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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)

beefy cold-weather drink machine
Primus C&H Vacuum Bottle

If a rough-and-tumble exterior is what you need this Primus line fits the bill. The bottles look like bulky spray paint cans and have a black, sanded-down sandpaper exterior which is great for gripping in gloves said one tester. They (there are five size options from .25 liter to 1L) have a narrow mouth and two cap options—one for pouring and one for heat retention. The pouring cap does need diligent cleaning to stay stink-free and one tester was able to (unintentionally) unscrew the pouring lid into two separate parts. These caps fit securely under an included screw-on cup/top making these great bottles for sharing.

We conducted an impromptu heat retention test on one snowy hike in the Colorado Flatirons using an everyday candy thermometer as our measuring stick: two different sizes of the Primus bottles (.75L and .25L) each saw a 20 degree temperature drop after an hour and fifteen minutes on a 27 degree F day. The .25L dropped from a piping 182° to a still piping 159°. The .75L bottle dropped from 124° to 104°. Only one other bottle in our test had better heat retention, and that model was so lead heavy that it didn't make the final cut. Prices are also very reasonable at $18 - $32.

The Stats
0.25L, 0.35L, 0.50L, 0.75L, 1L
$18, $18, $20, $27, $32
.75L bottle weighs 1lb 0.4oz
One color option, black


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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