- Easy-to-grip matte finish
- Keeps drinks cold for extended periods
- Drinks don’t come into contact with plastic
- Coating scuffs easily
- No built-in handle
- Untethered twist cap
Stainless Steel, Silicone
Sometimes you just don’t need a ton of frills to get the job done. Here at Pack Hacker, we’re more wowed by genuinely useful features than the bling factor a piece of travel gear brings to the table. That said, there’s nothing inherently bad about being flashy if it doesn’t compromise performance.
Fortunately for EcoVessel’s 16-ounce The ASPEN, a few noticeable scratches on the outside didn’t stop it from keeping our drink refreshingly cool for a long period. The design is simple, with the Reflecta Lid and TriMax Triple Insulation headlining the practical aspects of the bottle. Let’s get into the details of how these features impact performance.
Materials & Aesthetic
There’s no getting around it; the ASPEN isn’t the flashiest stainless steel insulated bottle around, especially in this matte black colorway. Instead, it has its own unique charm that leans more towards chic, classy, and understated. If James Bond asked for a martini—shaken, not stirred—the ASPEN would look right at home as the bartender’s cocktail shaker. That’s probably not a coincidence either since EcoVessel quotes the ASPEN as being suitable for cocktails and wine in addition to non-alcoholic hot and cold beverages.
The sample we have here is sort of the family’s black sheep—a bit literally since it’s called “Black Shadow.” Of all the available colorways at the time of writing, this is the only one with a matte finish. The rest have a shiny metal finish, and the colors are as follows: Blue Moon, Gold Dust, Rose Gold, Grey Smoke, and White Pearl. Regardless of which you choose, the cap remains a shiny bare metal color that tops everything off.
The ASPEN is slender towards the top and uniform all throughout—except for the logo. It’s printed on at an angle, but more noteworthy is the indent around it that makes the logo more eye-catching. Other than that, there’s nothing that breaks the ASPEN’s shape and profile. All relevant information such as volume, washing instructions, do’s and don’ts, and place of origin is printed at the bottom where most won’t see it.
So far we’ve complimented the ASPEN’s sleek and stylish appearance. But what happens when you subject that matte black coating to a bit of day-to-day usage?
Unfortunately, the coating doesn’t hold up well to casual use. We haven’t used the ASPEN in extreme conditions like a blaze or a hailstorm, but some clearly visible scratches have accumulated around the body. The most likely cause of these marks? It could be from taking the ASPEN in and out of the water bottle pocket of our bag. On the flip side, these scratches are only cosmetic—the ASPEN hasn’t sprung a leak, nor do the scratches affect how well it insulates.
Despite how easily the ASPEN’s coating picked up marks and scratches, we still dig how easy-to-grab it is. As an insulated bottle, condensation isn’t really a concern, and therefore neither is slippage. That said, some insulated bottles come with a very glossy finish that feels like they’d slip with just the natural oils coming from our hands—not so with the ASPEN’s matte coating.
Additionally, the ASPEN’s base has a silicone ring around it—along with some helpful information—to keep it from sliding across your desk while you’re taking care of business. It also helps mute the clanging metal sound that often comes when you set a stainless steel bottle down on a hard surface. Really, the only complaint we have in mind when it comes to the ASPEN’s handling would be its lack of a carry handle. One could argue that a handle would wreck the bottle’s streamlined profile, which we totally get. However, gripping the bottle by hand got old if we carried it for extended periods.
It isn’t unusual for insulated bottles to come with a headlining feature. These features range from borderline gimmicks and all the way to actually useful ones. For the ASPEN, EcoVessel has thrown in two: the Reflecta lid and TriMax Triple Insulation.
We’ll start with the TriMax Triple Insulation, which EcoVessel claims to help the ASPEN keep drinks cold for up to 100 hours or hot for 20 hours. Impressive stuff, though the key words there are “up to.” That means those were likely tested under ideal conditions, which, unfortunately, we are not privy to. Nevertheless, we channeled our inner Bob Ross and created our own happy little accident.
We left the ASPEN in our car for three days while filled with water and some ice. It gets fairly warm up during Michigan summers, getting up to 90 degrees during the day, and it’s even warmer inside a closed car. After the three days, the ice was gone, but all 16 ounces of water inside remained cool and pleasant to drink.
That little trial by fire was around 28-hours short of the 100 hours claimed by EcoVesel, though it’s a reassuring result nonetheless. Needless to say, day-to-day thermal performance was nothing short of great for the ASPEN, keeping our drinks cool or hot by day’s end.
Whether the Reflecta lid did its part by enhancing temperature retention or not is something we can’t test directly. What is true is that this lid design doesn’t put the drink inside into contact with plastic. Twist off the lid, and you’ll find that it has a stainless steel base, rubber gasket, and internal threading. The ASPEN is BPA-free to begin with, so the only remaining difference it should make is if it keeps our drinks’ taste uncontaminated—which it does, and the internal threading even means it’s smooth to drink from.
On the subject of the lid, it’s worth noting that it’s untethered to the bottle. Some insulated bottles come with a built-in spout, straw, or other gadgets that don’t require taking off the cap. In the ASPEN’s case, if you like drinking on the go, like while standing in the subway or a crowded bus, you’ll have to hold onto the lid. Otherwise, drinking from the ASPEN is a smooth experience. The only other hitch is since the opening is on the slender side, ice cubes need to be broken up depending on how big they are.
Maintenance-wise, the ASPEN is easy to manage since it breaks down to just the lid and the bottle itself. Handwashing is recommended, which probably means not dishwasher safe. If the easily-scratched matte finish is anything to go by, it’s best to stick to the sink. For those hard-to-reach areas like the lid’s gaps, a brush is sufficient to reach down to give it a proper cleaning.
The ASPEN doesn’t have much in the way of bells and whistles like the Zojirushi Stainless Mug’s pop-open lid or the memobottle A6’s squared-off shape. At most, the only frivolous thing here is the matte black coating, which took on a number of scratches. While the lack of a handle and an untethered cap are downsides worth considering, the ASPEN still gets the job done, keeping drinks cool or hot when you need them.
- The cap’s threading is internal, so you don’t feel the thread when you drink from it
- There’s a ring of silicone at the base to keep it from slipping
- This Black Shadow version has a matte finish which helps a little in grabbing the bottle
- The outside of the bottle has minor scratches and scuffs
- We left the bottle in the car for 3 days in 90-degree weather and the water inside was still cold
- The Reflecta Insulated Lid feature ensures your drink never touches plastic when in the bottle
- The compact slender design is incredibly portable and helped it fit into most water bottle pockets