Gear Review: Hydro Flask Stainless Steel Drinking Bottle

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You wouldn’t think it would be so hard to stay hydrated at the park.

For our international readers, parks in the USA range from state-of-the-art – with modern facilities and readily available potable water – to not much more than a former pasture converted to fields.  So referees have to be responsible for making sure they enough fluids to cover a three (or four, or five) match day.

The problem with the large, traditional plastic water jugs is that they don’t keep water cold for very long, and they inevitably leak when turned over after taking a sharp turn on the way to the field with sports drink in one hand, a quick bite in the other, and the steering wheel in the other.  Oh, right.

So, an iTOOTR reader challenged me to find a water jug that met the following criteria:

  • will keep liquids cold
  • won’t leak when tossed around the floorboard of the car
  • will hold 64 ounces (about 2L) of liquid

After a bit of searching, I found the Hydro Flask Stainless Steel Drinking Bottle, $45 via Amazon.  Not only does it meet the three criteria above, it’s also free of BPAs (owing to its’ stainless steel design), won’t sweat, and has a wide, comfortable drinking mouth.

The screw on/off cap is tethered to the vessel via a strong plastic neck band.  I don’t think there’s much risk of it breaking.

I filled the bottle and held it upside down (over the sink) in various positions, checking for leaks and didn’t find any.  I also drove it around the block a few times so it could roll around the floorboards: still no leaks.

The double wall construction prevented any sweating (condensation) on the outside.  The manufacturer says the Hydro Flask can also be used for hot beverages, though I didn’t test this.

Finally, the manufacturer offers a lifetime warranty that doesn’t cover “regular wear and tear” but does offer protection against such complaints as broken or leaking caps and flasks that no longer insulate.

What are the downsides?

The most obvious is the price.  At $45, it is much more expensive than a simple plastic jug.  And since I haven’t tested it long term, I’m not sure how it will hold up after a season of abuse in my car and on the field.  At the very least, I would expect the nice stainless steel finish to scratch and rough up.  I’ll report back on that after the end of Spring season.  But the lifetime warranty should ease concerns about the price of the flask.

The Hydro Flask is available in both stainless steel and matte black finishes in the 64 oz size, and in a multitude of colors in smaller sizes and is available via Amazon and other outdoor retailers.

New Refs: Referees Are Athletes

Referees are athletes.

This statement may seem counterintuitive at first, but consider this: in higher level games, referees will run as much as a midfielder does. I keep a pedometer in my pocket when I referee and in a 90 minute match I will run anywhere from 3 to 6 miles depending on the game and level of competition.

Add in environmental factors like the air temperature, humidity level, and radiant heat from the sun, and you’ve got a recipe for trouble if you don’t take care of yourself.  In many areas of the country, referees are in short supply, so you may find yourself doing multiple games per day. While this is good for the wallet, it’s hard on the body, even when you’re young. I am constantly surprised at the number of young referees – most of whom are also players – who show up to referee three or more games on a hot day and don’t bring any water or sports drink with them. (This has become such a problem that I usually bring an extra quart size bottle of sports drink to give to a forgetful referee on my crew. The investment of $1 has paid dividends many times over.) And even in U10 matches, which is where many of you will be starting, it doesn’t take much excercise at a heat index of 90 F (or higher) to deplete your body of fluids. Have I made my point? YOU MUST STAY HYDRATED. Ideally, you should bring a refillable jug to the field so you can drink as much water as your body needs.

If you want specific hydration guidelines, these recommendations from the National Athletic Trainers’ Association may prove useful.

Along the same lines, it’s always a good idea to keep a non-perishable snack in your bag, like a PowerBar or something similar. Some assignors may not give you a break between games, so you’ll end up doing three in a row. The scheduling of these matches is such that you won’t have time to sit and eat a sack lunch. But a quick munch on an energy bar before a game or at halftime can help stave off the hunger pangs until your work day is done.

Finally, don’t forget the sunscreen and lip balm. Referees are out in direct sunlight for many hours straight and it’s just good common sense to make sure you are protected from sunburn.