Who Makes the Best Water Bottle: Hydro Flask vs. YETI Rambler?

A red hydro flask next to a white yeti bottle

Hydro Flask vs. YETI: both brands make exceptional vacuum-insulated water bottles and tumblers. But which brand is better?

That’s exactly what we’re here to find out! And no, we’re not wasting time on a fancy-schmancy intro. Let’s get right to it: below you’ll find a comprehensive guide on…

  • The benefits of using a reusable water bottle compared to single-use bottles
  • What vacuum-insulated bottles are and how they work
  • A detailed comparison of Hydro Flask and YETI
  • Our verdict
  • And a few of our favorite options!

Table of Contents

Click on any of the links below to jump to the desired section!

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First, Why Use a Reusable Water Bottle?

Before we get into our Hydro Flask vs. YETI debate, let’s explain why reusable water bottles are a worthy investment. But first, let’s address the elephant in the room

We’re sure you’ve heard the plastic-is-horrible-for-the-environment spiel a million times, and we’re not here to preach (though, there’s plenty of evidence). So, let’s go with something we can all agree with instead: one reusable water bottle—plastic or otherwise—is way more practical than dozens of dumb, single-use water bottles. 

Let’s look at a few more reasons.

(Photo: Daniel Orth)

Reusable Bottles Are Way More Convenient

Buying and storing cases of single-use water bottles is a pain in the butt. One 5-gallon jug of water is going to use much less plastic than 5 gallons’ worth of single-use water bottles. Plus, it’s way easier to handle.

Also, most 5-gallon jugs (or large jugs, in general) are built to last with heavy-duty plastics that aren’t as likely to leech microplastics into your water (see below).

Better yet, you’ll have way less waste to deal with, which is a great benefit in itself.

You’ll Save a Lot of Money in the Long Run

Next, let’s say you’re going on a short camping trip. 

Most high-quality reusable water bottles can be had for $20–$40. Then the average 5-gallon jug costs around $30 for the container itself, and maybe $2 to fill up (assuming you’re not using tap water, in which case it might only be a few cents). 

All that equals about $62 for the first trip, then only about $2 to fill up the container each time after.

On the other hand, the average case of (24) single-use water bottles costs around $7; except one case of water only equals a little over 3 gallons. So, if you want to bring a minimum of 5 gallons of water, you have to buy 2 cases for $14 each trip.

If you take the “reusable” path, your upfront investment starts saving you money by only the fifth trip—and this doesn’t include the water you’re drinking in between trips. 

Single-Use Plastic Water Bottles May Be Harmful to You

The last benefit of reusable water bottles involves your health and microplastics

There’s a lot of evidence that single-use plastic water bottles are filled with microplastics that might pose a threat to your long-term health. Now, in the interest of remaining objective, we’ll note that the verdict isn’t fully out on how harmful microplastics are to people —though, there’s growing consensus that microplastics harm hormone production which can cause all sorts of nasty problems for us.

Nevertheless, if there’s even a chance that microplastics are harmful on top of all the other issues with single-use water bottles, why bother with them at all? 

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What Are Vacuum-Insulated Water Bottles?

Of all the reusable water bottles available on the market, vacuum-insulated bottles are easily the best. Most are made of stainless steel, which is obviously more durable than plastic. But beyond the overly technical name, these bottles are amazing when it comes to keeping liquids at the “right” temperature. Whether you’re trying to keep your ice water cold or coffee hot, these high-tech bottles get the job done.

Green hydro flask with lid closed
Our Hydro Flask 20 oz Wide Mouth with a flex-sip lid

How Do Vacuum-Insulated Water Bottles Work?

Don’t worry, we’re not going to deep-dive into the science here. Essentially, vacuum-insulated bottles work because they sandwich an empty air pocket between two stainless steel walls. 

