The Yeti Rambler 26 is our newest Editors' Choice Award winner for a number of reasons. We previously tested the larger version of the Rambler and were impressed by its performance, but felt that its size was just too big for the bottle to win out over the longstanding favorite Hydo Flask. This smaller model of the Rambler has the same extra-wide mouth (for ease of drinking and cleaning) and ergonomic carrying handle that we loved on the previous test model. This bottle has it all! We liked all these features enough to carry the Rambler with us on all of our outings, even though we had lighter options to choose from!
YETI Rambler 26 Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Durable, easy to carry, wide mouth for easy drinking and cleaning, good design
Cons: Expensive, heavy
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Our Analysis and Test Results
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 pros and cons ended up landing the Rambler our Editors' Choice award.
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 Hydro Flask 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 Hydro Flask 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 Hydro Flask 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 Platypus Meta , and the Soma bottle have too narrow a mouth to clean the inside effectively. 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.
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. The larger model of this bottle weighed in at a whopping 21.9 ounces, whereas the Yeti Rambler 26 weighs only 18.5 ounces. This is a huge difference, and places the 26oz model in the realm of most other durable bottles in this review (like the Hydro Flask or LifeFactory) 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 Klean Kanteen Wide Mouth.
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 complicated 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 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.
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.
The Yeti Rambler 26 is sold online for $40. This is the same price as the Hydro Flask as well as the CamelBak Chute, both of which are comparable insulated options. 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 overall durability make the Rambler a bottle that is well worth the price tag.
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. 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.
— Jane Jackson