The Hydro Flask Cooler Cup: Best Koozie for Camping?

Three Hydro Flask cooler cups lined up in a crescendo formation

Hydro Flask cooler cups: what are they? What do they do? Are they good for camping? 

That’s exactly what we’re here to talk about and we’re not wasting any time! Below you’ll find a comprehensive review of Hydro Flask cooler cups (AKA Hydro Flask koozies). 

Combining hands-on experience with thorough research, we’re here to tell you if these gadgets are camping necessities or casual luxuries. Let’s begin!

Table of Contents

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

  1. What (the Heck) Is a Cooler Cup?
    1. The Best Koozies for Camping
  2. A Little Background on Hydro Flask
  3. Let’s Talk About the Hydro Flask Cooler Cup’s Features & Specs, First
    1. Each Hydro Flask Cooler Cup Is Made With High-Quality Stainless Steel
    2. The TempShield System Provides Insulation
    3. Drinks Are Secured With a TPU “Flex Collar”
    4. Hydro Flask Koozies Come in a Lot of Colors
  4. How Many Types of Hydro Flask Koozies Are There?
  5. Our Hydro Flask Cooler Cup Review
    1. Durability
    2. Functionality
    3. Style Options
    4. Value
    5. Warranty
  6. Is the Hydro Flask Cooler Cup Good for Camping?
  7. Are Hydro Flask Koozies Good for Everyday Use?
  8. Conclusion…
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What (the Heck) Is a Cooler Cup?

Front view of an empty Hydro Flask koozie
We’ve had this Hydro Flask cooler cup for about two years.

A cooler cup is a fancy name for a Hydro Flask koozie

If that sounds like gibberish, don’t worry. “Koozies” are sleeves you slide over cans or bottles to help keep your drinks hot or cold. The name “koozie” comes from the brand, Koozie, which holds the unofficial title as the original maker of these drink sleeve…things (dozens of brands have made similar products with different names). 

Anyway, While most koozies—or drink sleeves—are made of a foam material, Hydro Flask’s cooler cup is made of stainless steel and uses vacuum insulation to keep drinks hot or cold. This insulation method is much more effective than ordinary koozies, and…

The Best Koozies for Camping

…As a result, the Hydro Flask Cooler Cup is already competing for the best-camping-koozie title—yes, we made that up—even if the cooler cup isn’t an actual Koozie brand drink sleeve. We know, it’s confusing

The point is, Hydro Flask was one of the first companies to make vacuum-insulated drink sleeves. And that dramatically increases their value for outdoor use.

Note: we say “one of” because plenty of other brands like YETI and RTIC make vacuum-insulated drink sleeves too. And by the way, check out our Hydro Flask vs. YETI comparison if you’re looking for the best tumbler!

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A Little Background on Hydro Flask

A Hydro Flask cooler cup with the flex collar propped up against the side of the cup

Before we talk about the Hydro Flask koozie, let’s talk about the Hydro Flask brand. The Oregon-based company is relatively new to the gear market but they’ve already established themselves as one of the top tumbler & keep-stuff-cold brands around. 

Plus, according to their website, Hydro Flask also “supports nonprofit organizations focused on building, maintaining, restoring, and providing more equitable access to parks,” mostly through their Parks for All program. So, they’re big on conservation too. Neat, right?

Let’s Talk About the Hydro Flask Cooler Cup’s Features & Specs, First

While there are different sizes (see below), all Hydro Flask cooler cups offer similar features.

Each Hydro Flask Cooler Cup Is Made With High-Quality Stainless Steel

Hydro Flask koozies are made with 18/8 “pro-grade” stainless steel. We’re not going to deep-dive into the chemistry facts, but it’s worth noting that this is a high-quality steel that offers general hardiness and fantastic corrosion resistance.

Moreover, Hydro Flask says this type of steel doesn’t hold flavors or scents so it doesn’t dramatically affect the taste of your drink.

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The TempShield System Provides Insulation

Bottom view of Hydro Flask cooler cup, "made in China" and "TempShield" stamps are visible.

The best feature of any Hydro Flask product is their TempShield system, which keeps drinks hot or cold by taking advantage of the benefits of vacuum insulation. 

Again, we’re not teaching a science class here so we’re not going to go into too much detail here. But basically, vacuum insulation works by creating a vacuum between two thin walls of steel which dramatically reduces the transfer of heat between the two sides (if you’re really curious, it’s the difference between radiation and conduction).

Drinks Are Secured With a TPU “Flex Collar”

Most koozies are elastic, so they simply cling onto whatever bottle or can you’re drinking from. Since Hydro Flask koozies are made of steel, this isn’t an option. So, each cooler cup has a TPU “flex collar” that uses friction to keep your drink secure.

Hydro Flask Koozies Come in a Lot of Colors

Finally, like all their products, Hydro Flask cooler cups come in a pretty wide variety of solid colors.

Cooler Cup (Olive)

Cooler Cup (Watermelon)

Cooler Cup (Pacific)

How Many Types of Hydro Flask Koozies Are There?

