Traveler's Gear Box: Thermos Stainless Steel Hydration Bottle

The 18 oz. Thermos Stainless Steel Hydration Bottle. Image from Thermos, LLC.

A refillable water bottle can save you a lot of money over the course of a year as compared to the cost of buying multiple throw-away plastic bottles, and there are plenty of choices in the marketplace. If you'd like a bottle that's durable, easy to clean, easy to open with one hand and able to keep your water cold for hours, the Thermos Stainless Steel Hydration Bottle is a great choice.

My wife and I both drink a lot of water every day—it's healthy, refreshing, and affordable ... as long as we don't buy it by the bottle. We also find water to be a lot more enjoyable if it's cold rather than tepid, so that means our water bottles of choice needed to have a wide mouth (for easily adding ice cubes).

We tried several variations over the years that were good but not great, including a stainless steel version that had only one major drawback—fill it with ice water, and the outside of the bottle was soon "sweating" with condensation. Then, about three years ago, we were given a pair of Thermos Hydration Bottles as a gift, and we knew we'd found the answer.

Our model of choice holds 18 ounces, and with the addition of some ice cubes when we fill it (easy with the wide mouth), the bottle will keep water cold for hours. The double-wall and vacuum construction means it doesn't "sweat" and a rubber grip around the middle of the container makes it easy to hold.

Stainless Steel, Inside and Out

The stainless steel interior and exterior were another plus, since that makes the bottle durable, and easy to clean. Perhaps you've sorted out all the pros and cons of various plastics for drinking bottles, but frankly I'd grown weary of trying to keep track of whether BPA-free, PET, HDPE or other varieties were supposedly more or less safe. The only plastic on this Thermos model is the cap; for what it's worth, it's reported to be BPA-free.

One of the handiest features of this specific bottle is the push-button, flip-open cap which can be easily opened with one hand. The top of the wide-mouth, screw-on lid is hinged and "spring loaded" with a small teflon(?) device; push the wide "button" in the lid, and the cap flips open, exposing a wide "sipping spout" for easy drinking without spills.

That one-hand operation makes the bottle especially handy for use in the car. When you're carrying the bottle in a pack, purse or briefcase, a metal locking clip can be flipped into position to keep the cap from opening. The short video review below illustrates that, and other features of the bottle.

All those features make this bottle a great choice for using around the house as well as on the road or trail. The no-sweat surface means the bottle won't leave water rings on the furniture, and the securely closing flip-lid means I can set it on my desk next to the computer without worrying about a spill, but still have a quick drink without having to wrestle with opening the top.

We've hauled these bottles on many a day-hike and road trip, and they fit just fine in the cup holders in our vehicle. Just for fun, I filled my bottle to the brim and eased it into a sink full of water. It floated just fine, so this item should also be suitable for clumsy boaters. If you tip your canoe and lose it overboard, the water bottle would likely run the rapids pretty handily, as long as the cap is clamped shut.

The one group that may not care for this item would be serious backpackers; if you're a person who cuts the handles off of a toothbrush to save a fraction of an ounce, you may not like the 12-ounce empty weight of this bottle. The only other downside: this product is made in China by a U. S. company.

Good for Hot Beverages, Too - With a Disclaimer

Would these bottles work equally well for hot beverages? I would think so, and some promotional materials from the Thermos company mention that use. However, we recently purchased another one of these bottles for a friend, and it came with a small caution sticker: "Do not use this product for hot beverages. Hot beverages may scald user. Never drink hot beverages directly from bottle."

My guess is some customer didn't pay attention, filled one of these bottles with steaming hot coffee, and then got a scorched mouth because he forgot that "insulated" really does mean what it says.

There's quite an array of similar Thermos bottles, in various sizes, colors and several types of caps. The model in this review is the 18-ounce Thermos Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Hydration Bottle, and it's available in three exterior colors (black, stainless and midnight blue), so at least three members of your household can have their own and easily tell them apart. You'll can purchase one from a number of on-line retailers; it's currently available at Amazon.com and other retailers for about $17.