Keeping Up With The Joneses & Their Water Bottles

by Katy on June 21, 2016 · 55 comments


When people refer to those dreaded Joneses we’re all supposedly keeping up with, it’s usually with an eye to vehicles, vacations and clothing. But really, it goes much further. Ask a hundred Portlanders whether they consider themselves to be trend driven with their purchases, and I doubt that many would answer in the affirmative. But there’s a certain sameness of luxury products that falls under the radar.

This example? Water bottles.

Yes, water bottles. When I started writing this blog, Portlanders were mad for their cute aluminum Sigg bottles. (I even wrote a blog post about it!) I was shocked by their $21.99 price tag, as you could buy an admittedly mundane version for $5 or less. However, trends change, and not just in the fashion world, but apparently in the water bottle world as well. Because no one carries a Sigg bottle anymore, because it’s now all about the Hydro Flask. And that $21.99 price tag? That’s nothing compared to the $30 to $90 that you can easily fork over for just one of these luxury insulated stainless steel bottles.

Yes, yes, yes. They keep hot liquids hot and cold liquids cold, so they’ve earned their respect. But I have to ask how did we got to the point where the perfectly chilled beverage became important as a fashion statement? Type #Hydroflask into Instagram, and you’ll be rewarded with over 54,000 results of beautiful people posing with their beautiful water bottles. Because when you take a selfie with a product, it becomes a statement purchase.

Whether you’re parking a BMW in the driveway or taking the perfect selfie with your $80 water bottle, you’re choosing to define yourself by your purchases. Maybe that definition is simply that you value the perfectly chilled ice water or piping hot coffee, but there’s no denying that they are this season’s it purchase for the effortlessly cool Portlander. An expensive purchase.

Of course, I define myself by my purchases as well. Just this morning I bought some hopefully squirrel-proof clothesline, and posted that photo to Instagram. And earlier, I parked myself in a locally owned coffee shop to kill a few hours while my son attended a meeting across town. A deliberate choice to spend my dollars within my own community instead of a national chain.

No one is truly immune to the effect that other’s people’s purchases have on us or we’d all be wearing home spun clothing and squirrel skin sandals. (Can you tell that I’m currently pissed at my neighborhood squirrels?) And truly, there’s no real harm in buying something that’s on trend as long as it fits within your budget.

I ask that you make your purchases with a critical eye and self awareness of whether you’re just keeping up with The Joneses.

EDIT: I completed my squirrel shoes. Thank you to everyone who wanted an update.

Squirrel shoes

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 55 comments… read them below or add one }

K D June 21, 2016 at 11:27 am

I was completely unaware of Hydro Flask and just found another item I can live without. I don’t even usually tote a beverage with me (growing up in the 1960s and 1970s this was not something I grew up doing). Even when I go to yoga class or on a walk I chance it/live dangerously. Most of our stainless water containers were gleaned from lost and found piles that were on their way into the trash (I have also given the surplus away via freecycle). I have a glass bottle with a metal lid that was a gift that I do like (I try to avoid plastic and sometimes stainless steel tastes like metal).


Jess June 21, 2016 at 11:28 am

I don’t live in Pdx and had never heard of Hydroflask before January, when I did a little information crowd sourcing before buying a new water bottle. My requirements were that it not leak if thrown in a bag, be insulated and preferably not plastic. By far, the most recommended bottle was a Hydroflask. I bought one then and experienced the new car phenomena – you know, when you buy a car and then see them everywhere. I see them all the time now. All that said – it really is the best water bottle I’ve ever had. I take it everywhere and use it every day. Big big puffy hearts for my Hydro.


Emily June 21, 2016 at 11:46 am

I bought my husband a Hydroflask beer growler a year or two ago. It is great for keeping good local beer cold in the summer on the way to a party. Plus, the cap cracked and the company sent us a new one free.


