Review: VSSL’s Compact Flask Blends Functional Style and Substance

If you've never owned a flask before, let this minimalist example be your first

October 14, 2021 12:20 pm
The VSSL Flask contains all the essentials you'll need for a backcountry drink
The VSSL Flask contains all the essentials you'll need for a backcountry drink

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Over the years, I’ve developed a habit of drinking in public. I wouldn’t describe it as needless intoxication that could land me in the back of a cruiser, but rather, the kind of drinking in which I go for a walk with alcohol in hand, savoring every sip as I reflect on my day like the bohemian millennial I am. I love spending time outside. I like to drink. And I enjoy doing both at the same time.

And yet, my moral compass still indicates that drinking in public, for all the joy it brings me, might not be the best idea. In an effort to curb my obvious habits, I’ve recently chosen to embrace flasks that do a better job of concealing alcohol than I ever could. And the latest flask to cross my desk, courtesy of VSSL, has quickly become one of my go-to favorites.

Design & Materials

When you think of a flask, you probably think of a compact, covert bottle that fits inside a pocket. The VSSL Flask, however, embraces a design that a friend recently described as “standard-issue minimalism.” Its military-grade aluminum construction holds nine ounces of juice and comes equipped with a built-in flashlight, compass and two collapsible shot glasses, providing everything you need for a quick refresher when you’re far from home.

Weighing 14.5 ounces, I wouldn’t describe the Flask as small but its cylindrical shape remains manageable and the added heft provides a note of confidence when I’m in charge of pouring drinks. Its form reminds me of a Maglite, and while I wouldn’t think to use it as a weapon, I also wouldn’t worry if it hit the ground. This thing is designed to brave the outdoors, and VSSL’s lifetime warranty is a testament to its durability.

Beyond its obvious utilitarian form and built-in convenience, the Flask, along with VSSL’s vast collection of columnar gear, is simply beautiful. It’s a statement piece that looks good on the shelf (where I’ve chosen to store mine) and serves a purpose in the field, pulling double duty in a manner that most outdoor gear never could.

The VSSL Flask in all its compact glory
The VSSL Flask in all its compact glory


The only way to test a flask is to use it, and use it well. After filling the upper chamber with a nondescript liquor from the corner store, I tucked it into my pack’s bottle sleeve where most modern-day reusable bottles never seem to fit. Catching a train to the Hudson Valley, I then climbed a local peak with a friend before removing collapsible shot glasses from the lower chamber. A couple of drinks were poured to celebrate our summit, and the spirits retained their taste without acquiring those unsavory metallic undertones.

When the time came to test the Flask’s resilience, I submerged it in standing water for minutes at a time before tossing it repeatedly down a hill, imitating the clumsy nature of someone that just drank its entire contents in one go. Through every act of torture, the waterproof sealed remained tight and the compass pointed due north. The flashlight, meanwhile, cycled through its four light modes just as it had from day one. Short of throwing this thing off a cliff, it proved to be indestructible.

What We Like

  • Design. From the raw materials to the clever features such as a built-in compass and flashlight, VSSL thought of everything. When every other flask simply holds spirits, this one stands out.
  • Durability. I’ve talked at length about my personal philosphy when it comes to buying gear. When you spend more on gear that’s built to last a lifetime, you save money over time. This vessel is a testament to that wisdom.
  • Contents. How many flasks come with a compass, flashlight and collapsible shot glasses? I don’t have an exact answer, but it’s probably very few. And this one does, which helps it stand out from the crowd.

What We Don’t

Flasks are generally known for being lightweight and ultra-portable, but I wouldn’t use those terms to describe the VSSL Flask. While it remains handy and convenient, it still weighs more than most flasks, and the cylindrical shape isn’t for everyone. That being said, the load and form factor are by no means a burden. Keep in mind that its design is built primarily for the outdoors, so the added bulk simply improves protection and longevity. Throw it in a pack or bring it car camping and you’ll forget it’s there until you need it most.

Should You Buy It?

Whether you’re a collector of unique flasks, an avid outdoorsman or simply a fan of design, the VSSL Flask is in a league of its own. And yet, it’s only one of the many tools in VSSL’s collection that deserve recognition. The JAVA Coffee Grinder has received high praise for its ingenuity, while the First Aid Kit packs countless safety essentials for adventures big and small. Pick up the Flask for yourself or a friend (stocking stuffer, anyone?), or simply invest in a VSSL design that speaks to you. No matter what you choose, it’s sure to exceed your expectations.

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