What is the Best Water Bottle?
It’s 2023, and there are literally hundreds if not thousands of water bottle brands to choose from that initially can appear very similar. With such a saturated market you might be wondering, what is the best water bottle today? But really, that’s an impossible question to answer since different bottles are better for different situations.
The better question to ask is, which water bottle is best for you based on how you plan to use it?
Heads up, this is a pretty long post with a lot of information. Here's what we'll cover in case you'd like to skip ahead to a certain point.
Our Video Review
Our YouTube video covers the same information in this post, so click the link if you'd rather see the video. Otherwise, keep reading the full post below!
First, a few things to note.
What Type of Water Bottle Do You Need?
Before you even look at any bottles, ask yourself these questions.
Popular and Notable Water Bottles and Brands
Now let’s look at some of the more popular bottles and brands. We'll cover:
Nalgenes are lightweight, inexpensive, dishwasher safe, and they come in many color options. And while all of the bottles in this review are pretty durable overall since most are made of stainless-steel, Nalgenes are also much more dent resistant because of the plastic construction compared to stainless-steel bottles which can dent more easily. Nalgene is also the only bottle brand we looked at that is made in the USA.
Some drawbacks are that they only come in plastic, they don’t have a built-in handle if you don’t count the tether for the lid, they don’t have an insulated version, and there aren’t many options to choose from for lids. It doesn’t feel like the brand has innovated like others have, which has left Nalgene struggling behind other bottles in many aspects. But they still make a great, dependable bottle at an affordable price point, which makes it a good option for many people.
Klean Kanteen Classic (Non-Insulated)
Klean Kanteen has a mix of insulated and non-insulated bottles. Non-insulated Klean Kanteens are lighter than dual-wall bottles, and they have a simple design that is very easy to clean. They’re also notable for how the standard cap has steel on the bottom, so your water never touches plastic. Most other stainless-steel bottles on the market, including Klean Kanteen’s own TKWide Series, have plastic under the lid.
Some drawbacks are that we don’t like the standard loop caps very much, and they aren’t insulated.
Klean Kanteen TKWide Insulated
Klean Kanteen recently came out with their TKWide insulated bottles. They have a range of well-engineered lid options that feel unique compared to other brands. The rigid handle feels very sturdy, and one unique benefit is the Impact Base Cap on the bottom. This is a hollow cap that absorbs an impact if you drop your bottle, which lessens the chance that a dent could affect the vacuum insulation. This is one of the easier bottles to clean because the threads on the bottle are made of small bumps in the stainless-steel instead of traditional thread grooves.
Some downsides are the overall bulk, both in terms of weight and size for a 32-ounce bottle. We also wish the spout cap was a little easier to keep out of the way. You have to snap it onto the metal handle, which isn’t as easy as some other bottles like Takeya, Camelbak, and FJbottle. There aren’t too many color options for Klean Kanteens, so keep that in mind if you’re looking for your own style.
YETI is in the top-tier for brand prestige, and therefore cost. They are notoriously expensive, but their products are generally very high-quality, which has led to a devoted following of fans and supporters. There are six lid options for their Rambler series wide mouth bottles, so you can pick what’s best for you.
Downsides are definitely the cost, but also that these bottles are heavier than some comparable ones on the market.
Hydro Flask is the brand that really catapulted dual-wall insulation into the mainstream, and they’re also a top-tier brand on par with YETI. Their bottles come in a wide range of colors, and they have a good range of well-engineered caps and accessories to choose from, though some are better than others. We love the Flex Straw, but we’re not huge fans of the Flex Chug.
You can expect to pay a premium for any Hydro Flask, but the customer service is very good and the company stands behind their products.
Hydro Flask Trail Series
Another Hydro Flask bottle that’s good to know about is their Trail Series lineup. These bottles have the same great insulation, branding, and look, but Hydro Flask really focused on reducing the weight of the bottle so it’s easier to hike and get around with. This makes it one of the best insulated bottles for hiking compared to really heavy options like Klean Kanteen’s TKWide and YETI’s Rambler.
