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Ozark Trail has by far the most affordable water bottles out of anyone on this list. With that said, they do feel cheap in comparison, however, the bottles still actually perform quite well. Of all the bottles that we tested, Ozark Trail was third best in terms of ice retention—the 36oz bottle that we have managed to go a full 72 hours before the ice melted. That was with mixed use as well, so we actually rotated the bottles between having them indoors and outdoors in 100° F weather.
We were, quite frankly, stunned with how well Ozark Trail did in our tests. Taking into account price and performance, we think the Ozark Trail bottles are the overall best value. You can get Ozark Trail products on Amazon, however, we’ve found that Walmart has them cheaper in most cases. We’ve seen the 36oz bottle at Walmart for as low as $7! For reference, you could buy seven Ozark Trail 360z Bottles for the price of one YETI Rambler Bottle.
YETI is known for ultra-durable, over-engineered, high quality, expensive products. Their water bottles are no different. YETI has very likely the most durable stainless steel water bottles out there and they happen to be amazing at ice and heat retention. Of all seven brands, YETI finished first in our ice test, lasting 72 hours with still about 1/8 of the ice remaining. Again, this was an indoor/outdoor test, but we were floored with how long the YETI bottles can retain ice.
As for price, well YETI is expensive, but not egregious. A 36oz bottle has an MSRP of $50, though we do see discounts frequently to where the average price is more like $42 [check price on Amazon], which is inline with pricing for Hydro Flask. You can also always check our Deals page to see if we’ve found any deals on YETI products as well. In any event, like most of the products on this list, YETI bottles are made of kitchen-grade stainless steel, are double-walled, and vacuum insulated. Further, YETI has a wide-mouth opening at the top for adding in ice.
For the longest time YETI actually didn’t have any accessories for their bottles so if you didn’t like the wide mouth opening, you were out of luck. Now, however, YETI make a bottle chub cap and a bottle straw cap, which you can see on YETI’s website. They also now have color options (beyond the stainless steel look), which really puts them neck and neck with Hydro Flask. It used to be that Hydro Flask had colors and cool accessories and YETI had nothing. Not anymore. Bottom line with YETI bottles, if you get one you’ll probably really like it. Jeff has one and he uses it religiously.
RTIC is probably best known for shamelessly copying YETI’s every move, but they actually make pretty decent products. We’re admittedly bigger fans of the RTIC tumbler than we are the RTIC water bottle, but the bottles are okay as well. The sizing and designs of bottle are great—at least with their legacy bottles—but the lids are awful. Opening and closing an RTIC bottle gives me the sensation of nails on a chalkboard—it’s dreadful and cringeworthy. For that reason alone, I would steer you toward either the new RTIC bottles (which are ugly—see for yourself on Amazon) or the other brands on this list.
With that said, the RTIC legacy bottles are really affordable and do a good job of insulating your beverages. Prices are changing constantly with the legacy RTIC bottles, but suffice it to say that only Ozark Trail offers a cheaper bottle, at least out of brands on this list. In terms of ice retention, the RTIC bottle went 72 hours (indoor/outdoor) and still had ice at the end, albeit barely. Only the bottom ring of the bottle still had ice, but it was nonetheless pretty impressive. The RTIC bottles aren’t a bad option, but they’re kind of in no man’s land where cheaper products exist, as do much better products.
CamelBak is new to the stainless steel bottle game, but not new to the hydration game by any means. Think of their Chute Stainless Steel bottle as basically a YETI bottle with a two-stage lid by default. What I mean by that is the CamelBak Chute does a fantastic job of insulating and is not cheap my any means. The Chute was our second best performer in terms of ice retention and is only a little bit more affordable than YETI products. As an example, the 40 ounce Chute is around $37 [check price on Amazon] whereas YETI (as previously mentioned) is about $42 on average on Amazon.
So, it’s good with keeping ice and the price is high, but one of the main selling points with the Chute is the two-stage lid, which has a wide-mouth opening for ice, but also a top lid for sipping—kind of the best of both words. You have to spend an extra $10 with YETI to get a similar lid. With that said, the elastic/plastic attachment mechanism, which is the colored thing at the top of the lid, is kind of a pain to deal with. It’s there to stop you from losing the little cap, but when you drink out of the bottle it ends up in your way. I wish CamelBak would have found some other system for the top cap here. Beyond that, it’s a great water bottle that insulates well and comes in several different colors.
Hydro Flask is the top dog when it comes to insulated bottles. The term ‘Hydro Flask’ is pretty much synonymous with stainless steel water bottles. You can’t go to an REI or Dick’s Sporting Goods without seeing a wall covered in Hydro Flask bottles. The fact of the matter is Hydro Flask is killing it and people (including the RIZKNOWS team) love their products. They have plenty of size and color options as well as accessories to where almost everyone can find the bottle that they like. In our test, however, Hydro Flask was second worst when it came to ice retention (we tested the 32oz and 40oz bottles).
The 40oz bottle went 72 hours without the ice melting completely, but the 32oz was just over 48 hours. Don’t get me wrong, that is impressive, but YETI, for example, was much better with ice retention. In terms of price, we had Hydro Flask second to last as well based on average prices on Amazon. With that said, we’ve seen deals here and there on Hydro Flask bottles so you may want to check pricing regularly to see if there are any deals. Bottom line: Hydro Flask has really good products. Clearly they’re doing something right because people go crazy for their bottles.
Stanley has plenty of different insulated thermos and bottle options, but their classic series is more or less a hybrid between the two. It has the two-stage lid like the Camelbak Chute, but their bottles are very tall and slender. While we thought the Stanley bottle was a solid, durable, quality water bottle, we didn’t love the bionic arm that holds the top cap in place. It just gets in the way and is awkward to fiddle with. Also, the bottle is just too tall for us. But, these are personal preference items, you may like the Stanley Classic bottle and it actually performed well and is very reasonably priced. It went a full 72 hours with ice still left at the end (barely). Pricing is all over the place, but it’s typically really affordable at under $25 on Amazon.
Last up on the list is the Thermaluxe, which is one of Polar Bottle’s only stainless steel options. We really like this bottle. It’s sleek and much smaller and more comfortable in the hand than the others on this list. It’s only 21 ounces so it didn’t insulate as well as the others, but it did go a solid 48 hours indoors/outdoors for ice retention, which isn’t bad at all.
The really neat thing about the Thermaluxe is the lid. It has a wide mouth opening, but you do not need to completely take off the cap in order to sip your water. It actually is a convenient system that we really like. Surely, they have a patent on it or we’d see the same mechanism on other bottles. The Thermaluxe is quite expensive at about $32 on Amazon, but taking price out of the equation, if more people knew about this bottle, they’d get it. Polar Bottle did a really good job with the Thermaluxe.