Nowadays, every serious hiker goes into the wild with a stainless steel water bottle. When compared with their simple, plastic counterparts, these bottles aren’t only reusable but also capable of maintaining the temperature of both hot and cold drinks for hours on end.
To put it simply, they’re better than your regular plastic bottles in every way you can imagine.
This is precisely why a lot of today’s drinkware companies are racing to design the best possible bottle of this type. BPA-free, steel-made, and well-insulated drinkware is the new norm, and both CamelBak and Hydro Flask want you to go with their solutions.
But which one of these two brands is actually a better choice? Read this CamelBak vs Hydro Flask comparison to find out.
The Best CamelBak Stainless Steel Bottle
While it’s true that most people think of hydration backpacks when they hear the name CamelBak, this company has also been in the drinkware game for quite some time now.
In business for more than three decades, it has successfully stood the test of time as the maker of products that allow outdoor enthusiasts to hydrate themselves on the go.
CamelBack was founded by Michael Eidson, a cycling enthusiast who used an IV pouch filled with water to hydrate himself while racing. He called this invention “ThermalBak” and its sales quickly skyrocketed.
The company expanded into the water bottle business in 2006 and is now one of Hydro Flask’s principal rivals, making durable, taste-free bottles that are gaining in popularity with each passing year.
CamelBak Chute Mag Insulated Bottle
- Available sizes: 4
- Available colors: 19
- Insulation: Vacuum double-walled
- Weight: 17.4 oz
While slightly over-designed, this particular CamelBak bottle is one of the company’s best-sellers for a good reason. It has everything you need to keep yourself hydrated on the go – a durable, taste-free stainless steel construction, a convenient carry loop, and a cap that works with most other CamelBak bottles.
Even though it’s just as good as the Hydro Flask model I’ll be taking a look at down below, this bottle costs around $10 less. Therefore, it’s a great choice for those looking to save some money. Overall, I consider it to be the brand’s best offering, as it looks and works just as advertised. It is one of the best Hydro Flask alternatives as well as Yeti alternatives.
- Keeps liquids cold for 24 hours
- Lots of color options
- Complicated lid design
The Best Hydro Flask Stainless Steel Bottle
Hydro Flask is a much younger company than its rival. It was founded exactly two decades after CamelBak, in 2009, and quickly became one of the world’s best-known manufacturers of reusable water bottles.
The brand became exceptionally popular over the course of 2019 and 2020, particularly among younger people. The appearance of its products has played a major role here – Hydro Flask bottles come in vibrant colors while still looking extremely sleek and minimalistic.
Besides water bottles, Hydro Flask also designs and manufactures cooler bags, food jars, wine tumblers, tote bags, and a variety of similar products. It is also one of those water bottle companies that often release limited-edition versions of their products.
The “new-age thermos vessels” manufactured by Hydro Flask have placed this brand above the competition in the last couple of years. But are their bottles as practical as they are stylish?
Hydro Flask Flex Cap Insulated Bottle
- Available sizes: 4
- Available colors: 13
- Insulation: TempShield
- Weight: 15.2 oz
A lot has been said about this water bottle – it’s one of the most popular products of its type in the world. However, the stylish look of this bottle and the fact that it’s available in 13 vibrant colors are not the only good things about it. Due to HF’s proprietary TempShield insulation, the model effortlessly maintains the temperature of both hot and cold drinks for hours on end.
A slip-free powder coating, on the other hand, ensures a firm grip and allows easy drinking on the go with just one hand. The Flex Cap that this bottle is equipped with is a lot less complicated than the one found on the CamelBak model. The materials used in the bottle’s manufacture are BPA-free plastic and extremely durable pro-grade 18/8 stainless steel.
- Stylish and practical design
- High-performing TempShield insulation
- Easy to refill & clean
- Somewhat pricey
CamelBak vs HydroFlask – The Face-Off
The CamelBak bottle I described above is durable – there’s no doubt about that – but it’s certainly not the toughest product of this type out there. It’s not really impact-resistant and is prone to dents in case of accidental drops. And an accidental drop very well may happen, as the model’s lid holder easily slips off during refilling.
Made out of a number of separate pieces, this bottle’s lid is far more complicated than that of the Hydro Flask model I described above. I much prefer the lid of the HF’s product – not only is it easier to use, but it’s also not as prone to breaking in case of an accidental drop.
