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Backpacker Magazine – Online Exclusive

Coffee-mate: Thermos Round-up

No one takes a to-go cup on the trail. Unless it's one of these hardy thermoses or hot/cold bottles.

by: Katie Herrell

PAGE 1 2 3 4 5
The Contenders (Julia Vandenoever)
The Contenders (Julia Vandenoever)
Klean Kanteen Insulated (Mike J Donley)
Klean Kanteen Insulated (Mike J Donley)
Primus C&H Vacuum Bottle (Mike J Donley)
Primus C&H Vacuum Bottle (Mike J Donley)
Bow Valley Stainless Steel Vacuum Bottle (Mike J Donley)
Bow Valley Stainless Steel Vacuum Bottle (Mike J Donley)
Snow Peak Kanpai Vacuum Stainless Bottle (Mike J Donley)
Snow Peak Kanpai Vacuum Stainless Bottle (Mike J Donley)

office park cool, backcountry approved
Klean Kanteen Insulated

From the makers of copious water bottles, comes a wide-mouth (2.125” according to their website), vacuum insulated, and BPA-free hot/cold bottle. Made of 18/8 stainless steel (which means 18% chromium and 8% nickel—the higher the numbers the more corrosion resistant, and the presence of nickel means the bottle isn’t magnetic according to the Stainless Steel Information Center), the bottle has a cup-holder friendly design and comes in three sizes, 12 oz., 16 oz., and 20 oz.

One tester filled her bottle (which she preheated with warm water -- check out our instructions on preheating) at home with hot tea and found it too hot to drink after an hour’s drive to the trailhead. After four hours of cross-country skiing she returned to warm, drinkable tea. The bottle comes with two lids, a café, or drinking lid, and a loop cap, which is the secure (very secure), insulating cap and a great way to attach the bottle to your pack with a carabiner or strap. Both testers remarked that the café lid is not super secure, “but, in the company’s defense, there is a warning on the tag when you get it. When I used the regular lid I didn’t find leaking a problem at all.” It’s a bit of a drag to have two lids: We propose making the drinking lid attachable to the bottle, or being able to screw the solid lid over the drinking lid. Bonus: The wide mouth and rounded corners make hand-washing (a must with most stainless steel thermoses) a breeze.

The Stats
12 fl. oz., 16 fl. oz., 20 fl. oz.
$22.95, $25.95, $27.95
16 fl. oz. bottle weighs 9.8 oz. Extra caps available, no sport cap
One color, stainless steel


PAGE 1 2 3 4 5

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Reader Rating: -


Dec 26, 2013

This is the single worst review I have ever read, on any topic. At least you tell us how much they cost and how much they hold. I guess that's something...but how about: how well do they work. My God, we don't need to hear about how one of your reviewers went hiking with it and the tea was still warm. Well, hooray! How about filling each one with boiling water, leaving it for eight hours, then taking a temperature reading. See how easy that was?

Star Star
Jul 06, 2013

I've used and owned aLOT of thermos bottles over the decades. This review is a poster child for mediocrity, written by people who were so clueless that they didn't know beforehand that you have to PREHEAT a thermos. : ( Also, which of the thermos bottles turned up MIA before you could really learn what their pros and cons were? You didn't give us enough info abt that. Amateur hour. Here's a couple pointers, children; the nissan vacuum thermos performs as well as anything out there for heat retention. Good enough to thermos cook small diameter navy beans in it on a sea kayak trip if you let them sit in there 12 hours. And the Stanley is the toughest you'll find anywhere, but weighs too much: my dad once ran over a 1 qt one with a caterpillar loader, and drank hot coffee out of it later that day. Learn the basics before you presume to "teach" others anything, or people will know you're a bunch of clueless units.

Jan 16, 2011

Oh, and Kevin - Pangea doesn't make insulated bottles. Only the classic stainless steal non-insulated variety, which would be one reason why BP didn't review them.

Jan 16, 2011

I actually found this article very helpful. Does it tell you everything there is to possibly know about every thermos out there? No. But it helps to provide a starting point so that I can go look at various thermoses that other people (the BP test crew) thought were good. Frank, Fred, and Dufus - maybe the Nissan and Stanely WERE tested, but they just weren't good enough to make the cut. They tested many more bottles that they gave reviews for - as it says at the beginning of the article, these are the bottles that rose to the top. I think it would be interesting to at least list the other bottles that were tested even if a review of them isn't given, but they're not. Oh well.

Oct 02, 2010

Complete crap article.

minneapolis lake walker
Sep 08, 2010

C'mon, if you want us to put the effort into reading your article, do us the courtesy of writing a serious review.

Amy L
Sep 08, 2010

If you want to go cheapo and don't mind some chipping paint, I've found the IKEA thermos to be awesome for a single person. It's very light and keeps things warm for at least a few hours. I doubt it's very durable (I lost my first one before I really wore it out), but I'm sure it would be fine on a half dozen weekend trips. It don't have any hooks, but I just stuff it into my pack.

Fred Flintstone
Sep 07, 2010

This article is of little use in terms of a vacuum bottle comparison. It doesn't actually compare anything and provides inconsistent descriptions of the various bottles.

Two major players were left out (Stanley and Nissan (Thermos)) and the temperature retention stats seem horribly uncontrolled and only listed for some of them. Not every description talks about exterior size (how well will it fit in my pack? ...or does it fit in my cup holder?). What else wasn't compared?
- weight
- how leak-proof is leak proof?
- how hard/easy were the various lids cleaned?
- which bottle had the best temp retention?

You went through the effort of explaining CRES compositions... while interesting, I'd rather know more about how the bottles performed and usability pros and cons.

Sep 07, 2010

You show a picture of the Stanley bottle but you don't provide a review. I have a pair of small carabiners that I use to attach mine to the outside of my pack. None of these vacuum bottles is light, but you can't beat the Stanley for durability. They have at least four different sizes as well as wide mouthed food jars. All are stainless steel and all have earned their places in the back country. I suspect there must be something politically incorrect about the company or they would have made the cut.

Frank Gearhart
Sep 07, 2010

A friend bought me a Nissan Thermos-brand insulated 20-oz (I think) insulated coffee bottle, and it works superbly. Pour in a boiling hot cup of coffee, and with no preheating it will still be warm hours later. the spring-loaded flip-open top is one-handed glove-friendly, spillproof and knock-around-proof and it fits in a cup holder as well as a parka pocket. I bought a second one from Highly recommended.

Aug 13, 2010

If you like Klean Kanteen, then you will love Pangea Bottles. Not only are they eco-friendly, but they are also people-friendly. You see, for every bottle that they sell, they give one person clean water for 4 years! By donating 20% of the revenue from each bottle they are making a difference in a sustainable way! Check them out at


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