No Shame in My S’wanky S’well Game: In Defense of Expensive Water Bottles

No Shame in My S’wanky S’well Game: In Defense of Expensive Water Bottles

In my classes at university, the water bottle that sat on your desk was like, the IT accessory that showcased your personality. Besides your name tag it was the only thing that people would consistently see associated with your face. There I was looking from across the room to Kevin the climber who sips out of his Nalgene. Nancy the non-recycler who bought a fresh bottle from the cafeteria that morning. Karen with her purple Camelbak chewing away on that weird mouthpiece, messing up her teeth.

Most everyone brought their own refillable water bottle to class. The only line longer than the boys bathroom (the gender ratio was way off – Justice for the women’s washroom at last 😏) was the water fountain line. There was only one.

And then one day, my best friend brought out this beautiful water bottle by this indie brand S’well. It was painted beautifully to resemble wood, but was actually stainless steel. I always stole sips from his water bottle because he always had freshly refilled, cold water in there. Later, I found out it’s because the bottle is insulated and just keeps water cold. I literally thought he was constantly putting more cold water in there…

Then I found out the price.

$60?!?!?! Are you kidding me? That’s SO much for a water bottle. Like any water bottle will do. Even one with a fancy carbon filter won’t cost you more than $30. TOPS.

And then I started seeing more and more of these sleek water bottles pop up. I was just seeing dollar signs everywhere. But no way was I going to buy one. What a ridiculous use of money.

And then I was gifted one…

And everything changed. Every sip was so crisp. It never made my hands cold or damp. The user experience was capital ‘P’ Perfect. Holding the bottle feels nice – the gentle sloping curves, the slimmer neck section that fits your fingers just so when you unscrew the top… and the choices for tactile textures makes my brain tickle with delight (prickly, soft matte, glossy, satin, you name it). Drinking from it feels nice. And so I drank more water. Chewing on the Camelbak straw was habit I needed to break anyways (what? I liked taking notes and chewing/sipping at the same time).

It’s just that. User experience. It just goes to show that when things are thoughtfully designed they become a joy to use. People will actually use your product. Instead of accumulating a bunch of things that are just okay, having one thing that is a joy to use every time makes such a big difference. Like, when it comes down to it, I really would rather drink fresh tap water out of my S’well water bottle than a plastic bottle from the fridge.

Drinking water out of any other vessel is like drinking champagne out of a mug. It just don’t feel right.

And for the price. It’s kind of like carrying a designer bag. When people see it, they know how much you spent on it. And a knock-off will always make you wish you saved for the real thing. That little bit of frivolity plays into the user experience too. I feel fancy when I use my S’well bottle. The same feeling drinking a bottle of Fiji or Voss would make you feel. It’s like ooo I’m drinking fancy, “superior” (read: expensive) water. But now it’s like ooo check out my fancy “superior” (read: expensive) water vessel. The latter is much more sustainable. So even if I did spend $40-60 on a water bottle, I don’t even feel that bad about it. Like you would spend that much on a Sephora trip and only end up using a quarter of the product over its lifetime anyway.

This whole water bottle as fashion accessory thing was not a “Thing” at all when I went away on exchange. Not that many people even carried their own. My mini S’well was my number one “don’t leave the house without it” item. It fit perfectly into the side pocket of my every day travel bag/school bag (similar here – literally my holy grail travel bag). It cost $38 and has gone with me around the world (like I think it’s total travel distance would circumnavigate the planet at least once…). Even when the tap water isn’t potable, I’ll transfer cold bottled water into it because of its insulation. Nothing like a sip of cold, crisp water while exploring a new place.

And for that. It’s worth it.


Links below are affiliate links. They just might give me a tiny commission if you happen to make a purchase through this post.  More on site policy and disclosure here. Woot. Woot. 

Links for Americans

A small, purse sized bottle. This is the size I tend to use the most.

The size you should get if it’s going to sit on a desk. It holds more than 3 gulps of water.

My personal favorite print

Links for Canadians

15% off select S’well bottles from Chapters/Indigo

and 15% off full-priced items with code SUNNY15


15% off select S’well from (use code booitsbloo for $10 off your order of $40 or more)

S'well Textiles Collection Stainless Steel Water Bottle Santorini
A petite little one perfect for sticking in your purse

S'well Metallic Collection Stainless Steel Water Bottle Rose Gold
Ugh. I love the ones with the matching caps.
S'well Stone Collection Stainless Steel Water Bottle Green Jasper
A cool, gritty texture to shake things up.


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