Hydro Flask vs. Stanley: Who Makes the Best On-The-Go Steel Water Bottle?

They both keep things cool. But which is ice cold?

June 1, 2023 12:34 pm
Two water bottles from Hydro Flask and Stanley on a water like background
Hydration is key. Which water bottle reigns supreme?
Getty Images / InsideHook

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Water bottles are like the Breakfast Club. There’s one for every archetype. Outdoorsy folks (Nalgene, preferably covered in national parks stickers), men of fashion (Hitch, an expensive-looking bottle that includes an inner tumbler) and unexpectedly, Insta influencers (Stanley tumbler, though how a 100-plus-year-old company took this title is surprising).

But what do you get when you want a water bottle that doesn’t say… anything about you? Or perhaps it says simply: I like to drink beverages on the go. So we took two new designs from two of the most famous names in vessels — Hydro Flask and Stanley — and put them to the test.

What We Tested For:

Leak-proof: Your water bottle should be sealed like Fort Knox. Who wants to be on an airplane and realize the vessel you diligently filled after security has saturated every electronic, book and magazine?

Sanitary: The mouth spout of the bottle part has to be covered. If you’ve ever dropped your water bottle on the petri dish which is the gym floor, you’ll appreciate this one. So a bottle must have a covering on the drinking area. Second, it must be easy to clean. These need a regular scrub-down or roll through the dishwasher, and the bottles with too narrow of an opening are annoying.

Lightweight: If you’re putting it in a structured bag, you won’t want unnecessary weight dragging it down. The heavier the bottle is, the more time it retains heat or cold. But in your normal day-to-day, do you really need a bottle of water to stay icy for three days? Probably not.

Design: Your bottle should also look pretty good. Avoid overly obnoxious designs that you might hate later on, and just stick to something clean and simple.

How They Performed:


Maybe a little small
A couple lid issues

What we liked: It’s a light 0.6 pounds, and the spun-steel, double-wall vacuum insulation means it keeps in the cold excellently. It’s got a leak-proof, drink-through lid (we subjected it to some vigorous shaking for testing). It’s easy to clean both the bottle and the lid, and it has an easy-to-grip surface.

What we didn’t: As far as volume, we’d like just a little more — though it’s exactly Venti sized (20 ounces) if you’re going to use it for coffee. (There’s a size smaller but not a size bigger.) It seems like there might be a small design flaw when it comes to getting the last few gulps of water. And as one reviewer said, it’s surprisingly loud when you snap it shut, so don’t do it at your kid’s piano recital.


Trails yes, boardroom maybe
Wear-and-tear questions

What we liked: It’s also a light 0.62 pounds with more spun steel and another double-wall vacuum, which means you can expect A+ temperature control. The signature Hydro Flask leak-proof, handled twist-off lid can be swapped for a user-friendly Flex Chug Cap. It’s easy to clean both the bottle and the lid. And as an environmental bonus (though it did not affect our assessment of the bottle), the company introduced a trade-in and recycling program for old Hydro Flask bottles (turn one in, get $5 off your next purchase).

What we didn’t: It looks trail- and gym-ready for sure, but it might be a little bright for the boardroom. The sleek metallic finish makes us wonder what it’ll look like after some wear and tear (we didn’t have the heart to take a Brillo to the side).


Hydro Flask did a great job in designing a trail-ready water bottle that most — if not all — of us can carry around town and bring to work, too. Go for the Flex Chug Cap too which makes guzzling your water that much easier. And kudos to the company for going eco-friendly. Stanley brings the cool factor, and it’s a great vessel if you want your bottle to do double-duty between water and coffee. Even though this new design gets a ton of five-star reviews, the company is so design and user-focused, we’re guessing the lid that we had trouble with might get an adjustment down the line.

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