Marcia June 21, 2016 at 11:47 am

Well, I have two water bottles of my own, but we probably have seven more if we have one. All are gifted to us, or freebees we received at some event (i.e. Car Show, Car Cruise, Car Club convention.) I like my stainless steel one best, but it does leak. I carry it empty in my gym bag, fill it at the hot and cold water cooler free at the gym, and dump out any I don’t drink before leaving. It has leaked all over my semi-clean clothes before. I even spilled it this morning in class getting the chairs out. I take two classes a week at the gym, but I also take it on vacation so we can have cold or cool water in the car. It starts out cold but doesn’t stay cold too long. I take several meds and get very thirsty at times, and I don’t like soda so much.
And, RE: keeping up with the Jones’—-I went shopping yesterday and bought a pair of capris ($2.50 at Sallie Mae’s Boutique) and a pair of Land’s End shorts ($8 at The Clothing Mentor, a consignment shop). Needed respectable looking pants without broken zippers for bumming around town. I have suitable “going out” clothes but it seems all the zippers break on my regular clothes, all of which are at least 5 years old.


Juliette Lanvers June 21, 2016 at 11:50 am

All our water bottles look gross, They were either promos that my son gets from camps or metal ones from the thrift store. Mostly I only get rid of leaky ones, my son looses them anyway, on the golf course or elsewhere. When he comes back and looks panicked at having lost his bottle, I reassure him that it is no big deal. Plus weirdly we always get them back, sometimes just sitting there on a wall waiting for us to pass by!
I imagine if I shelled out $30 though! I might not be so relaxed about his 8 year old distracted self…


That Other Jean June 21, 2016 at 12:10 pm

Eh. I have an insulated, stainless steel Klean Kanteen water bottle that is several years old and a bit dented from the falls it has taken, but works just fine. It has had one new cap because the old one broke when it hit the floor/cement/asphalt for the nth time, and two new cap rings that keep it from leaking, since a couple of times when I dropped the cap, the ring flew out and disappeared. It keeps hot beverages hot and cold ones cold, and I have no trouble getting replacement parts. I doubt that I’ll want a Hydro Flask any time soon.


John June 21, 2016 at 4:57 pm

Klean Kanteen was cool between Sigg and HydroFlask (and still is in my opinion).

Sigg went out of style due to the liner… earlier bottles had BPA.

When will leather botas come back??

A quality water bottle is a good investment though I still prefer to find my name brand bottles at Goodwill.


Sharon June 21, 2016 at 12:37 pm

When I made the switch from plastic cheap of water bottles to something better, I looked no further than my camping gear! I rediscovered 4… 4 Nalgene bottles! Two have sip caps inserted to keep me from over pouring as I drink. The other two are small mouth. I also rediscovered some mason jars in the cupboard above the fridge… Been there awhile so I washed them up and use them at home and the Nalgene while out &f about.


reese June 21, 2016 at 12:38 pm

Argh. I have TWO water bottles (one was free; one was purchased years ago) and BOTH leak! If this $80 contraption promised to never leak after years of use? I’d gladly shell out the money. Thus far it was ruined some things that cost more than $80 to replace/fix.

I’m not a fan of any stainless bottle, as it won’t hold hot as well as cold. But this thing sounds pretty awesome (I keep an eye out at Goodwill…because it doesn’t creep me out to use someone else’s bottle. I’m hoping someone throws one of these HydroFlasks in there so I can pay $2 instead of more…). So far, everyone is donating their cheap plastic that probably leaks.

Holding out for a good find though…


Chigdon June 21, 2016 at 12:40 pm

I’m unaware of the hydro flask but just got back from a vacation to the beach and I swear we were the only ones without yeti tumblers $50 and yeti coolers $400! Everywhere we went people had these stainless steel tumblers with stickers on them to be able to differentiate as everyone had the same thing.


JD June 21, 2016 at 12:54 pm

Yes, I just wrote about them. Around here, you MUST HAVE YETI! It is absolutely insane.
And there are bigger coolers than the $400 variety if you can believe it.


Tammy June 21, 2016 at 12:44 pm

I’ve never heard of them. I do have a glass water bottle and a stainless steel coffee mug. I’ve found that if I have something to drink with me, I won’t be tempted to buy a fancy Starbucks drink while I’m running errands.

