For centuries, mankind has been divided by preference. Almost from the advent of society, people have been making choices based on their own agency. By taking into account pros, cons and everything in between, we have been forever distinguished from each other by the choices we make.  

When it comes to water bottles, there is a clear objective winner. The stainless steel, hot/cold retaining, undisputed champion: the Hydro Flask.

In terms of construction and durability, Nalgene is caught “leaking” in almost every way. A Hydro Flask can suffer a drop, bump or ding with nary a scratch to be found. Denting is the only true issue to consider, but dents are infrequent and rarely impact the overall performance of the bottle. 

Nalgene’s brittle plastic is prone to cracking and leaking when dropped, requiring a hasty replacement. In addition to a lack of durability, Nalgene also falls behind in the key category of liquid temperature retention. 

The Hydro Flask stainless steel design was created with the mindset of keeping hot liquids hot, and cold liquids cool. Nary a water bottle can hold temperature like a Hydro Flask. A Nalgene will sweat out cold temps and drop hot liquid temperatures when left to rest.  

Proponents of the Nalgene brand argue that sustainability and affordability are the major areas in which Nalgene would trump purchasing a Hydro Flask. 

Nalgene is made of recyclable plastic, so has been touted as a much more sustainable alternative to the metal materials that make up a “Hydro.” 

However, when considering price and sustainability it greatly benefits the user to consider long-term implications of owning each water bottle.  

If your Nalgene wears out, or the plastic cracks a replacement is required. Nalgene plastic is much more vulnerable than metal; therefore, the cost of a replacement is a very real consequence to consider when purchasing Nalgene bottles.  

If you broke your water bottle once, or even twice, the added cost of a replacement would match or even surpass the elevated price of a Hydro Flask. 

Thus, both price and sustainability actually flow in favor of a Hydro Flask as it will certainly outlast Nalgene, representing a more affordable and sustainable long-term option. 

Finally, when looking to crown a champion in the contest between a Hydro Flask or Nalgene, one of the most overlooked categories is customization.  

Hydro Flask aesthetic customization options are incredibly limited. Only the bottle, bottom boot  and top lid are customizable —in solid colors only. 

Nalgene offers potential buyers a host of customization options that include lettering, stickers and even a unique photo upload option. 

At the end of the day however, this sacrifice is a small one from the perspective of the overall competition. Even if you can’t customize a Hydro Flask from the manufacturer, you still have the option to paint, engrave or stick anything you want onto the durable steel chassis of the bottle. 

People have had the opportunity to be extremely creative, from painting on Hydro Flasks to bedazzling the lids, it has fostered a culture of expression by placing agency on the owner for further customization.

While making the choice between these two water bottles may be completely subjective, it is still important to consider the pros and cons of a purchase. 

Honestly, I think it’s more than safe to say the argument to choose a Hydro Flask certainly “holds water.”

Anders Svenningsen is a staff writer. 

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