If you are in the market for a new reusable water bottle, chances are you have seen these two brands. Hydro Flask and Swell are high-quality brands that stand out among the crowd due to their stylish looks.
Although both bottles offer excellent temperature retention, design, and high-quality materials, and cost almost exactly the same, they differ in certain aspects. Whether you want a stainless steel bottle for hiking, use around town, travel, or the gym, read on to find out which brand is the better choice for you.
- Volume: 25 oz
- Body material: 18/8 stainless steel
- Empty weight: 1 lb
When my S’well bottle arrived, I was taken aback by how beautiful it was. Style isn’t my priority when it comes to outdoor gear, but the design of the S’well bottle is absolutely praiseworthy. No matter which color or pattern you choose, rest assured you’ll get a sleek and gorgeous product.
The design of the bottle is focused on making the drinking experience better; it’s not all about the looks. The cap of the S’well is so pleasant to touch and open.
The cap comes off very easily, all it takes is a few twists (fewer than most bottles require). I used the bottle for quite some time and I hadn’t experienced any cross-threading.
The texture is perfect. It has just enough grip from the ribbing to make it pleasant to carry around all day long, but not enough to make it a pain. Moreover, the level of polish on the cap and the bottle is amazing.
Swell’s own “ThermaS’well” insulation technology also stands out. S’well also features an added layer of copper, so it’s definitely not a run-of-the-mill double-walled stainless steel bottle.
Technically, it’s triple-walled. This significantly improves the bottle’s ability to maintain the temperature of the water. The 18/8 stainless steel doesn’t impart a metallic taste to the bottle’s contents and it doesn’t “sweat” on the outside.
I only have one serious complaint about the S’well: it isn’t as durable as other high-end stainless steel bottles. I threw it on concrete a few times to see how it would hold up. Not only did it get dented, but the S’well couldn’t stand up straight after that.
I admit, I went pretty hard at it, as I was putting it to the test. But even if you use the bottle normally, serious denting is just a matter of time.
All bottles dent, even Hydro Flask, but considering that S’well is designed to look magnificent, it shouldn’t dent so easily.
- No flavor transfer
- Great value for money
- Gorgeous design
- Excellent temperature retention
- Wide variety of colors and patterns
- Could be more durable
- Volume: 24 oz
- Body material: 18/8 stainless steel
- Empty weight: 1.4 lb
I picked the Hydro Flask Standard Mouth bottle for this comparison as this model is most similar to the S’well 25 oz bottle. It is a lighter, more versatile version of the Hydro Flask’s Wide Mouth. It has all of my favorite features of the classic Hydro Flask bottle.
I biked around town with the Hydro Flask, took it to the crag, took it to the office, and used it during workouts. Needless to say, I dropped this bottle on the ground numerous times.
There were a few scratches and a couple of tiny dents, but the bottle was otherwise unscathed after several months of heavy use.
I used quite a few insulated bottles back in the day. The paint chipped away completely after just a couple of months of use and the dents were more than noticeable. When it comes to durability, very few bottles can compare to the Hydro Flask.
Even though this bottle has a narrow mouth, I didn’t find it to be a problem. I could easily clean it with a bottle brush. The threads on the lid greatly helped with this. Moreover, the bottle allows for easy one-handed drinking.
The bottle’s slightly smaller capacity, narrow width, and sleek shape give it a light feel. Actually, it is more than a feeling. For instance, this bottle weighs much less than the Yeti Rambler or Hydro Flask Wide Mouth.
Usually, I prefer drinking nothing but water out of stainless steel bottles. But, for the sake of the test, I filled the Hydro Flask with tea, coffee, and soda. I never tasted any lingering flavors after cleaning the bottle.
However, I didn’t like drinking hot drinks out of this bottle. It was uncomfortable to drink hot drinks as the narrow mouth of the bottle conducts heat.
- Lifetime warranty
- Easy to clean
- Not the best choice for hot drinks
Side by Side Comparison
Mouth and Lid
Neither of these bottles can fit standard-size ice cubes. Still, the mouth of the Hydro Flask is a bit wider. This makes it easier to clean than the S’well.
Moreover, there’s only one version of the S’well bottle. Unlike Hydro Flask, S’well doesn’t sell wide-mouth bottles.
Hydro Flask offers a wide variety of lids and accessories for its Standard Mouth bottle. Aside from the standard flex cap, you can get the hydro lid, straw lid, sport cap, etc. Each of these serves a different purpose, and I didn’t find any of them to be gimmicky.
S’well offers fewer lids and accessories. None of these are particularly impressive. All of them are designed to fit S’well’s super narrow mouth, so they don’t have much to offer. This also makes them a bit difficult to clean—more difficult than the standard cap.
I’ve noticed that many hikers like S’well’s filter lid but I find it to be a bit gimmicky. For instance, you need to swap out the filter after 3 months of use. What’s the point of having a reusable bottle if it’s still gonna create waste?
It’s much better to buy a proper water filter for your outdoor adventures. In any case, Hydro Flask is the clear winner in this metric.
My insulation test wasn’t the most scientific, as I wanted to keep things simple, but it showed me clearly which bottle offers better thermoregulation.
I filled both bottles with crushed ice and put them in a sunny spot in my yard, one next to the other. After 24 hours I shook each bottle to see how much ice it has retained.
I couldn’t hear or feel any movement in S’well, it was still filled to the brim with crushed ice. I could definitely hear the ice moving when I shook the Hydro Flask.
At this point, it was clear to me that S’well has better thermoregulation but I still left them to sit in my hard for another 24 hours. I checked the bottles the next day: there was no ice in the Hydro Flask bottle while there was some ice in the S’well bottle.
I repeated the test on a warmer day and the result was the same—S’well bottle’s triple-wall vacuum insulation is superior to Hydro Flask’s double-wall insulation.
As I mentioned, most other bottles are not nearly as durable as Hydro Flask. S’well is one of those bottles.
I mean, the S’well will dent to the point at which it won’t be able to stand, but it won’t lose its insulating properties or start to leak so easily. Still, I wouldn’t call it a buy-it-for-life product. Hydro Flask, on the other hand, could easily last you a lifetime.
Not only is Hydro Flask clearly more durable, but it comes with a lifetime warranty. S’well offers a 1-year lifetime warranty. And both products cost the same. This says it all.
Colors that stand out are basically a trademark of the Hydro Flask brand. Hydro Flask has become somewhat of a status symbol because of its sleek design and a wide variety of color options.
All of them are so photogenic, it’s no surprise everyone is buying them—from festival-goers to mountain climbers.
This makes the fact that S’well offers an even greater variety of colors and patterns even more impressive. It comes in colors I didn’t even know existed. It might come as a surprise to many, but, if you are looking for a functional stainless steel bottle that is also a fashion statement, S’well is the better option.
The Winner: Hydro Flask
Even though I have a lot of words of praise for S’well, I still choose Hydro Flask over S’well. Even though S’well has better temperature retention, the Hydro Flask bottle is significantly more durable. In my book, that is more important.
Moreover, I’ll always go for a brand that offers lifetime warranties and is known for great customer service.
But that’s me. If you want your water to be ice-cold even after a couple of days, or if you like drinking hot beverages out of a stainless steel bottle, S’well might be the better choice for you.
You will also be happier with the S’well if you want a bottle that is a gorgeous accessory as well as an insulated water container.