Takeya is a good mid-range alternative to Hydro Flask, and their Takeya Actives bottles in particular are a great all-around option. The spout lid is a really good design with a wide handle, a spout cap that locks out of the way for when you need to take a drink, and a nice textured grip. It also comes with a matching bottle boot to protect your bottle from dents and scratches.
There aren’t many downsides and this is a jack-of-all-trades kind of bottle, but some people do prefer rigid handles instead of the hinged Takeya design.
Iron Flask is an Amazon-focused knock-off of Hydro Flask, but they’re notable for a few reasons. They come with three cap options, so that helps you figure out which style you like without having to buy more lids. Iron Flask is definitely a good brand to consider if you’re looking for unique color options, including gradients.
One downside is that the caps are good, basic options, but they do feel more standard and less engineered than Hydro Flask’s lids.
ThermoFlask is a bottle brand that we’ve always thought was a ripoff of Takeya, but while editing this video we found out that’s because ThermoFlask is a brand registered by Takeya. So if you notice a lot of similarities between the two, that’s why. But one difference we’ve noticed is that ThermoFlask seems to have more 2-pack options available on Amazon, which means you can get an even better value.
One downside is that there don’t seem to be as many color options.
Stanley has been around a long time, but in recent years it has had a major resurgence thanks to their Quencher Series insulated tumblers. The main difference between this bottle and every other bottle on this list is the built-in handle on the side. Most of the other bottles have handles on the lid, but Stanley’s side-mounted handle, while not our personal favorite, is a big hit with many people. It’s also more tapered at the bottom like a classic tumbler-style, so it fits in more cup holders without needing an adapter.
The biggest downside is the overall bulky design. Yes, this is easier to manage because of the handle and the tapered base, but it’s still a very bulky bottle.
Camelbak Chute Mag
Camelbak is a well-known brand that really made a name for themselves with hydration bladder packs for biking and on longer hikes, but they have also released some solid bottle options as well. They are more reasonably priced than the other well-known brands like Hydro Flask and YETI, and the Chute Mag bottles in particular are very popular because of the magnets that lock the spout cap back when you go to take a sip.
We’re not huge fans of the hinge design though, as it doesn’t flip open as smoothly as other spout caps like Takeya and FJbottle.
Many bottles on this list can be difficult to distinguish at first glance, like Hydro Flasks, Iron Flasks, Takeyas, and ThermoFlasks. On the other end of the spectrum, you have S'well, which is another high-end brand on par with Hydro Flask and YETI. The aesthetic design and sleek look are the main selling points, and they’ve also come out with many narrow mouth lids, including a filter cap that’s unique to this list. They are also the first brand we’ve talked about that has triple-wall insulation.
However, they are pretty expensive, and there aren’t many lid options for their wide-mouth Traveler series bottles.
The next brand is FJbottle. Quick disclosure, they reached out to us and sent us a bottle to test. We told them we would only cover the bottle if we liked it, but after using it for a few weeks, we can honestly say that we like this bottle way more than we thought we would. It’s right up there with Takeya for our favorite spout-style lid.
Like Camelbak’s Chute Mag, it uses magnets to keep the spout cap out of the way when you’re taking a drink, but the hinge design is much better and is easier to open, especially if you’re just using one hand like when you’re driving. The spout cap also takes the least amount of turning to unlock compared to any of the other spout lids, which is also helpful when driving. There’s a silicone grip pad on the bottom that keeps your bottle from sliding around and protects against some scratches, though not on the outside edges. There’s also a strap on the side, and we’ve ended up using this strap all the time. They also include a brush with each bottle to help with cleaning right out of the gate.
One downside is that the spout cap doesn’t flip out of the way as much as Takeya’s version, but you can either tilt your head more or angle the bottle to get around this issue. Also, the rigid handle on top is a little small, but in our opinion the strap on the side more than makes up for this.
Overall, we honestly do like this design, and it might become our go-to bottle for a while.
