S’well Bottle is a brand that has been making water bottles since 2010. With a focus on creating highly portable stainless steel water bottles with quality vacuum insulation, they have kept their product line trim and their design focused. The result has been a whopping success, creating a top of the line water bottle available in a huge variety of different looks and a selection of three sizes, making for a range of visually diverse takes on the same highly engineered trusty S’well water bottle.
We named S’well Bottle the Best Water Bottle of 2017. This was a decision that came after testing S’well Bottles against dozens of competitors in our best bottle testing. But more than that, we have become familiar with everyday usage of several different S’well Bottles which we’ve acquired over the years. Typically we pick them up because they are eye-catching, but inevitably we find ourselves using them over and over again because they not only look good, they work even better.
The Many Faces of S’well Bottle
When you first begin looking at the selection of S’well Bottles it looks like there is a ton to choose from. And while there are a lot of different looks, it’s important to remember that no matter what you pick, the fundamental bottle itself doesn’t change a whole lot.
The anatomy of a S’well Bottle is simple: 18/8 food-grade stainless steel, a leak-proof twist cap, and triple-wall vacuum insulation advertising its ability to keep cold for up to 24 hours or hot for up to 12. Those familiar with shopping for vacuum insulated stainless steel bottles are probably aware of the typical “double-wall insulation” touted by insulated bottles. The S’well Bottle steps things up a notch by using an additional internal layer of copper to provide additional insulation. In our experience, this actually works quite brilliantly. Our triple-wall insulated S’well Bottles have tested to exceed their claim of keeping cold for up to 24 hours, having unmelted ice as much as 30 hours into our test.
Manufactured from high quality 18/8 food-grade stainless steel, S’well Bottles don’t impart any flavors into their contents and are very easy to clean. One important note is that the screw-on lid does use a BPA-free plastic which is perfectly safe, but can contact the bottle’s contents if the bottle is inverted. This is no concern for us, but for those looking to go 100% plastic-free may want to look elsewhere.
A Bottle Built To Last
One of the universal benefits of a stainless steel bottle (or just about anything for that matter) is the incredible durability inherent to stainless steel. It is hard to imagine what you’d have to do to your S’well Bottle to actually cause enough destruction to make it unusable, and through years of use and abuse and the wear and tear of everyday carrying, every S’well Bottle we own is still in working condition.
However, while the bottle itself might be indestructible, the appealing artwork on the outsides of the bottle is more prone to showing its age and the scars of mishandling. S’well Bottles’ looks run the spectrum from a simple, plain black to wood finishes to faux snake skin, and beyond. Depending on which bottle you select, it can be as much of a fashion accessory or even a work of art as it is a simple water bottle. For these types of S’well, we recommend a bit of careful handling to preserve the awesome aesthetic they have. But still, underneath the artwork is a tank of a bottle which can still take a beating and keep on carrying on.
If we have one minor gripe with the S’well Bottle line, it has to be the relative narrowness of the bottle’s mouth. Even on the largest of S’well Bottles, the opening is still definitely a narrow-mouth size, albeit a bit larger than some of the more narrow bottles we’ve encountered. This means that getting full-sized ice cubes into the S’well Bottle is possible, but larger chunks of ice aren’t likely to make it in. This also means cleaning your S’well Bottle can be a little tricky. You’ll definitely want to pick up a bottle cleaning brush or something similar to get the nooks and crannies properly cleaned out. Check out our article How To Clean Your Water Bottle for more ideas on proper cleanliness!
We’ve always been keen on finding the bottle which can offer the best insulation. We always include insulation as an important category in any of our reviews, and have even done our entire feature Best Insulated Water Bottles. So when testing out the S’well, we had to subject it to some of our insulation tests. And the results were impressive.
If you’re unfamiliar with the principle of vacuum insulation in stainless steel water bottles, it’s a fairly simple concept. Vacuum insulated bottles are sort of like a “bottle-in-a-bottle.” The inner most bottle is where you put your water, or whatever the bottle’s contents are. This inner compartment is separated from the outside world by a layer of evacuated air (a vacuum) and another wall of stainless steel. This gives us the typical “double-wall vacuum insulation” we hear so much about from water bottle manufacturers. Since any heat trying to escape or enter the bottle now has to work its way through this layer of vacuum (a very poor conductor of heat,) heat transfer is effectively stopped altogether!
Another upside of this design is the bottle doesn’t sweat from condensation, and it never gets too hot or cold to handle, regardless of what is inside of it. In the case of S’well Bottles, they have actually extended on this design even further by adding a third layer of copper to further stifle any heat transfer, advertising their triple-wall vacuum insulation as capable of keeping liquids cold for up to 24 hours or hot for up to 12. Note that some S’well Bottles still use good old double-wall vacuum insulation – look out for the distinction when viewing different bottles. The bottle we tested used the triple-wall insulation, but in our experience double-wall insulated S’well Bottles also work great.
When we do our insulation testing, we try to use more or less the same setup to evaluate our bottles (though it is not exact by any means.) We fill the bottle with a reasonable amount of ice and chilled tap water. Then we place the bottles in the back of our car, always on a hot day selected here in the tropics. We come back to check the bottle after the advertised time of its insulation capabilities has elapsed. In the case of the S’well Bottle, we selected the 25 ounce Dark Forest Triple-Wall Bottle and we left it in the car for a full 24 hours before opening it up.
Amazingly, there was still chunky pieces of ice swimming around after a full 24 hours of being in the car. We sealed the bottle back up and placed it in the car again for another 6 hours before coming back. Almost all of the ice had melted at the 30 hour mark, but the water was still very cold and refreshing, and some tiny chunks of ice were still bobbing about.
