. But many people won’t leave their house without their favorite water bottle by their side, and this group of people is growing every day. Large reusable water bottles are winning over an increasing number of people for many reasons, with the most common being to improve hydration habits, to limit plastic waste, and to keep a cool drink nearby on a hot day (or vice-versa).
Even if you don’t think much about bottles, we bet you’ve noticed more and more people carrying around awkwardly-large water bottles, particularly in the last 5-10 years. The bottle brand with the most meteoric rise in popularity during that period is without a doubt Hydro Flask. But when you first look up Hydro Flask, one of the first things you’ll notice is the price tag. And today, with high inflation and an economic downturn, budgeting is becoming more essential for many people and families.
Which makes many people ask, why are Hydro Flasks so popular and expensive? And are Hydro Flasks still worth buying in 2023?
When did Hydro Flasks Become Popular?
Before Hydro Flask, the most common reusable water bottles that focused on the outdoor recreation industry were plastic bottles, like Nalgenes, or single-wall stainless steel bottles like Klean Kanteens. Both bottle types have their own benefits and drawbacks, which we go into more detail in our previous post. There were also some insulated bottles like Stanleys, but they had a mostly rugged design that focused on utility. Each bottle brand had a loyal following in the outdoor recreation community, and to many outsiders it seemed like the market was saturated.
But then came along Hydro Flask, and everything changed. The company was founded in 2009 and quickly began building a cult-like following of devoted users in the outdoor recreation community, particularly in Hawaii and on the western US coastal states. The company moved to Bend, Oregon, which is where Hydro Flask is still headquartered today.
By 2012 as Hydro Flask really started gaining popularity, you may have started noticing people, usually Gen Z’s or Young Millennials, carrying these bottles. Popularity continued to steadily increase until it peaked in 2019, when the Gen Z the subculture known as “VSCO girls” received a lot of press and attention.
Since peaking in 2019, Hydro Flask’s search popularity based on Google Trends has fallen significantly. But the trend curve has mostly leveled off and continues to be significant, vastly out-performing previous market leaders like Nalgene and Klean Kanteen.
Why did Hydro Flasks Become so Popular?
Even when you know that Hydro Flasks are popular, that still doesn’t answer the question of why they became popular. So how did Hydro Flask become such a staggering success as a brand and company? There are a few reasons, including having a high-quality product, marketing very effectively, and honestly, having some lucky timing.
Hydro Flask had a great product, but so did many other similar bottle brands at the time. Nalgenes had color options and are very durable. Klean Kanteens had the easy-to-clean, plastic and BPA-free stainless steel option covered. Stanleys and other thermos-style mugs had insulation. But Hydro Flask was the first company to effectively combine all those benefits into one bottle.
Even still, the rise of Hydro Flask cannot be fully explained without also considering the rise of social media, particularly Instagram. Instagram was launched in 2010, and it quickly became the must-have app for younger generations. With Hydro Flask starting around the same timeframe and targeting similar customers, they were a natural fit. Hydro Flask began gaining traction from influencers, followers, and fans posting pictures of their colorful bottles, and with a healthy dose of FOMO, Hydro Flasks quickly became the go-to water bottles for eco-conscious Gen Z’s and Millennials.
There is no doubt that Hydro Flask would not have become as widespread and popular without Instagram.
Of course, all those factors don’t matter without execution, and you really have to hand it to Hydro Flask with what they accomplished. The company is a great example of what effective planning and execution can accomplish with a little bit of luck and timing.
Is a Hydro Flask Worth Buying in 2023?
So now you know more than you ever thought you needed to know about the history of Hydro Flask. The original question remains: is a Hydro Flask still worth buying in 2023? With a price tag of roughly $50 for their 40oz, it’s a sizeable purchase for most people and families.
The answer is a little subjective and depends on your situation.
If you’re doing OK financially and you want to buy a great product that will last for many years, it’s hard to go wrong with a Hydro Flask. They make great products, and we’ve been using Hydro Flasks for over a decade. Invest in a 32oz or 40oz bottle and you’ll find it much easier to stay hydrated wherever you go, and you’ll look great doing it. Or if you really want a well-known bottle brand but aren’t into Hydro Flasks, consider YETI, which also makes a great range of bottles that are at similar price points.