Steepware’s Everest tumbler was made primarily for one thing, and that’s brewing tea. And they really do have a good product for this purpose. There’s a built-in tea strainer that you can use for loose-leaf tea, or you can use it as an ice strainer if you’re looking for a cooler drink. The strainer is pretty big too, so there’s quite a bit of surface area for your loose-leaf tea to steep. You could always take out the strainer and use it like a regular bottle, but the larger strainer is really the feature that sets this bottle apart.
The last brand we’re discussing is EcoVessel. Their Boulder series bottles might have the most features and accessories packed into one bottle that we’ve seen yet. It has a strainer for ice and fruit, comes with a silicone bottle boot to protect the base of the bottle, and has triple-layer insulation.
Some drawbacks are that the strainer is smaller compared to Steepware’s version, so it’s not as good for loose leaf tea, especially in larger 32-ounce bottles. We’re also not a huge fans of lid tethers that double as handles in general, but that’s more of our personal preference and at least EcoVessel has a wider tether compared to Nalgene. It’s hard to put our finger on it, but the construction feels cheaper in a way compared to some other bottles we’ve reviewed. But with so many extra features and a reasonable price, this bottle has a lot going for it.
Our Recommendations for Best Water Bottles
Now let’s move on to our recommendations by category. We’ll give you a few of our favorites, and we encourage you to check out each one to decide which is the best fit for you.
Best Water Bottle for Hiking
For hiking, we like Nalgenes because they are lightweight, but we highly recommend getting a carrying pouch like this one because the lid tether isn’t much of a handle. For insulated bottles, FJbottle is a great choice because it has both a rigid handle and a strap, and the lid is the spout style that we prefer when hiking. Hydro Flask's Trail Series bottles are also worth a look because they are the lightest insulated design.
Best Water Bottle for Sporting Events
When it comes to sporting events, there are some different considerations compared to hiking. You don’t have to worry as much about the weight of the bottle, and you don’t have to carry it around for long distances. Because of these reasons, it really opens the door on the number of bottles that we recommend, and we really think you should just get a bottle with a spout cap. This cap style lets you get a good amount of water quickly without it all splashing in your face. Our favorite spout cap bottles are Takeya and FJbottle, and keep in mind that ThermoFlask has a 2-pack option with a lid that’s nearly identical to Takeya’s.
Hydro Flask and YETI have pretty good spout cap design options that many people love, but they’re not our favorites for varying reasons. Honorable mention in this category goes to EcoVessel’s Boulder series bottles because they have spout caps and you can use the strainer for ice.
Best Water Bottle for Road Trips
For road trips and driving in general, we like straw lids because you don’t need to tilt your head back and potentially take your eyes off the road. Stanley’s Quencher is a good choice because it has a large volume but still has a better chance of fitting in your car’s cup holder. We also like Hydro Flask’s Flex Straw more than most other straw lids because it’s easier to clean thoroughly without popping off the spout. We don’t recommend using standard lids when driving because it’s so easy to splash water all over your face.
Spout or sip caps are OK if you’re not into straw lids, but we recommend getting one that’s easier to use one-handed. For example, FJbottle and Takeya’s spout lids are a lot easier to open one-handed than Camelbak’s design, and the spout caps are attached so you can’t accidentally drop it like you could with YETI or Hydro Flask.
Bottle doesn't fit in your cup holder?
Best Water Bottle for Commutes
For shorter commutes to and from work, we’d wager you’re probably drinking coffee or tea. Any sip-style lid is pretty good for this, but we really like Hydro Flask’s Flex Sip Lid in particular because, like with their straw lid, their sip lid is easy to disassemble for cleaning. YETI’s Hot Shot Lid is another good option too because you can take a sip from any angle. And you’re probably OK with a smaller bottle like a 16 or 20 ounce, which means you’re less likely to need a cup holder adapter.
Best Bottle for the House or Office
For general use around the house or office, it’s really up to you. Any of these bottles can be a good option since you probably can refill it easily, and the lid style doesn’t need to factor as much in your decision compared to other situations like driving. The Stanley Quencher is a good one to consider though because of the big handle.