The Ideal Everyday Carry Water Bottle
While the S’well Bottle range doesn’t get as large as some of its competitors might, the available sizes of 9, 17, and 25 ounces are all ideal for a bottle designed to accompany you throughout your day – everyday. Even at 25 ounces, S’well Bottles remain exceptionally portable, and their slim profile means they can fit easily into just about any cup holder. Or easily slide into an outer pouch on your backpack for easy access. Or even fit snugly into a small purse.
Because of the double- or even triple-wall vacuum insulation, you don’t have to worry about the bottle causing condensation to get your bag or hands wet when carrying it. And the bottle will always be easy to handle, even if you’ve just filled it up with scalding hot coffee. The exceptional leak-proofing offered by the lid ensures that any concerns of leakage are eliminated almost entirely – just make sure you seal the lid properly and you’ll be good to go.
If you are looking for a high quality, super durable everyday carry water bottle, give the S’well some serious consideration. With a look that will turn heads where ever you take it, and a portability that won’t give you any trouble getting it there, the S’well serves day in and day out as an exceptional bottle serving your hydration needs and providing something of a fashion accessory.
Designed With A Greater Purpose
The inspiration behind S’well Bottle, according to its founder Sarah Kauss, was not only to make a high quality water bottle but to also do something to combat the massive problem of pollution from single-use disposable plastic bottles. In a way, this is a similar inspiration to what first got Hydration Anywhere online – one of our very first articles was entitled “5 Shocking Ways Bottled Water Is Ruining Our Planet.”
In addition to the heads on approach of S’well Bottle by offering the world a fantastic alternative buying bottled water, the company has also taken measures to help promote clean water to some of the world’s most vulnerable and in-need children. S’well has donated $200,000 to UNICEF since 2015 and continues ongoing charitable efforts with UNICEF and other organizations.
For more on the origins and efforts of S’well Bottle, check out this brief YouTube clip highlighting a short company biography.
S’Well Water Bottles vs. Hydro Flask, 2015’s Best Bottle
We have never been shy about our love for Hydro Flask. We named it the Best Bottle of 2015, and since then we have continued to use our Hydro Flasks as our primary bottles. They have improved over the years, with new additions like the the Flex Cap or the custom MyHydro Program.
The S’Well vs. Hydro Flask debate is a question we find ourselves having on a daily basis. Being infatuated with both bottles means we have to sometimes play favorites, but in the process we’ve learned to appreciate the best aspects of both bottle brands. Hydro Flask certainly offers a wider range of sizes and options, with sizes ranging from 18oz up to 64oz, a much broader selection than the S’Well Bottle line which runs from 9oz to 25oz.
Our go-to Hydro Flask is a 40oz bottle. This is nearly twice the size of our 25oz S’Well, so it is the clear choice when we need larger capacity. The Hydro Flask also offers much more clearance for ice cubes or even food-stuffs thanks to its wide-mouth opening. The Hydro Flask is much more suited to taking your lunch, a larger smoothie, being packed full of chunky ice, or similar high-capacity needs.
In contrast, we find the S’Well bottles to fill their own role. My S’Well is my car’s cupholder companion. Since it fits comfortably in the cupholder, I always have a super convenient way to get a drink of water no mater what. When I need to take my bottle into a restaurant, visit at a friends house, or stay hydrated for a meeting, I grab the S’Well from my car and take it with me. It is much classier and less bulky sitting on the table than my high-capacity Hydro Flask.
The Hydro Flask and S’Well Bottle actually make a fantastic duo. I like to keep my 40oz Hydro Flask filled with ice water and stowed in the trunk of my car. If I don’t feel like carrying the whole Hydro Flask around, filling up my S’Well Bottle allows me the flexibility of having a high-capacity wide-mouth for storage and a slim, super portable, and stylish S’Well bottle as my drinking vessel.
We are huge fans of S’well Bottle – which is why we’ve named it 2017’s Best Water Bottle. As we’ve outlined in our review above, the S’well Bottle Range is exceptionally well manufactured, equipped with some of the best insulation we’ve come across, has great leak-proofing, an excellent portability factor, and a head-spinning amount of variety.
Few water bottles manage to look as good as even the simplest options from the S’well Bottle line, and even fewer manage to perform as well as these high quality bottles. While certainly a bit pricier than some of S’well’s cheaper competitors, the bottle makes up for the increased price tag with exceptional manufacturing quality and good company support. S’well Bottles also do a great job of representing their above-average price tag with some incredibly sleek and unique looks which no other bottles really offer.
Our only real gripe or thing we wish to see from S’well would be the addition of a wide-mouth option to their range. The current narrow-mouth works well enough for getting mid-sized ice cubes in, but in some ways we feel the lack of a wide-mouth restricts the potential of the S’well Triple-Wall Insulation!
At the end of the day, we award the S’well Bottle Line a solid 5/5 stars.
Learn More About S’well Bottles
To see what other customers had to say, check current prices, browse the huge range of S’well Bottles, or get more specific details, be sure to visit the S’well Amazon page.
You can see how S’well stacks up to one of its leading competitors in our in-depth Hydro Flask vs S’well Bottle comparison guide.
Want to see a S’well Bottle in action? Have a look at this unboxing video from YouTube User kateschwanke:
Range of Eye-Catching Designs
Double- or Triple-Wall Vacuum Insulation
No Widemouth Option
Smaller Capacity Range
- Editor Rating
- Rated 5 stars
- S'Well Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottles
- Reviewed by:
- Published on:
- Last modified:
A high-quality bottle manufactured for optimal insulation, eye-catching good looks, and fantastic portability.
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.