The Rambler is a durable, vacuum insulated bottle that accompanied us everywhere during our three-month testing period. It sat by our side at work, was our go-to for climbing days and hiking days, and was the ideal road trip bottle with its ability to hold both hot and cold drinks. The Rambler has a 26oz capacity, making it a much more reasonable option than its hulking 36oz big brother. 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 big pros and limited cons ended up landing the Rambler our Editors' Choice Award.
Simplicity wins with the Yeti Rambler.
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!
The simplicity and pleasure of using this bottle helped sky-rocket this bottle to the top of our favorites list for daily use. Any bottle will work for carrying water, but this one makes the experience better. The Nalgene has a similarly wide mouth, but it doesn't come close to the diameter of the Yeti. If a wide mouth is not a must-have feature, check out the Hydro Flask Standard Mouth, which was close behind the Rambler in contention for our Editors' Choice Award. The Standard is slimmer and taller. This shape makes it nice for cold beverages, but hot on the lips with tea or coffee.
We also loved the matte texture of the Yeti, which made it easy to grasp even though it is a fairly large bottle.
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 other vacuum insulated bottles we tested, the Rambler is durable simply because of its design and materials. 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.
The Rambler 26 is the perfect size, whereas the previous model we tested (the 38 ounce) was too big to use on the go.
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 Platypus Meta , and the Soma bottle have too narrow a mouth to clean the inside effectively without a specific brush. Others, like the Hydro Flask, 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.
The Rambler perched on the bumper after a day on the trail.
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. At 18 ounces, this bottle isn't the one to take on overnights, ski tours, or other extended excursions. 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.
When we performed the standard taste test on the Rambler, we were happy to find that the Rambler did not hold flavors for long periods. 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+, which has a complicated lid, 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 Hydro Flask, 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. The wide mouth and the fact that the threads are on the outside of the lid make the Rambler one of the easiest bottles to clean, and thus lingering tastes are less of an issue here.
The wide mouth of the Rambler sets this bottle apart. It eases both drinking from and cleaning the bottle.
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. Even if we wanted to, most of us can't spend all our days in the outdoors. So, for the weeks in between your weekends, this is the best daily driver you'll find.
The ergonomic lid and carrying handle made this bottle easy to carry by hand, which we do not often do with our bottles.
The Rambler is sold online for $40. This is becoming the standard price range for quality insulated bottles. The 38-ounce version of the Rambler costs $50, which feels like a lot of money, but this smaller, more portable version costs less and is more useful. Yeti also has a 5-year warranty and a refund/exchange option for their products. The efficiency of the bottle's insulation and its longevity make the Rambler a bottle that is well worth the price tag.
The Yeti Rambler 26 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. This bottle accompanied us on many adventures while still looking cool and carrying comfortably enough to be used around town. The price is fairly reasonable and the bottle's weight is similar to its competitors. All in all, this bottle wowed us enough in all of our metric comparisons to take the title of Editors' Choice.