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Klean Kanteen Original 27 Review

   
Editors' Choice Award

Water Bottles

  • Currently 4.1/5
Overall avg rating 4.1 of 5 based on 4 reviews. Most recent review: May 30, 2015
Street Price:   Varies from $11 - $21 | Compare prices at 4 resellers
Pros:  Very durable, easy to use and clean, lightweight for metal
Cons:  Narrow mouth version not compatible with water filters, imparts slight metallic taste
Best Uses:  All-around bottle for daily use and outdoor rec where weight is not absolutely critical
User Rating:     
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  • 5
 (3.0 of 5) based on 3 reviews
Recommendations:  33% of reviewers (1/3) recommend this product
Manufacturer:   Klean Kanteen
Review by: Ross Robinson ⋅ Senior Review Editor, OutdoorGearLab ⋅ May 19, 2015  
Overview
The Klean Kanteen Original 27 is an unparalleled choice for daily use. It is easy to drink from and simple clean. Its durable body can handle a lifetime's worth of knocks and drops, and will not leak in your backpack. In our three months of reviewing, we also fell for its ability to be used in sports and outdoor recreational activities, from ice hockey and soccer to rock climbing and camping. This product is non-living proof that metal bottles do not have to be a heavy pain in your backpack - instead, this one is almost just as light as its plastic competition. If we could only choose one bottle for all the things we love to do in life, this bottle would be it. This Klean Kanteen model is a versatile silver bullet, and earned our Editors' Choice Award.

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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review

The Klean Kanteen Original features a stainless steel body with a plastic cap, minimizing the liquid's contact with plastic for those concerned with chemical leaching. To completely remove it from plastic, Klean Kanteen has three different plastic-free caps you can opt for, on top of having a push-pull cap option for quick access. They also offer the same quality bottle in 18, 40, and 64 oz, as well as a wide-mouth bottle to fit most water filters. Choose the right size and cap for you, and then take it nearly everywhere, since it's well-suited to nearly every lifestyle and most outdoor recreational activities.

The version we tested holds 27 fluid ounces and has a 2 inch mouth. Get the details below to see how this bottle added up to become our Editors' Choice Award winner.

Performance Comparison


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The cap's solid loop makes it safe to clip to any pack we needed.
Credit: Ross Robinson

Ease of Use


No water bottle that we tested in our review required rocket science to use it. However, we found that simplicity still beats complexity, and the Original nails it in this category. It 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 while wearing a blindfold. The bottle isn't attached to the cap, as with the Hydro Flask Insulated and Nalgene's retaining straps. This could potentially lead to missing caps, but we didn't find this to be a problem. Unlike the Nalgene, the sturdy loop on the cap makes the Original easy to clip to your backpack, harness, or wherever else you want to hang it.

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We like the simple construction of this bottle, including its 2 inch diameter mouth that reduces its spill factor.
Credit: Ross Robinson

We were big fans of the bottle's mouth, too. It is wide enough to make it easy to fill from various water sources, including water fountains, faucets, and even streams. On the other hand, it is also narrow enough to make drinking easier, especially on the go. While it's not suited for drinking while running, you do not have to be still to get a drink. For example, you can close off the opening of the bottle with your mouth, making for spill-free gulps, even when walking or riding in a car. Try drinking from the Nalgene Wide Mouth 32 or Hydro Flask Insulated 32 while doing these activities, and you're very likely to wind up with a wet shirt/lap. Lastly, the lip of the bottle is rounded, providing comfort to your lips that other bottles lack.

If you love this bottle, but want something even easier to drink from, pick up the Sport Cap 3.0 ($4.95), which has a soft silicone spout that you can even use while running.

