I go to lengths to be prepared for emergencies no matter where I go, but I also go to lengths to be comfortable. About 90% of the time, I am well within a mile of a source of potable water, so a 27 or 32 ounce water bottle would be sufficient, but I still carry two quarts of water when I go into the woods for more than a few hours. I like to be able to drink as much as I want and have some for tea or coffee if I take a notion to sit back and take in the view or warm up a bit. I go into the woods for pleasure mostly and don’t like a nagging conscience reminding me to mind my water supply or worrying me about where I will get more.
I have carried two quarts of water since I started hauling it around in issue canteens in the late seventies and have found no reason to do otherwise to date, especially when there are so many new options available. My habits evolved from plain GI polyethylene, to pretty polycarbonates and on to my current mode of potable portability – stainless steel. I won’t try to convert anyone to stainless over their own preference, as there are many very valid reasons for carrying any of the above and that’s not even considering hydration bladders, which are just another option I have simply not yet tried.
Given my own preferences, and considering the fact that I also keep another gallon in the Jeep for refilling the bottles I actually carry, I was pretty thrilled to find the Klean Kanteen 64 ounce stainless bottle. This is a wide mouth bottle made of 18/8 stainless steel that holds a half gallon of water! Now, before you start to visualize a vessel the size of a twenty-pound propane cylinder, think about this; as a circle gets larger, the area of that circle grows exponentially. Think back to seventh-grade science class and you might remember hearing "pie are square" and thinking that your science teacher not only needed to consult with the home-economics teacher but the English teacher as well!
For those of us who were cursed with such a lithe sense of humor, it was really "πr2" , which is the formula for determining the area of a circle. Multiply that by the height and you have the formula for the volume of a cylinder. With the "square" part in mind, you might not be so surprised to know that the Klean Kanteen 64 ounce bottle is really not that much larger than a standard "ten-by-four" water bottle – a little larger in diameter, a little taller and only one ounce heavier than my own stainless 38 ounce bottles from another maker. Imagine that – trading two 9.7 ounce vessels for one 10.7 ounce vessel and that four-plus pounds of water on your back is a little easier to rationalize.
The Klean Kanteen 64 ounce bottle won’t quite fit inside my ten-by-four bottle holders but it will fit in one of the inner pockets of my Mission Go Bag. As likely as not, the Klean Kanteen 64 ounce bottle will travel in my Jeep, replacing my tried and not so true recycled 64 ounce cranberry juice bottles. They work in a pinch, but require more careful handling than the Klean Kanteen and the Klean Kanteen doesn’t start to smell funny after a while. Stainless steel can definitely be counted on for ease of cleaning and is not nearly as good an environment for cultivating funk as are my recycled containers. As far as recycling goes, I have been "recycling" steel for over four decades, but with reasonable care, your Klean Kanteen may be worth more as an antique than as scrap steel by the time it has lived its useful life as a water carrier and needs to be reincarnated as some other useful article.
In comparison to my other stainless bottles, I noticed that the Klean Kanteen is much more dish rag friendly, with a wide radius on the bottom and a shoulder that might have been inspired by Roy Weatherby. The formed threads are easier to clean and harder for microscopic organisms to hide in and the seams are some of the best I have seen on anything, in fact, the seam that joins the bottom to the sides is virtually invisible inside and out. There is no seam joining the top, as the top is formed from the welded-seam tube that makes up the body of the vessel. This neat little feature adds a facet to the concept of maintaining a "Klean" environment by keeping your inside environment "Klean" too by taking away all the hiding places where the nasties hang out just waiting to ambush your intestines. I guess we could say that habitat destruction is a specialty of Klean Kanteen – when it comes to microorganisms.
I almost wish that the threads were universal because I am somewhat heavily invested in an aftermarket cap of my own personal preference already. Note that I said "preference." Since Klean Kanteen offers a variety of caps to cover most preferences, it is definitely not a deal-breaker. Klean Kanteen has several innovative cap configurations of their own and no one should be left wanting in that department. Since I have not tried them all, I can’t say that I wouldn’t find something I like even better than the caps I have grown accustomed to. The cap that was included is very well made, seems very durable and has a beefy d-ring on top which allows the user to secure the bottle with a tether.
