In recent years, we’ve witnessed an undeniable reusable water bottle boom. In this day and age, it’s hard to find someone not brandishing a reusable bottle on the streets, the train or around the office, whether it’s a Yeti or a Hydro Flask or one of the many other options on the market right now. According to some reports, this recent demand for reusable water bottles has led to market estimated to reach US $1.1 billion by 2027 and is a byproduct of our burgeoning eco-consciousness and sustainability efforts, one of them being the large push to ditch single-use plastics. A nice sentiment, yes. But the boom goes a little further than that.
Reusable water bottles have entered their own little trend cycle (recall the VSCO girls and their ever-present, turtle-saving Hydro Flask?) It’s something Alexa Green, a college student, began noticing back in high school. In early April of this year, Green posted a TikTok that now has over 800,000 views, inquiring why water bottle trends are “a thing?” She recalls to InsideHook the Swell water bottle trend a few years ago that hit her boarding school and quickly staked its claim. “It was a very small school and we had a dress code. We didn’t really get the chance to truly express ourselves,” Green explains. “I looked around my biology class one day, and I was like, every single person has the [Swell] water bottle, but it matched more of their personality.” For Green and her classmates, their chic Swell bottles acted almost like a fashion accessory, the only one their stringent dress code would allow.
Prior to Swell, Green recalls when those customizable Tervis tumblers were the “it” bottle. Then it was Contigo, then Nalgene, but Swell was the bottle trend that really caught her attention. “Because everybody had it, down to the professors. The students had it, the kindergartners had it, everyone had this water bottle,” she adds. “I think Swell was really the water bottle that changed the tone of reusable water bottles being for convenience to them being more on the trendy end.”
After Swell came the Hydro Flask mania that’s still going strong. Yeti is an omnipresent everyday carry as well, and Green notes an up-and-coming water bottle entering the trend cycle: the Britia Premium Filtering Water Bottle. But nothing quite exemplifies the mass appeal for a particular type of water bottle like Stanley’s Adventure Quencher Travel Tumbler, a 40 ounce insulated bottle with a convenient handle design that’s been praised by Utah mom bloggers, Bachelor contestants-turned-Instagram influencers and The Buy Guide, a popular shopping blog and Instagram page that wrote what is essentially a love letter to the bottle. In 2019, to the shock of its fervent fans, Stanley discontinued the Quencher, but its death quickly turned into a mere hiatus. Stanley’s Global President Terence Reilly tells InsideHook the outpouring demand for the Quencher from fans and The Buy Guide’s community members prompted the bottle’s rebirth, which came in November of 2020. The bottle, though, swiftly sold out, and since November the Quencher now has a waiting list of over 30,000 people eagerly on standby for the next drop.
Part of the Quencher’s success is due to its design. A stainless steel, insulated construction that keeps water and other liquids cold for eleven hours is an obvious selling point. Its handy handle, Reilly adds, is a real “ally” for busy moms, and the bottle comes in an array of stylish colors like Blush, Lilac and Granite which help transform the water bottle into a flashy accessory heralded by many influencers. But with a 40-ounce capacity, it’s also pretty massive, a quality, Reilly notes, consumers are interested in.
“We do believe that people are looking for larger hydration opportunities. The size of the Quencher, and its style, are really contributing to its success. It’s big enough to last you the day, but it’s designed so that it still fits in your cup holder,” explains Reilly. “And we’re seeing that success even in larger sizes. 64 ounces are really popular now for us, and one of our biggest sellers now is a two-gallon jug. So hydration is, I think it’s not only a trend, it’s becoming more of a way of life.”
We’re slowly graduating from having the trendiest water bottle to having the biggest. On TikTok, one-gallon “motivational” water jugs labeled with timestamps to help track your daily water intake are extremely popular on the app — sometimes even marketed as “the secret to a flat tummy.” On r/HydroHomies, a community of water-drinking aficionados, you’ll find various photos of users posting their jugs. Oftentimes it’s Hydro Flask’s gargantuan 64oz Wide Mouth bottle.