Our Editors' Choice winner is also a very trustworthy bottle. It passed our leakage testing without a hitch. Designed with the cap screwing into the inside of the bottle neck, it does a perfect job of preventing the user from improperly attaching the cap, which led to leaks with other bottles. Basically, you can't screw up this screw-on cap, making it simultaneously leakproof and foolproof. We like that. A lot. It does take more revolutions than all the other bottles to fully screw the cap into the bottle, but we did not find this to be a flaw. Actually, it reinforced our trust.
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The Classic bottle from Klean Kanteen has a mouth wide enough to fill easily, yet narrow enough to making drinking easier, too.
Credit: Ross Robinson

Taste


This bottle, like the Klean Kanteen Insulated 20, showed its largest drawback in this metric. There is no denying that they both impart a slight metallic taste on the water inside, especially when the water is left in the bottle for periods of time over 24 hours. However, we did not find this to be so significant as to override the other advantages of our stainless steel bottles. If you really cannot stand any metallic flavor in your water, but still want to go stainless steel, we recommend the Hydro Flask Insulated, which surprised us by imparting no metallic taste.

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Julia Nissen keeps this bottle at hand while at work. The metallic aftertaste is only significant after water is left to sit in the bottle for long amounts of time.
Credit: Ross Robinson

Our Editors' Choice winner fell in the middle of the pack in our sports drink flavor retention tests. It did not score as poorly as the Klean Kanteen Insulated, CamelBak Eddy .75L, Vapur Element 1L, or Platypus PlusBottle, but it did retain noticeable smell and flavor of the sports drink after being hand-washed and refilled with water. Yet, following a thorough cleaning (using a mixture of baking soda, vinegar, and water), the Klean Kanteen Original showed no trace of any lingering flavors.

Learn more about our flavor retention and taste tests in our Best-In-Class Review.

Durability


We found this water bottle to be extremely durable. It will dent rather easily, but beyond that they're very difficult to break. We like to think that the dents in a Klean Kanteen Original provide a visual history of past experiences (And this dent is when I dropped it off the second pitch of the Devil's Tower…). Its weakest point, the plastic cap, is still very sturdy and appears to be more durable than the plastic caps of the Nalgene, Hydro Flask, and Lifefactory Classic 22. One tester dropped his bottle 100 feet, replaced the shattered top, and continued using it. It seems that the only way to render this bottle unusable would be to bend the neck of the bottle in a way that would make it impossible to get a top in there.

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The durable stainless steel body can take a serious beating without breaking.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

As expected, the Klean Kanteen Original survived the drop test. The bottom of the bottle was dented, but with a few taps of a rubber mallet, it was able to sit evenly again. When dropped on its cap, it suffered only superficial scratches in the plastic. The bottle functions now just as well as ever, only now it looks a bit battle worn.

Watch our drop tests here:

Ease of Cleaning


The simple two-part design of this bottle makes for easy cleaning. Equipped with warm water, soap, and a bottle brush, it took us on average only one minute and 21 seconds to clean. Bottles with wider mouths, such as the Nalgene, Hydro Flask, Lifefactory, and Klean Kanteen Insulated, were faster to clean, but only by a slim margin (the largest being 13 seconds).

Klean Kanteen claims that this bottle is dishwasher safe. However, as stated in our best-in-class water bottle review, we recommend hand washing any plastic parts of a water bottle. Therefore, if you want to use a dishwasher to clean this product, we think it's best to still hand wash the cap.

Weight


When it comes to weight, our Editors' Choice winner surprised us again. It proved only slightly heavier than the Nalgene, AVEX Brazos 32, and CamelBak Eddy. For a stainless steel bottle, this is a great accomplishment, extending its versatility beyond day-to-day life into various outdoor recreational activities. When measuring the ratio of empty weight to volume, this bottle weighed only 0.07 ounces per fluid ounce more than the Nalgene. That's not much. We found that, when factoring in its added durability, ease of use, and the ability to use this bottle as an emergency vessel for boiling water, it's easy to justify bringing the Klean Kanteen Original along on most outdoor adventures over its plastic competitors.

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This steel bottle was light enough to take on a variety of outdoor rec activities, including ice climbing. We were surprised that our water didn't freeze when kept inside our pack for the majority of the day in temperatures below freezing, despite its thin metal body.
Credit: Ross Robinson

Best Applications


While many water bottles today strive to fulfill a niche with specialized functions and features, the Klean Kanteen Original does the opposite. Its strength lies in its ability to perform to very high standards in almost any conceivable use and activity. We loved taking it to the office, the gym, and the ice hockey rink, as well as on camping ventures, rock and ice climbing trips, and canoeing/kayaking. Especially if you are looking for one bottle to pretty much do it all, this is the bottle you want. Only in situations where every ounce is crucial would we consider trading the Klean Kanteen Original for another bottle.