Best Water Bottle for Tea
The best bottle for loose-leaf tea or coffee infusing is without a doubt Steepware’s design, with EcoVessel coming in second because the strainer is much smaller and is really better for blocking ice or fruit instead of brewing tea or coffee. For wide mouth Hydro Flasks and similar bottles like Iron Flasks and ThermoFlasks, you can also look at our FlavorFuze Steel infusers. They come with a small and large size infuser, and they are specifically designed to fit wide mouth Hydro Flasks.
Best Water Bottle for Ice
For ice, EcoVessel is a good option because of the built-in strainer. Other spout lids can have ice cubes sneak out once they melt down some. Straw lids are also a good option, and as mentioned before, we really like Hydro Flask’s Flex Straw. If you have a Hydro Flask with a standard Flex Lid, you can also use our SplashPro splash guard. We designed it specifically for Hydro Flask lids so it fits around the insulation.
Best Water Bottle for Fruit Infusing
For fruit infusing, you can also go with Steepware or EcoVessel and add the fruit so it’s loose behind the strainer. Alternatively, try our FlavorFuze Pod fruit infuser. Just add your fruit into it, pop on the lid, then drop it into any wide mouth bottle. Our FlavorFuze Straw infuser is a really good option too for Hydro Flask straw lids. Just slide and snap it onto the straw.
Best Water Bottle for Limiting Plastic Contacting Water
We also wanted to highlight which bottles do the best job limiting how much plastic touches your water. Nalgenes are the only all-plastic bottles in our video, but most of the other bottles also have exposed plastic under the lid that can touch your water. The only bottles that have all-stainless-steel interiors, including under the lid, are Klean Kanteen’s non-insulated classic bottle and EcoVessel’s Boulder series.
Best Spout (Chug) Lid
For spout lids, we love Takeya and FJbottle. They’re a little different from each other, but they both do several things well. The spout cap is easy to open, stays attached so you can’t drop it, and locks into the open position easier than some other designs. They are also easier to carry around because of Takeya’s good handle and FJbottle’s strap.
ThermoFlask has a spout cap that is essentially the same as Takeya, and you can get them in 2-packs for a better deal.
Klean Kanteen's TKWide has a few novel features as well. The threads on the bottle are rounded metal bumps that are much easier to clean thoroughly than traditional threads, and impact base cap can absorb dents that may otherwise have affected the dual wall insulation.
Best Straw Lid
For straw lids, we really like Hydro Flask’s Flex Straw because it’s the easiest straw lid to clean more thoroughly without having to pop off the spout.
Easier to clean thoroughly than other straw lids
Best Sip (Cafe/Commuter) Lid
For sip lids, we also like Hydro Flask’s version, the Flex Sip, because it’s easy to disassemble for cleaning. YETI’s Hot Shot is a good one to consider too because you can sip from any angle.
Best Value Water Bottle
The best value bottles in our opinion are Nalgene, Iron Flask, ThermoFlask, and FJbottle because they’re more affordable but they are still great at what they do.
Best Looking Water Bottle
The best aesthetic design goes to S’well, and brands like Iron Flask and Hydro Flask are great options too with so many color choices.
Best Water Bottle Brand
The best brands in terms of brand power in today’s market are YETI and Hydro Flask, with an honorable mention to Stanley and S’well because of their unique designs really being core to their brand.
Best All-Around Bottle
We thought about giving our recommendation for best all-around bottle, but we decided against it because of the countless variations for each person, like budget, preferences, lifestyle, and plenty of other factors. For us, we will probably use the FJbottle because it impressed us so much, but we encourage you to make your own decision. If you’ve made it to this point in the video, you’ve already heard more than you ever thought you ever needed to know about water bottles so hopefully you have a better idea of which bottle will work best for you.
And that’s it! Hopefully this helps you figure out which bottle works best for you. Again, we'd love it if you could use our links to purchase since we get a small referral fee, but either way we hope this information helps you on your path towards better hydration habits. Thanks again!
