Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Durable, does not mold or hold taste, wide choice of tops.
Cons: Not compatible with water filters, heavy.
Best Uses: Any activity where weight is not a critical issue: daily use, sports, hiking, camping
Manufacturer: Klean Kanteen
The Klean Kanteen is the perfect water bottle for daily use. We liked its simple design, durability, and metal interior. It’s great for any application where weight is not an issue, but it was simply too heavy to justify to bring backpacking, climbing, or ski touring. For these activities, we preferred the Nalgene, which, in addition to being considerably lighter, was compatible with water filters and could be used as a nighttime heat pack.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
We found the Klean Kanteen to be extremely durable. Klean Kanteens will dent rather easily, but beyond that they’re very difficult to break. The plastic tops will crack or break just as easily as any other type of plastic, but they are easily replaceable. One tester dropped his bottle 100 feet, replaced the shattered top, and continued using it. It seems that the only way to render the Klean Kanteen unusable would be to bend the neck of the bottle in a way that would make it impossible to get a top in there. The Klean Kanteen comes with a wide variety of lids, from carabiner-compatible loops to “Sport” sippy-tops. The tops are well designed but do not seem to last as long as the Nalgenes’. The plastic protrusions tend to crack and shatter well before the bottle itself comes to the end of its life.
One of the unique advantages of the Klean Kanteen is its ability to be used as a cooking vessel. In a pinch it can be used to cook or boil water.
However, the heat capacity of stainless steel comes with drawbacks. On cold nights, you can fill a Nalgene with hot water and keep it in your sleeping bag, but the Klean Kanteen will get too hot to do so comfortably or safely. The plastic does a much better job of insulating liquids.
Most water filters and water-bottle accessories are designed to fit the wide-mouth Nalgene. In response, Klean Kanteen began producing wide-mouth sized bottles, but we found them to be less reliable than their original design. For purposes of compatibility, we prefer the Nalgene.
Ease of Use
The Klean Kanteen is designed with simplicity in mind. The bottle is a cap and a body, with no frills or breakable moving parts. You could use it with a blindfold on. The bottle isn't attached to the cap, as with the Nalgene's retaining strap. This could potentially lead to missing caps, but we didn't find this to be a problem. If anything, it made us more vigilant.
The original Klean Kanteen was reliably leak-proof, always. We had some trouble with an o-ring that detached from a wide-mouth bottle minutes after purchasing, but later bottles confirmed that this was an anomaly.
Hiking/Car Camping/Daily use: Klean Kanteen. When weight is not a concern, we prefer the Klean Kanteen.
Canoe Tripping: I used and broke a number of Nalgenes over several years of canoe tripping before switching to the Klean Kanteen. The bottles weathered the summer well, with significant denting but they remained completely functional. The Klean Kanteen’s durability serves it well for the rigors of multi-month canoe tripping.
Klean Kanteens are more expensive than a comparably sized Nalgene, but they make up for it in durability.
The Klean Kanteen comes in a variety of sizes. The Klean Kanteen 12 is insulated and is $25. The Klean Kanteen 16 Wide Mouth Insulated With Cafe Cap is $28. There is also the Klean Kanteen 18, $19, Klean Kanteen 27, $20, Klean Kanteen 40, $28, and the Klean Kanteen 64 Wide Mouth, $33.
With the bottles come a variety of caps, including the Klean Kanteen Sport Cap 3.0, $5, the Klean Kanteen Stainless Bamboo Cap, $12, and the Klean Kanteen Stainless Loop Cap, $10. For the wide versions, there is the Klean Kanteen Stainless Loop Cap Wide, $6 the Klean Kanteen Cafe Cap, $6, and the Klean Kanteen Flip D-Ring Cap, $9.
— Atherton Phleger
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: August 20, 2014
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