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Hands-on Gear Review
Yeti Rambler Review
Cons: Expensive, heavy, huge
Bottom line: In terms of strong, insulated, stainless steel bottles, this bottle is it. From lid to vessel itself, the Rambler is built to last.
The Yeti Rambler is a sturdier, more heavy duty version of the award winning Hydroflask Vacuum Insulated bottle we tested last fall. The Rambler has a large capacity (at 36oz it's the biggest bottle in our tests), an extra wide mouth (making it easy to clean and drink out of), and a very ergonomic carrying handle. This bottle has it all! The only trade off you make with the Rambler is weight-the bottle is quite heavy and bulky, so it is not the best option for long hikes, climbs, or bike rides.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Rambler is a hulking, vacuum insulated bottle that is ideal for large groups or for people that take their hydration seriously. The Rambler has a 36oz capacity and weighs a little over a pound. Its major positives are the width of the mouth, which is significantly wider than most bottles, and the lid design, which is easy to clean and has a very comfortable carrying handle built in. The pros and cons equal out to make the Rambler a close second to our still long-standing favorite, the HydroFlask Wide Mouth.
Ease of Use
This bottle is about as easy as it gets. A simple, easy to hold carrying handle, an exceptionally wide mouth, and a smooth rim to the bottle make it easy to fill and drink out of. Yeti designed the Rambler bottles specifically to confront the longstanding wide-mouth water bottle issue of how to fit your nose into the bottle when drinking. To remedy this, Yeti uses Over-The-Nose Technology with an extra wide mouth that makes the bottle feel more like a drinking glass than a water bottle. Very civilized, Yeti!
This wide mouth also comes in handy when cleaning the bottle. It's easy to fit a sponge or stick sponge inside to clean; plus, you can see inside the bottle to make sure there's nothing growing inside, just in case it's been a while since it's been washed. The Nalgene Wide Mouth bottle and the Hydroflask Vacuum Insulated are two other bottles we tested with similar wide mouths, but neither come close to the diameter of the Yeti. If the Over-The-Nose technology is not critical to your water bottle needs, a slightly lighter bottle, like the Hydroflask may be a better option.
Making durable, heavy duty products is Yeti's claim to fame as a company. Their bottles are built like their coolers-well insulated and incredibly durable. The Rambler is no exception, and takes the cake in terms of durability in our performance comparisons. The TripleHaul Cap has no extra parts, which avoids the risk of plastic parts breaking over time. Like the other two vacuum insulated bottles we tested-the Hydroflask and the Klean Kanteen Vacuum Insulated bottle, the Rambler is durable simply because of its design. The 18/8 Stainless Steel construction makes the bottle resistant to punctures and dents. The double-walled design of the vacuum insulated bottles also helps them in the durability metric.
Ease of Cleaning
The Yeti really won us over when it came to cleaning the bottle. Our experience with most of the bottles in testing was a general disappointment with how difficult it was to clean most water bottles. Some, like the Klean Kanteen, the BKR, and the Soma bottle have too narrow a mouth to clean the inside effectively. Others, like the Hydroflask have a wide mouth, but the threads of the lid are inside a slot, creating an area for gunk to build up. The Rambler, on the other hand, has exposed threads which are easy to clean quickly. Also, because the diameter of the mouth is so big, it is easy to see the inside of the bottle and check whether it needs a cleaning or not. The lid design and the size of the mouth make this the top choice in our ease of cleaning metric.
Here, the Rambler comes up a bit short, as its girth makes it durable and functional, but also makes it one of the heaviest bottle in the fleet. Only the bkr Glass bottle comes close to the Yeti in terms of weight. The bkr weighs in at 24oz (empty) and the Rambler weighs 21.9 oz (also empty). That means both bottles weigh nearly a pound and a half, without water! That means, the Yeti will not be the bottle you grab when you head out the door on a light and fast mission. Typically, metal bottles that are not vacuum insulated are a lot lighter, so if you are looking for a lighter, stainless steel bottle, check out the Kleen Kanteen Classic or the Avex Brazos AutoSeal.
When we performed the standard taste test on the Yeti Rambler, we were happy to find that the Rambler did not hold flavors for long periods of time. We filled the bottle with electrolyte powdered drink mix, which often lingers in water bottles after one use, and left it in the bottle for a few hours. Then, once the drink mix was finished, we rinsed the bottle once with water and refilled it, finding that the taste of the mix was hardly detectable.
Bottles like the CamelBak eddy or the Avex Brazos Autoseal, both of which have complicate lids, seem to trap taste more since there are more nooks and crannies for tastes to linger. That being said, after almost a year of use, the Hydroflask, with a very simple lid design, traps taste more as it has been used frequently. The Rambler also has the benefit of the wide mouth, so it's easy to clean frequently, which helps it to avoid taste buildup.
Since the Rambler is super heavy duty and bulky, the bottle is best used in a front-country setting. In other words, this is not the bottle you want to take on the John Muir Trail. If you want to keep drinks cool or hot while boating, picnicking, or working, the Yeti is a great option. It is comfortable to drink from, has a large capacity, and is extremely well insulated. The bottle is great for large groups (margaritas or a portable tea party, perhaps). The Rambler shines in any application but carrying long distances.
Ths competitor sells online for $50, making it $10 more than the Hydroflask Widemouth Vacuum Insulated bottle. Since the capacity of the Rambler is a few ounces more than the Hydro, a 36oz bottle vs. a 32oz, it makes sense it is slightly more expensive. $50 is a lot to spend on yet another bottle, but, if you want a versatile, durable vessel that can keep drinks hot or cold, the Yeti is a good investment. Yeti also as a 5-year warranty and a refund/ exchange option for their products.
The Yeti Rambler really has it all. The simple design features like the Over-the-Nose mouth design and the carrying handle are subtle but critical aspects of the Yeti that make it easy and comfortable to use. It is also exceptionally easy to clean, also due to the mouth and lid designs. Just as the Yeti shines in some realms, it seriously lacks in others. The hefty price tag is hard to justify when the bottle works as well as the Hydroflask, which is significantly cheaper. Also, the weight of the bottle is a major detraction, and we found in testing that we were reluctant to carry it very far since it weighed so much when filled. There are upsides and downsides to all bottles, and it really comes down to personal preference. If you are really keen to find a bottle with an extra-wide mouth, then perhaps it is worth it to try out the Yeti Rambler.
— Jane Jackson
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