The days of simple, plastic water bottles are long gone – the quality of insulated, stainless steel bottles has taken a big step forward and the market for these products has exploded in recent years.
This type of well-designed, BPA-free drinkware is the new norm, and dozens of brands are racing to make the best possible stainless steel insulated bottle for outdoor enthusiasts and everyone else.
Out of all these brands, the two I’ve chosen for this comparison are CamelBak and HydroFlask. Both companies are held in high regard by backcountry explorers all over the world, as they design, manufacture, and sell some of the best reusable steel-made bottles on today’s market.
But which one of them is better? Let’s find an answer to that question together!
CamelBak vs Hydro Flask – A Product Overview
Even though it’s much more well-known for its hydrating backpacks, CamelBak also makes water bottles that are very popular with outdoorsmen. In business since the late 1980s, the company has undoubtedly stood the test time as the manufacturer of hydration products.
The brand was initially founded by a group of cycling enthusiasts, whose founder had a fantastic idea of using a rigged-out IV pouch for quick and easy hydration on the go. One thing led to another and this cycling community has managed to perfect the concept over time and grow into a world-known brand.
CamelBak Chute Mag Stainless Steel Bottle
- Weight: 17.4 ounces
- Material: Stainless steel
- Insulation: Double-wall vacuum insulation
- Sizes Available: 4
- Colors Available: 25
There’s a lot to like about this CamelBak water bottle. Although slightly over-designed, the model is one of the company’s bestsellers for a good reason – its insulated design works just as advertised and the bottle does a great job at resisting flavors.
It should also be mentioned that it’s cheaper than the model offered by Hydro Flask – it’s a great option if you’re looking to save money.
- Narrow & wide mouth options
- Complicated lid design
Hydro Flask, on the other hand, is not a child of the 1980s – the company was founded fairly recently, in 2009. However, the brand has experienced fast growth and has managed to create some of the market’s best-selling reusable water bottles during the last decade.
Many people consider Hydro Flask to be the creator of the new-age thermos vessels – their lineup of insulated, stainless steel bottles effortlessly keep warm drinks warm and cold drinks cold for hours on end. Their drinkware is also very stylish and eye-catching, making the brand very popular with younger folks.
Hydro Flask Wide Mouth Stainless Steel Bottle
- Weight: 15.2 ounces
- Material: Stainless steel
- Insulation: TempShield insulation
- Sizes Available: 4
- Colors Available: 10
While it’s certainly among the more expensive products of its type, this Hydro Flask bottle justifies its price with the ability to effortlessly maintain the temperature of cold and hot drinks as well as with a simple design that just works.
Moreover, no matter which color you decide to go with, you’ll be getting a genuinely sleek-looking bottle that’s guaranteed to attract attention.
- Simple but functional design
- Superb insulation
- Stylish look
CamelBak vs Hydro Flask – The Comparison
The TempShield insulation technology used in the Hydro Flask bottle does its job quite well. Upon filling the model with ice and leaving it to sit for 24 hours, I found that the ice melted just before the 24-hour mark. A very important thing to mention here is that the water stayed cold for a few more hours even after the ice was gone.
When it comes to warm drinks, on the other hand, Hydro Flask claims that this bottle can keep them warm for about 12 hours.
During my tests, I found that the model can’t really keep tea or coffee hot for more than 6 hours, which, truth be told, isn’t that bad at all. In other words, filling this bottle with your favorite hot beverage in the morning means that you’ll be able to drink it while it’s still properly hot (so, not lukewarm) at noon.
The CamelBak’s insulation works wonderfully when it comes to cold drinks – they remain cold well after the 24-hour mark.
The bottle keeps hot drinks hot for about the same amount of time as its rival, which is precisely what I expected. Boiling-hot coffee is still boiling-hot after about 6 hours, but it slowly turns into a lukewarm and then cold liquid with each subsequent hour after the 6-hour mark.
The Construction Quality
Unfortunately, the CamelBak Chute Mag Stainless Steel Bottle is not the most durable product of its type out there. When you’re filling it with water, there’s a good chance that its lid holder is going to slip off and cause the bottle to fall to the ground and end up with a dent – this is not an impact-resistant piece of drinkware.
