It seems wherever you go now – from school or college campus to fancy offices or out on the trail – you'll see someone proudly drinking ice cold water from a colorful Hydro Flask.
You may have even seen it, loved it and then jumped online to look at getting one yourself only to discover that they can be really expensive.
You then start asking yourself “why are Hydro Flasks so trendy and why do they all of a sudden seem to be everywhere?”
And also the even more important question…should I dish out my hard earned money for a Hydro Flask or stick to my plastic bottle or a cheaper alternative?
Hydro Flask's are so trendy because they rode the growing trend away from plastics and disposables and did a better job of branding than other similar companies. Their bright colors and playful nature led to them becoming a status symbol with students and VSCO girls in 2019 and they really do keep drinks cold, which leads people to recommend them to their friends and family.
I've had insulated Yeti tumblers for years but finally jumped on the Hydro Flask bandwagon this year both to review them and to see what all the hype is about.
To be honest, I own A LOT of brands of water bottles. From Hydro Flask to Yeti to Klean Kanteen and Thermos. But Hydro Flask is the only brand I love and resonate with. But interestingly that is part of what has made Hydro Flask so trendy and popular over any other brand.
So I wanted to do a deep dive into why Hydro Flasks are so trendy, whether this trend is likely to continue and whether or not it's worth you spending your hard earned money on one of these fun colored water bottles.
Hydro Flask wasn't always trendy. In fact the company started out with just a shipment of 1,500 water bottles and actually nearly went bankrupt in the beginning until it was saved by an investor.
But the product worked well and the team were good at getting their products into stores and in front of customers.
They quickly built a solid base of customers in the outdoors community with people like hikers, rock climbers and others loving the product and recommending it to their friends.
A Perfect Storm For Popularity and Trendiness
While it may seem like BOOM Hydro Flasks are everywhere (just like the explosion of fidget spinners was back in 2017) but in actual fact Hydro Flask have consistently been growing in popularity since they started way back in 2008.
In 2015 the company was named one of the fasted growing companies in Oregon, having experienced 542% growth in the last 3 years.
Back in 2015 they basically looked the same as they do today. Same logo, many of the same sizes, and slightly different but similar fun colors.
But you likely hadn't heard of Hydro Flask back in 2015 or even 2016 or 2017. You may have seen some people with them in 2017 or 2018.
But it wasn't until mid-late 2019 when they really “blew up” and became a part of popular culture.
You can see in the Google Trends image below that August/September Hydro Flask had a major major surge in popularity and this was due to the VSCO girl trend at the time.
The Rise of The VSCO Girl
In 2019 a phone app called VSCO became popular as it allowed you to create a great aesthetic for your instagram photos and to make them look better.
This was then used by a lot of tween/teen girls to make their instagram photos have a certain vibe and from this a meme of the “VSCO girl” was created.
A VSCO girl had a certain type of attire featuring a baggy t-shirt, scrunchies, birkensocks, friendship bracelet but also a Hydro Flask and a hate for disposable plastics.
This then blew up on TikTok with a lot of people poking fun at the VSCO girl.
While the “VSCO Girl” was a bit of a joke the fashion that came with it wasn't and Hydro Flask was a big part of that fashion.
Hydro Flask Became a Status Symbol in Schools and Colleges
With the rise and fall of the VSCO girl meme in 2019 we saw the rise of the Hydro Flask as a status symbol in schools and colleges around the US and also the world.
Owning a Hydro Flask was a status symbol and showed that you were cool and cared about the environment and your health.
While other brands of stainless steel water bottles may work just as well, they weren't THE BRAND to own – Hydro Flask was.
It wasn't so much “my bottle holds ice 6 hours longer than yours does”. It was you either had a Hydro Flask or you didn't.
Obviously this led to a lot of kids nagging their parents to get them a Hydro Flask and eventually getting them one.
It also led to the kids explaining to their parents why a Hydro Flask is so good which led to a lot of friends and family members getting Hydro Flasks too.
So you take a product that is already quite big, with huge national and global distribution and product placement in stores, and then you inject this VSCO girl trend and all of a sudden everyone is not just owning a Hydro Flask but talking about Hydro Flasks too.