Products Mentioned in this Post:
Counterpoint - Why you should Think Twice before Buying a Hydro Flask, YETI, or Stanley Water Bottle
YETI recently released a new bottle with a straw lid, and it’s their answer to Stanley’s Adventure Quencher bottles that took the internet by storm. You may have noticed articles like these predicting that the new YETI straw tumbler will go viral. These kinds of articles come up seemingly every week describing the next big Hydro Flask, YETI, or Stanley product that you should buy.
But we’re here to give the counterpoint with three reasons why you shouldn’t buy a Hydro Flask, YETI, or Stanley.
Our Video Review
Our YouTube video covers the same information in this post, so click the link if you'd rather see the video. Otherwise, keep reading the full post below!
Reason #1 Why You Shouldn't Buy a Hydro Flask, YETI, or Stanley - Affiliate Marketers
Here’s the deal. The people and companies writing these articles are affiliate marketers. They get paid if you click a link and make a purchase, so it’s in their best interest to promote the most popular and expensive items.
Always remember that there is no such thing as a perfect product for every person and situation. Every single product has a drawback or something that can be critiqued. If the article you’re reading doesn’t list at least one negative to be aware of, then you might want to get a second opinion elsewhere.
Reason #2 Why You Shouldn't Buy a Hydro Flask, YETI, or Stanley - You're Mostly Paying for the Logo
We run a business selling products on Amazon and ordering items from China. Our manufacturing and shipping volumes are obviously not nearly as high as Hydro Flask, YETI, or Stanley, but we can take what we’ve learned and use that to take our best guess at what kinds of costs they have.
Now obviously there are many other costs that will bring down Hydro Flask’s true net profit, including customer service, marketing, facilities costs, and employee wages. We’re not going to try to guess what Hydro Flask’s costs are in these categories, but it’s clear to see that a minority of what you pay for with a Hydro Flask bottle is in the bottle itself. If you think of customer service, marketing, the facilities, and the employees as essentially being the brand, then this little logo basically costs you around $30 per bottle.
Most of the price you pay is for the brand, not the bottle.
And though there are surely some differences between brands, we wouldn't be surprised if YETI and Stanley bottles are in this same ballpark.
Let’s compare these costs with Iron Flask, which is a well-established knockoff brand on Amazon. They were close on our insulation test, and they’re almost exactly the same size and shape.
Now some of Hydro Flask’s higher costs are well worth it. They have great customer service, and they make really good products that last a long time. But in our opinion, it’s still a lot to fork over for the logo and we’d rather have a greater percentage of the price we spend go into the product, not the company. YETI’s branding-related costs are possibly even more excessive. Stanleys aren’t quite as extreme, but you're definitely still paying for the logo.
Reason #3 Why You Shouldn't Buy a Hydro Flask, YETI, or Stanley - The Environment
It's a little counter-intuitive at first because one of the most important reasons why you should get a reusable bottle is for the environment. Disposable water bottles are terrible, and upgrading to a reusable bottle is one of the best things you can do on an individual level to reduce plastic consumption.
But the reality is that most people only really need one or two bottles to get them through the day. This why we really don’t like how viral bottles and excessive marketing budgets always push customers to get the next best bottle or color. It's one thing if you if you want a different type of bottle for specific reason, like a smaller one with a sip lid for coffee. But do you really need a 6th color of a 40-ounce bottle when you already have 5 similar bottles?
Sooner or later, the total environmental cost related to manufacturing and shipping your next reusable bottle will be greater than the environmental benefit from the reduction to your plastic consumption.
So before you buy your next reusable bottle, take a second to think about whether you really need it.
And that’s it! You might find it a little weird for our company to tell you to not buy a water bottle given that we’re in the business of making accessories for these bottles. But like always, we try to give our honest thoughts and recommendations that will actually help. And we know we railed on affiliate marketers before, but we did include links to the products we talked about. If you make a purchase after clicking one of the links, then we get a small commission. It helps our small business out, and we appreciate the support so we can continue making unbiased posts and videos like this one. Keep BottlePro in mind for accessories for your large bottles, and happy hydrating!
Which Insulated Bottle is the Best?