What does this do, exactly? Well, heat doesn’t travel as well through an air pocket as it does through direct contact. Essentially, that air pocket acts as a shield against outside temperatures, dramatically slowing the transfer of heat (in or out).

Does This Mean They Become Useless if They Get a Dent?

Don’t get dramatic on us! While dents do disrupt the air pocket we mentioned above, they’re definitely not a death sentence. If your vacuum-sealed bottle has a big dent, the insulation may not work as well as it once did, but it will perform better than an ordinary cup. 

Here’s a general: the more dents you have, the worse the bottle will perform.

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Hydro Flask vs. YETI: Which Vacuum-Insulated Water Bottle Brand Is Best?

Now that we’ve established what a vacuum-insulated bottle is, let’s talk about two of the most popular brands: Hydro Flask and YETI.

Hydro Flask

Closeup image of a Hydro Flask atop a wooden board
(Photo: Tony Webster)

Hydro Flask probably wasn’t the first brand to make vacuum-insulated water bottles, but their immense popularity has made their name synonymous with reusable water bottles and tumblers. The company makes a massive variety of stainless steel water bottles, cups, and mugs with an equally-large amount of customization options. 

Since this is a general review, we’re evaluating the brand as a whole instead of focusing on one particular Hydro Flask product. 

Bonus: Hydro Flask regularly donates to conservation efforts around the globe through its Parks for All program.

YETI Rambler

YETI is best known for their kickass coolers but a few years ago they burst onto the vacuum-insulated bottle scene with the YETI Rambler. These bottles come in a variety of colors, sizes, and shapes meant to appeal to a similarly diverse group of interests (i.e., campers, EDC-ers, ordinary peeps, and so on).

Like Hydro Flask, we’re going to look at the features of the entire catalog as opposed to a single Rambler.

YETI Roadie 24 Cooler

Pink yeti cup without straw

Hydro Flask vs. YETI: First Impressions & Style Options

We’ll be blunt: both Hydro Flask and YETI make great products; our first impression of both brands was overwhelmingly positive. And in many ways, the two brands make very similar gear, but there are a few key differences.

Both Have a Nice Exterior (Enameled Stainless Steel)

Hydro Flask and YETI both use an enameled stainless steel design for most of their products. However, Hydro Flask also makes a few cups and mugs that use a rubber coating instead of enamel.

Anyway, the enamel coating is hyper durable and even though many of our bottles are dented (we’ll come back to this), the enamel coating tends to hold up very well. Plus, it looks gorgeous!

Bonus: the Hydro Flask mug we mentioned is awesome for home use.

YETI Water Bottles Feel More Robust, But Hydro Flasks Are Lighter

Bottle for bottle, most YETI designs are heavier than their Hydro Flask counterparts. In our mind, this is a bit of a double-edged sword because heavy isn’t exactly a good thing when you’re going camping or backpacking. 

On the other hand, heavy also seems to mean more durable because our YETI cups have fewer dents than our Hydro Flasks.

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Both Are Stylish and Come in a Variety of Looks (Especially Hydro Flask)…

Hydro Flask and YETI both offer a huge variety of color options, although Hydro Flask seems to offer more options per model. 

For example, aside from YETI’s 26 oz water bottle, most of their products offer 8–10 colors or less. Most Hydro Flask products come in at least 10–12 colors (and a few versions offer over 20 color options).

Bonus: check out our review of Hydro Flask cooler cups!

…And Both Brands Also Offer Customization Options

If you go through Hydro Flask or YETI’s website, you can put a personal (or company) spin your new bottle!

YETI offers the ability to add company logos or other designs, but Hydro Flask offers more color options and the ability to customize individual pieces (like the cap, strap, etc.). As such, we slightly prefer Hydro Flask’s options because company logos can easily be printed on stickers (that adhere well to the enamel coating).

