The drinkware brands that are actually held in high regard by outdoor enthusiasts all over the world can be counted on the fingers of your hands. But even so, choosing which one of them to go with can be extremely difficult – all of them make reusable bottles that have similar features and which come at similar prices.
The same can be said for the two brands featured in this comparison: Hydro Cell and Iron Flask. Both companies make products that have received countless positive reviews over the years and each of these brands has a cult-like following. I’ve decided to get myself two of their most popular stainless steel bottles and see how they stack up against each other.
Hydro Cell vs Iron Flask – Product Overview
|Hydro Cell||Iron Flask|
|Weight||0.83 lbs||0.95 lbs|
|Volume||24 oz||25 oz|
|Material||Stainless Steel||Stainless Steel|
Hydro Cell 24 oz Sport Design Bottle
- Volume: 24 oz
- Weight: 0.83 lbs
- Material: Stainless steel
- Available colors: 19
Also available in 5 additional sizes, the 24 oz Sport Design bottle from Hydro Cell is immensely popular for a good reason. The manufacturer calls it a “pinnacle of hydration” due to its many useful features, like the double-walled insulation or the slip-resistant exterior. This particular model comes together with two lids.
Although affordable, this bottle is seriously well-made – the main material used in its construction is food-grade 18/8 stainless steel. The aforementioned insulation uses the company’s proprietary ThemoCell technology and effortlessly maintains the temperature of one’s favorite drinks. All in all, an excellent deal.
- Affordable but very well-made
- Attractive, eye-catching design
- Anti-slip coating
- The wide-mouth lid is difficult to clean
Iron Flask 25 oz Retro Sports Bottle
- Volume: 25 oz
- Weight: 0.95 lbs
- Material: Stainless steel
- Available colors: 29
There’s a lot to like about this popular reusable water bottle from Iron Flask. Besides the attractive design, the 25 oz Retro Sports Bottle also sports a genuinely durable construction. Just like its rival, it is also made out of premium-quality stainless steel, and it also features a sure-grip exterior coating.
Although it doesn’t come with two caps like the Hydro Cell bottle, it is accompanied by a convenient cleaning brush. Furthermore, it comes in a sleek box and is available in so many different colors that it’s almost impossible not to find one to your liking. The 25 oz variant I’ll be taking a look at in this comparison is also cheaper than the Hydro Cell bottle described above.
- Durable & sleek
- Comes with a cleaning brush
- Available in 29 different colors
- Not the best insulation
Hydro Cell vs Iron Flask – The Face-Off
Ease of Use
How hard can it be to use a water bottle? You just take it with your hand and take a few swigs, right? Truth be told, all of today’s renowned drinkware manufacturers are trying to implement as many user-friendly features as possible, Hydro Cell and Iron Flask included.
For example, both of the bottles featured in this comparison come with special slip-free exterior coatings that provide owners with a sure grip. In my opinion, the one found on the Hydro Cell bottle works a bit better – its name is the GripTech powder coating and it provides complete security even in the sweatiest of situations.
Another thing that makes Hydro Cell 24 oz Sport Design bottle a bit more user-friendly is the fact that it comes with two instead of just one lid. These are the steel screw cap and the “Sport Top” with a straw, and they turn the product into a genuinely versatile piece of drinkware.
The Iron Flask bottle, on the other hand, comes together with a handy cleaning brush, which is also one of its main selling points (more on this in the “Ease of Cleaning” section). One thing I should point out here is that this model’s exterior is not slippery – it’s just that Hydro Cell’s slip-resistant solution works better.
One department in which stainless steel bottles effortlessly beat their plastic and glass cousins is durability. This kind of drinkware is much more long-lasting and it can easily withstand daily wear and tear. It goes without saying, but this is particularly true for the bottles made by renowned brands such as Hydro Cell and Iron Flask.
Hydro Cell states that their 24 oz Sport Design bottle is made out of food-grade 18/8 stainless steel. During my drop tests, the model fared quite well, as it ended up with only a few scratches upon being dropped onto a concrete surface from a height of about 5 feet.
