The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Battle of the bottles: Stanley vs. Owala

From the Hydroflask to the Stanley, UWEC students seem to have a preference and a lot to say about water bottles and overcomsumerisim
Photo by Rossellin Gaitan
The Stanley (left) and Owala (right) tumblers side by side.

Though it seems like reusable water bottles have only recently become the target of trend boards, they have actually been fluctuating in popular brands since the 1970s. 

It began with the Nalgene from around 1970 to 2012. From 2006 to around 2015, we obsessed over Camelbak and finally around 2019 to 2022, the infamous Hydro Flask.

Though it seems silly to have a water bottle be the center of attention, its effects have certainly not gone away, only this time there seem to be two competing brands. 

Contrary to popular belief, Stanley actually began their brand in 1913. Before being known for their soft and vibrant tumbler colors, they began as an outdoor brand that then evolved into what we know today.

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In comparison, Owala came out in 2020 with the same intentions that it holds today, bright and multifunction on-the-go water bottles. 

As college students, having a water bottle that you can bring with you from class to class is essential. As the trends continue to change, there is an apparent usage of two major brands on campus though, Stanley vs. Owala.

Is this because of what we see trending or because we like it due to its functionality?

In terms of functionality, third-year marketing student Anthony Bagley said that he got the Owala solely for functionality. Bagley said that he just recently got the water bottle but wasn’t aware that it was a hot commodity. 

The straw and its simplicity was something that drew him to it. Bagley said he couldn’t understand why people would continue to buy Stanley products and brought up the recent news that they contain lead. 

Bagley mentioned that as a marketing major, the brand had just done a good job selling themselves which has kept them at the top of wishlists for a while now. 

First-year political science student Emma Seffen was amongst the group of people who feel strongly about their preference towards Owala. Seffen says she is an informed consumer considering that she owns both. When she first got the Stanley she liked its colors and straw but said that after a while it became a nuisance. 

“It’s clunky. It’s not practical unless you’re lounging. I spilled it all the time,” Seffen said. 

Alongside her were her friends, first-year elementary education Ryann Leibfried and first-year psychology student Mady Charleston, who both agreed with the same Seffen’s sentiments. 

“Her Stanley is just sitting in her car, like right now. It’s been there for months,” Charleston said. 

Leibfried said that she got her Owala a while ago due to her parents getting it for her. She didn’t understand the trend of the water bottles.

“I see it as a trend thing,” Leibfried said. 

The three students conversed and chatted about the ways that their Owala’s held up through their rigorous college lifestyle and constantly being on the move. 

“My Owala goes everywhere with me. It has been through the wringer and hasn’t been damaged,” Seffen said. 

They talked about their perception of Stanley users as well as the idea of overconsumption that Stanley tends to feed into. In January 2024, Target collaborated with Starbucks to release a limited edition cup for Valentine’s Day.

The release is now infamous for how some people acted towards getting this cup. 

Rachael Zimmerman, a third-year psychology student, said that she doesn’t want a Stanley due to this very reason. 

“There tends to be a kind of grouping to those kinds of people,” Zimmerman said. “The Stanley I see more for the clean girl aesthetic and the Owala for the granolas and I’m more granola.”

Someone who said they loved their Stanley cup though is third-year psychology student, Tarja Manninen. She got it last Christmas and loves using it as a way to drink more water in her home. Though it does leak a bit, Manninen doesn’t seem to mind. 

She likes it because it helps her drink more water and is a vibrant color. Though it doesn’t leave her bedside, she still loves it all the same. Manninen said that the findings of lead don’t really bother her either. 

At the end of the day, UW-Eau Claire students seem to have a strong preference for which they consume their water and all said they can see another water bottle trend rising in the next couple of years. Only time will tell if they will have the same discourse as now.

Gaitan can be reached at [email protected]

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