It's a Product That Works and Is Easy To Recommend
One of the things that makes Hydro Flask so trendy is their messaging, branding and how easy the product is to recommend.
The product ticks so many boxes that are important to people right now.
- Keeps your water ice cold all day long
- Move away from disposable for environmental benefits
- Move away from plastic towards more chemical free
- Move towards drinking more water for health benefits
It's really interesting to look at because while other bottles do these exact same things they aren't branded around this idea.
Generic bottles you'll see described on the shelf as “insulated water bottle”
But Hydro Flask made it their message and their mission statement to be “saving the world from lukewarm“.
This then becomes a message that people buying the bottle believe is important and they notice how well the bottle works to keep ice cold because Hydro Flask told them to look out for 24+ hours of ice retention.
This is also an easy message to tell your friends and family so they want to buy one.
“It's reusable, durable, better for you than plastic AND it keeps drinks ice cold for a crazy amount of time. You should really get one!”
There Is Something Loveable About The Hydro Flask Brand
Part of the reason Hydro Flasks are so trendy is that there is something fun and loveable and enjoyable about the brand that other similar products just don't give you.
It sounds dumb to say but it's almost like Hydro Flasks make you happier than other water bottles.
Before you think I'm just a brand ambassador or marketer I will say that yes I get commissions from sales of Hydro Flasks, but I earn more for recommending other brands like Yeti than I do from Hydro Flask.
Yet I love Hydro Flask more than Yeti.
I think this has to do with the fun colors and the fun branding of the product.
I have many choices of what water bottle to choose and time and time again I'll choose the take the Hydro Flask with me.
Not because it's a better product, they all work just as well as each other, But because the Hydro Flask makes me happy and it's a brand I am happy and proud to be seen drinking out of.
Maybe other people feel the same way and this has added to why they are so popular and so recommended.
So Why Is Hydro Flask So Trendy?
As you can see there is a lot that has gone into making Hydro Flask so trendy.
They aren't like fidget spinners and just exploded into popularity for no reason.
The company has been growing strongly since it started back in 2008 and was already incredibly popular going into 2019 and it would have had a great year of growth anyway.
But then there was this perfect storm of the trends away from plastic towards reusables, trends towards drinking more water plus the meme of the VSCO girl and the Hydro Flask becoming a status symbol among students.
But all in all it comes down to the fact that Hydro Flask make a great product that keeps ice for ages like it says it would and maybe even more importantly a great brand that you can fall in love with and resonate with.
In the same way we resonate with Nike to achieve great things or Apple to be creative we resonate with Hydro Flask to be healthy and have an amazing time doing it.
The company is to be commended for their efforts and it's a brand that I am glad is trendy and I think they create a great product that improves people's lives and improves the world.
Will The Hydro Flask Trend Continue?
While the meme of the VSCO girl has come and gone and the surge in popularity of the Hydro Flask has died down a bit the company has in no way stopped it's growth in the market.
Fidget spinners exploded in 2017 but were all but gone in 2018. No one uses them anymore, no one sells them and no one really wants to buy them.
However, Hydro Flasks are still going strong.
People are still using them on a daily basis and still loving them. People are starting to own multiple Hydro Flasks in different sizes or colors and people are still recommending them to their friends and family.
The trend away from plastic is continuing and the trend towards reusable and sustainable products is also continuing and Hydro Flask will continue to ride that trend.
There are now a lot more competitors in the space with companies like S'well, Yeti and Klean Kanteen also making great competing products that could dethrone Hydro Flask.
But Hydro Flask are diversifying into different product categories.
They now sell coolers and bags and hydration backpacks and even have a bunch of merch that is available, moving into the outdoor fashion space.
Only time will tell if Hydro Flasks continue to be trendy and if they continue to innovate and grow into a lasting brand like Nike and Apple or if the trend will slow down and they just end up being a boring water bottle brand selling a commodity product.
I personally think we will continue to see the Hydro Flask brand grow into a well known global brand.
But will it ever get back to the hype and the “must have product” status that it had in schools and colleges back in 2019? Probably not
I look forward to watching their story play out and seeing how things unfold moving forward.