The Iron Flask bottle, on the other end, ended up with a few minor scratches and a small indentation. While this may sound like the model is less durable than its rival, we need to remember that it weighs more than the Hydro Cell bottle as it has a slightly larger volume. As far as I’m concerned, the model definitely lives up to its name and should last you for years as long as you take good care of it.
So, in terms of construction quality, both of these stainless steel bottles are really good and shouldn’t lose their integrity or break apart after some accidental drops. But keep in mind that these are still affordable pieces of drinkware, so don’t expect the kind of durability you’d find in the $50 category.
If you would rather have a lightweight bottle than a robust one, check out our guide to foldable water bottles as well.
The main reason why I and all other outdoor enthusiasts I know have ditched our old Nalgenes in favor of stainless steel bottles is insulation. As you already know, these bottles have thermoregulatory capabilities, i.e. they can maintain the temperature of cold and hot drinks for hours on end. How do these two bottles fare in the insulation department?
To keep cold water cold and hot beverages hot, Hydro Cell 24 oz Sport Design bottle uses the company’s proprietary ThermoCell technology. In reality, this is just regular double-walled vacuum insulation, but also one that works exceptionally well. The model effortlessly keeps cold drinks cold for one whole day and hot drinks hot for about 8 hours.
Unfortunately, the Iron Flask bottle featured in this comparison is not that good when it comes to temperature regulation. Not only is this model incapable of properly keeping hot drinks hot but it also struggles to keep water cold. I filled it with ice-cold water at around 8 AM and, by noon, the water was already lukewarm.
In summary, the Hydro Cell bottle is a much better choice if you’re looking for something that can maintain the temperature of your drinks for hours on end. While it can’t keep coffee or tea hot for more than 8 hours, its performance in this department is certainly miles better than that of its rival.
The taste is yet another important consideration. Years ago, stainless steel bottles were quite notorious for their proclivity to give drinks an unpleasant metallic taste. Fortunately, that’s not a problem anymore. All renowned manufacturers of stainless steel drinkware – Hydro Cell and Iron Flask included – manufacture bottles that don’t impart strange flavors to the drinks contained in them.
What about the flavor retention, though? Both of these hiking water bottles fared quite well in my test. I filled both of them with an electrolyte mix, left them sitting for a couple of hours, emptied them, rinsed them thoroughly, filled them with clean water, and then took a few swigs from each. The taste of the electrolyte mix was barely noticeable.
Ease of Cleaning
One would think that the Iron Flask bottle is a clear winner in this category – after all, it comes together with a convenient cleaning brush. And although this is great, the first thing I noticed is that the brush is too short and reaching the bottom of the flask with it is all but easy. In addition, the neck of this bottle is narrow which turns the task of cleaning into an even bigger challenge.
When it comes to cleaning the Hydro Cell bottle, on the other hand, I had major issues with rinsing its wide-mouth lid. Cleaning the grooves on this cap can be quite tricky – you’ll have to be slow and methodical. Washing either of these bottles in a dishwasher is not recommended.
Although it has a slightly smaller volume and doesn’t come with a cleaning brush, the Hydro Cell bottle costs more. However, I think that this higher price is entirely justified – this bottle’s insulation works wonders, and its GripTech powder coating provides the owner with a firm and secure grip. You also get two instead of just one lid.
That is not to say that you shouldn’t consider the Iron Flask bottle for purchase, though. If you care more about the design than insulation, you may find it to be a perfect stainless steel bottle for your needs.
Wrapping It Up…
As I mentioned above, the higher price of the Hydro Cell model is completely justified here – this bottle is just better than its rival.
Not only can it keep drinks hot and cold for much longer, but it’s also easier to clean and fill with ice, has a powder coating that provides a secure grip, comes with a bonus lid, and it’s also slightly more durable than the Iron Flask bottle. It is, in simple terms, a truly worthwhile purchase.
Make sure to check out our Takeya vs Iron Flask comparison and our Iron Flask vs Thermoflask comparison.
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.