Furthermore, the number of separate pieces that form the model’s lid makes it somewhat faulty. Due to the fact that the Hydro Flask (as well as many other stainless steel bottles on the market) has a less complicated lid design that isn’t as susceptible to breaking, the CamelBak bottle just isn’t as durable as its rival.
However, that doesn’t mean that the Hydro Flask Wide Mouth Stainless Steel Bottle is immune to dents. Due to its girth, the bottle becomes quite heavy when it’s full of water and is bound to end up with dents if it falls to the ground.
The Ease of Use
As I’ve already said, the CamelBak bottle is slightly over-designed, and I’m saying this mostly because of its multi-closure lid. In my experience, it proved to be more problematic than actually necessary, but that doesn’t mean you’ll have the same issues as I did.
In fact, the model’s lid provides options for folks who like drinking out of a narrow-mouth bottle as well as for those who prefer sipping from a wide-mouth bottle.
This so-called “Chute Mag Cap” is actually a magnetic lid, which means that you’ll never have to unscrew the bottle’s big cap whenever you’re thirsty. And since it’s magnetic, this lid makes closing the bottle as easy as it gets – it simply jumps on the flask.
But if you find all of this to be a bit too complicated for your taste, you’ll be pleased to know that the bottle is compatible with a number of other CamelBak caps.
The design of the Hydro Flask bottle, on the other hand, is very simple. There’s a body, a cap, and a durable retaining strap that allows users to attach this bottle to their backpacks. However, I’d advise against relying on this strap too much, particularly when the Hydro Flask bottle is full and you’re in motion.
At 17.4 oz for the 32 oz variant, the CamelBak Chute Mag Stainless Steel Bottle is certainly a hefty piece of drinkware.
Don’t get me wrong – the model is a good choice if you need a bottle that will let you take hot beverages or iced tea to work and for general around-town use. But due to its weight, it’s not the best option out there for long-distance backcountry adventures.
When it’s completely empty and dry, the Hydro Flask bottle has a weight that is even lower than the one that’s officially listed on the brand’s website. The weight of below 15 ounces is quite impressive if we take the model’s size into account.
While it’s certainly not the lightest product of its type out there, the Hydro Flask Wide Mouth Stainless Steel Bottle is a better choice for long-distance outdoor escapades than its rival.
The Hydro Flask bottle provides fantastic performance in this department. In fact, a lot of users reported that the model is the very first bottle of this type they used that didn’t give drinks an awful metallic taste.
In addition to this, the Hydro Flask bottle does a phenomenal job at keeping drinks as fresh as possible, as it imparts no musty tastes from the cap or bottle materials.
Just like its rival, the CamelBak model does an impressive job at resisting the flavors of the drinks you fill it with. The bottle itself effortlessly keeps the flavor and scent of teas and coffees at bay. However, some of the coffee flavor will end up on the model’s plastic lid if you decide to fill the bottle with this hot beverage.
At around $45, the Hydro Flask bottle is among the most expensive products of its type. As such, it probably isn’t the best choice for folks who are looking for a simple bottle that they’re going to use for water to keep themselves hydrated.
But it should still be mentioned that this Hydro Flask model is undoubtedly worth its price tag – it has excellent insulation properties, it is versatile, and it looks very stylish.
At around $30, the CamelBak model is cheaper than its rival but it’s still not an inexpensive water bottle. In my opinion, it’s a good investment for all those who are intrigued by its dual-lid design. But if you’re looking for something simpler and sleeker, the Hydro Flask model is a better choice.
Who Wins in the Hydro Flask vs CamelBak Challenge?
While it’s true that the CamelBak model stands as a good choice if you’re looking to save some money, I think that adding $15 more and going for the HF bottle would be a much wiser decision.
A combination of insulated stainless steel, simplicity, style, and a solid dose of overall utility all turn the Hydro Flask Wide Mouth Stainless Steel Bottle into a winner of this battle.