These High-Tech Water Bottles Will Make You Roll Your Eyes… and Change Your Life

We all know we should drink more water… but it tastes so bad! Luckily, a number of startups are creating high-tech water bottles to help you solve this #firstworldproblem. But are they cool or douche?

January 15, 2016

Drinking enough water is a real problem for me. I’m regularly dehydrated but hate the taste of water and always forget to chug my recommended 50 ounces a day. I realize this is squarely a #firstworldproblem and I’m lucky and privileged to have access to clean drinking water, but nonetheless… I’m thirsty all the time.

Friends have mocked my problem — who doesn’t like the taste of water? they say. Who forgets to drink? Well, I’m not alone, as over the last year the high-tech water bottle market has exploded, with numerous startups clamoring to measure your hydration levels and ensure you’re at optimum water (bathroom breaks not included).

Sure, you’re paying a bunch for these products, but if you think of them less as a “$$$ water bottle” and more as a douchey “high-tech lifestyle product” you feel a little less stupid. After all, you need instructions to use a Fitbit and that’s basically a plastic bracelet on my arm that tells me I’ve been walking. What, I didn’t know that already?? It’s less about the action, more about the monitoring of the actions, and that’s how you need to think of these bottles: more gadget, less bottle.

These companies have raised millions of dollars to manufacture different water tracking devices, and if they see a problem, well, who’s stupid now?

The high-tech water bottle startups all work on roughly the same principle. You input stats about your age, sex, weight, and height and they calculate your optimal drinking needs. Then, whether by LCD screen or Bluetooth synced app, they give you feedback and reminders about how well you’re doing.

It’s kinda gamifying drinking water, if you’re playing against yourself… and the prize is better skin, more concentration, and triple the restroom visits.

Conceptually I’m all for this, but as some of these bottles are priced high, I want to know if their water tracking is beneficial enough to include in my daily life.

Do theses high-tech water bottles pass the Cool or Douche© test?

Let’s find out.

Test #1: Mark One Pryme Vessyl Intelligent Cup


$99.95 from Apple

FIRST IMPRESSION

This looks like an Apple product. OK, it’s from the Apple store, and actually made by a third party, but when you pull the sleek cup out of its white tube packaging you’re struck by the similarities in style and design. It charges using a USB coaster, which doubles as an inductive charger, and the Vessyl rests innocuously on your desk.

So far so good. But then I ran into a problem. How the hell do I open it? The lid doesn’t unscrew, and a small indentation suggests that I use pressure to flick it off. I pressed down firmly… and got paranoid it would break. I don’t want to ruin my $100 cup before I even get a drink. Turning to the internet, I find a lot of complaints about this on blogs, but no firm resolution.

Finally, on the support section of the Vessyl website I find an unlisted YouTube video that demonstrates how to do this. Yes, I have to watch a VIDEO about how to open my cup. This is pretty ridiculous, considering all I want to do is drink some water. Swearing and eye-rolling are involved.

A firm press and it’s finally open. Bonus: extra callouses on my thumb.

EASE OF USE

The premise here is that you want to reach your “Pryme” – an individual daily water goal that you set based on your vital stats. The cup uses Bluetooth in conjunction with an Apple Watch app and an iOS app (not Android yet). You pair your phone to it and the app alerts you when you should be drinking. It measures how much you’ve swigged, creating a rolling graph over the week so you can see your progress.

The cup itself has a sleek LED strip down the front that glows when tilted. The line adjusts based on how much you’ve drunk – a small line for a little sip, and a full line with a glowing point once you’re at your Pryme. The idea is that you don’t drink your water requirements in one go, as you should be constantly at your Pryme throughout the day. The app is compatible with Apple Health, a Jawbone UP, so it can take your exercise levels into consideration for how much fluid you need.

DOUCHE FACTOR

I really wanted to like this, but I just can’t get over how tough it is to open… or that it’s a $100 smart water bottle. After a week using it, I’d actively resist sipping as I didn’t want to hurt my hand again. Finally, it became solidly stuck, and after four people in the office tried opening it, a piece of the lid snapped off, making it unusable. Additionally, the white design looks very sleek, but in reality it got grubby very quickly, making it look like I’d had it for years instead of days. And the lip of the lid was hard to get your lips fully around, meaning you either had to tilt your head 180° and raise it high, or dribble all over your clothes. There was a lot of dribble and swearing involved, trust. Also, how do you carry it? There’s no handle and it’s not obviously grippy.