But it’s almost 2023, not 2012. Back in 2012, there weren’t many other alternatives for insulated, colorful water bottles. Nowadays, we see new bottle brands pop up every month. And honestly, many of them are just as good as Hydro Flasks and come with more accessories, all for a lower price.
Cost for the Logo
Based on what we’ve seen, you can just think of Hydro Flask’s logo as $10-$20 of your purchase. For many people, why spend that extra cost when you can get a great bottle from a company like Iron Flask, ThermoFlask, Takeya, Simple Modern, COLDEST, RTIC, or Hydro Cell (and on and on and on).
What are Good Alternatives to Hydro Flask in 2023?
With the ever-expanding list of companies selling Hydro Flask ripoffs, we recommend sticking to the established competitors to make sure quality is up to par. Here are a few of our favorite alternatives to Hydro Flask in 2022 and looking ahead to 2023. We stuck to 40oz bottles for consistent comparisons.
Gift for Two (or a Spare for You!)
There are a lot of water bottle options in 2022, with more certainly coming onto the market in 2023. Many of these are great alternatives to expensive Hydro Flasks. But while each person may have their own reasons to buy from one brand or another, we believe the best water bottle is the one you’re using (as long as it’s reusable). Get a bottle for yourself, a friend, or a family member, and it’ll help improve hydration habits while also minimizing plastic waste from single-use bottles. And those are both wonderful reasons to invest $20-$50 in a new bottle that you can reuse for years to come.
Our 3rd Generation Adapter
When we released our first version BottlePro cup holder adapter in 2015, we had no idea if it was going to sell. But we used our prototypes for a few weeks and loved having our big Nalgenes close at hand while driving, so we figured this product could help others too. Soon we realized that many other people really wanted a way to keep their large Hydro Flask, Nalgene, YETI, Klean Kanteen, Takeya, or other large bottle nearby while driving, instead of having it roll around on the passenger seat.
Fast-forward 7 years. We're on our 3rd generation adapter, BottlePro Max, which works for many more situations. Let's see what it looks like and what you can expect.
See our Release Video below for a video summary, or you can read through the post below!
BottlePro Max Release Video
What to Expect
Your BottlePro Max will come in a box like this. Open it, and you’ll see an insert with info about our company. Just contact us if any issues come up.
BottlePro Max is our biggest adapter yet, and it’ll fit with even more of your larger containers, including most bottles between 12 and 48 ounces.
Our logo is imprinted on the top. There’s a slot on the side for mug handles, and the base has soft-grip pads for stability and to prevent scratches. BottlePro Max now includes flexible centralizer (stabilizer) tabs, and this allows many more bottles to fit securely, even smaller diameters bottles and tumblers. With larger bottles, the tabs might make the fit feel too tight. In that case, just pull out the centralizing tabs, and you can store them in the bottom recessed area. They’re easy to press back into place when you need them again.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when you install your BottlePro Max. Don’t just insert the BottlePro Max. You probably won’t be able to tighten it.
Instead, expand the base some first (twist the top COUNTERCLOCWISE) so the feet will press up against the sides of the cup holder when you insert the adapter. THEN twist the top clockwise to tighten.
Don't forget to pull up on the adapter to make sure it’s a secure fit and doesn’t come out.
Congratulations! You can now keep your big bottle close at hand while on the road! If you run into any Issues or questions, just send us a message. And don’t forget to check out our other accessories for your big bottles.
So Many Options
With so many water bottle options available, you might be asking which one is the best for hiking. Here, we’ll review our favorites and let you know our recommendations.
We know you're busy, so here's the short-short version.
Keep reading the rest of the post or watch the video for more details.
Click the links below to see these products on Amazon.
The Best Water Bottles for Hiking - A Video Review
In this video, we discuss the benefits and drawbacks of some of the most popular and iconic water bottles, including Nalgenes, Klean Kanteens, and Hydro Flasks. If you'd rather read through our recommendations, keep scrolling down for the full post (the video and written post cover the same info).
Our Recommendations for Water Bottles for Short Hikes (1-3 Hours)
Today we’re focusing on short hikes between 1-3 hours in length. For these length hikes, a large water bottle is usually enough to keep you hydrated.
