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.
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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.
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.
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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!
After debuting just over 10 years ago, Hydro Flasks quickly gained traction as the go-to insulated water bottle. For many people, the simple benefit of having a bottle that is vacuum-insulated was enough of a selling point. For others, it's the clean, yet stylish design. Whatever the reason, Hydro Flask continues to build its following and shows no signs of slowing down.
It's only natural what happened next. A whole range of accessories have been developed with the goal of making life with these amazing but cumbersome bottles a little easier.
We here at BottlePro got involved in this niche early with our cup holder adapter, so we've seen it grow over the years, including new notable accessories coming available fairly often. Here are some of our favorites for the best accessories for Hydro Flasks in 2022 (focusing on 32 and 40 ounce bottles).
ACCESSORIES FOR GETTING AROUND
The most common accessories for Hydro Flasks involve making it easier to bring your bottle wherever your adventures take you. These include cup holders, bottles slings, and handles.
#1: Cup Holder Adapter
#2: Stylish Bottle Sling
#3: Heavy-Duty Bottle Sling
#4: Leather Bottle Sling
#5: Paracord Handle
ACCESSORIES FOR PROTECTION
Next, consider investing in something that can help keep your bottle looking great for years to come.
#6: Bottle Sleeve
#7: Bottle Boot
ACCESSORIES FOR FLAVOR AND ICE
Now that your bottle is easier to bring along with you on your adventures, it's time to think about ways to improve what you're actually drinking!
#7: Flavor Infuser
#8: Ice Alternative
#9: Splash Guard / Ice Stopper
ACCESSORIES FOR CLEANING
It's not the sexiest category, but you should certainly put some thought into cleaning your Hydro Flask.
#10: Brush Kit
Bonus: Bottle Tablet Cleaners
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