Well, I’m happy. It’s not very often that when I think it would be really cool if someone would make something a little bigger, a little smaller or with a slightly different shape that it actually happens. Klean Kanteen came through on this one and without any input from me, so I have to think that others will appreciate the usefulness of a larger stainless steel water bottle. Incidentally, I don’t necessarily have to be in the woods to appreciate this bottle either. When my wife and I make day trips a little farther from home than the heat in a vacuum bottle will endure, I like to stop and boil her a cup of hot tea to enjoy along the road somewhere. The 64 ounce Klean Kanteen is a convenient way to ensure that I can accommodate that little diversion and still be set with drinking water in case of an emergency. If you’re carrying water for two, a 64 ounce bottle is a great idea.
The Klean Kanteen 64 ounce bottle, is available with a loop cap or d-ring cap (shown) and is water-filter compatible. Their site lists the 64 ounce bottle at about $33 (with a discount for buying two) but I have seen them on several other sites where you might find an even lower price and sometimes free shipping. My cranberry juice jugs were slightly short of free, but they were dropped off at the recycling center just today. For as long as this stainless bottle will last, it will be "almost free" after a few years itself. There is a lot more information on this and other Klean Kanteen bottles on their site. If they don’t seem as excited about this half-gallon jug as I am, they are just being modest.
Klean Kanteen, Stainless 27 ounce Reflect Bottle
There are things we need and there are things we want, and there is not always perfect clarity when we try to distinguish between the two. Sometimes the lines are fuzzy because the issue is truly complicated and trade-offs have to be weighed against one-another. Sometimes the lines are fuzzy because we just don’t want to believe that we don’t really need what we really, really want. When it comes to the environment – our environment, it really, really gets difficult to sort things out and it has become a huge hook for companies to hang their marketing hats on. We, the consumer, get to sort out what’s real and what’s not and that is a lot of responsibility.
OK, here we go with a lecture from a "tree-hugger," right? Well, I have hugged a lot of trees in my lifetime – from a deer stand over frozen ground and while wrestling hickory logs onto the splitting stump as well as when shinnying up an ornamental barked beauty to repair wind damage or to prune the fruit trees in my orchard. Yes, I love trees. No, I am not about to lecture because I know that if you are here, reading this, you like clean streams and healthy trees as much as I do, no matter how your outdoor experience manifests itself. So, I have to say that I have a healthy respect for a company that goes to great lengths to make stuff I need while not making me trade large amounts of the beautiful outdoors to obtain it.
"Steel, Bamboo and Silicone – No Paint or Plastic."
That’s what Klean Kanteen tosses out there to get our attention when shopping for a water bottle. Actually, that should get your attention if you enjoy the outdoors because stainless steel is going to be useful to someone, somewhere, to make something else useful out of some day – it recycles. Bamboo grows like a weed (in some locales it actually is considered a weed) and provides an excellent material which is obviously very sustainable. Silicone (food grade silicone) won’t leach stealthy, nefarious chemicals or tastes into your water, lasts a long time and stays pliable under a wide range of conditions. So, the Klean Kanteen Reflect is being touted for being environmentally magnanimous – and rightly so. I appreciate the effort Klean Kanteen makes in helping to keep the outdoors alive and well and their effort to help me keep me healthy. If you haven’t guessed, I am not an environmental major, but have made a lifelong effort to conserve resources (natural and fiscal) to the best of my own admittedly limited ability.
All that warm-n-fuzzy stuff aside, I tend to be very pragmatic about my limited fiscal resources, and how what little of it, which may be allocated to support my outdoor endeavors, will be distributed. OK, to put it more simply – I don’t have a lot of money and I have to make every penny count. I look for value in what I have to buy. I look for something that will last me a long, long time and sometimes I have to give a lot of thought to how up-front cost balances with how long it will last. Usually, if I spend a few extra bucks (which takes longer to save up), I come out ahead over time. I find such value in Klean Kanteen products. I can buy a polyethylene water bottle for a couple bucks and replace it ever so often, or a well-made stainless bottle that will outlast me.