COOL FACTOR

It’s pretty. And I like that it’s subtle, the kind of cup you could take out and not feel ashamed about. The app is well designed, and it’s nice that you can manually add water and exercise, so it calculates your needs based on activity.

How Effective Is it?

Zero. If I can’t get into the bottle, I can’t drink more water, can I?

The Hustle Cool/Douche Rating

1/10 for use
1/10 for existing

Test #2: H20-Pal


$99 from H20-Pal

FIRST IMPRESSION

This is a big box, I’m curious to see what’s inside. The box opens to show a sleek pink and yellow bottle, with a few attachments. Instructions are straightforward and there’s a short manual to go through. I’m a little awed by the bottle size; it’s higher than I expected, and it’s made of glass, so has some weight to it. The base screws off (that’s where the electronics are) and it’s powered by a long-lasting lithium-ion battery.

EASE OF USE

Attach the base, download the app, and you’re good to go. Your phone syncs to it using Bluetooth, and will update your water levels whenever the app is open. To sync it on command, turn the bottle upside down and it adjusts your intake.

The app is pretty cool, its setup guide takes you through everything: basically an instruction manual on your phone. Yes, these are instructions on how to USE A WATER BOTTLE, but by now (after the Vessyl experience) I’m seeing this as a positive.

You set your vital stats (age/height/weight) and the app creates a hydration goal for you. What’s kind of neat is that they take into account the weather (you need more fluid when it’s hot) and your activity levels – it connects to Apple Health and can read your phone’s motion.

Over time, you can see charts that track your progress and unlock levels of achievement. This works by using an accelerometer and water sensor to measure how much water is in the bottle, and sending updates to the app. It’s smart enough to register movement vs. emptying, so if you empty out an old drink it doesn’t count that as fluid intake.

DOUCHE FACTOR

The bottle is big, so forget about any subtlety. And the bright pink/yellow colors might be offputting to some (they do have more colorways). It’s also made of glass, which makes me a little concerned about how it would fare in my bag.

COOL FACTOR

The app reminders are very helpful, and they’re relatively unobtrusive, popping up on my phone. The app is nicely designed too, a water level moving based on how much I’ve drunk. It’s also cool that it takes local weather into account when it tells me how much fluid I need that day. The adjustments are appreciated. Plus the fact that the removable base can be used with any water bottle is awesome.

How Effective Is it?

I might complain about how bright the bottle is, but having it in front of me reminds me to swig from it. The app alerts are helpful, and do inspire me to drink more, and my intake did increase.

The Hustle Cool/Douche Rating

1/10 for existing
7/10 for use

Test #3: Sportline Hydracoach Water Bottle


$27 from Amazon

FIRST IMPRESSION

This is… basic. It didn’t come in any packaging, just a saran-wrapped bottle inside a big brown Amazon box. Once I’d stripped this away, I needed to figure out how it worked. Unfortunately, the manual was wedged deep inside the bottle – and my fingers couldn’t reach it. After struggling with a fork (nope), a spatula (nope), and a straw (yes), I managed to get out the pieces of paper and get this thing started.

EASE OF USE

You set your weight using the small buttons on the front of the bottle, and it gives you a personal hydration goal that you can toggle up and down to adjust. You also set the date and time, so this doubles as a clock, which is a nice feature. The mouthpiece attaches to the tube inside the bottle, which is smart enough to measure how much you’ve drunk from sips and pressure, and then adjust the onboard LCD screen. You can toggle through the screen to see your personal hydration goals, percentage achieved that day, and how much you’ve drunk per hour.

It’s a little fiddly moving from screen to screen on the tiny monitor as it’s small and not that easy to read, and I found myself referring to the manual over and over to remind myself what the abbreviations stood for. Example: PHG (personal hydration goal) and TAC (Total amount consumed).

This was designed by a married couple, Craig and Kelly Perkins, who are serious climbers. They were concerned about getting enough fluid when working out; dehydration moves from annoying to dangerous when you’re doing extreme exercise.

DOUCHE FACTOR

This is strictly a utilitarian bottle. Good for the gym and makes you look like “that person” who works out in the office.

COOL FACTOR

It helps you drink more water, and makes it look like you take your water seriously. Useful and sturdy.