This doesn’t mean that the Hydro Flask bottle won’t end up with dents if you drop it, though. The model is quite heavy when it’s full and dropping it on concrete will result in indentations and ugly scratches. Whichever bottle you decide to go with, be careful while handling it.
Hydro Flask’s proprietary TempShield insulation is one of the best insulation solutions out there – there’s no doubt about that. I filled the Hydro Flask bottle described above with ice and the ice melted completely only after one full day. And even with all of the ice gone, the water still stayed cold for a couple of more hours.
Hydro Flask claims that the stainless steel bottle I reviewed above can also keep hot drinks hot for around 12 hours. In reality, however, the model can maintain the temperature of hot coffee or tea for only about half that time. And that’s totally okay, as far as I’m concerned – the hot tea or coffee you filled your Hydro Flask bottle with in the morning will still be hot around lunchtime.
The performance of the CamelBak bottle is very similar to that of its rival. The model keeps cold drinks cold for around 24 hours and hot drinks hot for about 6 hours. Your tea, coffee, or any other hot beverage will first become lukewarm and then cold after it spends 6 hours inside the CamelBak Chute Mag Insulated Bottle.
When it comes to taste, the Hydro Flask bottle provides a phenomenal performance. A lot of people who bought and used this product claim that it’s the first stainless steel bottle they’ve ever used that doesn’t give beverages an unpleasant metallic taste.
The CamelBak model is just as good in this department – it doesn’t retain the flavor of the beverages you fill it with. In other words, you won’t be able to notice the taste of drinks the bottle was previously filled with, such as tea or coffee, while drinking water from it. An important thing to mention here is that some users reported that the model’s plastic lid tends to retain a bit of coffee flavor every now and then, though.
The 32 oz variant of the CamelBak bottle I described above weighs over 17 ounces – it’s certainly not the lightest product of this type I’ve had a chance to use so far. For that matter, I think that it’s not the most suitable choice for those looking for an ultralight stainless steel bottle for their outdoor adventures.
While it’s not significantly lighter, the Hydro Flask model still weighs less than its rival. This turns into a better option if weight really matters to you. However, none of these two bottles can be compared with truly lightweight flasks built specifically for ultralight hikers.
In a similar vein, when considering Stanley vs Hydro Flask, it’s interesting to note that Stanley, with its long-standing heritage, has bottles that strike a balance between weight and durability. While not explicitly designed for the ultralight category, Stanley’s offerings might be a middle ground for those weighing the benefits of both Hydro Flask and CamelBak.
Drawing a parallel to the Hydro Flask vs Hydrapeak, Hydrapeak too aims to offer a blend of durability and convenience, positioning itself as a contender for those evaluating multiple brands.
Ease of Use
As mentioned above, the CamelBak bottle feels somewhat over-designed. The model’s multi-closure lid makes things more complicated than it should, and that’s precisely why I think that the Chute Mag Insulated Bottle deserves to lose a few points in the ease of use department.
The Hydro Flask bottle, on the other hand, features an extremely simple design that nobody should have any trouble with. This bottle has fewer parts than the CamelBak’s lid alone – there’s just a strap, a cap, and, of course, the body itself. It’s as simple as it gets!
The CamelBack Chute Mag bottle is clearly a better option for those looking to save some money. If you’re intrigued by the model’s dual-lid design, then by all means go for it – it’s an investment you (probably) won’t regret making.
But if you’re looking for something sleeker, more stylish, and easier to use, the Hydro Flask bottle I reviewed in this article is one of the best options on the market. The higher price tag is justified by the model’s practicality and excellent insulation properties.
Wrapping It Up…
So, at the end, who’s the winner of this comparison? If you’re on a tight budget, you won’t make a mistake by going with the CamelBak model. Although slightly over-designed, the bottle does a great job at keeping drinks cold/hot for hours on end and has everything you’ll need to keep yourself hydrated on the go.
However, I consider the Hydro Flask model to be the clear winner of this “bottle battle”. The brand itself is also a better choice over CamelBak for most people. All of their bottles, including the one I talked about in this article, feature an unmatched combo of functionality, style, simplicity, and durability. What more could one want?
I love hiking, backpacking, and camping. From the Camino de Santiago to the West Highland Way in Scotland or simply a great day hike on the weekend. Hiking refreshes me, my mind, and keeps my body reasonably fit. So far I have walked three Camino routes and many other long distance hikes in the UK, Canada, and around the rest of Europe. One of the best was my hike up Ben Nevis.