Gear Review

Klean Kanteen Classic

Klean Kanteen Water Bottle

Here's full-circle for you: we've gone from stainless steel canteens to plastic water bottles to...stainless steel Klean Kanteens.

Why are we back to stainless steel? In a word: anxiety. Plastic, for all its wondrous convenience, turns out to be a lousy place to store water if you care about things like taste or possible toxic chemical exposure. The Klean Kanteen stainless steel water bottle offers possibly the safest, most stable water storage option for backcountry travel, unless you're willing to carry glass carafes in your pack.

Klean Kanteen

With a Klean Kanteen, you are saying a firm farewell to the world of hazardous plastic resins and synthetic hormones (aka BPA), be the health risks real or imagined.

You also get to say goodbye to HDPE bottle's icky plastic scent/aftertaste.

Sensitive palates may notice a hint of a metallic tang when drinking water from a Klean Kanteen, and stainless steel is definitely not flattering to water that is less than, shall we say, fresh (don't drink water from the Colorado River in one, unless you love the stench of algae). But certainly, this is a vast improvement in taste over HDPE and chemical stability over Lexan.

Klean Kanteens are unpainted, uncoated, and presumably free from nasty leaching chemicals. The Kanteen is also downright indestructible as far as typical backcountry use is concerned. You might be able to damage one by driving your car over it, but short of that, you're not going to put a hole in it while camping. Neither is freezing water going to be a concern, but winter travelers should note the Kanteen will likely not fit into a standard insulating sleeve because of its extended length.

The Klean Kanteen is undeniably heavy compared to its plastic and aluminum counterparts. You can get the Kanteen in 40 and 27 ounce sizes. Either is significantly heavier than a comparable Lexan bottle, which of course is heavier than an HDPE bottle. One possible way to save weight: leave your cook pot at home. You can put a Klean Kanteen on your stove and boil water in it. It is steel, after all.

For backcountry use, I prefer Nalgene HDPE bottles, no question. But for use around the home, office, or in the car, you may find the Kanteen a better choice. Weight won't be a factor here, and you can safely store water as long as you like in the Kanteen, unlike all the other choices. Provided it is manufactured correctly, stainless steel does not contain lead nor BPA nor any plastic resins. It therefore should be perfectly safe for storing water with no possibility of leaching chemicals no matter how old or scratched it gets—the safest storage choice available other than glass.

About SierraDescents

When there is snow, SierraDescents is Andy Lewicky's California backcountry skiing and mountaineering website. Without snow, sierradescents becomes an ill-tempered hiking and climbing blog.

Pray for snow.