Insulated water bottles have been around for a long time, but in the last decade or so their popularity skyrocketed with brands like Hydro Flask and YETI. There’s no doubt that the dual-wall insulation technology in these bottles is a wonderful quality of life improvement compared to non-insulated bottles, especially if you live in a hot region.
But if you look on Amazon today, you can find dozens if not hundreds of brands selling similar insulated bottles. So many people ask, which water bottle has the best insulation?
We tested 10 popular water bottles to see how well they hold ice.
The Best Insulated Bottle - A Video Review
If you'd rather watch the results, then check out our YouTube video below!
We primarily focused on 32-ounce bottles because that size tends tend to be very popular, but we did use some other bottle sizes for certain brands based on what was available. We also included a couple non-insulated bottles as a baseline, a Stanley classic thermos to see how the older style compares, and a triple-wall bottle because we hadn’t tested one before and we were curious if it’s the next best thing.
(click an image below to see the bottle on Amazon)
Because the main purpose of an insulated water bottle is to maintain a temperature for longer periods throughout the day, we measured the weight of ice before and after the test as our main metric. We purchased an ice mold that creates larger sticks to limit the effect that surface area variations in different pieces of ice might have on the melting rate. Then we added one ice stick to each bottle and no water. After four hours, we poured the contents of each bottle into a strainer, then the remaining ice was dumped onto a scale. By comparing the weights of each ice stick before and after, we were able to get an idea of which bottle keeps ice the best. We then repeated this test three times and calculated the cumulative results.
Keep in mind that this experiment was intended just to give an idea if there are any major variations in insulation effectiveness. In an ideal experiment, we would have used a more accurate scale, used similar lids on all of the bottles, measured out the water into each ice mold to ensure the same volumes of ice were made, and used the same volume bottles across the board.
With the disclaimers out of the way, here are the results!
The cumulative results are summarized in the table below. You can see the percentage of ice that melted in the fourth column. A few things jumped out at us.
The Luxe and Stanley Original bottles are in a league of their own with 36% ice loss. One factor to keep in mind with the Luxe bottle is that it’s only 22 ounces, and the smaller volume of air likely made the result look better than it really was. We also haven’t tested or used this bottle at all other than with this insulation test, so we’re not quite ready to recommend it yet. Regardless, this initial test of the triple-wall insulation showed promise, and this type of bottle is worth looking into more. The Stanley result was interesting too, given that this type of bottle has been around for a long time and is basically the OG of insulated bottles.
After that, we have the Klean Kanteen TKWide, the YETI, Takeya, and Hydro Flask with between 49 and 52% ice loss. These results are very close and are certainly within the range of potential error, so there’s not much difference here.
Next is the Iron Flask at 55% ice loss. But keep in mind that we only had a 40oz Iron Flask to test, and the larger volume of air likely made the ice melt faster. Based on this consideration, we feel comfortable assuming that the Iron Flask’s insulation is essentially the same as the previous group.
ThermoFlask was the one outlier of the dual-wall insulation bottles. At 59% ice loss, ThermoFlask seemed to consistently test worse than the other similar bottles.
And the Nalgene and Klean Kanteen classic had the worst results, but given that these are single-wall bottles and not insulated, this result was to be expected. We mostly just included them in the test as a baseline because we could see when the ice had finished melting in the Nalgene, and we were curious if the single-wall stainless-steel design would do any better.
When we take a step back to think about these results overall, we can reach a few conclusions.
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.
My Soda Habit Story
I'll be 35 years old tomorrow, and I've had a soda habit since I was a kid. Growing up, it wasn't uncommon for me to drink 2, 3, or even 4 sodas per day. As you might guess, I've also been overweight most of my life too, which is certainly not a coincidence. But at 35, I finally kicked my soda habit. I'm down almost 10 pounds this year, and best of all, I feel like what I'm doing is sustainable.
Here's what's working for me, and hopefully it'll help you on your journey too.
Step 1: Know the Problem
If you're reading this, then you've likely already heard or read about the major health issues that can result from regularly eating or drinking high levels of sugar.