If you’re looking for full-day or multi-day hydration solutions, that’s when you start getting into bladder packs and filtration systems. We’ll cover those in a future post.
When it comes to the bottle brand, we love the classics: Nalgenes, Klean Kanteens, and Hydro Flasks. These happen to be three of the more popular water bottle brands for outdoor enthusiasts, and for good reason.
There are TONS of other great brands and bottles out there, including YETIs, Takeyas (we LOVE Takeyas), and Camelbaks to name a few, but for the sake of time, we’re limiting our review to Nalgenes, Klean Kanteens, and Hydro Flasks because each one marked a new milestone in hydration bottles for hiking.
Nalgene: The Original Hiking-Focused Bottle
Nalgenes are the original reusable water bottles that focused on outdoor recreation, and they're still a great option today.
What about BPAs?
BPAs, or bisphenal A, are chemicals that have been linked to certain health issues. We're not medical experts, so we'll refer to the Mayo Clinic on this one.
There was a lot of press about BPAs in Nalgene bottles in the early 2000s, but they changed their manufacturing formulas in 2008 to make sure their bottles are all BPA-free.
Who Should Get a Nalgene?
Overall, we recommend getting a Nalgene if you’re trying to limit your spending or are very focused on carrying as little weight as possible. Even though they’re not the premium option on this list, they’re still great bottles that will keep you hydrated for many years. And they're also made in the USA if that influences your buying decision!
Klean Kanteens: The Original Stainless Steel Hiking-Focused Bottle
Klean Kanteens started around 2004 and were the first stainless steel bottles focused on hiking and outdoor recreation. They really started taking off when Nalgenes were in the news for BPAs. At first they had non-insulated bottles, but more recently they’ve expanded their line to include dual-wall vacuum sealed options.
The Newer, Better Klean Kanteen Handle
What about Klean Kanteen's Insulated TKWide Bottles?
Who Should Get a Klean Kanteen?
To sum it up, we recommend getting a Klean Kanteen if you want to avoid drinking out of a plastic bottle but still want to be cost-conscious.
Just remember that Klean Kanteen has a mix of insulated and non-insulated bottles, make sure to pay attention when buying to make sure you’re getting what you want. But either way we think you’ll be happy with one of these bottles.
Hydro Flask: The Premium Insulated Hiking-Focused Bottle
Hydro Flask is arguably the most popular water bottle on the planet in 2022. These bottles burst onto the scene in 2009 as one of the first major bottles with dual wall vacuum insulation. With a great product and a healthy dose of FOMO through social media, they became staples of certain subcultures.
Who Should Get a Hydro Flask?
We recommend getting a Hydro Flask if you want your drink to stay cool through your hike and if you want to get a specific color that fits your style.
But at the same time, we realize that Hydro Flasks are expensive, and some of the cost you pay is just for the logo on the front. Many people argue that you can get a better deal and more cap options with similar brands like Iron Flask, Thermoflask, or Takeya and they’re not necessarily wrong. But if you decide to invest in a Hydro Flask, we doubt you’ll be disappointed, and you’ll have a fantastic bottle that you can reuse for years to come.
What about Hydro Flask's Trail Series?
Slings: A Useful Add-On for Hands-Free Hiking
With any of these three bottle brands, we recommend also buying a carrying sling for hands-free hiking with your big bottle. At BottlePro, we have a couple options available, but there are plenty of other options to choose from in today’s market. Here are a few to consider, and look at the listings to be sure to make sure you're getting the right size for your bottle!
Hydration is Key
At BottlePro, our motto is Health Through Hydration. One major health risk that can be avoided through proper planning is to have enough water for your hike.
We've lived in the desert in Utah and western Colorado for 10 years, we've done A LOT of hikes in these areas where planning water needs is absolutely critical. We learned early on how essential it is to bring more water than you think you might need.
In this video, we talk through how much water you should bring on a hike, including best practices and recommendations so you can adventure safely.
And one major recommendation that we didn't specifically say in the video is to time your hike properly. If it's July and you're in the hot desert, you might want to start hiking before sunrise and finish by noon. We indirectly covered this in the video when talking about taking temperatures into account, but we wish we had made this recommendation more explicitly in the video. You wouldn't believe the number of hikers we've seen around here start long trails in the middle of the summer heat with just a small disposable water bottle!
