Shopping for a brand new water bottle, which you’ll be using to hydrate yourself during your backcountry escapades, can be as simple as going for the very first one you notice in a gear store.
But do you really want to end up with a leaky, unreliable model? Don’t you want to do a bit of research first and get the most for your money?
Opting for a water bottle made by a renowned company instead of one made by a no-name brand is always a wiser decision. Here, we have two drinkware brands whose products are held in high regard by many outdoor enthusiasts all over the world – Hydro Flask and RTIC.
While they don’t offer their products at the same prices, they both make bottles that are well-made, versatile, and practical.
Hydro Flask is obviously the better-known brand of the two, and its bottles are accompanied by heftier price tags. But does that really make it a better choice than RTIC? If you’re looking for an answer to that question, you’re in the right place – keep reading.
Hydro Flask vs RTIC Bottle – A Product Overview
The stainless steel bottles made by this world-known brand are held in high regard by casual hikers and professional outdoorsmen alike.
This is because they tick off almost all of the boxes – they provide all-day temperature control for your beverage, they come in attractive color options, and they have a practical overall design (different mouth options are available, etc.)
While it’s true that it is possible to find these bottles at good prices on websites of online retailers, it should still be mentioned that Hydro Flask drinkware often costs more than that made by lesser-known companies. In other words, this brand is not the best choice for those looking to save some money.
Hydro Flask Stainless Steel Bottle
- Weight: 15.2 ounces
- Material: Stainless steel
- Insulation: TempShield insulation
- Sizes Available: 4
- Colors Available: 10
Available in 4 sizes and 10 colors, this incredibly well-made water mottle is one of Hydro Flask’s best, which is precisely why it holds the status of a bestseller.
With features such as the leakproof flex cap, TempShield insulation, and durable stainless steel construction (see Hydro Flask vs Iron Flask to see how the former stacks against another incredibly durable model), this reusable water bottle is worth every penny of its price.
- Excellent temperature control
- Lots of accessories
- Lots of vibrant colors
The design of the RTIC products is quite similar to that of the Hydro Flask drinkware – these bottles are also made out of sturdy stainless steel and feature the much-needed double-walled vacuum insulation.
If you’ve decided to buy your next water bottle on Amazon, you’ve probably bumped into a few RTIC bottles while searching through the website.
The positive reviews that often accompany these products, as well as their price points, turn them into a very tempting purchase.
RTIC Stainless Steel Bottle
- Weight: N/A
- Material: Stainless steel
- Insulation: Double-walled vacuum insulation
- Sizes Available: 1
- Colors Available: 5
Besides the 18/8 stainless steel construction, which makes this bottle very durable, and the vacuum insulation that provides maximum temperature retention, this RTIC model also sports a no-sweat design – its exterior stays dry at all times.
Furthermore, it comes with a heavy-duty lid that provides an air-tight seal and it’s available in 5 different colors.
- Extra-wide opening – easy filling
- No-sweat exterior
- Screeching sound while screwing the cap on
Hydro Flask vs RTIC Bottle – The Comparison
The Features of Hydro Flask Bottles
When it comes to insulated, reusable water bottles, Hydro Flask is undoubtedly one of the industry leaders. I think it’s pretty safe to say that there are no sports or outdoor gear stores that don’t sell drinkware made by this world-renowned company.
While these bottles may not be the best on the market, the benefits they provide keep them at the very top and turn them into some of the best products you can buy for your money today. As far as I’m concerned, there are three things that make HF’s products so well-known and popular:
It goes without saying, but the most important feature of these types of bottles is their capability to maintain the temperature of hot and cold drinks for hours on end.
The bottles made by HydroFlask feature the company’s proprietary TempShield insulation, which, truth be told, is very similar to your regular double-walled insulation.
This allows all Hydro Flask bottles – including the one I featured above – to keep cold drinks cold for 24 hours and hot drinks hot for half the amount of that time.
And while it’s true that HF’s drinkware rarely keeps hot beverages hot for more than 6 hours, it does its job very well when it comes to cold drinks. Furthermore, the interiors of these bottles do not hold flavors, and that’s always a big plus in my book.
Colors & Customization
Do you always go for vibrant, bold colors when you’re buying your gear? If that’s the case, Hydro Flask’s products will be right up your alley.
Although this depends on the particular model, Hydro Flask bottles generally come in 7 different sizes, 14 different colors, 4 parts, and 2 lid types.
In other words, there are hundreds upon hundreds of possible combinations – it’s easy to obtain a Hydro Flask bottle that looks like no one else’s.