As of right now (Hydro Flask updates their product selection regularly), there are five different versions of the Hydro Flask cooler cup:

  • The original 12 oz Hydro Flask cooler cup fits most standard-size cans (beer, soda, etc.). Note: this is the one we’re focusing on.
  • The 12 oz slim Hydro Flask cooler cup is for those tall, thin cans used by seltzer or energy drink brands (again, we’re not trying to get sued).
  • The 16 oz Tallboy cooler cup, of course, fits—what else?—16 oz standard-width cans. 
  • The Tandem cooler cup is meant to hold two standard-size cans at once (you switch the cans when you’re finished with the first drink).
  • And finally, Hydro Flask also offers a 19.2 oz Stovepipe cooler cup that’s just a bit shorter than the Tandem model, but only intended for a single can.
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Our Hydro Flask Cooler Cup Review

three Hydro Flask cooler cups lined up in a row

For the purposes of this review, we’re going to focus on the standard-size 12 oz Hydro Flask cooler cup. This is easily the most popular Hydro Flask koozie and the version we’re most familiar with. 

That said, it’s probably safe to assume that most of what we’re talking about below applies to each cooler cup model.

Durability: 5/5

We’ve had two of our three Hydro Flask koozies for over two years now and aside from some light wear and tear, they look and work just as well as our newest cooler cup, which we bought about a month ago (editor’s note: this article was first published in early June 2022).

A Hydro Flask cooler cup with a loaded drink turned upside down to demonstrate the strength of the flex collar
The Flex Collar is strong enough to hold cans upside down.

Our newest Hydro Flask koozie has only seen one trip (to the Colorado River) but the other two have been all over! Through two years and way too many drops, these koozies have braved the elements (and clumsiness) without a dent, chip, or bend. 

Plus, while we haven’t tested it, Hydro Flask says their cooler cups are dishwasher safe. 

Functionality: 4.75/5

In terms of insulation, Hydro Flask koozies obviously don’t perform as well as their water bottle counterparts but they still keep drinks cold (or hot) way longer than they would stay otherwise.

On our most recent trip to Bullhead City, Arizona (along the Colorado River), we took all three cooler cups. Even in 100°F-plus heat with minimal shade, each Hydro Flask koozie kept our drinks relatively cold for at least an extra hour or two vs. having no sleeve. 

While that might not seem like much, it was more than enough time to finish each drink without it getting warm.

Oh, and if you don’t have cans, there’s absolutely nothing stopping you from using the cooler cup as a normal cup. 

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Style Options: 4.75/5

If you haven’t read our Hydro Flask vs. YETI article, color options is something Hydro Flask excels at. Generally speaking, Hydro Flask only releases a few colors at a time but they constantly update their selection. 

Unfortunately, the brand doesn’t currently offer customization options for cooler cups, though.

three Hydro Flask koozies

Value: 4.5/5

Here’s the one downside of Hydro Flask koozies: they’re a little expensive, with most options costing between $25–$30.

Now, we think they’re totally worth it. But if you’re on a budget, you can probably find cheaper insulated koozies somewhere.

Warranty: 4.75/5

Hydro Flask offers a limited lifetime warranty against manufacturer’s defects. Most outdoor drinkware brands, including YETI, don’t match this. 

Is the Hydro Flask Cooler Cup Good for Camping? Absolutely!

Okay, actually, let’s take a step back. For casual camping, the Hydro Flask cooler cup is a fantastic idea. It’s lightweight, convenient, and works as advertised.

For backpacking or “more serious” camping, it has a couple drawbacks.

One, it’s not super space conscious. Casual campers likely won’t care too much about this, but if you’re working with limited space, the relative bulkiness of the cooler cup might be hard to accommodate (we say “relative” because it’s barely bigger than the can it covers).

Two, and more importantly, Hydro Flask koozies may feel unnecessary. They kind of fall into the “luxury” category because you don’t really need them; they’re just nice to have. On our last Carrizo Plain camping trip, we ended up leaving ours behind because space was limited for luxuries.

Still, that doesn’t mean that Hydro Flask cooler cups aren’t great! They’re just not for every camping trip.

Sidenote: If you want to learn more camping tips, see our article on debunking bad camping hacks!

(Photo: Vlad Bagacian)
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Are Hydro Flask Koozies Good for Everyday Use?

Absolutely. In gorgeous Southern California where we’re based, we love using our Hydro Flask koozies at the beach, outside, etc.

Obviously, Hydro Flask cooler cups don’t really make sense for ordinary everyday carry (what is everyday carry, anyways?). Although, there are probably certain scenarios where they make sense.

Conclusion: Hydro Flasks Are the Best Koozies for Camping (Assuming You Bring Them)!

And that’s it! 

If you’re looking for the best camping koozie, the Hydro Flask cooler cup is ideal. Overall, they are a little pricey, but they still offer great value and they totally work as advertised (something that seems increasingly rare). 

And while they might not make sense for every camping trip, we think Hydro Flask koozies are totally worth it for casual trips where conserving space isn’t a top priority.

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

Other Hydro Flask Products We Dig…

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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