The Hydro Flask is a Gen Z trend we can get behind

Kai Burkhardt, CNN Underscored
Updated Thu October 24, 2019

The Hydro Flask craze is in full swing. It seems wherever you go, there's someone smugly drinking ice-cold water from a colorful metal water bottle while side-eyeing the disposable plastic bottle in your hand.

Perhaps at this point you've gone online to see for yourself what the hype is all about -- only to spit out your (gross, lukewarm) water at the price tag on these vacuum-insulated bad boys. Turns out, they cost anywhere between $30 and $60.

What is it about Hydro Flask water bottles that has people willing to dish out that much?

How did people become obsessed with the Hydro Flask?

Hydro Flask was started in 2009 in Bend, OR, by a couple dissatisfied with drinking tepid water. They took the double-wall vacuum insulation technology Thermos had used since 1904 and put it into a quality, stylish bottle for people living "an active and joyful life on the go."

After initially gaining traction with its athletic, outdoorsy clientele, Hydro Flask has recently found broader popularity among millennials, Gen Zers and VSCO girls alike.

It's not the first time a generation has claimed a water bottle as its own; water bottles have been used for social jockeying in American culture for years.

Take the indestructible Nalgene of the early 2000s. Those durable bottles took over every campground, soccer field and classroom in the country. In the midst of an overall trend toward consuming more water, and the rise in athleisure style, Naglene rolled out a series of bright water bottle colors and morphed its product from outdoor equipment to fashion accessory.

But as more people grew wary of disposable plastic water bottles, and plastic in general, metal bottles became all the rage. These water bottles became a symbol of passion for the environment. Metal water bottles from brands like Yeti, S'well and Klean Kanteen exploded alongside Hydro Flask, and the world embraced eco-friendly, vacuum-insulated bottles. But whether it was Hydro Flask's trendy aesthetics, smart marketing and branding, or just blind luck of the social media gods, the younger generations have really latched on to the bright bottles from Bend, and it doesn't look like they'll let go any time soon.

What makes Hydro Flask special?

Along with TikTok videos and VSCO posts, the popularity of the Hydro Flask is driven by its features. There are real, tangible reasons people are going crazy for these bottles. Hydro Flask's great temperature retention is due to its TempShield technology. Two walls of stainless steel with a vacuum between prevent condensation and heat transfer to the outside of the bottle, keeping drinks hot or cold for hours on end. I felt giddy the first time I woke up in the morning to a bottle of water that still had ice in it. Hydro Flask's standard lid has a honeycomb structure to help this insulation, and it's 100% leakproof, which I love because I can just throw the bottle in my bag.

But what really sets Hydro Flasks apart from all the other vacuum-insulated metal bottles on the market is their distinct, trendy look and the options to personalize them. Even when a Gen Zer coats a bottle with a collage of stickers, you can still tell it's a Hydro Flask. The powder-coat paint, available in 14 different shades, gives it its vibrant color and design, from cobalt and mint to mango and kiwi. Then there are all the limited edition collections Hydro Flask is constantly rolling out.

A wide variety of sizes is available, from a 12-ounce kids' bottle to a 64-ounce jug. You can get a standard mouth size or a wide-mouth bottle; and multiple lids to fit each, such as the straw lid, flip lid and sports cap.

Hydro Flask is leaning into its personalization appeal with the launch of its My Hydro customization page. Here you can customize the bottle of your dreams out of 11 sizes, three lids and 14 colors. You can choose the color for the bottle, the boot (a rubber sleeve on the bottom for drops), the lid and the strap.

Despite its massive popularity right now, Hydro Flask doesn't have a monopoly on the metal-insulated water bottle market. For the aesthetically minded, S'well bottles have tons of designs that make the bottles look like they're made out of materials like marble or wenge wood. Yeti is one of Hydro Flask's biggest competitors, especially among outdoorsy customers. And Takeya bottles are cheaper and still provide great insulation.

All are great products, and so is the Hydro Flask. But if you're looking for a high-quality, colorful bottle that will keep your drinks hot and cold for hours, AND you want to blow up on VSCO, then Hydro Flask is the one for you.

Note: The prices above reflect the retailer's listed price at the time of publication.