When it comes to stainless steel water bottles two names tower above all the rest: Hydro Flask and Klean Kanteen. These two giants pretty much have the insulated stainless steel market sewn up tight. Anyone who has owned either of them can quickly tell you why: they provide one of the most convenient and useful ways to store your ice water, your steaming hot coffee, your frosty smoothie, your bubbling soup, or just about anything else you can stuff into it.
(If neither Hydro Flask nor Klean Kanteen is quite what you’re looking for, we have tons of other water bottle reviews that might suit your fancy. Head over to our Best Water Bottles 2019 Buyer’s Guide or you can visit Best Water Bottles 2017, or view our Water Bottle Reviews Category for a ton of other suggestions. You can also check out our Hydro Flask vs. S’well Bottle Comparison, the Hydro Flask vs. ThermoFlask Face-Off, and our Hydro Flask vs YETI reviews to see how the Hydro Flask stacks up against different opponents.)
Hydro Flask versus Klean Kanteen! Which is the Best Stainless Steel Water Bottle?
The truth is that in many ways the Hydro Flask and the Klean Kanteen are virtually identical. They are both constructed from 18/8 food grade stainless steel, both make use of double wall vacuum insulation, and both are available in a wide range of sizes and colors. But we want to settle the Great Insulated Debate once and for all and put this Hydro Flask vs. Klean Kanteen business to rest. That means it’s time to dig a little deeper.
In our examination below, we’ve judged both the Hydro Flask and the Klean Kanteen on a variety of factors to find the winner: Insulation, Durability, Form, Ease of Use, Accessories, Price, and Leakproofing. Keep reading to see who won!
The Insulation Factor
Having owned both Hydro Flasks and Klean Kanteens, I honestly can’t discern much of a difference between their insulating factor. Both of them have performed remarkably well at insulating on both ends of the temperature spectrum. This is more or less what one would expect, since the Hydro Flask and the Klean Kanteen employ the same style of double-walled insulation and both make use of stainless steel.
The insulation afforded by both the Klean Kanteen and the Hydro Flask is superb. Double-walled vacuum construction in stainless steel virtually guarantees no heat transfer from the contents of your bottle to the outside world. That means not only does whatever you put in it stay roughly the same temperature you put it in, but the surface of the bottle never really gets hot or cold either. So even if your insulated bottle is full of boiling hot Coco, the outside will remain cool to the touch.
If all you are looking for is insulation, it is pretty much a toss up. Fortunately, no matter which option you select, the results are more or less the best you’re going to get on the market.
(UPDATE: Since we wrote this article, Hydro Flask has improved its insulation. Their new Flex Cap lid incorporates a technology called Honey Comb Insulation to trap air and reduce heat transfer. This step forward edges these newer Hydro Flasks closer to winning this competition, but for the classic models it remains more or less a draw. If insulation if a top concern be sure to check out the Flex Cap Hydro Flask on Amazon or learn more by reading our feature on the Flex Cap.)
The Durability Factor
Verdict: Hydro Flask
Again, since our competitors are made from the same materials, they are more or less equals in durability. However, in my experience with Klean Kanteens I have noticed the lids can sometimes have problems forming a leak proof seal after they have been used for extended periods. Usually the plastic on the inside of the lid warps a bit and the result is a bottle that doesn’t seal quite as well as it used to.
This is something that has never presented itself on the Hydro Flask, which I feel has some better construction for its lid and screw-on mechanism. Which is not to say the Hydro Flask lid can’t warp and wear out as well, but I have yet to experience it.
Other than the lid, there is pretty much nothing on either bottle which is prone to breaking. The bottles themselves are incredibly tough and though I’ve managed to dent them a bit, I’ve never broken one or put one out of commission.
The Form Factor
Verdict: Klean Kanteen
It falls to personal choice which style of water bottle you fancy – both Hydro Flask and Klean Kanteen have some clever and visually appealing designs. In terms of sheer visual variety, Klean Kanteen offers a broader selection to choose from and often makes limited-run co-branded water bottles, like the Jack Johnson Klean Kanteen we’ve featured here previously. Perhaps some of the basic Klean Kanteen’s aren’t quite as visually appealing as the basic brightly colored design of the Hydro Flask, but aesthetic variety in the form of co-branding and different designs is much broader in the Klean Kanteen catalog.
While it is more or less a toss-up, since Klean Kanteen does offer a bit more to choose from when it comes to selecting the look of your bottle, we’ll give them the point for Form Factor.
The Ease of Use Factor
Both the Klean Kanteen and the Hydro Flask are available in several varieties to best accommodate your day-to-day needs, and every variety affords great ease of use. I tend to prefer wide-mouth water bottles to make it easy to put in ice cubes or even hot foods, and fortunately both Klean Kanteen and Hydro Flask are available in wide-mouth varieties.
Personally, I feel like a narrow-mouth insulated water bottle is kind of a wasted opportunity. But if for some reason that’s what you’re after, check out the narrow mouth Klean Kanteen or the Narrow Mouth Hydro Flask. These narrow-mouth options feature a slimmer profile, which is great if you are looking for something to fit into a cup holder or to minimize footprint in a backpack.
All the varieties of the Hydro Flask and Klean Kanteen are pretty comparable. They pretty similar shapes, size options, and are all about equally easy to clean and fill (read our water bottle cleaning guide if you need some help in the cleaning department.)
Ease of use is great on either side of the fence. This ones a draw.
The Accessories Factor
Verdict: Hydro Flask
When it comes to accessories, finally we have a pretty clear winner. Where the Hydro Flask has fostered a healthy ecosystem of accessories, the Klean Kanteen is relatively barren for accessory options. Don’t get me wrong – there are a few neat items available for the Klean Kanteen, like this bike mounted water bottle cage designed specifically for the Klean Kanteen. But aside from that, a refleece pint cozy, and a few options for different types of lids, there isn’t a whole lot on offer.
