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Hands-on Gear Review
Lifefactory Glass Flip Cap Review
Cons: Flip cap mouth piece pours water into nose when drinking, heavy
Bottom line: The Flip Cap is an updated version of the Classic, with all the same features we loved, plus a new cap design.
Glass water bottles are increasing in popularity and this Lifefactory model is the best of its class in our review. It's functional, stylish, and provides the satisfaction and potential health benefits of drinking from a glass container. Considering our active nature and tendency to treat our gear with tough love, we were initially skeptical that these types of bottles would be for us. We didn't think it would be able to stand up to its competition in a few of our metrics. This glass competitor couldn't match other bottles like the Klean Kanteen Classic or Nalgene Wide-Mouth in their wide versatility, partly due to being undeniably heavy. Yet, it did prove much more durable than we ever expected, surviving our drop tests where others (even plastic ones!) completely failed. This bottle also came in at the top of the class in our ease of use and taste categories. In the end, it earned our Top Pick for Glass for providing a very usable and convenient alternative to plastic in our day-to-day lives.
The glass Lifefactory proved its worth as a lifestyle bottle. It does have a steep price tag of $28. However, this bottle really delivers when it comes to ease of use and taste. It's also much more durable than expected. Furthermore, we feel that many consumers will gladly pay more for the peace of mind they get by avoiding a plastic bottle. This product won our Top Pick for Glass, despite our preference for the original lid instead of the Flip Cap. Even with the Flip Cap, the Lifefactory is great to drink from and use; water tastes delicious when coming from this bottle.
RELATED REVIEW: The 16 Best Water Bottles of 2017
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
Compared to the competition, the Lifefactory bottle (shown in blue) fared quite well overall and was our favorite glass model.
Ease of Use
We found the Glass Flip Cap by Lifefactory to be a great bottle for everyday use, mostly because it has a glass body that fits comfortably in your hand. It features a robust design in three parts: a glass body, a protective silicone sleeve, and a plastic cap. The cap has a loop that makes it easy to clip to a backpack, but we mostly used it as a carrying handle with our hand, rather than having a flopping bottle on our back.
The product also feels right in your hands. The glass is curved for a more ergonomic fit, and the silicone sleeve provides a sure grip. It almost sticks to your hands, and we preferred it to the Soma Bottle and the bkr in this sense. The bkr bottle was just too wide to fit comfortably in our hands and thus required two hands to drink from. Like the matte finish on the Hydro Flask Wide-Mouth Insulated and the Klean Kanteen Vacuum Insulated, the LifeFactory model just felt good in our hands. The protrusions on the sides of the cap are useful for easily unscrewing the cap for a drink, and the wide mouth is easy for filling from most water sources.
Screwing the cap back on did have a bit of a learning curve, as did drinking from the flip cap spout. For the first few days, we were frequently misthreading the cap onto the bottle, resulting in an improperly sealed bottle that would have leaked if not caught. This was always quickly noticed and corrected, but we were annoyed to have to constantly double check if we got the cap on right. Over time, this mistake was significantly reduced. However, we still missed the correct threads from time to time. A minor grievance. When the cap is correctly placed, this bottle proved leakproof. It passed our test with a perfect score. Similar to the threads of the lid is the seal on the flip cap. If you do not forcefully shut the flip cap, water will leak out through the gasket — another lesson we had to learn the hard way. Also, when drinking out of the flip cap spout, we noticed that if you go for a big gulp, you run the risk of pouring water up your nose through the teardrop-shaped spout.
As expected from glass, the Flip Cap scored at the top of this metric, scoring almost identically with the Soma glass bottle. Our testers were most fond of the glass bottles in the general taste test. There is a reason that up-scale restaurants always serve drinks in glasses rather than plastic (or metal) cups. It just tastes better. This product also scored well in the 24-hour test, keeping the water relatively fresh and imparting no undesired flavors from the body.
In our flavor retention test, the Lifefactory edged out even the Soma. The flavor of the sports drink was not retained in the Lifefactory after being hand washed. There was a faint residual smell left in the bottle, though a thorough cleaning with baking soda and vinegar brought the bottle back to its original, scent-free state.