The Hustle Cool/Douche Rating

1/10 for existing
5/10 for use

Test #4: MyHydrate


$39.99 from MyHydrate

FIRST IMPRESSION

There’s not much to this bottle. The box is slim and economical, with a fitness-y feel to it. The bottle has three parts: the bottle body, the lid, and the small SmartDisk, which holds the electronic components. It looks pretty basic, like the water bottle that got called last at sports days, but the construction is sturdy and I’m not scared of dropping it. A valve button releases water – you have to press it to drink, so your amount is controlled — which also makes it super-spill proof.

EASE OF USE

You insert the provided battery into the SmartDisk, snap it onto the lid, and you’re good to go. Eight small LED lights are on the lid. Each lights up after around eight ounces are drunk. When all eight light up you get a chiming success sound. The bottle will also beep after an hour of inactivity, reminding you to refresh yourself. It’s a tiny noise, yet surprisingly loud when the bottle is placed next to you.

This was designed by 76-year-old entrepreneur Jerry Sweeney, the same dude who made the Space Bag. It’s idiot proof. Drink, refill, hear the beep, get annoyed, drink some more.

DOUCHE FACTOR

It beeps every hour if you haven’t drunk, which can be annoying. Often feels like someone’s nagging you.

COOL FACTOR

It beeps every hour if you haven’t drunk, which is a great reminder to drink more water. The LED button design is subtle, showing where you are on your drinking goal for the day without chastising you for falling behind. The bottle clip makes it easy to carry and also protects the mouthpiece, hygiene bonus.

How Effective Is it?

This is very effective. It’s simple but sometimes that’s all you really need to be able to achieve something. The beeping reminds me to swig more, and even when it annoys me, overall I’ve had more fluid throughout the day. It would be nice to track this through an app as well – but not at the price of $60 more!

The Hustle Cool/Douche Rating

9/10 for use
1/10 for existing

The verdict

We’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating. The Hustle is all about seeing through the bullshit that companies push our way and getting to the reality beyond the hype. We’re sick of being sold to.

High-tech water bottles sound great in theory (if they solve a problem and you stop thinking about how much you’re paying for a water bottle), but the reality is that they don’t really deliver. The Pryme Vessyl was the one I was most excited about, and that ended up being the doozie of the bunch. The winner overall was the MyHydrate bottle, proving that it’s about results, not price, that matters when it comes to effectiveness. Second place was the H20-Pal bottle, and in third, the HydroCoach, useful if you’re in rugged environments.

From this test my overall my water intake increased, and the moral here is that when you really start trying to make positive changes in your life, you’ll notice a difference. The act of trying to drink more water through apps, bottles, etc. had a knock on effect of making me consume more. Perhaps it’s because I’m more aware, or it might be because I was doing this for work, but I’ve been feeling better overall.

Notable non-mentions

We can’t spend 24 hours drinking water at The Hustle, so there are some bottles we didn’t try. But these sound cool, so we want to give props to them.


Trago Cap and Bottle
$49 from Trago
There’s been a big focus on the smart bottle, well here we have the first really smart lid. The Trago cap can be used on any wide mouthed bottle, and that includes Nalgene and CamelBak. The cap syncs with the associated app and measures intake based off your vital stats.
Verdict: Not excited


Hidrate Spark
$59.95 from Hidrate
This smart water bottle has serious style cred. It’s attractive to look at, which is important as it will glow to remind you to drink more water. The beeping reminder worked well for me, so I’d be curious to give this a try. It comes with an app to monitor your intake as well, and works with Fitbit, Jawbone, etc. The price is also way lower than other similar smart bottles.
Verdict: Would like to try


CamelBak All Clear Bottle
$99 from CamelBak
This high-tech bottle is not about trying to get you to drink more water. It’s trying to get you to drink clean water… but it’s so cool, I had to include it. It’s a portable water purification system, which means you’d be good to go in an apocalypse. UV technology neutralizes microbiological contaminants to EPA standards… so you could drink water from the Hudson River if you had to.
Verdict: Would like for the end of the world/a weekend hike.


The Right Cup
Approximately $25 from The Right Cup
The Right Cup is a crowd funded darling that raised 442% of its $50,000 goal. It’s designed for people who struggle with drinking water because they don’t like the taste. The cup is scented (six smells: mixed berry, cola, etc.), and the idea is that the scent, combined with a calorie-free sweet taste on the rim of the cup, will make you feel like you’re imbibing flavored water. They say smell makes up “80% of the flavor experience” and this could be a winner.
Verdict: Would like to try



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