Review: Are the highly-rated water bottles worth the price?

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SALT LAKE CITY — Outdoor Retailer’s last run in Utah came to an end Saturday, as thousands of participants got a chance to view the best products in the outdoor world.

Of all the products and companies featured, water bottles were one of the most popular products of the show — coming in all shapes, sizes, colors and materials. With so many options, the best way to narrow down the field is to go online and see what the reviews said.

Are those reviews accurate? That’s where this test comes into play. Water bottles are probably most popular in the office or outdoors, so this test examined each product and how it performed indoors and out.

Klean Kanteen 20 oz. Insulated Classic

Price: $30

Availability: Worldwide retail

This water bottle follows many of the products Klean Kanteen makes and each rather good at keeping your drink cold for 24 hours. Not only that, there’s no lingering metallic taste, which is additionally good. This particular water bottle comes with a vacuum-sealed cap that keeps water cold.

In this experiment, the bottle was filled on a Friday night and remained cold in a 72-degree office overnight. It also remained cold after a several-mile trek up City Creek Canyon in 90-degree heat, making it a versatile product for indoors and outdoors.

The company began in 2004 with a BPA-free stainless steel product and only have grown since then with products in a variety of colors and sizes, as well as products: coffee, tea, as well as kids products.

“Initially all we had was the brush stainless products, but we did start to realize people were interested in color and color has been a big story for us,” a spokesman said. He said that includes customized coloring and co-branding.

The products range in price from less than $20 to about $80 depending on size.

Hydro Flask 18 oz. Standard Mouth

Price: $30

Availability: Worldwide retail

As I check out this bottle, Caroline Kelm, a spokeswoman for the company at Outdoor Retailer, showed me a bottle cut in half to show how the insulation technique works. Essentially, it is two stainless steel containers that do not touch each other, allowing a slight air pocket that makes it easier for outside heat to influence the liquid temperature inside the inner container.

So much like Klean Kanteen, this bottle works well outdoors on a hot day and stays cold without a problem. It was the perfect bottle to bring on a hike.

Hydro Flask also sells various products with different color options, much like its counterpart. However, the company sells a wider range of products that include a 22-liter backpack cooler set for release in 2018. Another product set for 2018 release is actually 128 oz. (and $125), is geared more for food but can hold drinks too.

LifeFactory 22 oz. BPA-free Glass Water Bottle

Price: $30

Availability: Online

LifeFactory is different from the rest since it is a glass product and actually got purchased by insulated bottle king Thermos last week. Unlike the insulated counterparts, it doesn’t capture heat or cold well. It’s also heavier than the other options.

However, it does have some benefits. It’s got probably the best-tasting water of this group and a new MicroDisc feature coming to its bottles includes a revolving straw that works very well. A new filtration model coming later this year will make water cleaner, which is a good innovation.

LifeStraw 22 oz. Water Bottle

Price: $30

Availability: Online

Unfortunately, the company’s new products were not available for review at Outdoor Retailer, but one is a kids product, another allows customers to attach this straw to other water bottles and another comes in a teepee fabric that makes it easier to use on its own in the wild.

However, one of the thing intriguing parts of this product isn’t the bottle; rather, it’s the straw. That said, the bottle makes using the straw that much easier. Each water bottle comes with a biological filter and a carbon filter. These have the ability to eliminate things such as cyanotoxins, which are found in algal blooms. Both filters must be replaced but have a good lifespan. The biological filter is good for 1,056 gallons and the carbon filter is good for 26 gallons.

What does that mean? Anyone can scoop water out of any source and drink it without a problem. The advantage there is that it can be refilled without running water. That’s the only advantage, though. Within two hours indoors, the water was no longer cold as is the case for most plastic bottle. A 90-degree day outdoors made it turn lukewarm much quicker. Luckily, some of the new products will help address that issue.

Thermos Vacuum Insulated 18 oz. Hydration Bottle

Price: $20

Availability: Retail everywhere

It’s hard to beat the king but the newer insulation bottles definitely hold their own. That said, the cap on this bottle is probably the easiest to work with. Water remains cold for 24 hours and heat also holds for a good amount of time.

Another benefit here is that it’s $10 cheaper than the others.

The moral of the story: most water bottles can be used for everyday use, especially for quick consumption. However, the slightly pricier options are worth the extra money, and insulation is king if you’re out hiking on a hot summer day.

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Carter Williams is an award-winning reporter who covers general news, outdoors, history and sports for


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