Insulated water bottles are all the rage – and for good reason! They’re pretty amazing. Compared to their un-insulated counterparts, they keep water and ice cold for MUCH longer. They also don’t sweat on the outside and are great to take hiking, camping, on long road trips, to work, or just enjoyed around the house.
With so many on the market, I wondered if the most popular brands (that have pretty steep price tags), are worth the extra cash. I polled my Instagram audience and scoured the Internet to find the most popular and top rated insulated water bottles.
I ended up with these 12. To make the test as even as possible, I got bottles that were all 32 oz (or close to that) with straw lids. A couple of these don’t fit those exact requirements, but I got as close as I could.
|CamelBak Eddy+||$36||32 oz||17.6 oz||Cap dishwasher safe, hand wash vessel||BPA Free|
|Bubba Trailblazer||$16.99||32 oz||14.5 oz||Cap dishwasher safe, hand wash vessel||BPA Free|
|The Coldest Water Bottle with Straw Lid||$42.98||32 oz||17.2 oz||Cap dishwasher safe, hand wash vessel||BPA Free|
|Avana Beckridge||$44.95||32 oz||18.6 oz||Hand wash||BPA Free|
|YETI Rambler with Straw Lid||$68.91||36 oz||24.2 oz||Dishwasher safe||BPA Free|
|Hydro Flask||$44.95||32 oz||14.9 oz||Cap dishwasher safe, hand wash vessel||BPA Free|
|Iron Flask||$23.95||32 oz||15.2 oz||Cap dishwasher safe, hand wash vessel||BPA Free|
|Takeya||$34.99||32 oz||16.2 oz||Cap dishwasher safe, hand wash vessel||BPA Free|
|Thermoflask||$22.99||32 oz||15.8 oz||Cap dishwasher safe, hand wash vessel||BPA Free|
|Simple Modern||$22.99||32 oz||15.4 oz||Cap dishwasher safe, hand wash vessel||BPA Free|
|Coleman||$29.99||40 oz||22.4 oz||Cap dishwasher safe, hand wash vessel||BPA Free|
|Ozark Trail||$9.74||36 oz||21.3 oz||Top rack dishwasher safe||BPA Free|
My first objective with this experiment was to see which insulated water bottle could keep water the coldest for an extended period of time. I filled each water bottle with 10 oz of ice and cold water from the tap. Then, I measured the temperature of each at regular intervals and recorded the results.
The entire cold test lasted 48 hours and you can see the interesting results in this chart I created.
All of these insulated water bottles performed well for the first 5 hours. And even beyond that point when they started to vary more, they were still significantly better than a regular water bottle. I was most surprised that the most expensive, popular brands (Yeti and Hydroflask) were very middle-of-the-road in performance. I particularly expected the $68 Yeti to way outperform the others, but it didn’t. In fact, several of the more affordable water bottles, like the $9 Ozark Trail, kept water colder for longer!
Even though most people use insulated water bottles to keep beverages cold, they are also effective at keeping beverages hot. This comes in handy for baby bottles on road trips, hot chocolate at cold sporting events, etc.
For each of the insulated water bottles that came with screw-on caps, I switched to those, knowing they’d be preferable for hot beverages. I poured 212 degree boiling water into each bottle, and took the temperature at regular intervals for 22 hours.
Most of the insulated water bottles had a water temperature over 100 degrees at the end of 22 hours, so I was impressed with that. The hot water progression is more even than the cold water one. So, there weren’t really any clear winners, but the same top performers for cold water, also performed well with hot.
LEAK, TASTE, AND EASE OF CLEANING TESTS
To test if the water bottles leaked, I angled the filled water bottles down over paper. I rotated them throughout the day, shook them around, and monitored the paper.
Of course, these water bottles were all brand new, so just because they didn’t leak initially, doesn’t mean they never will. I’m sure lids, seals, and bottles can warp over time and that’s just something I have no way of testing.
In my leak test, the only water bottle that leaked (and it was only slight) was the Simple Modern brand.
Justin and I tasted the water from each bottle, and didn’t get any “metallic” taste from any of them.
I also took each bottle apart and they all seemed comparable as far as ease of cleaning goes. Only the Yeti and Ozark Trail advertised that they were dishwasher-safe for all parts of the bottle. The others were mostly hand wash for the bottle and dishwash for the lid.
My conclusion is that you don’t always need to pay more to get more. With several of the more popular insulated water bottle brands, you’re paying extra for the “brand”. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as long as you’re informed in your decision-making.
So after going through this rigorous, in-depth test I have 4 top water bottles that I recommend.
If you love the HydroFlask, you’ll REALLY love the Iron Flask. It’s the same shape, size, weight and look, but it actually works BETTER. It keeps cold water colder and hot water hotter than most of the other water bottles I tested. It also comes standard with 3 different lids.
I was very impressed with the Coleman. Who knew this camping brand made such great insulated water bottles? If you aren’t a big fan of drinking through a straw, this would be my pick for you. The autoseal lid ensures no leaks and is a thoughtful feature on this water bottle. I also love that it’s a little more slim and tall (rather than wide and short) so it’s easier to hold.
This insulated water bottle blew me out of the water. I was shocked at it’s under $10 price tag and thought there was no way it would even compare in performance to the others. But it did! It was the leader in both the cold and hot water tests. So if you’re looking for your biggest bang for your buck, this is the one. I wish it had a straw lid option, but the screw on cap would be great to take hiking or camping.
I’ve used Camelbak water bottles on and off for years. But this was my first time trying one of their insulated water bottles and it was awesome! One of the best at keeping water cold and hot. It also has a unique bite straw lid that you’re likely familiar with if you’ve tried their water bottles before. It’s nice because it doesn’t leak when you pour it upside down since the slit in the straw closes. You do have to be more aware of pressure changes with this one, though, as the straw can squirt when opened.
I hope you’ve found this insulated water bottle experiment informative! If you have any additional tips to add, I’d love to hear them in the comments. I also have videos taking you step-by-step through this experiment on my Instagram page in the Water Bottles highlight bubbles.
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