Note: We were provided with a Hydro Flask for review at no charge. The opinions below are our own. Should you decide to purchase a bottle through the links to Amazon in our article, we receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Tell us if this sounds familiar: You want a simple drink of water while on the ship, so you have to head out of your cabin, wait for the elevator, go into the buffet, grab a glass of water, and then make your way back to the room.
Or maybe you just pay $3 to buy a bottle of water on the ship. Or maybe you’re out in port on an excursion and simply want a drink of water but you are nowhere near a restaurant to get something cold to drink.
No matter the scenario, one thing is certain — having a good water bottle is always a good idea. That’s one reason why we’ve included it on our list of useful things to pack.
Truth is, however, that not all water bottles are created equal. For years, we have used cheap bottles. And yes, they served their purpose, but didn’t do much more than that. They didn’t keep things terribly cold, and there were always worries that they would leak and soak everything.
We recently had a chance to try out a Hydro Flask bottle on a cruise. We wanted to try it it out to see if it’s worth your money. Here’s what we thought…
Hydro Flask Overview
If you’re unfamiliar with the Hydro Flask, don’t feel bad. With the number of water bottles on the market from all sorts of companies, it’s difficult to know what the difference from one bottle to the next.
The Hydro Flask is a high-end bottle designed to last for years. It comes in a ton of sizes (we tested the 21-ounce bottle) and colors. Hydro Flask bottles are double-walled stainless steel. There is an inside chamber that holds your water and then an outside layer that forms the outside of the bottle. In between is an air gap that serves as insulation. So instead of your hand warming your bottle because of direct contact, there is a small gap that helps to better keep cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot.
Hydro Flask bottles feature a “wide-mouth” opening that you drink from. It’s large enough for most ice cubes, so there is no problem in putting ice in your drink to keep it cold. It’s also plenty big to allow you to gulp down whatever you’re drinking.
Build and Quality
There were a couple of things that first jumped out to us the first time we picked up the Hydro Flask.
First, we noticed the weight of the bottle. Holding it in your hands, it has a sense of heft. It’s not heavy, but feels substantial and well made. If you are a jogger, it’s likely a little heavier than you would want to carry with you. However, for most people it simply has a feeling of being high quality.
Second, we noticed the powder coating on the outside of the bottle. Unlike bottles made of plastic, this steel bottle has a powder-coat paint job. That puts a layer of fine texture on the bottle, making it perfect for gripping. Even if the bottle gets wet, you can still easily grab hold of it without slipping.
Beyond those first impressions, the overall build and quality of the bottle seems much higher than cheaper bottles we’ve used. The Hydro Flash features a screw-in top with a swivel-loop handle. So you can carry it by the handle or simply grab the bottle. The thick rubber handle and steel rivets feel substantial and we think they would last for years of use.
Due to the double-walled build of the bottle, there is a “hollow” feeling when holding the empty bottle. The outer layer will “ring” if you tap it. It doesn’t feel completely solid. While we didn’t attempt it, we do feel like the bottle could dent if it were hit sharply on the side.
Using the Hydro Flask
During our cruise we took multiple trips into port — as well as just hanging around the ship — with the Hydro Flask bottle. Since the cruise was to Mexico, the conditions were hot with high humidity.
Without a doubt, the bottle exceeded our expectations. The 21-ounce version we used was a little larger than we would have liked (the filled bottle has decent weight and size), but it actually turned into the perfect amount for a long, hot day in port. It held enough water to get us through the day without a refill.
The first thing we noticed is that the bottle doesn’t sweat, even when it was holding ice water in hot and humid conditions. There was never any condensation on our bottle, which meant no dealing with wet hands after having a drink. As well, we could put the bottle in the sand and not have to worry about sand sticking to it at all.
We also noticed that the bottle kept our water cold all day (more on this below). Even after drinking on and off during the day, we still had ice in the Hydro Flask at the end of the day.
Finally, we liked the taste of the water, even after it had been sitting. Many bottles — especially plastic ones — leave a strange taste for water that sits in them too long. There were multiple cases where we left water in the bottles overnight and it still tasted crisp and clean. To us, that’s a major reason to like stainless steel bottles over plastic ones.
So what didn’t we like? The bottle — while outstanding — isn’t quite perfect. Our biggest complaint is the standard top. If you want to get a drink of water, you need to unscrew the top three or four times to get it out, take your drink, and the screw it back in to seal the bottle.
That doesn’t sound like much trouble, but having to do it time and time again gets old. That’s why we would suggest the “Sport Cap” for anyone who used the bottle. It provides quicker and easier access.
Second, the size of the opening is a little awkward to use. It’s larger than a regular soda bottle so that you can put in ice. But it’s smaller than a regular cup. The result is that when you drink from the opening, the top of the opening hits against your nose, making it more difficult to drink. Again, this can be fixed by using the Sport Cap, but it was an annoyance on the standard bottle.
Neither of these were large enough issues to detract from the positives of the Hydro Flask bottle in our opinion.
We were surprised by how long ice seemed to last while we used the bottle in Mexico. When we got home, we decided to see exactly how long ice will stay frozen in the Hydro Flask.
To test, we filled the bottle with ice cubes and placed it outside. During our test, we had several consistent days with high temps around 90 degrees and lows around 65 degrees. We placed the bottle in a shaded location (not direct sunlight), as you might do if the bottle were in a backpack.
Only checking the bottle once a day, the ice took about two days to completely melt. Below we’ve put pictures at the start, 24 hours later, and then 48 hours from the start of the test. As you can see, the ice lasted well past 24 hours. Even after it had all melted, the water was still a chilly 49 degrees.
Overall, there’s no doubt that the Hydro Flask is a great water bottle — especially if you are on a cruise and want something to carry with you around the ship and port. It keeps things cold for an extended period, keeps water tasting crisp and clean, and doesn’t leak or sweat. We loved having it with us on our cruise and plan to bring it on many more.
We do wish it were a little easier to drink out of, both in terms of having a different style cap and a wider mouth. That said, these complaints were trivial in our opinion.
The Hydro Flask is fairly expensive for a water bottle, but if you decide to purchase it, keep in mind it will likely be the last bottle you buy for a long time. It would also make a great gift for someone heading out on their next cruise.
Note: Should you decide to purchase a bottle through the links to Amazon in our article, we receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.