Hands-on Gear Review
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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
Manufacturer: Klean Kanteen
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Other Versions & Accessories
Klean Kanteen offers a variety of lids to satisfy various needs of the user. We really like the option to go 100% plastic-free with the $10 All Stainless Loop Cap (left), $12 Stainless Unibody Bamboo Cap (center), and $15 Stainless Swing Lok Cap (right).
For those who want quicker access to water and the ability to drink while running, Klean Kanteen offers the plastic $5 Sport Cap 3.0(left). And if you want an adaptation for your little ones, go for the $6 Kid Kanteen Sippy Cap(right).
You also have a range of choice in size and graphic design. The classic design of 27 oz is also available in 18 oz and 40 oz. There is even a 64 oz version, which we can easily see being our campsite growler. If the only cap you are interested in is the sports cap, then you can purchase the Original with Sports Cap directly. You also have a choice of 12 different colors for the 27 oz version. Or, maybe you like a little art one your bottle, in which case the Classic Graphic collection has you covered. And if you want everyone to notice your water bottle, especially far-off ships when stuck on a deserted island, there is the mirror-finish on The Reflect. Water bottle bling-bling at its finest.
Below shows the Graphic on the left and the Reflect on the right.
— Ross Robinson
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Most recent review: May 19, 2015
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