I guess if you spend $90 on something, it is hashtag worthy. LOL


Mariah June 21, 2016 at 12:48 pm

There was a feature film made a few years back called The Joneses. Starred Demi Moore and David Duchovny. It was all about keeping up with the Joneses and the consequences of over-consumerism… It’s right up your alley, I recommend it if you can borrow it or find it. 🙂

And thanks for not making me the only one who has sticker shock with these water bottles!! Amazing!


gepee June 21, 2016 at 12:49 pm

… and if you start wearing squirrel skin sandals, they soon might be a trend, too, who knows … it seems almost impossible to escape, especially nowadays with the internet.
I have and use my red sigg bottle since the 1990s – don’t know if they were around in the US at that time, but I’m from Germany and first bought it for trekking in the Alpes – it wasn’t usual then to carry something to drink with you everywhere. Am still using it, what has changed that I now take my drink with me to much more places than I did then. That’s where I follow the trend. Otherwise my purchases define me as someone who is willing to spend more if I can then use the item for a loooong time – the only problem being that often when I buy something, I don’t know in advance if a pricier item really will hold out for a long time or if will break as quickly as the cheaper one would ….


JD June 21, 2016 at 12:50 pm

I’d not heard of Hydro Flask. My husband wants to know why we are hydrating now anyway, instead of drinking water? 🙂 We have two stainless steel un-insulated water bottles that I bought on clearance several years ago and use daily, and our daughter presented us with 2 Swell insulated bottles which work well, since my husband was doing a lot of yard work in the Florida heat, and carried water with him on the riding mower as a necessity. I gave my husband an insulated coffee mug for trips. Since we live in a small rural town that requires us to make a 60 mile drive each way through open countryside for all doctors, dentists, concerts, events, etc., a lot of us locals travel with a bottle of water in the car, so it makes sense for us to have at least one that will keep water cool, and/or coffee hot. But not an $80.00 one. The big thing around here, and no doubt, this area is behind the times, is Yeti. People are buying $800 coolers to pack their beer or fish in. It’s crazy. An $80 super Igloo is much bigger and works just as well. And if one is lucky, an Igloo can be found, not too skinned up, by the road, where it blew out of the back of a pickup and wasn’t retrieved. You won’t find a Yeti like that, though, because people chain them in their trucks to keep them from being stolen — really. When scallop season starts, the sheriff’s department assigns a deputy at the beach, just to take stolen Yeti reports. There’s no way I would get one of those over-expensive coolers and have to chain it, to boot.


Emily June 21, 2016 at 5:24 pm

It all depends on the purpose. I’m cool with a thermos hand me down cooler from the 80’s, but if you are going to do an all day fishing trip in the southern sun, a Yeti is superior by far. A cooler is a cooler, yes, but using something to keep fresh fish cold for 12 hours vs beer cold for a party or sandwiches for a road trip are different end goals and require different products. If I was a serious our doors person or fisherman, I would invest in a yeti. But buying one just to say you have a yeti is beyond frivolous.

A good friend of mine went to chapel hill. I was invited to a fraternity formal of his and was told most of the dates decorate a cooler for the guys. Yes, you spend 300 dollars ish to paint their fraternity name all over it. Ridiculous. I did not participate.


JD June 22, 2016 at 5:15 am

My “almost a son-in-law” fishes and scallops, and he got a different cooler — I can’t remember the brand, though! He said it works just as well as a Yeti but is much cheaper, plus being less likely to be stolen. He said he wasn’t going to spend more time worrying about his cooler than he did his fishing luck.
I live surrounded by sports and commercial fishermen, and they all managed quite well without Yetis up until a few years ago. Some stubbornly refuse to get one now, but they are outnumbered.
Buying one for a DATE to a formal dance and personalizing it to give? Insane! No wonder you didn’t participate!


Norah June 21, 2016 at 1:17 pm

Great post! I have never actually paid for a water bottle. I keep finding them in parking lots and parks. I just wash them up and then use them! Temperature of the water doesn’t much matter to my kids or myself. Lukewarm water never hurt anyone. I can’t imagine actually paying for a water bottle. You are right Katy – it’s a keeping up with the Joneses item.


Mand01 June 21, 2016 at 1:27 pm

Weellll I’m typing this on my iPhone, sitting across from my husband on a MacBook while my daughter uses an iPad. So I’m sure I don’t know *what* you mean.