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This bottle is perfect for rock climbing; super durable, lightweight, and leak proof.
Credit: Ross Robinson

Moreover, our Editors' Choice winner won't leak on the laptop in your messenger bag, and has a large enough volume for most gym workouts and yoga sessions. It is reliable for sports and outdoor activities as well, including hiking, camping, climbing, and canoeing/kayaking. If you are around sketchy sources of water, being able to use it to boil water could prove vital.

Value


Coming in at $20, this product renders a great value. It's not as cheap as competitors like the Vapur Element or the Nalgene Classic (our Best Buy winner). However, the Klean Kanteen Original provides as much or more utility. And most importantly, it has the potential to literally last you a lifetime. We believe any product you can purchase for $20 or less that will last you that long has incredible value.

Check out our Price versus Value Chart, where we plotted water bottle scores and prices to illustrate how much bang per buck each bottle delivers.

Conclusion


The Klean Kanteen Original received our Editors' Choice Award due to its high scores across almost all our metrics. Overall, it does everything you want a water bottle to do better than the rest. It combines a simple design that offers high versatility with relatively lightweight material that offers incredible durability. It also minimizes contact between water and plastic, an important factor for anyone concerned about this (read more on health concerns here). If we were recommending a single water bottle to our friends and family, this would be it. It is suitable for nearly any lifestyle and outdoor rec activity.

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Jenna Ammerman gets a surprise attack of love from Macy. This bottle is well suited for a huge variety of lifestyles and recreational pursuits.
Credit: Ross Robinson

Other Versions


Original with Sports Cap
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  • Cost - $20
  • Good option if the only cap you're interested in is the sports cap
  • Available in a variety of colors and sizes

Classic Graphic
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  • Cost - $30
  • Artistic version celebrating the natural world
  • Three designs available

The Reflect
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  • Cost - $30
  • Mirror-finish
  • Water bottle bling-bling at its finest

Klean Kanteen 18
Klean Kanteen 40

Accessories


All Stainless Loop Cap
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  • Cost -$10
  • 100% plastic-free
  • Handy loop is perfect for a D-ring or carrying easily with one finger

Stainless Unibody Bamboo Cap
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  • Cost - $12
  • Sustainably harvested bamboo

Stainless Swing Lok Cap
  • Cost - $15
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  • Lends a vintage flair to any Classic Klean Kanteen bottle

Sport Cap 3.0
  • Cost - $5
  • Plastic cap
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  • Great for quicker access to water and the ability to drink while running

Ross Robinson

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: May 30, 2015
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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  • 4
  • 5
 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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  • 5
 (3.0)

33% of 3 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
4 Total Ratings
5 star: 50%  (2)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 50%  (2)
1 star: 0%  (0)
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   May 30, 2015 - 11:05pm
enochroot · Backpacker · San Jose, CA
Paint comes off, dents very easily, is not insulated. The dents on the bottom means it won't always stand up on its own anymore. The paint coming off means I have to worry about paint chips. The insulation? I just forgot once that it wasn't insulated and picked it up while it had very hot liquid. Big oops.

2 stars, still looking for something better and less trendy.

Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.
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   May 19, 2015 - 08:15pm
locker · Climber · CO
I own quite a few of these and one huge issue is the tops (Both the plastic ones and stainless) fall apart.

That said, while the tops are still intact, they're nice bottles.

Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.
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   May 19, 2015 - 04:56pm
Couchmaster · Pacific Northwet
Great review. not much to add except these 2 salient points.

1st) If you choose to freeze your water in a Kleen Kanteen, make sure it is filled less than 3/4 full or plan it it looking much rounder when you retrieve it. Slamming it on the ground a few times will get the bottom flat again. Don't ask how I know this.

2nd) The black plastic offset "sport cap" spout that works great for clipping the water bottle to your harness for climbing (pictured above) is perfect for grabbing and being able to drink without taking your brake hand off by pulling it open with your teeth. It has a small plastic ball that is designed to allow one way air ingress to facilitate better liquid action. That ball has a short 1/2 life and will choose to spill water all over your down coat at the worst possible time. Keep an eye on it.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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