Drinking water, and drinking copious amounts of it, has really become, as Reilly notes, a lifestyle. And in recent years, the internet has been a prominent force in hydrating the masses. At the start of 2020, Twitter’s official Twitter account kicked off the new decade by telling its 59.4 million followers to “drink water.” Another Twitter account, appropriately called @drinkwaterslut, has over 200k followers and (aggressively) reminds people to hydrate.
On r/HydroHomies, a subreddit with close to one million members, the act of hydrating is important, but so is a general love of water. One becomes a Hydro Homie by enjoying some of the benefits that water brings to our day-to-day lives, Andrew Brown, who has been a moderator for the popular subreddit for two years now, tells InsideHook. “One Hydro Homie might like to drink a lot of water every day because it is good for their health and one might enjoy swimming or another water sport. Either way a Hydro Homie is anyone who appreciates water and everything it does for us,” says Brown.
To put it simply, the community is full of water enthusiasts, and the subreddit does a good job of encouraging fellow Hydro Homies through funny memes and supportive messages to keep hydrating. Brown explains that the subreddit initially started as a place to post memes about water but has evolved into a community where people post flattering photos of water, their personal water bottles and even some water-related activism that supports the notion that water is a human righ. To Brown, these trendy giant water bottles often posted about in the subreddit are purchased out of convenience. “Those who drink a lot of water can fill up a 64 oz bottle in the morning and not have to refill it for the rest of the day,” he says.
The obsession with hydration in this particular community stems from a mix of both the taste of water and its health and lifestyle benefits, says Brown. “Most Hydro Homies love the taste of water, especially when they’re tired and thirsty or they wake up in the middle of the night to a water bottle next to their bed. The high amount of water that many Hydro Homies consume has also led them to experience and preach the health and lifestyle benefits of water.”
When you’re running round town with your trusty one-gallon jug, you’re sending a message: Look at how goddamn healthy and hydrated I am. And yes, of course, when you switch out drinking soda, energy drinks and coffee for water, your organs will thank you — as many memes have conveyed — but there now seems to be a notion that drinking huge amounts of water is a cure-all, particularly as it relates to skincare.
When TikTok’s not selling out drugstore skincare brands, it’s a place where users will often share their skincare routines, and those with glowing, clear skin will sometimes attribute their dazzling faces to a little cleanser and lots of water. Even before TikTok became such a massive platform, Twitter users have been pushing users to drink water for clearer skin for years now. Most of these sentiments, however, are anecdotal.
“I think for like 90% of people, drinking more water is really not going to have much of an effect on their skin,” Dr. Muneeb Shah, a dermatologist based in North Carolina who makes educational skincare videos on TikTok, where he’s known to his 6.3 million followers as the @dermdoctor, tells InsideHook.
But if you have a water deficiency, meaning you aren’t drinking enough of it, that can certainly be reflected in your skin. “Somebody with dehydrated skin will notice their skin is not as bouncy. So you’ll pinch it, it won’t recoil as fast. We call that skin turgor,” explains Shah. “But I think for the majority of people who say ‘my acne got better because I drank water,’ I don’t think that’s really a true phenomenon, there’s really no evidence or literature to suggest that it would be.”
While it might not cure acne, those slugging gallons of water for the betterment of their health do have the right idea. “Four to eight glasses a day is going to be good for your overall kidney function. It’s going to be good for your heart. And it will probably be okay for your skin,” explains Shah, who adds, again, it just might not be a magic bullet. Among a plethora of health benefits, drinking water also helps regulate body temperature, aids in digestion and does in fact help you lose weight. It also prevents constipation, kidney stones, UTIs and other illnesses, and even helps cushion your joints. As many ardent water drinkers will attest, you simply feel better when you hydrate adequately.
And maybe that’s what this sudden surge in Herculean water bottles really comes down to — feeling good. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a healthy Hydro Homie preaching the virtues of crisp, cold water, trying to fit in with the Utah mommy bloggers or just need a little extra emotional support these days. If the 40oz, 64oz or gallon of water your lugging around motivates you to drink more of it, then get to lugging (and chugging.)