A. Marie June 21, 2016 at 1:47 pm

For our thrifty rambles, DH and I are still using a local promotional (and BPA-free) water bottle I trashpicked two or three years ago. Looks as if our dish detergent was a match for the used-bottle cooties.

And re: those squirrel-skin slippers: Remember, once you’re done with skinning the squirrels, older editions of The Joy of Cooking have recipes. (Personally, I’m thinking of looking up the woodchuck recipes in my mother’s 1943 wedding-present copy. Woodies have reared their voracious heads in our and the neighbors’ vegetable gardens.)


JD June 22, 2016 at 5:25 am

I have a friend who cooks squirrel. Her husband likes to hunt squirrel and the family eats it. Katy, would you like me to get her recipe for you? 🙂


Jennifer June 21, 2016 at 2:04 pm

It’s the yeti tumbler that’s all the range here. Sooo expensive for some that simply holds a beverage. Oh, and let’s not forget the yeti coolers with their average house payment sized( or more) price tags that will keep things cold for days because most people around here stay very long periods of time in the wilderness routinely and don’t have access to ice…geez people! Good grief, I will keep my old trusty igloo cooler thank you very much!


Cathy June 21, 2016 at 2:06 pm

My son got one of these fancy hydro flask bottles for Christmas and promptly lost it in his usual fashion. Exhibit X as to why I don’t buy those things. #byebyemoney


Betty Winslow June 21, 2016 at 2:08 pm

I take homemade unsweetened iced tea with me everywhere in the summer; it keeps me from driving through a fast food place or buying a pop somewhere. Cheaper and better for me. I use a clea plastic inslated cup with a straw that looks like something you’d get a pop in at McD’s – got it from a conference I went to, but I’ve seen the same one at Dollar Tree and bought one for each of my boys for Xmas. I have insulated coffee mugs I use in the winter for hot drinks, and several other water bottles that I loan to my sons (and don’t fret about when they come up missing. No way would I pay $80 for one, unless it was a magically refilling one…. LOL


Greta June 21, 2016 at 2:46 pm

I can’t help it. I want one. It’s pretty. I drink a lot of water.


Kim from Philadelphia June 21, 2016 at 3:05 pm

I get my steel water bottles at the thrift store- usually $0.50- $1.00
a pop.


Bee June 21, 2016 at 4:59 pm

I live in the Southeast too. As mention above, the Yeti stainless steel tumbler is all the rage here. Although they keep things extremely cold, the price sends chills down my spine. They start at $47 each. So I have decided to look like the frugal nerd I am and carry the same stainless steel water bottle that I have owned for 5 or 6 years. Does it really matter?


Emily June 21, 2016 at 5:31 pm

No , it doesn’t. But I also don’t think we can judge people for what they find value in. If I even made 2x the money I make now I probably wouldn’t know what to do with it. Yes I could just “donate it” except I find many issues with that too. The point is. Some don’t understand how many people spend 400 dollars on a cooler (which my dad did after he retired after 35 years of buying nothing for himself) the same why people don’t understand why others don’t understand more frugal minded people who are cool with something pre-loved, or, like myself, going without a dresser for 10 months until I found the perfect wooden one priced below 100 that I could refinish to make just how I want it. I think the point of not keeping up with the Joneses is not giving a sh*t about them. Right?


Mand01 June 22, 2016 at 2:12 am



Bee June 22, 2016 at 5:21 am

I also agree. If you spend mindfully, your purchases will reflect your personal values, needs and financial goals — not your neighbors. My 6-year old water bottle is fine for me, but a similar item may not work for others. I did not mean to sound as though I was judging those who choose to buy a Yeti or a Hydroflask. I find it frustrating, however, that something as utilitarian as a water bottle can become a status symbol to some.


meg June 21, 2016 at 5:33 pm

I have a 10+ year old Kleen kanteen taken from my mom’s house. It has a nifty neoprene cover that keeps it from too many dents….I too had to replace the cap because I dropped it too much.
I also have a tervis given to me as a teacher appreciation gift. I love that thing, but I would never buy one for myself. I tend to lose nice stuff…but have held on to these things for a long while now, so maybe I have turned over a new leaf in that department….


