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Hydro Flask Review – Not Revolutionary But A Brilliant Alternative

2015, the year of the flask – a time that will forever be remembered for revolutionising the way we go about keeping our drinks hot or cold. Gone are the days of strategically planning how to keep our coffee hot in winter and our Ice-Tea, icey in summer. No more pre-warming flasks, no more ice-packs or cool bags – not for our drinks at least. Keep reading for our Hydro Flask review, which was kindly provided by Wildside Trading.

2015 is the year Hydro Flask makes the big time, or at least it should be. The issue is, there’s a competitor – and it’s a big one.

Founded only six years ago in Bend, Oregon, Hydro Flask have gone from having the first all-insulated range of bottles that grew quickly to $1m in sales and only two months ago, expanded into Europe. They’ve got the pretty branding and a cool story – plus a number of awards – now they’ve just got to take on the established brands.

Designed in Bend, Oregon.

Designed in Bend, Oregon.

Hydro Flask is formed from 18/8 pro-grade stainless steel that is powder coated for fancy aesthetics, better durability and a grippy exterior. It doesn’t sweat, doesn’t transfer flavours and won’t absorb odours. Oh, and it keeps boiling water at almost 100°C for an extremely long time, as well as leaving ice untouched for even longer.

Hydro Flask claim that liquids will be kept cold for 24 hours, while hot drinks will maintain their temperature for half a day in their standard and narrow mouthed products. Interestingly, the label on my 21oz (620ml), standard mouthed flask says: ‘Hot 12 hours,’ while the website states six. I wondered if they had over-estimated the effectiveness of their product, but as you will find out below, they needn’t have changed a thing.

Powder coated for grip and durability.

Powder coated for grip and durability.

I first tested the Hydro Flask with half ice and half cool-tap-water and was pleasantly surprised by how effective its insulation was. I took the flask out for a four hour hike with the flask bouncing around in my bag, ice sloshing inside. After returning home, the ice had entirely disappeared but the liquid was of course still ice-cold. I wonder whether the ice hitting the inside of the bottle and breaking up contributed to the ice melting, more so than the relatively warm water I combined it with – it should also be noted that it wasn’t ice-cubes I used, but rather chunks and fragments of varying size.

21oz, standard mouth bottle.

21oz, standard mouth bottle.

After 14 hours, the water was still at the same temperature, only just above freezing, and by the morning, 24 hours later, it still maintained a below-fridge-temperature coldness.

Apparently, the party trick is to maintain ice for a full 24 hours. In the instance of the 620ml bottle I am reviewing, I don’t see how this would be all that beneficial because if you’re out that long, you will have consumed a great deal more than 620ml. Nevertheless, it proves the technology and that’s the point of this party trick. I wanted to test its real-world usage instead.

Cold water for 24 hours, ice just just as long.

Cold water for 24 hours, ice just just as long.

More realistically, it would be great to carry around a couple of the 32oz bottles, knowing your cold drink is going to still be refreshing up to a day later.

So what about hot drinks?

I filled the Hydro Flask with boiling water at 09:00, with the flask not pre-heated (people do this with their flasks so the liquid isn’t immediately chilled upon touching the cold metal interior, therefore keeping it warm for longer). At six hours – what the website claims hot drinks will maintain temperature for – it was still too hot to comfortably drink. At eight hours, I could drink the liquid with caution but even by 21:00, 12 hours later, the liquid was still hot enough that I couldn’t hold my finger in it for more than a few seconds. So I left it some more and went to bed.

620ml - perfectly sized for a short trip out.

620ml – perfectly sized for a short trip out.

A number of lid, size and colour options are enough to choose from.

A number of lid, size and colour options are enough to choose from.

At 11:00 the following day, 26 hours after pouring boiling water into the Hydro Flask, it was still warm. Seriously. Imagine a cup of coffee you’ve forgotten about for 15 minutes – that warm. Sure, it’s not the standard temperature for a coffee but if you’re taking the flask on a day hike in winter, it’s going to serve you throughout the day.

Which begs the question, why did Hydro Flask change the claimed ‘stay hot’ times from 12 hours to just six? It surpassed that by a mile. Maybe there are regulations that state you cannot claim it to be ‘hot’ unless it is over a certain temperature. Realistically though, the liquid was plenty hot enough to make a cup of tea or coffee with.

As well as this 21oz Hydro Flask, there are a range of sizes, going from a tiny 12oz (340ml) model, right up to a giant 64oz (1.8l) one. There is a narrow mouth, standard mouth and a wide mouth – present on the larger models – as well as a sport lid with removable spout for better cleaning, and there’s a flat lid too. Options aplenty. Hydro Flask also offer a small range of other products – there’s a coffee flask with flip-up lid, a food flask (coming soon), a true-pint ‘mug’ and more.

Sizes range from 12oz to 64oz. Child to Sasquatch size.

Sizes range from 12oz to 64oz. Child to Sasquatch size.

Small enough to chuck into a rucksack.

Small enough to chuck into a rucksack.

Maybe more impressive is their largest model, the 1.8 litre ‘Growler’ that maintains liquid temperature just as well as the smaller models. It was also a world first…

Then there’s the quality, which by my high standards is reassuringly great. It just feels like something you could rely on, something you could bounce off rocks or drop a few times without anything happening to it. The powder coating will probably mark but the function will remain intact.

Here’s the thing – I don’t think Hydro Flask is revolutionary in terms of maintaining liquid temperature at a level you require. Thermos flasks and Sigg bottles keep water hot just as long and they claim to keep things cold for 24 hours as well. Where Hydro Flask have it right is their simplicity as well as their personalisation options, 100% recyclability and lifetime warranty.

Perfect as a vessel for transporting liquid as well as drinking.

Perfect as a vessel for transporting liquid as well as drinking.

The problem is that another, established brand, is offering an almost identical product. It wasn’t too long ago that Sigg launched their ‘Hot&Cold’ range, which has flasks in similar sizes, made from 18/8 stainless steel, are BPA free, 100% recyclable, maintain a neutral taste no matter what is put inside it – the list goes on and the list tallies with Hydro Flask right up until the point it ends. Both offer nine different colours too. One thing Sigg tell you to avoid is adding boiling water because it may crack the exterior paint – so that’s a plus for Hydro Flask, who don’t discourage it at all.

Hydro Flask then, is fantastic – it does exactly what it claims to do and aesthetically, it is my favourite flask of anything on the market. Its powder coated finish is better than the slippery, flat exterior you will find on a Sigg bottle and the available colour options are more neutral and pleasing too.

Aesthetically, the Hydro Flask tops the list.

Aesthetically, the Hydro Flask tops the list.

It really comes down to personal preference: Do you prefer the powder coated finish and the more neutral colours of the Hydro Flask? Will you need to add boiling water? Do you prefer to go with a well-known brand or prefer to help newer companies hit the big time?

Price isn’t a factor – both companies sell an almost identical product for the same £27 – so the decision really is all about aesthetics.

Which do you prefer?


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