Hydro Flask and S’well produce some of the best water bottles on the planet. Both companies’ bottles are crafted from vacuum-insulated stainless steel. They’re also attractive, durable, and easy to drink from.
Water bottles are an integral part of any hikers’ arsenal. Clean drinking water on the trails is essential, and a good, reliable, refillable water bottle means that you should never be without it. A poor bottle can leak or break, leaving you without water on the trails. And a lack of water can lead to dehydration, which can be very dangerous. (Check out all best hiking bottles reviews)
A good reusable water bottle will keep you safe, keep you hydrated and save you money. And they’re good for the environment!
Both Hydro Flask and S’well create great bottles. While Hydro Flask bottles are some of the best-known on the market, S’well is less well-known, but they are becoming more popular.
Related: Hydro Flask Alternatives
In this article, we’ve compared bottles from both companies, so you can choose which one is best for you. We’ll only be comparing the original bottles from both companies.
Both companies now produce a whole host of different products for different occasions, including tumblers, commuter mugs, and more, but we’ll just be discussing the original bottles in this article – because those are the ones best suited for hiking!
Hydro Flask Double Insultaed Stainless
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S’well 17 Fl Oz-White Marble
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Both companies make bottles which are crafted from vacuum-insulated stainless steel.
Hydro Flask bottles are built with double-wall insulation, while S’well bottles, though made with the same technology, are triple-wall insulated. This extra layer is made up of copper, which has been added to increase insulation performance.
As far as insulation goes, both are able to keep cold drinks cold for 24 hours – great news when you want cold water or another cold beverage on the trails! If you want to avoid room temperature water for a long period of time, both bottles will give you just that.
But because of their triple-wall insulation build, S’well bottles perform slightly better when it comes to keeping hot drinks hot. If you’ll be using this frequently for hot drinks, you might prefer the performance of S’well bottles. But the performance is only marginally better, so we don’t see this as a dealbreaker.
Neither bottle leaves an aftertaste after drinking, with either hot or cold drinks. This is a massive advantage of insulated stainless steel water bottles over plastic water bottles.
Hydro Flask bottles come in the following sizes: 12oz, 18oz, 21oz, 24oz, 32oz, 40oz and 64oz.
S’well bottles come in only three sizes: 9oz, 17oz, and 25oz.
If you’re looking for greater size options, Hydro Flask absolutely offers more.
While Hydro Flask offers the biggest size of the two companies, S’well offers a good size choice for those looking for a smaller bottle.
Lids and mouth sizes
Here’s one category in which Hydro Flask bottles are better. First of all, they offer two different mouth sizes – wide and narrow. The Hydro Flask wide mouth is better for staying hydrated (a wider mouth increases your water intake), while the narrow mouth is better for sipping while you walk.
Hydro flask bottles can be used with many lids:
- Hydro flip lid, which controls the flow of the water, to stop it from pouring over you.
- Normal, screw-on lids with a carry handle.
- A lid with a straw built into it. This straw lid is great – you can sip from your straw while you’re on the move.
S’well bottles come with a narrow mouth, and no other option, so it can be difficult to put ice inside of a S’well bottle. There are three lid options for S’well bottles:
- Standard screw top.
- Flip-up sports cap, which is good when you’re on the move.
- Swing top, with a small handle.
S’well doesn’t craft lids with straws. Instead, they sell stainless steel straws on their site, but these aren’t an adequate replacement for a lid with a built-in straw.
S’well lids are a little more awkward and cumbersome to screw on, in comparison to Hydro Flask lids.
Which bottle is better on the trails?
Both brands cover their bottles with a slip-free coating, which means that the bottles shouldn’t slip out of your hands, even when you’ve got a sweaty grip from hours of walking.
Both bottles are also equally durable. They will last a long time on the trails, and both offer great drop protection. Even if you drop them, bash them about in your pack, or hit them while scrambling, they’ll stay strong.
That said, the surface of the S’well is more susceptible to scratches and scrapes. This won’t affect the performance of the bottle at all, but it will affect its aesthetics.
Both bottles are also built to combat sweating, so they don’t get covered in condensation.
Neither manufacturer makes silicone sleeves for their bottles, but Hydro Flask makes a silicone boot. This can be attached to the bottom of all bottles to protect against bashes and bumps.
Both bottles look good.
That said, S’well produces bottles which have really quirky, unique patterns which many people like – if you want something that can double up as a fashion accessory, S’well bottles are perhaps the better choice. They have metallic finishes, floral designs, tie-dye patterns, print patterns, and more.
Hydro Flask bottles just come in block colors. Though some of the sizes offer up to 15 color choices, none of the designs are as unique or interesting as those on the S’well bottles. The many color choices S’well offers make S’well one of the best gifts for outdoorsy people.
S’well bottles, in our opinion, also have a slight edge in shape. They have a more aesthetic, sleek design, which we prefer to Hydro Flask bottles.
Both bottles are built to battle leaks, and both bottles do so very well. But from our research, the Hydro Flask is slightly less likely to have leaks.
S’well bottles, as noted, are also a little more awkward to close than Hydro Flask Bottles. It can sometimes be a little cumbersome to screw the lid onto a S’well bottle. For this reason too, S’well bottles are more likely to leak. So if the lid isn’t fixed right, your pack might get wet, along with the things inside.
If your priority is leak-proof reliability, the Hydro Flask is probably the better buy.
Relative to size, Hydro Flask bottles are more affordable – you get more capacity for your money. If you’re looking to save money, a Hydro Flask is your best option. That said, Hydro Flasks are still expensive.
Both water bottles are absolutely worth the investment given how long they should last. And, every now and then, it’s possible to stumble upon a discounted Hydro Flask or S’well model.
These are two of the best bottles on the market for value.
But, if you would still like to save a few bucks, I suggest checking my Hydro Flask vs Contigo comparison as well as my EcoVessel vs Hydro Flask comparison.
Weight and Size
Hydro Flask is lighter compared to its volume. If you want to lessen the weight of your pack, this is an important consideration.
S’well bottles are narrower, which some people might prefer because of pack size.
Ease of cleaning
Neither company makes dishwasher-friendly bottles, but they’re both fairly easy to clean. The Hydro Flask has the upper hand here though – because of its shape, cleaning it is very easy.
S’well bottles are a little more awkward because of how they’re tapered. To properly clean your S’well bottle, it’s a good idea to buy a long-necked bottle brush. You can buy them on the S’well website, but cheaper options are available in other places.
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Which bottle is better, Hydro Flask vs S’well?
Overall in the battle of Hydro Flask vs S’well, our pick is the Hydro Flask. Hydro Flask bottles more affordable, more easy-clean and offer more options with sizes and lids. They’re also less likely to leak.
S’well bottles are slightly better at keeping warm drinks warm, and they offer more aesthetic options, but Hydro Flask bottles have better functionality overall.
But it should be noted that both bottles are great – and both are two of the best on the market. Whichever you choose, you’ll be getting an excellent hiking bottle!
If you are interested in the S’well bottle, you also might want to check out my Mira vs Hydro Flask comparison.