Hiking is a great activity both for your physical and mental health, but if not planned properly, hiking can be dangerous. Every year, there are stories about people who have close calls or even die while hiking due to dehydration or hyperthermia, aka an overheated body.
Most incidents involve people who are hiking a new trail and may be unfamiliar with the area and the climate. This is especially true with tourists in desert areas like in Arizona, California, Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado, but it can happen to anyone, anywhere.
Here we’ll review best practices and guidelines to help you stay properly hydrated on your next hiking adventure.
Step 1: Research Your Route
The first rule of hiking is to plan ahead and know how long you’ll be gone. There’s a big difference between a 3 mile flat hike in the forest and a 3 mile hike with 2000’ of elevation gain and no shade in the desert.
Always look up the trail details from a site like:
(Click on an image below to link that site's Mt Garfield hike entry as an example.)
Step 2: Estimate How Long You'll Be Hiking
In general, it takes most people between 30 and 60 minutes to hike 1 mile. That’s a pretty big range, and your rate depends on a variety of factors including your own personal fitness, the elevation gain, the terrain (like if it’s sandy or involves scrambling), and the weather. And if you have children in your group or if you like to stop to take a lot of pictures, it will almost certainly take longer.
Again, Alltrails.com is a great resource you can use to estimate the hiking time, and it’s based on results from other hikers so it takes factors like elevation gain and terrain into account. But it may still be a good idea to plan on needing more time if you’re not in the best shape or if you’re hiking a new trail.
Step 3: Estimate How Much Water You’ll Need
According to REI, a good rule-of-thumb is to have roughly 17 ounces (a half-liter) of water for each hour of moderate activity in moderate temperatures.
You’ll have to use your own judgement on how to adjust that number based on factors for each hike, like your familiarity with the hike, your fitness level and health, your age, the temperature and humidity, and the elevation gain and terrain.
If you’re new to hiking or are trying a new route, we recommend doubling the rule-of-thumb and bringing 34 ounces, or roughly 1 liter, per hour that you expect to be hiking, especially if temperatures will be over 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once you get through these steps, you should have a good idea on how much water you should bring on your next adventure. Check out our next video to see our recommendations on the best water bottles and bladders to bring on hikes.
Which Hydro Flask Lid Should You Get?
Congrats, you have a Hydro Flask (or are thinking about getting one soon)! It's hard enough deciding which Hydro Flask bottle to get, but have you also thought about which lid you'll use?
Hydro Flask has four (4) lids available right now on Amazon: Flex Cap, Flex Sip, Flex Straw, and Straw Lid.
In this video, we go over how each one works, what we like and don't like about each design, and how we use them.
If you'd rather read through the review than watch the video, see the written summary below.
Hydro Flask has four lid options, and you might be asking which lid is best for you. We've reviewed and tested each lid extensively, and here's what we think. Links are in the description.
Which one is best for you? Well, it depends on how you want to use it, but we can tell you how we like to use them.
Make It Even Better with a SplashPro Splash Guard
Make It Even Better with a FlavorFuze Steel
Make It Even Better with a FlavorFuze Straw Infuser
Straw Lid (Original Design)
Also works with a FlavorFuze Straw Infuser
What's a Hydro Flask Flex Sip Lid?
Hydro Flask released the Flex Sip lid in early 2020, and it's a fantastic addition to their product lineup. Now you can take a sip with a quarter-turn of the lid, instead of having to take it all the way off
But the lid has quite a few moving parts, and knowing how to take it apart for cleaning and then put it back together may not be intuitive at first. Our quick 60 second review will show you how to use, disassemble, clean, and reassemble your Hydro Flask Flex Sip lid.
Where Can You Buy a Flex Sip Lid?
With summer in full gear and news of heat waves across the country, make sure you stay safe out there. Keep cool by adding ice to your bottle, and if you're using a Hydro Flask with the Flex Cap, use SplashPro to keep your ice at bay. Designed specifically to fit wide mouth Hydro Flasks. It also fits Iron Flasks and Takeyas, but not Nalgenes.
Follow along as we tackle this tough, but fun hike!
Located in Palisade, Colorado off of G Road.