Kacy June 21, 2016 at 5:36 pm

I thought Hydroflask was a Bend, OR company? So sort of local for Portlanders. I absolutely love mine and because the water stays cold I am so much more motivated to take it with me. But I won’t get one for the kids because I don’t trust that they won’t lose them. But yeah, still worth thinking about the small purchases as well as the large ones.


Emily June 21, 2016 at 5:40 pm

You are right about their origin. Product also donate a portion of their sales to charity, and has a lifetime warranty.

Bottom line: if it gets you to drink more water, buy whatever bottle you like lol! Better hydration = healthier = lower medical bills=frugal win


Rb June 21, 2016 at 6:21 pm

I must admit I love my hydro flask! 40 oz that stay super cold for 24 hrs even out of the fridge. And no sweating bottle!! But we have had ours for over three years and I didn’t even know the Jonses were keeping up with me untill this post. We searched high and low for bottles that were not plastic, insulated and not with a straw or valve that leaked. And also in larger sizes. My kids have 24 oz ones and mine is a 40. They dont leak, even with a flip lid instead of the regular screw lid. They go everywhere with us. I would get another in a heartbeat if mine was destroyed (unlikely they are super tough) but i truly could not care less about the Joneses. We just love our HF!!


Kim June 21, 2016 at 6:38 pm

We have had our hydro flask for 3 years, when our son started middle school. It goes in his lunch. I had researched them and was impressed by the product and reviews. It was a great investment at $20. There are no pictures of us with the water bottle, as that is just silly and we don’t receive any money from the company to advertise their product. Send me a check and I’ll post a photo. Lol!!


Madeline June 21, 2016 at 7:22 pm

I get my water bottles at Goodwill.I have 3 right now.If I lose one it’s about a dollar or maybe even $1.99 to replace it! They have shelves and shelves of these locally!!!! It’s Arizona–gotta be hydrated.But not for $90!!!!!!!!!!!


Megg June 21, 2016 at 9:08 pm

I bought my hydroflask last summer with rewards from our rei membership. I love it and don’t regret my purchase one bit. It was nowhere near $80 though…maybe $30? And I live in Seattle
I love it because I do prefer my water to be ice cold and I was sick of my water bottle sweating all over everything. Now it’s nice because in addition to not sweating, my water stays nice and cold between my breaks at work when I can refill it with more ice and water. I didn’t get it because it was popular but rather because it made sense for my needs.


Lauren June 21, 2016 at 9:57 pm

I’ve never heard of these bottles either. However I’ve spent a good portion of the past two weeks unable to find a solution to keeping squirrels out of my apartment besides removing the screens and keeping the glass shut so it’s looking like maybe we should corner the market on those sandals before someone else catches on.


Elaine June 21, 2016 at 10:01 pm

For us, it was the O2Cool Mist N’ Sip bottle.


Isabelle June 22, 2016 at 2:19 am

Never hearded of those. But I admit I am a sucker for cool sport’s “equipment” (why???). We have multiple water bottles at home. Some no-names received at events and some branded ( Stainless steel Clean Kanteen, Lifefactory glass bottle, Camelback glass bottle). I use the glass ones. Got rid of a bunch of cheap ones. I don’t trust the product quality unless it’s glass. Not all “stainless steel” are actually stainless, and they can be bad for our health. My Clean Kanteen I trust. Actually, this post makes me want to buy new bottles, oops!


Mrs. Picky Pincher June 22, 2016 at 4:59 am

I’ve been seeing a lot of these water bottles too–where did these things come from?? I’m also frustrated by the Yeti cooler trend. I’ve had the same cup for two years and I have no intention of getting a new one–but everyone seems to think I N-E-E-D a Yeti cup.

Luckily I’ve never been one to go with popular opinion. 😉 Buy what you want and only buy what you truly need. Everything else is just noise.


Sandy June 22, 2016 at 5:35 am

I have a Hydroflask and I love it. However, PNW snob warning here, I bought it from my locally owned grocery store as it is a local company (Bend, OR). Lifetime warranty, great customer service, money stayed in the local economy. I had no idea they were trendy! Then someone told me about all the stickers you can buy for them. Trust me, my Hydro will be sticker free! Since I bought it I have easily been able to up my water intake to at least 60-70 oz a day. Well worth the money in my opinion.