Naturally, glass was the most fragile material tested in our lab. Therefore, we expected both the Lifefactory and Soma to fall to the bottom of this scoring metric. Our Top Pick for Glass, however, had other plans. The silicone sleeve on the exterior of the body not only improves grip but also does a sound job at absorbing the impact forces when the bottle hits the ground. The bottle was accidentally dropped three times over the three-month review period on thin carpet from heights from two to four feet without breaking. But, we were still pretty convinced it would not survive our drop test onto concrete.
We were wrong. When dropped on its bottom, it didn't break. When dropped on its cap, it didn't break. The silicone covering the bottom of the bottle did suffer a rip approximately 1 cm, and the loop of the cap was visibly stressed to the point where we wouldn't trust hanging it anymore. Most importantly, though, the glass bottle didn't shatter. In contrast, the Contigo Thermalock Glacier also survived its fall on its bottom but broke when dropped on its cap.
Our drop height was three and a half feet. Due to the design of the body and silicone sleeve, the bottle seems able to withstand some falls onto flat, hard surfaces. We don't recommend doing this purposefully, of course, but it's useful knowing that it's not guaranteed to break during any fall. A fall on an exposed portion of the glass body directly onto a hard point would very likely break it. It wasn't our go-to bottle for rock climbing for this reason but felt that it was durable enough to use around town or on a daily basis.
Watch our drop tests here:
Ease of Cleaning
This bottle, with its wide mouth and simple body, is easy to clean. The simple lid design and body shape are similar to a Nalgene Wide-Mouth or Hydro Flask Wide-Mouth Insulated, which are both easy to clean. It should be noted that we did not remove and wash the silicone sleeve each cleaning and we didn't factor this into the timed test. Submerged in soapy water, it is possible to remove, clean, and replace the sleeve as desired. However, the naked glass bottle becomes very slippery in the soapy water, making us nervous that we might break it in our kitchen sink. Luckily, this doesn't need to be done very often.
As necessary, you can remove the silicone sleeve by submerging it in soapy water and sliding it off the glass body.
The Lifefactory's thick glass body does make it more durable, but also heavier. Weighing in on our scales at 19.2 ounces, it was one of the heaviest bottles we tested. Only the bkr, our 1-liter glass bottle contender, outweighed the Lifefactory. It's nearly four ounces lighter than the Hydro Flask Wide Mouth and even lighter than the *Yeti Rambler* and is seated on the other side of the spectrum from collapsible bottles like the Platypus SoftBottle. When the bottle is full, it weighs about two and a half pounds. As long as your messenger bag isn't full of books or other heavy equipment, we don't think this will stop you from packing it along for your weekdays on the town. However, this is too much weight to add to your pack in the backcountry.
As with most glass bottles, the best use for this contender is as a first water bottle at work and around the house. It's like a portable water glass that seals shut and feels nice in hand; we dig that. At 22 fluid ounces, it also suffices for short and light workout sessions. When light weight, rugged durability, and larger volumes aren't necessary, we frequently chose this bottle for its ease of use and quality of drinking experience. Also, it's an excellent choice if you are looking to move away from plastic bottles in everyday use. When this bottle is standing upright, your water will not have any contact with plastic. Even on its side, contact with plastic is minimal. We like crossing off uncertainties when it comes to our health, and therefore we like the Lifefactory bottles. Do not use this bottle for boiling water; instead, choose the Hydro Flask Insulated. For freezing water, perhaps consider the Platypus SoftBottle.
Ringing in at about $28, this bottle falls on the more expensive end of the 16 bottles we reviewed. However, if you are looking to switch to a glass bottle for your weekday life, we feel that this bottle provides decent value. It stands up on a table better than the Soma and it's also one of the most comfortable bottles to hold of the 16 tested. If you're looking for a water bottle to use in the office, at home, and at Pilates class, this bottle will serve you very well.
The Lifefactory was a pleasant surprise. It surpassed our expectations in its ease of use and durability, and met our high expectations for a glass bottle in the taste metric. Though we found the flip cap to be less effective than the regular lid, the Lifefactory still wins an award for the Top Pick for Glass bottles. More importantly, it poses fewer potential health risks than plastic bottles and is an excellent choice for health-conscious consumers interested in avoiding the chemicals in plastics. Sure, it isn't durable enough, light enough, or big enough for most of our favorite outdoor ventures. However, its properties do make it a convenient bottle for work, home, and the gym. Despite being made of a fragile material, it holds its own very well as an everyday replacement to plastic bottles.
— Jane Jackson
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