Olive drab Hydro Flask koozie
Hydro Flask Bottle/Can Koozie

Hydro Flask vs. YETI: Hot and Cold Water Tests

If you scour the internet for Hydro Flask vs. YETI reviews, you’ll find a variety of answers over which brand keeps liquids hot or cold longer.

Our oldest Hydro Flasks are about 5-years-old now while our oldest YETI bottles are about 2 years. Both groups have seen extensive use and we have to say, the difference in insulation feels minimal. To be fair, we didn’t science this up at all, but we also felt that it was completely unnecessary to do any real tests.

If you’re looking for the best bottles in terms of insulation, we don’t believe there’s a significant difference between YETI and Hydro Flask. Both offer fantastic performance.

As for timeframes: cold liquids stay cold all day long while hot liquids tend to stay hot for around 4 to 12 hours (depending on the type of lid you’re using, the environment, and/or how often you remove the lid).

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Hydro Flask vs. YETI: Portability

Comparing Hydro Flask vs. YETI in terms of portability, we actually have a clear preference.

Hydro Flask Makes More Bag- and Vehicle-Friendly Designs

Pink YETI cup with flared top
YETI Rambler with straw lid

First, Hydro Flask designs tend to be more streamlined than YETI models. 

Now, to be fair, 32 and 40 oz bottles almost never fit cup holders regardless of the brand, but a lot of YETI cups feature flared designs that get wider the closer you get to the top. Not all YETIs do this, but if you’re looking for something that maximizes space (for a backpack), Hydro Flask offers more options, like their 20oz Wide Mouth.

Many YETI Water Bottles Feel Cumbersome

Aside from the standard YETI Rambler line, their water bottles feature wide designs that are kind of awkward to hold or stow. The benefit here is enhanced durability—and like we said before, YETI bottles do feel more robust—but durability doesn’t mean much when you’re reluctant to bring the bottle because it doesn’t fit very well in your bag. 

As such, with few exceptions, we tend to prefer Hydro Flasks because of their compact designs.

Hydro Flask vs. YETI: Cleaning

Cleaning a Hydro Flask or YETI is pretty much the same. Both are technically dishwasher safe but we always recommend hand washing to preserve the bottle’s lifespan.

Bonus: this bottle brush from ELDR is made from sustainable beechwood and sisal fibers (i.e., no BS plastic, etc.).

The Maintenance and Care Requirements Are Basically the Same and Both Are Easy to Clean

YETI and Hydro Flask bottles don’t really have any special care requirements. Both are designed for rugged, everyday use—and it’d be pretty dumb to make a cup that needs some sort of special cleaner or tool.

We Recommend Buying a Bottle Brush

That said, we do recommend buying a bottle brush and straw brushes to reach spots that might be difficult to reach otherwise. Trust us, you do not want to get sick from a contaminated bottle.

Bonus: we’re big on Dawn Free & Clear because it’s effective and safe for animals too (Dawn soap tends to be the preferred variety for cleaning oil spills).

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Hydro Flask vs. YETI: Durability

We’ve already touched on this but let’s bring the point home. Comparing Hydro Flask vs. YETI, the latter is generally more durable. However, both are solid options if you’re in need of something that can withstand rugged conditions.

Hydro flask logo on green bottle
Expect small blemishes to the finish after a few years of use.

Both Can Be Dented (and Neither Are Drop-Proof)

Nearly all of our YETI bottles and Hydro Flasks have dents from being dropped. Stainless steel is hardy, but it’s not even close to invincible

Speaking from experience, Hydro Flasks seem to dent easier —but we’ve had our Hydro Flasks for much longer than our YETI bottles (so the test isn’t completely fair).

The good news, even though most of our bottles have dents, all of them still offer good insulation—the brand doesn’t matter.

Overall, the YETI Is More Durable But It’s Also Heavier

If we have to pick a winner for durability, we’ll say that YETI Ramblers are more durable (at the cost of being heavier). The extra thickness goes a long way.

Hydro Flask vs. YETI: Which Is Easier to Drink?

