Sep 28, 2023

Yeti Yonder Review: The Water Bottle I've Been Waiting For

Adrienne So

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Bar none, there is no company that’s easier to make fun of than Texas-based Yeti. My house is full of hilariously overengineered, overpriced products. The problem starts when these products become the most useful items I own.

Just this morning, I used the Camino Carryall to drag my climbing gear to the gym. I had to take my daughter’s roller skating gear out of it, and before that 15 tiny soccer balls that I took to the park to play with kindergarteners. It's five years old and looks as good as new. And the Yeti Lowlands? I carry that heavy-duty blanket to every festival and camping trip. I don’t have to stake the corners. It pads over every small rock and blade of prickly grass, and it has its own sling carrying case!

I even forced my husband to make a pilgrimage to the Yeti flagship store in Austin, Texas. On one level, I find it repulsive to make such an ostentatious production out of spending so much money on the company's signature cooler. A cooler! It's just something to put your Coke and bait in! Yet everything was so exquisite, so heavy, in just the right colors. As I wandered the aisles picking things up and putting them down again, I felt a deep, primal yearning for a Ford F150 and a fly-fishing vest.

Rinse and repeat when I first opened the box for the Yeti Yonder water bottle, which looked more like a sarcophagus hand-carved for the boy king Tutankhamen than a shipping container. The first thing I saw was the gigantic, full-color visage of climbing and skiing luminary Jimmy Chin, with his signature reckless grin, looming over two water bottles that were the color of sea glass before a storm. I picked one up and have simply never put it down. You guessed it. The 25-ounce Yonder is now my emotional support water bottle. I can and will have no other.

When I’m at home, I mostly drink from a Stanley tumbler. But when I’m out of the house, my previous favorite water bottle was a 26-ounce Yeti Rambler with a chug cap.

I have weirdly specific water bottle requirements. I used to have a Nalgene, but it wasn’t insulated, and hot Nalgene water tastes just like taking a long lick off the bottom of a sticky McDonald's ball pit. I’m also a talky, distracted drinker who has a tendency to pour water straight down the front of my shirt at the gym. ("Put to mouth, then drink," I repeat to myself, to no avail.) The chug cap is a good compromise between being able to swig water quickly and not drenching myself with a single careless movement.

The Rambler is also dishwasher-safe! While my children use straw-cap bottles for their ease and convenience, I loathe cleaning them. I need specialized brushes to scrub the mold out of all the tiny valves and tubes, and then air-dry them every night. I will undertake this task for my kids, but not for myself. The Rambler is also insulated, and I can fill the whole thing with ice and refill it several times during the day and the ice won’t melt.

Yes, the Rambler is a perfect water bottle, except for one factor—its weight. Even empty, it weighs about 1.4 pounds. That’s fine if you’re in a car, on a boat, or pulling it in a wagon, but carrying that much weight on your back for an extended period is grueling.

That’s where the Yonder comes in. When I flew to CES and had to face the prospect of carrying a backpack from 7 am to midnight almost every day, taking my Rambler was a grim prospect. No, there was only one refillable water bottle I considered; a lightweight bottle whose cap I could wash and dry easily in and next to a hotel sink.

Yeti Yonder

Rating: 8/10

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It opens easily, but the Yonder also has a cap with a loop. You can use the loop to clip your water bottle on the outside of a bag. But this is also helpful in a less obvious way. Sometimes water bottles seal shut with temperature or pressure changes, like when you're on a flight. If you have a bottle with a loop cap, you can take a long stick or a pen, slide it through the loop, and use it as a lever to open a bottle you might not be able to open with your hands.

The Yonder is also dishwasher-safe, though Yeti’s FAQ does specify to not use it with hot or carbonated beverages, or as food storage—no keeping your granola bars in it and using it as a tiny bear box. It’s also not backward-compatible with Yeti Rambler accessories, like my old Rambler cup cap, which makes sense, since I can’t use it to serve my children tiny cups of hot cocoa when we’re at the zoo.

Besides Jimmy Chin, I also saw pictures of my personal hero Beth Rodden drinking from a Yonder on a multi-pitch climb, then clipping it onto her rack with all her gear. Far be it from me to tell Rodden what to do, but it makes me really nervous to see people climbing on cliffs with water bottles with detached caps. I’m exactly the kind of person who would unscrew the lid, take a swig, and accidentally send it tumbling down the slope directly into the face of someone right behind me. (I also use mitten clips with my kids, in case you were wondering,)

Those factors aside, the Yonder is gorgeous. The 25-ounce bottle fits perfectly into my tiny hand, in the cupholder of my car, and in my heart. The smooth, shatter-resistant plastic isa joy to hold—at least it was until I immediately covered it with stickers. I've dropped it, tossed it around playgrounds and into the bottom of wagons, and it still has nary a scratch.

If you balk at the price, it is covered by a five-year warranty. (Lifetime warranties could refer to either the lifetime of the customer or the lifetime of the product under intended usage conditions, so having a concrete number is helpful here.)

Did I desperately want to make fun of it? Yes. Several months on, am I now tossing the Yonder directly into the Carryall with a bulky jumble of ropes and harnesses to take with me climbing, and slotting it directly into every single backpack pocket? Yes, I am. Getting rid of an extra pound of weight has made a noticeable difference when I carry my backpack through airports and up steep hills. Curse you again, Yeti. I will find something of yours to mock soon.

Yeti Yonder

Rating: 8/10

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