And a lot of other people have too, judging Google Trends. The interest-over-time for "Low Sugar" has been slowly-but-steadily increasing over the last several years.
Google Trends - Searches for "Low Sugar" for the Previous Five (5) Years
Of all the ways that consumers regularly ingest sugar, sugary beverages are the primary culprits. These include:
According to the American Heart Association, the maximum recommended sugar intake is 36 grams of sugar per day for men. For women, it's 25 grams. Each one of the drink examples above is either right at those limits or way above them, all from one drink.
Seeing how bottle and can sizes vary, it's also interesting to look at the sugar concentration as shown below.
One of the more surprising realizations for most people is how most fruit juices really aren't good for you. Sure they provide some benefits like vitamins and other nutrients, so in that way they are better than sodas. But the sugar content per ounce for Minute Maid orange juice is essentially the same as a Coke!
There are plenty of people smarter than me that study this topic for their day jobs, so I'll leave it to them to provide additional details and research about sugar and health. Here are some of the more helpful articles we've read.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Guidance on Added Sugars
WebMD: How Sugar Affects Your Body
American Heart Association: How Much Sugar is too Much?
Healthline: 11 Reasons Why Too Much Sugar is Bad for You
And keep in mind that diet sodas aren't free-and-clear of problems either. There is growing evidence that drinks with artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose are bad for you as well, as discussed here.
Step 2: Find Your Real Motivation
You can always have a combination of motivations, and many of these are related (like weight loss and long-term health). But whatever the situation, the key is to figure out what primary focus and goal really motivates you.
A Personal Story - My New Motivation
After reading articles about how sugar essentially acts like a poison and how sodas in particular are "empty calories" that provide no nutritional benefit, I knew it was in my best interest to quit.
Each time I tried to change, I would start off a few days or weeks without sodas, but then I would slip and start drinking them again. The most common backfiring strategies I used were:
The reason that these backfiring strategies worked on me was that I hadn't determined what my real motivation was yet. I said I wanted to lose weight, and that can work for many people. But the problem, for me, is that I'm fairly comfortable in my own skin already. Also, I have always been overweight so it's not easy for me to truly realize how much better I might feel to achieve a healthy weight. It was more abstract.
But as I got older, something happened. I started thinking more about how little time we truly have, and how chronic diseases that we always read about and learned of back in school are very real. And then someone very close to me passed away. He smoked most of his life, and though he was finally able to quit a few years ago, by then the damage was done. He developed cancer and passed away earlier this year. He urged me to improve my habits now and to learn from his life experiences. This changed my motivational focus.
Instead of just wanting to lose weight, my new focus became achieving better long-term health. This seemingly small change in my focus and goals made all the difference for me.
Step 3: Strategies for Change
Once you know what really motivates you, it's time to start thinking about how you'll make changes.
There are many strategies that you can use to cut out soda from your diet. Here are a few.
A Personal Story - My New Routine
Honestly, I've used all of the strategies listed above to varying degrees. But the ones that helped me the most are #1 and #4. By drinking more water, I've been able to feel fuller and am less likely to drive to the store for a soda. And by using a flavored drink alternative, I can still take a break from "boring" water each day and satisfy my need for flavor.
This is what's working for me.
Need another bottle? Check out Hydro Flask's Amazon store.
Step #4 (If Needed): Don't Be Afraid to Reset
Stopping any habit can have its ups and downs. It took me over a dozen attempts over the years before I reached sustainable change. Don't feel ashamed if you don't succeed initially. Re-evaluate your motivations and strategies, and keep trying.
The Colorado National Monument is a relatively lesser-known park, at least compared to nearby Arches and Canyonlands in Moab, Utah. But as Grand Junction locals know, that almost makes it better. You won't get the massive crowds like you do around Moab, and the scenery is out of this world. Here's our recap of our hike on the amazing Independence Monument hike, starting from the lower trailhead.
Location, Parking, and Services
Hydration Products and Accessories We Used while Hiking
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Try searching for things like "infusers" or "hiking".
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