Rare are the things that are as great as a refreshing drink during a long trip.
Whether it’s a hot day in a foreign city or a difficult hike through the backcountry, topping up on your fluids is essential to having a happy traveling experience. And the best way to go about that is to use an insulated stainless steel bottle.
For this article, I’ve decided to compare a 16 oz travel mug made by the world-known manufacturer of insulated bottles – Hydro Flask – to a mug of the same capacity made by the company called Zojirushi.
Both of these brands have tens of thousands of loyal followers all over the world, which can mean only one thing – they’re both good at making quality drinkware.
But which one of them is better?
Founded in 2009, Hydro Flask is now one of the world’s most popular water bottle brands.
Due to the vibrant, trendy look of its products, the brand is particularly popular with younger folks. Besides water bottles, the company also designs, manufactures, and sells cooler bags, food jars, wine tumblers, tote bags, and many other products.
The only “disadvantage” that comes with opting for this brand is the higher price of its products.
The company is often criticized for the hefty price tags that accompany its drinkware, but it should be pointed out that, in this case, the higher cost is entirely justified – Hydro Flask’s mugs, tumblers, and bottles are among the best on the market.
But, if you’ve been asking yourself why are Hydro Flasks so expensive, all you need to do is take one closer look at a Hydro Flask bottle.
Hydro Flask 16 oz Stainless Steel Mug
- Insulation: TempShield insulation
- Material: Stainless steel
- Colors Available: 11
- Sizes Available: 3
- Weight: 11.6 oz
- Lid seals completely – no leaks or spills
- Dishwasher-safe – easy to clean
- Sleek & minimalistic design
- Costs more
Also available in 12 oz and 20 oz variants, this is one of the market’s most popular coffee travel mugs for a good reason.
Besides the superb proprietary TempShield insulation, whose job is to keep hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold, the mug is also equipped with a soft-to-touch exterior and a simple but convenient handle.
It fits under most brewing systems and inside most car cup holders.
You guessed it right – Zojirushi is a Japanese brand. In fact, this is a large multinational corporation with headquarters in Osaka, and one that’s well-known for a variety of products, including vacuum flasks, rice cookers, water boilers, electric kettles, bread machines, and many, many other appliances.
Founded more than a century ago, Zojirushi is a company with massive experience, which can be seen in the quality and practicality of its products.
This includes insulated bottles and mugs, which are extremely popular on websites like Amazon and which can be obtained at relatively affordable prices.
Zojirushi 16 oz Stainless Steel Mug
- Insulation: Vacuum insulation
- Material: Stainless steel
- Colors Available: 8
- Sizes Available: 2
- Weight: 8.9 oz
- Superb insulation – keeps coffee hot for a long time
- Easy one-handed operation
- Slim & lightweight profile
- Not dishwasher-safe
Available in 2 sizes and 8 colors, this is an immensely popular travel mug that weighs only 8.9 ounces and costs about $5 less than its rival.
As its name suggests, it’s made out of stainless steel (with some BPA-free plastic elements) and sports vacuum insulation that maintains the temperature of warm and cold beverages.
The Flip-Open lid is one of its more interesting features – more on that later.
Hydro Flask vs Zojirushi – The Comparison
Those looking for a well-insulated piece of drinkware can never go wrong with Hydro Flask.
Just like all other products made by this company, this 16-ounce mug also features the company’s proprietary TempShield insulation. This is one of the best insulation solutions on today’s market and one that works wonderfully.
I filled the Hydro Flask 16 oz Stainless Steel Mug with hot coffee early in the morning and, to my surprise, it was still somewhat warm by the end of the day.
Don’t get me wrong – your coffee will cool down throughout the day, but it should remain properly hot for about 8 hours, which is, in my opinion, quite impressive.
What about the heat retention capabilities of the Zojirushi mug?
While it costs less than its rival, this product is even better when it comes to maintaining the temperature of hot and cold drinks. It is especially impressive in terms of heat retention. Your coffee will remain hot – so, not lukewarm – even after it spends more than 15 hours inside this mug.
If you’re looking for an insulated stainless steel bottle that you’ll be using for your backcountry adventures, durability should be among your top priorities.
After all, you’ll be hydrating yourself in all kinds of places, and there’s always the possibility of you accidentally dropping the bottle onto sharp rocks. And when you’re in the middle of nowhere, the last thing you need is a punctured bottle that leaks.
The Hydro Flask 16 oz Stainless Steel Mug is, as its name suggests, made out of stainless steel and is therefore very durable. For the purpose of this comparison, I dropped it a coupled of times and I’m pleased to report that the model didn’t end up with dents or scratches on its exterior.
However, that was something I totally expected – Hydro Flask is well-known for making long-lasting pieces of drinkware.
The Zojirushi 16 oz Stainless Steel Mug is also made out of stainless steel, with the exception of its lid. During my tests, I noticed no scratches, denting, or warping, whether from high temperatures or external force.
I peeked inside the mug as well and there was no visible damage whatsoever. So, in summary, the mug is just as rugged and hard-wearing as its rival.
If want to make sure you’ll get the best bang for your buck, check out my EcoVessel vs Hydro Flask comparison as well.
The Ease of Use
One thing that made so many people fall in love with Hydro Flask’s bottles is their incredibly simple design.
A piece of drinkware made by this company rarely consists of more than just a few pieces, and the same can be said for their 16-ounce mug. Using this thing is as easy as it gets, especially because of its Flex Sip Lid – it opens after a simple half-twist.
Things are a bit more “complicated” with the Zojirushi mug. Unlike its rival, this mug comes equipped with a locking lid with a plastic assembly and a rubber stopper/gasket.
Fortunately, using it is very easy – the model’s quick-release button has good tactility, and thanks to that, the one-handed operation of this lock is totally possible. The rubber stopper I’ve mentioned seals perfectly, so you’ll never have to worry about leaks.
Overall, both mugs are quite easy to use. But if you’re looking for something that’s as simple and minimalistic as possible, the Hydro Flask mug is probably the better choice.
The Hydro Flask mug is a clear winner in this category. Unlike the Zojirushi mug, it is dishwasher-safe – cleaning it as easy as it gets.
An important thing to mention here is that you’ll have to disassemble its Flex Sip Lid and put the parts into the dishwasher, but the whole process is quick and requires little effort.
You only have to screw off the lid, remove the seal, and then simply screw off the bottom part.
Unfortunately, the Zojirushi mug can’t be washed in a dishwasher and requires manual cleaning. Not only will you have to use some kind of a skinny brush in order to clean its hard-to-reach places, but also to break its lid into two parts: the exterior lid and the white plastic spout.
The latter part is especially prone to stains, so make sure to rinse it thoroughly every time you’re cleaning the mug.
It goes without saying, but the Hydro Flask bottle is clearly the better choice for all those who want to avoid the hassle of manual cleaning.
You can just throw it into your dishwasher machine – it doesn’t get much easier than that.
Read our Yeti vs Iron Flask comparison as well.
Hydro Flask vs Zojirushi – The Verdict
So, who’s the winner of this battle? While I do like the simple, clean design of the Hydro Flask mug, as well as the fact that this piece of drinkware is dishwasher-safe (unlike its rival), I think that the Zojirushi model is a better travel mug of the two.
This model sports first-rate insulation that keeps hot beverages hot for much longer than the Hydro Flask mug, and it also features a slimmer profile and weighs less. It’s just as durable and easy to use, and, on top of that, it’s not as expensive – what more could one want?
If you’d like to continue your search for the best Hydro Flask alternative, check out my post on Hydro Flask vs Contigo.
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.