My introduction to Hydro Flask bottles and mugs started with the Hydro Flask Coffee Mug that I reviewed a few months ago. Since then, I’ve been doing a lot more hiking and have been looking at optimising the gear that I use. I started with an Osprey backpack that’s designed to be lightweight, and that got me thinking about other ways I might be able to save weight on my hikes.
I love chilled water, especially on a hot day’s hike, so on walks less than half a day with my 6-year old son, I’ve been taking a 25oz/739ml S’well water bottle (actually one 500ml and one 260ml but let’s keep it simple). This seems to be an OKish amount of water for us but only on less strenuous walks on mild days, and we’re about empty when we get back to the car.
Ultimately, I want to carry more water – around one litre – but less container weight.
A 25oz/739ml S’well bottle weighs 1.0lb/454g when empty.
To go larger-but-lighter, I figured I might have to compromise on having chilled water and aim for a plastic bottle instead. So I looked at a few bottles, including the classic 1L Nalgene at 178g and Kathmandu’s ‘Tritan Wide Mouth’ version at 160g. Both in the region of $30.
But I just started to imagine that water heating up in my backpack’s side pocket in the sun, as well as the feel of a slightly warm plastic bottle rim in my mouth, and couldn’t tear myself away from the lure of a nice chilled water on cold metal!
So I returned to compairing metal 1 litre bottle options. After looking at models by CamelBak, Kathmandu, and Yeti (at 600g, crikey), I remembered that Hydro Flask is obviously better known for its flasks than its coffee mugs so looked them up.
That’s when I discovered Hydro Flask’s new Trail Series. Tagged as ‘Less weight. More distance’. This series has been designed to be “25% lighter thanks to an innovative stainless steel design” while still keeping water cold for up to 24 hours (and hot for up to 12).
What they say:
Fits most backcountry hydration filters
Durable 18/8 Pro-Grade Stainless Steel construction
TempShield™ insulation eliminates condensation and keeps beverages cold up to 24 hours and hot up to 12 hours
Flexible perforated strap and aluminium pivots for added weight loss
BPA-Free and Phthalate-Free
They have two options; a 24oz/710ml weighing just 283g (vs. the 454g of my S’well) and a 32oz/946ml weighing just 334g. That’s almost half the weight of the Yeti option!
They’re not exactly cheap, at $99.99 and $109.99 respectively, but I went ahead with the 946ml version as Torpedo7 had 20% off and I knew that this was exactly the bottle I was after. I’m also into a ‘pay more, less often’ drive these days so buying products for life and taking care of them to make them last.
Hydro Flask Trail Series 946ml Specs
946ml / 32oz Volume
Wide Mouth Fitting
Colours: Clay, Slate, Obsidian
Hydro Flask Trail Series 710ml Specs
710ml / 24oz Volume
Wide Mouth Fitting
Colours: Clay, Slate, Obsidian
What else is there to like?
The Hydro Flask Trail Series has a brushed-steel finish (available in Obsidian, Clay, or Slate like mine) that feels nice to hold and will help hide imperfections.
The lip itself is polished steel and is ‘wide mouth’ so feels pleasurable to drink from while being very easy to fill (think holding under a tap or laying into a stream), empty, and clean. The lid screws on in just under one full turn, so it’s easy to take on and off while remaining entirely leak-proof once on. It’s also incredible easy to clean, with no lid-flaps or straws to mess about with. It has a strong strap that can easily clip to a bag strap or carabiner.
I also like its tall-and-thin cylindrical shape. This makes it very easy to slide in and out of a packed backpack or a backpack’s side pocket; particularly those with tighter pockets. I do kinda wish my 1L version was the same ‘perfect cylinder’ shape of the 710ml model as it just looks so good, but I guess that would make it silly-tall.
I’ve also realised that the wide mouth lids are interchangeable, so I can use the ‘twist and sip’ lid from my coffee mug if I want to save myself from taking the full lid off every time I want a drink of water, or I could use the water bottle’s lid on my coffee mug if I wanted to take a massive swig of hot coffee.
Hydro Flask give this bottle a Lifetime Warranty against manufacturer’s defects.
If your backpack has shorter side pockets, the bottles tall shape could put it at risk of tipping out (but actually it’s a perfect fit in the tall side pockets of my new Osprey Talon 44).
As a negative of metal against plastic, you of course aren’t able to see through the walls of the bottle. This means you can’t easily gauge how much water you’ve been drinking and how much more you have to go. I’m also conscious of scratching it on rocks or hard objects in my backpack (my S’well bottle is fairly warn and dented) whereas scratching a plastic Nalgene water bottle just adds to its character.
As far as bottles go, it’s certainly on the pricier side. At full retail you’re paying over $100 for a 1L bottle (eesh) so you really want to make sure you’ll get some use out of it and really appreciate its benefits, and try to get it on a good sale. Hydro Flask do also give it a Lifetime Warranty.
Finally, there’s kind of a negative in having one bottle on your trip instead of two. If you want to treat water to remove any nasties, you may want to do this in a second bottle, keeping your first bottle as fresh water while you wait for your second bottle – for emergencies – to become purified/filtrated, which could be a process that takes half an hour or so depending on what you use for your treatment.
Finally-finally, while Hydro Flask is designed in Bend, Oregon, it’s made in China. It would be awesome to see more big brands look elsewhere for their manufacturing but that’s a whole other blog post.
I’m sold. Where can I buy it?
You can buy the Hydro Flask online from the Hydro Flask New Zealand website, but it really pays to see it in the flesh, look at the options, play with the lids, and hold them in your (sanitised) hands before making a decision. I bought mine from Torpedo7 where they had quite a wide range.
… I mean there are heaps. Look them up at your preferred outdoor store!
Clever/cheap No-nonsense Alternatives:
At the end of the day, you really could just re-use any plastic bottle from your kitchen. One chap in a Facebook Group I’m in said that he just uses two ex-coke-style plastic bottles ($2 from the supermarket, pour that disgusting fizzy drink away and re-use it for water instead). He fills one of them and freezes it the day before a walk, then on the walk he pours the melting icy water from his frozen bottle into the other bottle so he has chilled water throughout the walk without needing a heavier insulated metal bottle. Clever really.
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I researched a few coffee mugs and chose the Hydro Flask 12oz with Flex Sip Lid. Perfect for throwing in a hiking pack without fear of leaks.
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