Rb June 22, 2016 at 5:36 am

I am actually annoyed that i am on top of a trend. I want a sticker for my HF that says ” i had this bottle before it was cool”.

I also painted my kitchen / laundry area about 8 years ago a mix of tomato red, light teal and golden yellow. Now those colors are all over everything. I really like my kitch but am seriously considering painting it a new color when we repaint cuz i dont want everyone to think i went with the trendy colors. Sigh.


Roberta June 22, 2016 at 7:04 am

Please post instructions for your squirrel shoes. The squirrels ate my husband’s hammock strings and all the apricots. They owe me.


Katy June 22, 2016 at 10:40 am

UPDATE: I have added my homemade squirrel shoes to the above post. 😉


Bari June 22, 2016 at 8:08 am

Do I feel old!
Upon reading about the “Yeti” tumblers and coolers, I thought they were tiems that were Star Wars/Star Trek/Sasquatch-branded.


Bari June 22, 2016 at 8:10 am

I meant to type “items” and “tiems” came out of my keyboard.


Vickie June 22, 2016 at 12:42 pm

ROFL! You sound like me. I never know what the people I work with are talking about. I can’t keep up!


Jean June 22, 2016 at 10:27 am

I’ve got to say — I love my Kleen Kanteen and Tervis. I initially thought Tervis was ridiculous — even saw an entire store devoted to it in the historic section of Charleston and thought it was crazy. Eventually I took my Bed Bath & Beyond coupons and bought 4 for the house — including lids with straws or not. They really are great in the summer. I have never heard of the Hydro Flask (I live in the midwest).


Vickie June 22, 2016 at 11:45 am

Hahaha! Love the squirrel shoe pic. I’m pissed at the squirrels too, as I currently have one trying to dig into my house. Sprinkled cinnamon on the spot works for awhile. Sigh.

I’ve never heard of Hydroflask, although, anything trendy that comes along ALWAYS pops up on the University Campus. So, I’m sure I’ll see them once the students come back for the Fall semester.
I have an insulated set of tall steel coffee mugs my MIL bought for us several years ago. It works great for hot or cold beverages. I use those. I had a set of aluminum water bottles someone bought or gave us a few years back. I didn’t like them and gave them away. I have no clue what brand they were. I’m not a “brand” person.
I can’t or don’t care to keep up with trends, so rarely have a clue what people are talking about when it comes to stuff like this. I’m happily boring.


Vickie June 22, 2016 at 12:54 pm

I just looked up the Yeti and Hydro Flask stuff. I have seen those emblems on bottles and such before – the students carry them. I just had no clue what they were. At least now I won’t be so clueless when someone mentions the brand.

I bet I could find one at our local Goodwill. The students who could careless about cost will dump anything when they leave – at least, the ones who have everything paid for by Mommy & Daddy. I believe in quality, but the best thing you can do as parent is teach your kids the value of working for those things they get. I could tell you some nightmare stories about consumerism by college kids who aren’t taught the value of a dollar and how hard you work for it.


Ronnica, Striving Stewardess June 24, 2016 at 9:12 pm

It is amazing how water bottle fashion changes (along with other types of fashion)! I still use every water bottle I’ve received…I’m not picky. I do struggle with the urge to buy one sometimes, but I have what I need and I get them from work frequently enough to add to my collection (now that I hike 10+ miles, I find I need 3 or 4).


Teresa July 22, 2016 at 6:30 am

You have said enough that I have understand the blog fully. Bottomline is we should keep drinking in a moderate way.


Cedrik May 10, 2017 at 2:02 pm

I have water carafe at home which reminds me of drinking all the time. Actually, since I bought them about a year ago I feel that I am drinking a lot more. And it goes a lot easier as well! Got two at home, one for the living room and one for the bed/night table and another one on my desk at work. Just sitting there, looking nice and sometimes I spice things up with some herbs or in the summer also some fruits 😉

Here are the squirrel shoes! They are too cute 😀 Any more posts about them here which I missed? Let me know! Got a younger sister, she’d love to have a pair.. 🙂


aliz969612 August 21, 2019 at 12:35 am

Hydro flask is best for children


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