This isn’t a trick question! When vacuum-insulated bottles first started hitting the market, a lot of people complained that drinking from them wasn’t as mouth-friendly as it could be. Since then, both brands have widened their selection of lids. In short, there’s a lid type that suits just about every personal preference out there—so brand doesn’t really apply.

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Hydro Flask vs. YETI: Which Has Better Accessories?

In terms of accessories, though, Hydro Flask is the clear winner. 

Both brands offer a variety of lid options but Hydro Flask seems to make more accessories that cater to specific needs (like compact, twist-to-open lids or flip-straw lids).

Also, many of YETI’s optional accessories are bulky and weirdly expensive.

Pink 20 oz hydro flask

Hydro Flask vs. YETI: Price

Smaller-capacity Hydro Flasks tend to be slightly more expensive than YETI Ramblers (per ounce), usually by about $2–$5. But, Hydro Flask offers cheaper accessories. 

However, high-capacity water bottles from the two brands tend to cost the same.

More generally, most bottles and tumblers from both brands cost between $20 and $50, but YETI charges more for certain colors. For example, most 26 oz YETI Ramblers cost around $40, but certain colors—like their “highlands olive” model—costs a lot more. Hydro Flask does this as well, but the price difference appears to be less pronounced.

Hydro Flask vs. YETI: Warranty

Hydro Flask offers a limited lifetime warranty for all their products while YETI only offers a 5-year warranty. The terms are nearly identical and both versions require that you pay shipping for replacements, which is pretty standard.

Unquestionably, Hydro Flask offers the superior deal here. And to be honest, we’re kind of surprised that YETI only backs their products for 5 years.

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Hydro Flask or YETI: The Verdict

Let’s find out!

We Think It Depends!

Hydro Flasks and YETI Ramblers are so similar that we wouldn’t say one is clearly better than the other. But we will say that the two brands seem to be designed for different niches.

Hydro Flasks Are Better for Hiking, Backpacking, and Camping

Hydro Flasks are lightweight, generally compact, and durable enough to survive outdoor excursions like camping and backpacking. Above all, we almost always choose our Hydro Flasks over our YETI Ramblers when we go camping simply because they’re lighter.

Sidenote: if you love to camp in California, check out our Carrizo Plain camping guide!

YETI Ramblers Might Be Better for Field Work in Rugged Conditions

On the other hand, if space and weight aren’t your top priorities, you may find YETI Ramblers suit your needs. While both brands are pretty durable, YETI bottles and tumblers are a bit more robust and less likely to dent, so they’re great for construction sites, etc..

Both Are Great for Everyday Carry

For more general use, though, we don’t think there’s a real winner. Hydro Flasks and YETI Ramblers both serve everyday carry roles pretty well. 

Bonus: click here if you want to check out our guide to the best EDC gear!

Black hydro flask mug with lid closed

Our Instagram Followers (Slightly) Prefer the YETI

We ran a quick poll on our Instagram and our followers slightly preferred YETI ramblers (the results were nearly 50-50). However, we’re still a new outlet and voting was fairly limited—so don’t take this as law.

And since we mentioned it, why not give us a follow!

And if We Had to Choose One Brand Over the Other…

We’ll go with Hydro Flask. We’re a camping (and EDC) blog after all, and Hydro Flask’s lighter products are way less cumbersome than YETI’s tumblers and bottles. Plus, Hydro Flask offers a much better warranty and they donate to causes that are important to us (especially nature conservation). 

YETI products are great; don’t get us wrong! But ultimately Hydro Flask products tend to suit our needs better.

The operators of Renegade Camping may receive a commission for purchases made through links on our site. But that doesn’t mean we’re shilling random crap! We thoroughly research and/or own all the products we review on our website. We want to build unshakeable trust with our readers, and that means offering honest, transparent reviews and guides. Cheers!

– The Renegade Camping & EDC team
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