During a long day of fishing in the summer, all I want to drink is cold water; nothing quenches thirst like it. I’m a big fan of sweet tea and Pepsi, but when I’m genuinely hot and thirsty, they won’t do. A good, cold bottle of H20 goes down easy, keeps the body hydrated and leaves no aftertaste.

I have several problems with drinking cold water while fishing, however. I have a small boat, so I’m limited to one cooler that holds my drinking water and any fish I decide to keep for supper. And once I’ve got a keeper redfish in the cooler, my water bottles are all slimy, and I’m reluctant to drink from one. If a sheepshead goes in the cooler, I’ve got to fish out a water bottle without getting finned.

Even worse — it’s happened more often than I care to admit — I’ll open the cooler to reach for water, and one of my fish will spring to life and jump out of the cooler to freedom, leaving me with slimy water bottles and nothing to show for it.

And the trash! Cleaning up after fishing trips, I’ll often throw away a dozen plastic water bottles, and because I don’t want to deal with fish-slimed bottles, I am guilty of throwing away some unopened and half-empty bottles from time to time, which is wasteful.

But just as the high-performance cooler craze has folks keeping things cold for days at a time, insulated, stainless steel vacuum water bottles are helping outdoorsmen stay hydrated without the need for plastic bottles or coolers at all. And they work for sweet tea and Pepsi too, if you’re into drinking those.

Many companies make stainless steel drinking containers in many sizes, but I’ve found one that has me leaving the other brands home, especially on longer fishing trips. The GSI Outdoors Microlite bottles hold ice and keep drinks cold for longer than any I’ve tried, and I’ve tried all the major brands. 

After using a GSI Outdoors bottle on shorter outings, I felt like it was holding ice much longer than I expected. On the next several longer trips I took, I decided to take a Yeti bottle of comparable size along as well. With them both prepped the same way and holding the same amount of ice and water, I was surprised at the results.


Ice is nice

The Yeti bottle did what it said it would do: keep my water cold and retain a small amount of ice about six hours into the trip on a 95-degree day. The GSI Outdoors bottle, on the other hand, had almost as much ice at the end as it had at the beginning of the day. Ice wasn’t even floating in the water; the bottle still had a huge amount of ice that had formed into a connected mass, keeping the water as cold as possible. 

At the end of the trip, I couldn’t help but show my fishing partner how much ice was in the bottle. He looked confused, then laughed, looked around my boat, and noticing I didn’t even have an ice chest, then he asked me where I got the replacement ice.

Another great feature of these bottles is how lightweight they are. Though they are double-walled, they are lighter than most single-walled bottles. They are available in a variety of sizes and colors, and unlike most manufacturers, the GSI Outdoors bottles can be purchased with either twist-on or pop-up caps.

The bottoms also have rubberized coatings, so they won’t slide on or scratch smooth surfaces. 

Just like high-performance coolers, these bottles come at a premium price, no matter which company you purchase one from, but I can only imagine how much money I have spent on bottled water over the years. And since I’ve already got water at home, the bottles will pay for themselves in time. 

For convenience, I use a small, drawstring bag to carry several of the bottles with me on fishing trips, and they’re always in easy reach.

And gone are the days of me failing to drink enough water because I don’t like fish-slimed bottles, because I’m afraid of a sheepshead finning me, or because I’m scared of a keeper fish springing free when I open the cooler.