Name: Leah Groth
Condition: Constantly dehydrated
How long she’s been dehydrated: Most of her life
Even though I am a health writer — i.e., someone who understands the importance of staying hydrated and all the perks of drinking the recommended daily amount of liquids — I do not drink enough water. (The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommend that I aim for nine 8-ounce cups of fluid per day.) So, what comes between me and the holy health grail of an adequate number of fluid ounces of H2O? A combination of laziness, lack of accountability, a failure to calculate just how much water is necessary, and no tools to track it. Let’s be real: Who has time to keep track of how many times they fill their water bottle per day?
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What Is HidrateSpark?
Enter HidrateSpark, a company born on Kickstarter that has revolutionized the smart water bottle over the last few years. Like the iPhone, HidrateSpark has gone through several incarnations since the first bottle launched, in 2014. The most recent offering is the HidrateSpark Steel, the fourth generation and the most technologically advanced model. In short, the bottle and accompanying app serve as a virtual water drinking coach, not only monitoring how much water you are throwing back, but reminding you to drink more of it.
Here’s how it works: The bottle is equipped with a rechargeable Bluetooth chip that connects with the app throughout the day, updating the record of your water consumption. In addition to the bottle glowing when you need to drink more, the app will send updates via your phone to remind you to keep chugging. You can also check progress via the app, which constantly recalculates your consumption throughout the day. The bottle itself is stainless steel and vacuum insulated, so drinks will be kept cold for up to 24 hours.
There are a few different models to choose from, two sizes, and also different lid types (spout or straw). I opted for the 17-ounce HydrateSpark Steel with the chug lid.
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Here’s What Happened When I Tried It
My hope in using the HidrateSpark was that I would effectively up my water intake.
When the box arrived, I was eager to get started. As someone who sometimes struggles with technology, I am always intimidated by a new gadget. But I was pleasantly surprised by how simple and stress-free the process of setting up the app and the bottle itself actually was.
The bottle has three parts: the body, a twist-off lid, and the base, aka the sensor puck, which is more or less where the magic happens. The puck houses both the Bluetooth connection and the rechargeable battery. While the other components of the bottle can be hand washed or placed on the top rack of the washing machine, this one cannot, for obvious reasons. You don’t want to get the battery wet.
Before using the bottle, I scanned the instructions. I use the term “scan” because the bottle is surprisingly simple to figure out. First, I removed the sensor puck as instructed, and then connected the included charger to the base for a few hours. I was a little nervous at this point, wondering how often I would need to recharge, and if I would be able to keep up with it.
After the bottle was fully charged (it flashed green to let me know), I downloaded the free HidrateSpark app on my iPhone (it is available on both IOS and Android). The app kindly walks you through the process of connecting your bottle. It asked me for a bunch of personal information, including my height and weight, age, sex, fitness activities, whether I was pregnant or nursing, and even where I was located, so that the app can keep track of local weather. Then, using an algorithm, it determined how much water I needed to drink daily.
Next it instructed me to fill the bottle and calibrate it. You have to teach it what a full bottle of water feels like. Again, I reiterate, the app makes it easy to do this. Once your bottle is calibrated, you are ready to go. (FYI: You need to set the bottle down in the puck every time you fill it for the bottle to register the refill. For example, if you fill it and immediately chug all the water before placing it down, it won’t register the water intake.)
I started by taking a few chugs of water to see how quickly my intake would be recalculated. The answer? Fast. Shortly after I set the bottle down, the app relayed my progress. I could see how many ounces I had consumed, was reminded of my daily goal and how many bottlefuls I had to consume to meet it, and it even let me know I was 6 percent of the way there. Basically, the app offered me a number of motivating stats.
The bottle lights up throughout the day to remind you to drink more water. The app will also send you reminders if you aren’t drinking enough, notifications that pop up on your phone like a calendar reminder.
The first day I surpassed my goal, but the second day, I slacked. It kept reminding me nonetheless to keep drinking. I honestly felt guilty when I missed my daily goal. It was almost like cheating on a diet. But as with a dietary slipup, I didn't throw in the towel; I kept drinking my days away. It periodically rewarded me with trophies, informing me of milestones I had reached, including how many plastic bottles I had saved.
On day seven, I noticed that my bottle had run out of steam. Yes, the battery charge lasted me a full week, which I was pretty impressed by. I simply twisted off the base and charged it with the included charger.
I continued using it for two weeks, some days faring better than others in terms of water intake. But overall, it kept me motivated, serving as my water drinking coach.
I should note that the app offers many functions I did not try out. For example, it can connect to a good number of fitness monitoring apps, and you can add friends who are using the bottle, allowing you to motivate each other. You can customize your experience to be as involved as you would like.
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Three Things I Liked About HidrateSpark
There are a few things I really liked about using the HidrateSpark water bottle.
- It made me aware of my water intake. I literally had no idea how much water I consumed prior to using the bottle. The first day I was taken aback when I realized how much more water I needed to be consuming to stay hydrated.
- It motivated and reminded me to drink more. One of the reasons I don’t drink enough water? I simply forget to do it. This bottle definitely came in handy in that regard.
- It kept my water cold. I really liked how cool the bottle kept my water, even overnight.
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Three Things I Disliked About HidrateSpark
In terms of what I didn’t like, there were a few things.
- The notices could be annoying. As with any reminders or messages that pop up on your phone, the motivating messages were a tad annoying at times. This is a feature that can be disabled on the app if you don't wish to receive any notices.
- Cleaning the bottle. The bottle has to be disassembled to be cleaned, because the sensor puck should not make contact with water. Obviously, this can be a little tricky if you are not the only one who does the dishes, or if you happen to forget to remove the puck prior to washing. My husband accidentally washed the bottle in its entirety once, and I’m happy to report it didn’t get damaged.
- Using multiple bottles (my preference) is not cheap. I am one of those people who tend to scatter water bottles throughout my house and car so they are conveniently located. With Hidrate, you have to keep it close by if you want to accurately calculate your water intake. You can utilize multiple bottles via the app; however, this can be prohibitively expensive.
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How HidrateSpark May Help During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Because most of us aren’t on the go as much these days, the HidrateSpark is a super convenient way to remind yourself to keep drinking water while at home. It is also a great wellness tool, as many of us have been slacking on hydration over the last year during the pandemic.
The Bottom Line
The HidrateSpark is an awesome and incredibly smart way to improve your overall health by drinking more water. Still, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. In other words, it isn’t going to pour liquid down your throat. You are still going to have to put some work in, by following leads and remembering to stay hydrated.
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Other Ways I Try to Prevent Dehydration
Aside from the HidrateSpark there are other things I do to stay hydrated.
- I order water in bulk. We are one of those families who rely on a monthly water delivery service, having huge jugs of Deer Park delivered to our doorstep. The ultimate goal is to drink every bottle we order.
- I have a bunch of water bottles. Prior to the HidrateSpark, I made sure to always have a water bottle close by.
- I have used measured water bottles. Before HidrateSpark, I used measured water bottles such as one made by Giotto to keep track of my water consumption and remind myself of how much I should be drinking.