Hydration products we used (follow the links to Amazon)
1) Hydro Flask 40oz Wide Mouth
2) BottlePro Cup Holder Adapter
3) SplashPro Splash Guard
4) HikerPouch Leather Bottle Sling
Here's what we think about Hydro Flasks's new Flex Straw Lid
We've seen a lot of questions like:
With all of Hydro Flask's cap options (not to mention 3rd party versions), it can be a little confusing. To help keep things straight, we're reviewing Hydro Flask's new Flex Straw cap and will let you know if it's worth a buy.
See our video review below
And if you'd rather read the review, keep scrolling past the video.
What's Different with the New Design?
At first the new lid may not seem very different, but there are a few key changes.
Change #1: The Handle
The previous straw lid had a hard plastic handle on one side that was basically a finger-loop. Some common complaints were that it was uncomfortable, especially when you're juggling holding other items too.
The Flex Straw cap solves many of these criticisms. The handle is the same style as their Flex Cap and Flex Sip lids.
This is a much improved handle design that we are totally on board with.
Change #2: Easier Cleaning
Change #3: Leak Resistance
Another common complaint of the previous straw lid was that it could leak fairly easily. The spout wouldn't "snap" into place, so it if wasn't pushed all the way down by accident, then you could experience some leaking if your bottle tipped over.
Based on our initial tests, the new Flex Straw lid seems to be less likely to leak. The main reason is that the spout "snaps" into the locked position. Once you hear the click, then you should be good to go and not have to worry about leaks.
We really like this change. The lid just feels a lot more secure and better-engineered than before.
Change #4: Insulation
The old cap really didn't insulate very well at all, but the new Flex Straw cap changes that. Hydro Flask added their Honeycomb(TM) insulation to the design, and the silicone insert also helps.
One of the main reasons you probably have a Hydro Flask is to have an insulated bottle, so this is a welcome improvement.
Want to Make Your Flex Straw Lid Even Better?
Try out our FlavorFuze Straw fruit infuser. It's a clip-on infuser that is compatible with both the old and new Hydro Flask straw lid designs.
Loose Leaf Tea in Hydro Flasks - A Match Made in Heaven
Many people search Google for things like:
We get a lot of questions about this too. Hydro Flasks are primarily used for water, but plenty of people would love it if they could have different flavors, like fruit infused water, coffee, or tea. In particular, tea is what we're focusing on today.
And check out our FlavorFuze Steel Mini demo video at the end!
Can You Make Hot Tea in a Hydro Flask?
And unlike some concerns with plastic and even aluminum, from what we have found, stainless steel won't leach chemicals or pollutants into your beverage. Flaske has a great article covering more details about the question of "Are Stainless Steel Water Bottles Safe to Drink From." So does Elemental Bottles, where they recommend looking for bottles that are either made from #304 or 18/8 stainless steel (Hydro Flasks are made from 18/8). We highly recommend checking these articles out if you have any other questions or concerns.
Best Hydro Flask Bottles for Tea
You should also consider what type of Hydro Flask you want to use, since that can have an effect on which type of tea infuser will work best.
Tea Infusers for Wide Mouth Hydro Flasks (like the 12/16/20oz Coffee Bottles and also 32oz/40oz Bottles)
Now that we know putting hot tea in stainless steel bottles like Hydro Flasks is safe, let's look at the best ways to do it!
OPTION #1: MAKE IT SEPARATELY
Historically, the most common way to enjoy tea in your Hydro Flask has been to brew it outside of your Hydro Flask first. Then just pour the tea into your flask, and you're good to go. This is great for many people because they already have tea-making equipment.
You'll also need to go this route if you are using a narrow-mouth Hydro Flask bottle.
OPTION #2: MAKE IT IN YOUR HYDRO FLASK
You can save yourself some extra dishes and time by brewing your tea right in your Hydro Flask!
But this option can be a little trickier because not all tea infusers and strainers will fit in Hydro Flask bottles. The inside diameter of wide mouth Hydro Flasks is right around 2.1 inches across, so be sure that your strainer is smaller so it can fit!
FlavorFuze Steel Mini Demo
Follow us for more hydration-focused updates!
Try searching for things like "infusers" or "hiking".
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