Even though most of the available colors are quite vibrant and bright, the company also offers its bottles in neutral shades for outdoor enthusiasts looking for gear that doesn’t look flashy.
Of course, neither of the two brands compared in this article are as famous for vibrant colors as Nalgene, whose name became synonymous with the term “water bottle”. Here’s my comparison of Nalgene and Hydro Flask.
Being able to purchase an insulated water bottle in many different colors is certainly a big advantage. And so is having different options when it comes to mouths and caps.
Some folks like bottles with sports cap mouthpieces, while others enjoy using simple wide-mouth openings.
Finding a reusable bottle that satisfies all of your needs except for the cap can be quite frustrating – I’m speaking from experience.
Fortunately, Hydro Flask solves this problem by providing its customers with lots of different accessories, including a straw lid, flex cap, sport cap, hydro flip cap, etc.
The TempShield insulation technology, which I’ve mentioned above, comes with an extra benefit – it makes Hydro Flask bottles sweat-proof. In other words, most of the HF drinkware effortlessly remains dry and completely free of condensation.
And that’s not the only feature that provides the user with a better grip. HF’s bottles are made out of kitchen-grade stainless steel that is coated with a special powder finish, whose job is to provide the user with an even better grasp.
Moreover, all Hydro Flask bottles come accompanied by a lifetime warranty. And this is a warranty that the company actually respects. In the case of the Hydro Flask Stainless Steel Bottle, which I featured above, there are far more positive reviews than negative ones.
And if you accidentally get a defective bottle, you can be certain that the company will quickly fix the issue and send you a replacement.
The only major downside of opting for a Hydro Flask bottle is that this company’s drinkware isn’t exactly cheap.
However, try looking at it in this way – you’ll (probably) be using your bottle a lot and, therefore, it needs to be sturdy and practical. Spending $40 or more on such a bottle isn’t a huge investment if you’re looking for a long-time solution to your hydration-on-the-go needs.
The Features of RTIC Bottles
Lots of outdoor enthusiasts – myself included – consider RTIC bottles as budget bottles. However, even though this company’s drinkware isn’t the best on the market, it certainly does its job pretty well, particularly if we compare its cost to its value.
To me, RTIC bottles look very similar to the ones made by Yeti. Unlike Hydro Flask’s drinkware, which is often slim and sleek, the bottles made by RTIC look very similar to old Thermoses.
Most of them come with wide mouths and are fairly robust in size. Even their 18oz models look quite stout. These are the main features of RTIC’s bottles:
Just like Hydro Flask bottles, the ones made by RTIC also effortlessly maintain the temperature of cold beverages for up to 24 hours. Obviously, this can come in extremely handy during long summer hikes.
Their drinkware can keep hot drinks hot as well, but the brand fails to mention how long can its bottles maintain the temperature of warm beverages. I tested this out and found that the RTIC Stainless Steel Bottle keeps hot tea hot for about 5 hours, which is slightly shorter than in the case of most Hydro Flask bottles.
RTIC’s “No-Sweat” Walls
The drinkware made by this brand is vacuum-insulated and double-walled. Besides the fact that this kind of design maintains the temperature of cold and hot beverages, it also prevents the formation of sweat on the bottle’s exterior.
This is a particularly useful feature once we take into account the fact that the bottles made by RTIC come without the powder coating found on most Hydro Flask models.
Let’s be honest here – most people buy RTIC’s drinkware because of its low price. Generally speaking, the company’s bottles are about half as expensive as the ones made by Hydro Flask.
Other things worth mentioning are that the brand offers no options for different caps and lids, as well as that some of the colors aren’t available for all bottle sizes. Also, some owners reported an annoying screeching sound that appeared whenever they screwed heavy-duty caps onto their RTIC bottles in order to achieve an air-tight seal.
Hydro Flask vs RTIC Bottle – The Verdict
I think it’s pretty safe to say that Hydro Flask is the absolute winner of this “battle”. Not only are their bottles better designed and available in lots of sizes and colors, but they’re also often equipped with convenient features – like the powder coating – that greatly improve the user experience.
Hydro Flask bottles are also more durable, and are, therefore, a better choice for folks looking for a product of this type that they will be able to use for years.
RTIC’s bottles are great for casual users and for those looking to save some money, but Hydro Flask is the brand to go with if you want genuine durability, functionality, and versatility.
Besides these, Klean Kanteen is yet another brand that makes bottles that are excellent for casual users – see my Hydro Flask vs Klean Kanteen comparison.