In contrast, it seems manufacturers have raced to exhaust just about every possibility for Hydro Flask accessories. Whether it is something as simple as a straw-lid or maybe one of the many water bottle holders designed with Hydro Flask in mind, there is a lot to choose from and always seems to be something new cropping up.
If you’re looking to customize your Hydro Flask by adding some personal flair or getting some functionality you wish it had, check out the wide selection of Hydro Flask accessories.
Aside from the accessories, Hydro Flask has been constantly increasing the varieties of bottles they offer by introducing new designs and colors. They even launched their Hydro Flask MyHydro Program, which allows you to create a completely customized Hydro Flask from your computer and have it special ordered to your home.
The Price Factor
Verdict: Klean Kanteen
Many people might look at this debate and think “okay, well if they’re so similar, I’ll just pickup the cheapest option!” In that case, the Klean Kanteen has a slight edge over the Hydro Flask. But for many models, pricing is pretty competitive. Take for example the 20 ounce wide mouth Klean Kanteen which is about $21. Hydro Flask doesn’t offer a 20 ounce widemouth, but the 18 ounce wide mouth Hydro Flask is also about $21.
On the upper range however, Klean Kanteen offers a bit more savings: the 40oz wide-mouth Klean Kanteen is about $25, whereas a 40oz wide-mouth Hydro Flask is around $33. So, if frugality is your goal, you can save $8 going the Klean Kanteen route.
The Leakproofing Factor
Verdict: Hydro Flask
I would never file away any of the selections from the Hydro Flask or Klean Kanteen catalogs as “leaky water bottles.” But when it comes to leakproofing, I have never really found anything that works as well as the Hydro Flask does. Klean Kanteens are plenty leakproof – they have a great seal and when properly fastened it works brilliantly. But as I mentioned before in the Durability section, the plastic lids used on Klean Kanteens can sometimes warp after long use and the quality of the seal declines.
In general, I feel from first hand experience that the Hydro Flask lid is easier to screw on and be assured of a quality seal than the Klean Kanteen. I’ve never had any issue with my Hydro Flask leaking or spilling no matter how casually I put the lid on. In contrast, sometimes I have to be precise about how the Klean Kanteen lid is screwed on or I’ll find myself with a leak.
Winner: Hydro Flask
Based on all the factors we’ve judged, the results are 2 Draws for Insulation and Ease of Use. For Form and Price, Klean Kanteen was the winner. But overall, the Hydro Flask narrowly takes the win 3-2 with Durability, Accessories, and Leakproofing.
As you can see from the numbers, this is a close one. It was a hard race to judge, as the reality is that these are very, very similar products. They are also both made from reputed high quality manufacturers and are extremely popular. We have featured both brands in our Best Waters Bottles of 2015 feature, and we believe both brands will remain some of the best options on the market for some time to come.
Alternative Stainless Steel Water Bottles
All this talk of Klean Kanteen and Hydro Flask might have left you wondering if they are the only players in the stainless steel water bottle game. While they might be the most popular, they are certainly not the only choices on the market.
One interesting and relatively little known option is MiiR. Their products are quite comparable to Hydro Flasks in design, form, function and price range. They offer slim narrow mouth 24 oz bottles as well as large, stylish 64 oz growlers.
Another interesting option is the Quench 32oz, which is an excellent and highly functional double-wall vacuum insulated stainless steel water bottle. At just $28, it’s also a bit cheaper than a Hydro Flask, but around the price range of a Klean Kanteen.
For many more options for insulated stainless steel alternatives to Hydro Flask or Klean Kanteen, be sure to read our guide to Generic Hydro Flask Alternatives.
Learn More About Hydro Flask and Klean Kanteen
Hopefully now that the debate is settled, we can put the whole ordeal of Hydro Flask vs. Klean Kanteen to bed and regard them both as pretty spectacular products. If you want to learn more about Hydro Flasks, check out our article Hydro Flask: The Best Water Bottle & Insulated Thermos?
If you need to know a bit more about Klean Kanteen, we recently published a review of their 12 ounce widemouth which has been a bottle that has never failed to serve me well!
Some New Developments
Since this article was originally published, Klean Kanteen and Hydro Flask have continued innovating and improving on their product lines with lots of interesting new additions. Hydro Flask has improved their bottle’s insulation by adding an all-new insulated lid design called the Flex Cap, which you can read more about here. They have also expanded their customization options by opening up the new MyHydro Program, which enables you to create a customized Hydro Flask with your own choice of unique colors.
Klean Kanteen has not been idle either, consistently expanding their product line with new additions and styles. Products like the Klean Kanteen Tumbler apply the quality design and manufacturing of classic Klean Kanteen bottles to a new and useful product.
We will always be keeping tabs on the latest and greatest from Hydro Flask and Klean Kanteen, as well as the water bottle world in general! Subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on social media to always stay up-to-date.
Hopefully this guide has given you enough information to decide between Hydro Flask and Klean Kanteen. I think no matter which way to go, you won’t be disappointed with the decision! If you didn’t quite find what you were looking for from either of these options, take a look at some of the articles in our reviews section to get some other ideas!
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We help you find the best insulated bottle by examining the Hydro Flask vs Klean Kanteen debate to find out which one is the best buy.
Jacob Hatch is the author and founder of Hydration Anywhere. He has been actively writing about drinking water since 2013. These days Jacob spends most of his time investigating water related news, studying environmental issues, reading health studies, and reviewing products like water bottles and water filters.