When we were offered a chance to receive an FNova Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle for review, we couldn’t help but notice the striking similarity between the FNova and our long time favorite the Hydro Flask. No matter how you look at it, FNova has pretty much unabashedly taken its design cues from Hydro Flask. But is that such a bad thing?
The Hydro Flask is undeniably a winning design, so iterating on their success could be a great thing for water bottle consumers by creating competition and broadening the market. In our testing, the FNova does stack up to a Hydro Flask in many ways, and does so at a bargain price. We will be drawing comparisons to Hydro Flask throughout this article, to answer the question of if FNova has produced a viable Hydro Flask Alternative.
Getting to Know the FNova Stainless Steel Water Bottle (~$20 on Amazon.com)
Pictured above is the 35 ounce variety of the FNova, which is the model we received to review. As of this writing, I only see the 21 ounce version available on Amazon, but the listing may update in the future to make 35 ounce versions available again.
In terms of design, the FNova has selected some pretty tried and true construction methods, and the execution is well done. The bottle itself is made from food-grade 18/8 stainless steel. Double-wall vacuum insulation construction uses the same technology behind the insulation in leading names like Thermos, Klean Kanteen or Hydro Flask. The outside of the bottle is coated with an anti-sweating matte finish which prevents condensation or “sweating” on the outside of the bottle.
According to the manufacturer, the FNova bottle can keep contents hot for up to 12 hours or cold for 24. In our testing, we’ve found these claims to be pretty reasonable. The FNova can certainly provide some exceptional insulation. It kept my ice more or less frozen even after a whole day out and about (12-16 hours.) I haven’t done a field test with hot beverages, but I did pour some hot tea into the bottle to check out its heat-retaining capabilities. When I returned about 4 hours later, my tea was still pretty warm but definitely not as hot as when I put it in.
The vacuum insulation does an exceptional job of isolating the contents of the bottle from heat transfer, so even if you have scalding hot soup or freezing cold water inside, you can handle the bottle just fine. The anti-sweat matte coating is also great, giving the bottle a great feeling when held.
Three Include Lids
One of the most attractive features of the FNova bottle is the fact that it includes three types of lid with every purchase. The lids themselves are nothing innovative, but the fact they are included with purchase sets the FNova apart from many other water bottles which typically only include one lid with purchase and sell others as an accessory.
The three types of lid included are the “Sport Cap,” which features a straw for easy access, the “Steel Bamboo Cap,” which can be used to make sure nothing contacts your water except 100% food grade stainless steel, and the third and final cap, the “Loop Cap,” is perfect for attaching to the included carabiner or a rope. These are some pretty neat options. The “Sport Cap” has been my go-to, since I like the easy access afforded by a straw. It is remarkably leak proof.
The other two options I haven’t used much, but I very much like the “Steel Bamboo Cap.” The top of the cap has a very elegant piece of bamboo finishing off an otherwise solid stainless steel cap. This is great for anyone concerned with plastics coming into contact with their water, making the FNova an attractive option for those looking to avoid plastics of all type. However, the plastic lid options also work superbly, and are made from 100% BPA-free plastics.
Stacking Up to the Competition
Undeniably, the FNova has attempted to emulate the success of Hydro Flask by using a similar design. But have they succeeded? In a side-by-side comparison, we can definitely say that the FNova is a well-designed product comparable to Hydro Flask and other brands. Just by the “feel” of the bottles, I would say the FNova is just a little less quality in construction than a Hydro Flask, but it is still an appreciably excellent bottle.
In terms of price point, the 21-ounce FNova at ~$20 on Amazon is almost $10 cheaper than a 21-ounce Hydro Flask on Amazon. Not only is the price tag lower, the FNova also packs in the extra value of coming with three lids. The included lids are pretty high quality (although the straw lid has a long way to go in comparison with the Hydro Flask’s straw.)
As far as insulation capabilities go, the FNova bottle is more than adequate for most people’s usage. I think that the different types of lids included will definitely have some impact on the insulating capabilities. Though I haven’t evaluated it extensively, I believe the steel bamboo cap provides the best insulation while the straw lid tends to compromise the insulating capability slightly.
One thing we think could improve about the FNova bottle is an offering of a wide-mouth version. The current version is advertised as “Standard Mouth” and is rather narrow. This can make cleaning a little difficult, and means that your ice cubes will have to be on the smaller side in order to fit easily into the FNova water bottle.
It might seem unfair for us to compare FNova – a relatively unknown brand – to the current industry leader. But we decided that we would be as shameless in this comparison as FNova has been in their attempts to emulate Hydro Flask. Just to get an idea of what we mean, look at these two advertisements. The first is for FNova, the second for Hydro Flask.
Notice a few similarities?
We’re not faulting the FNova for this: they set out to create a sort of generic Hydro Flask, and they have succeeded. The bottle is excellent quality for the money, and offers some of the most desirable features on the market.
Ultimately we award the FNova 4/5 stars. Quality is good, price is exceptional, durability is on point, and while FNova has not done much to innovate, they have created a quality product. A worth while Hydro Flask alternative, and a great water bottle in its own right.
(UPDATE: Check out the new, 40 ounce wide-mouth version of the FNova Bottle, the FNova Flask. Click here to read our complete review.)
Three Lids Included
Narrow Mouth Makes Cleaning Difficult
- Editor Rating
- Rated 4 stars
- FNova Stainless Steel Insulated Water Bottle
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The FNova Stainless Steel Insulated Bottle offers a simple Hydro Flask-esque design which is highly capable of offering great insulation at an exceptional value.