Any stainless water bottle will last a long time as long as it’s made with reasonable care and decent materials, but what about the peripheral components? My wife bought me a stainless vacuum bottle from a famous outdoor supplier – famous for many good reasons, among which is the fact that they back everything with a "lifetime warranty." I have heard countless stories about folks returning items decades later and receiving an on the spot replacement – no questions asked. But when the plastic in the cap for that "lifetime" vacuum bottle deteriorated from nothing more than "normal use" after a couple years, the fine print was brought to our attention, which stated; "….2 year warranty on the cap…."
Needless to say, the bottle is worthless without a cap that fits, so what good is the lifetime warranty? The Klean Kanteen Reflect 27 ounce bottle isn’t just another Klean Kanteen stainless bottle. Well, from a quality and features standpoint, it is, but look at the cap. The cap is also made of stainless steel, has the same smooth formed threads, is finished with a warm, smooth bamboo top, is fitted with a heavy duty (.158" diameter) stainless bail and seals a food grade silicone O-ring seal. That’s right – an O-RING, not some oddly profiled cross-section of an unidentifiable material which you won’t be able to replace if lost. If push comes to shove, one could use a few wraps of cotton string as a temporary seal on the Reflect cap until a replacement is secured. I do apologize if I am beginning to sound like an infomercial, but I am excited about the concept behind the Reflect bottle.
If you visit Klean Kanteen’s site it’s easy to get the impression that the Reflect is meant for more sophisticated folks than us woods bums but it doesn’t fool me. The gentle radii, smooth welded seams, formed threads and some pretty innovative design features in the part that keeps your clean water from running out all appeal to me on a base level. I see the Klean Kanteen Reflect as a bottle I can tote in the woods without worrying about a cracked plastic cap. I can toss my bag in the back of the Jeep without being nervous about damaging the bottle or wetting my spare socks and undies and I can count on being able to keep it clean, whether it’s tossing the thing in the dishwasher when I get home, or with expedient measures while afield.
I’m not knocking the image portrayed on the Klean Kanteen site either, in fact, I like the aesthetic of the bottle as much as the practical and utilitarian aspects. Being "pretty" takes no more away from its functionality than its functionality takes away from its good looks. I can use it in the woods and I can carry it to work in my laptop bag. I am not ashamed of the fact that I like to get dirty in my free time, but it helps to not come off as too much of a barbarian among my more refined colleagues at work. After all, whatever helps me lure them closer might also help me help them find the barbarian inside themselves.
The Klean Kanteen Reflect 27 ounce bottle fills a gap which I had previously not recognized – a bottle that is smaller and lighter than my usual quart or 38 ounce bottles. This one which I can carry unobtrusively at school or while running errands. It fits in my bag nicely but also slides into a back pocket while fishing out my lab keys or digging through my bag during impromptu "hallway meetings" – it’s that handy. It looks nice but is designed so well that I wouldn’t feel "over-dressed" in the woods with it. I can refill it from my 64 ounce Klean Kanteen stainless bottle which is strategically stowed at my "base camp" (be that my desk, the Jeep or where I stake my tarp) and it’s going to last a long, long time. That is unless my daughter sees a chance to commandeer it from the drying rack while I am not looking.
If you take a notion to look further into this particular bottle, or any Klean Kanteen, check out their site and you will find it easy to navigate and full of outdoor hydration solutions, all of which may be a bit distracting, but of all their innovative bottle ideas, I like the ones they have incorporated into the Reflect the most. Partnered with a larger bottle, like the 64 ounce bottle mentioned above, I get a very durable, very cleanable setup that covers a lot of different situations. If you’re as "fiscally astute" (low budget) as I am, you will find that the Reflect and the 64 ounce bottles are available from a lot of different suppliers at varying price levels – and sometimes you can even find free shipping.
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