Derrek Sigler 03.23.21
It used to be pretty simple. If you went hunting, fishing or adventuring outdoors, for many of us, that meant filling up the thermos with coffee and heading out. If you wanted water, you often carried a plastic bottle with some and however the outside temperature was, that was reflected in your water. Everything is different now. Everywhere you look, there is some form of insulated water bottle that goes along with the water filling stations that have replaced drinking fountains in public places. What makes this new crop of insulated bottles so good? Taking a look at the details can help you decide which of the best insulated water bottles you want.
Cover image: Shutterstock/Tonelson
Table of Contents
1. Yeti Rambler – Editor’s Pick
It’s not too hard to see Yeti taking some of the credit for insulated water bottle development. After all, they pretty much revolutionized the cooler industry. The Rambler line of vacuum-formed steel bottles is a personal favorite and with good reason – they work and last. You can get one from a 12oz. up to 46oz. of capacity, and they have a range of accessories, ranging from carry slings, to different lids to fit various styles of liquids. During hunting season, I’m fond of the cap and cup that lets me have small cups of coffee in the blind. The Chug Cap comes standard now, and is sweet for getting a drink fast and easy. The bottles themselves keep your drinks cold for hours – lots of hours. I had one filled with ice and water that still had ice in it 20 hours later on a June day. Hot stuff stays hot, too, with my coffee still nice and warm after 10 hours. Good stuff!
Pros/Durable, well insulated and lots of accessories
Cons/A little pricier than others
Bottom Line/My personal go-to insulated water bottle
2. Pelican Bottle – Rugged Pick
I have a lot of Pelican products around my house, including tumblers, coolers, and cases. Pelican’s insulated water bottles are seriously tough and do an amazing job of keeping hot things hot and cool things cool. These bottles come in 18oz, 32oz and 64oz sizes. They have an easy-carry handle in the spill-proof lid and they carry a lifetime warranty.
Pros/Extreme heat/cold retention and lifetime warranty
Cons/No options for lids
Bottom Line/A seriously tough and well-designed bottle
3. Hydroflask Widemouth – Colorful Pick
I’m not going to lie, I first heard about Hydroflask when my niece got one as a gift, which immediately had my daughter begging for one. These bottles come in a wide range of colors and sizes, with the biggest being 64oz. They are well-built with an easy-carry cap and stainless steel vacuum-formed insulation and construction. My daughter is really fond of the bright color options, which make sense to me. I mean, you’re not going to easily lose one on the trail. The company does some of the same things Yeti does, with high quality components, and powder-coated colors. Hydroflasks are very high quality and work great regardless of the activity you plan.
Pros/Durable, colorful and well insulated
Cons/On the higher end of the cost scale
Bottom Line/A colorful way to keep cool
4. Stanley – Classic Pick
The majority of my deer and waterfowl blind mornings were spent drinking my coffee from a Stanley thermos. The latest version of the classic retains the look and feel of the original, along with the near indestructible construction of the bottle and superior insulation. How good is the insulation? You can fill it with coffee and still have hot coffee 20 hours later. Of course, I don’t know who wouldn’t finish a pot of coffee in 20 hours, but it’s nice to know I have the option. The lid doubles as your cup if you’re so inclined. It’s just a really great bottle, too.
Pros/Extreme heat retention and classic look
Cons/Not as flashy, for those that want flashy
Bottom Line/Serious quality and style
5. Thermos – Value Pick
Thermos is a high-quality brand that is well known for insulated bottles. This is a cool, two-for-one deal that gives you a couple of stainless steel insulated water bottles with push-button, pop-top lids for easy drinking. They retain cold for 12 hours, which is admittedly less than the competition. Capacity is 16 oz. For a quick hike, workout or short fishing trip, these bottles are really good and you have a spare one for your next adventure.
Pros/Two for one
Cons/12 hour cold retention
Bottom Line/Quality without the higher price
How modern insulated water bottles work
Styrofoam insulation used to be the most popular way to insulate a water bottle, but times have changed. Modern vacuum-insulated stainless steel bottles is both simple and technical at the same time. The inner and outer layers of bottle are both stainless steel. The inside of the inner layer, where your liquid goes is pure stainless steel for optimal hygiene. The outer layer of the outside steel is either unfinished stainless, or powder coated for grip and color. It’s the inner layers that work the magic.
The inside of a stainless bottle is vacuum-formed. This creates a void that doesn’t give heat or cold much room to dissipate and actually blocks the process. The inner layers are coated with either nickel or copper for maximum reflection of heat energy, too. Everything works together to keep your cold fluids cold, and the hot fluids hot.
Are insulated water bottles safe to use?
Yes, they are, and they are 100% better than disposable plastic bottles. The stainless steel construction is very safe to use for years.
How do you clean a steel water bottle?
It varies from each manufacturer, but most can be cleaned like any other beverage holder you own. Most are dishwasher safe, too.
Can you refrigerate an insulated water bottle?
Yes, but know that the same properties that keep your water cold inside the bottle, will also work against your water getting colder while in the fridge.
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