Odds are, you carry a water bottle as part of your EDC kit. It's 2022 after all: sustainability is a movement, a buzzword, a lifestyle, and part of being sustainable is eschewing single-use plastic water bottles. (Here are my thoughts on reusable plastic options .)
I've noticed when it comes to insulated water bottles, folks are pretty brand-loyal, and usually to whichever bottle they try first — it's sort of a relationship of convenience. After all, insulated water bottles are all pretty comparable, so if you've found a jug that works for you, why switch it up?
Sure, that's logical, but what if you picked a water bottle that works pretty well, but there's another out there that works really well. Wouldn't you want to know?
In the spirit of discovering which insulated water bottle is the best, I decided to test two very popular options: Hydro Flask's 32 Ounce Wide Mouth Bottle, and Yeti's Rambler 26 Ounce Bottle. I tested the bottles using three metrics: temperature retention (both hot and cold), aesthetics and durability. Here's what I learned.
When it comes to temperature retention, Hydro Flask brings the heat
I decided my first test of the water bottles would be the most practical and straightforward: heat retention. One of the most common metrics that water bottle manufacturers use to market their products' capabilities is how long a beverage will stay warm when stored in the bottle. Hydro Flask claims its bottle will keep liquid hot for up to 12 hours, while Yeti says its Rambler will keep things piping hot for 6 or more.
At 12:30 pm, I boiled enough water (the boiling point for water is 212 degrees Fahrenheit at sea level, in case you forgot) to fill each bottle to the brim, packed them in my car and took them on a camping trip. At 6:30 pm, I checked both bottles, and the temperature reading was the same: 180 degrees Fahrenheit. I left the bottles sealed overnight, and checked again at 6am; this time, the Hydro Flask's liquid was a noticeable 20 degrees warmer.
Both bottles are durable, but the Yeti is more so
I decided to test the durability of the bottles by running them over with my car — just kidding. (Although others have done it.) However, I did decide to drop both bottles from the top of my Go Fast Camper, which sits on top of our Ford F-350 — a 10-foot drop. As the picture makes clear, the Yeti is far superior when it comes to durability — the powder coating preventing scratching, and there wasn't a single dent from impact. My Hydro Flask, on the other hand, did not emerge unscathed.
Beauty is in the eye of the bottle-holder
Aesthetics are subjective — as are preferences, which makes both hard to measure. Therefore for this category of testing, I decided to go with available colorways and customization. Yeti's Rambler comes in nine colorways, and Hydro Flask's comes in 12, with the additional option to customize your own.
Both bottles are sleek and minimal, and offer multiple lid and size options. Many of us apply stickers to our bottles for a unique look anyway, but if you're the type of person who appreciates options, Hydro Flask is the clear winner here.
The Verdict: Hydro Flask Wins
Although Yeti's bottle is definitely more bombproof, overall, when it came to aesthetics, temperature retention and capability, Hydro Flask was the clear winner. Both bottles are similarly priced: Yeti rings in at $40, while Hydro Flask costs $45. If you're going to be doing some rugged adventuring and don't care about colors, stick with Yeti. But if you prioritize customization, availability and temperature consistency, Hydro Flask is the way to go.