Friday, May 8, 2015

GEAR REVIEW: Metal Water Bottles (picture update!)

I like the taste of water stored in metal containers. It does lend something to the taste, but it beats the taste that leaches in from most plastics. There's also the BPA thing, but I don't know how much of that is hysteria and how much is worth minding. Moot point, since I already prefer metal. I've owned a number of metal water bottles, and I've found that most of the generic ones available at the store tend to be in the 20 ounce range, and that's pretty meager. I can drain that in one dedicated go, which is a reality if I'm on the go. But even a small supply beats none at all. You can tell how much I use them by their tendency to lose their paint. I've had one go from the black bottle you see here on the table beside me, to it's current appearance here. That one was an impulse purchase prior to a camping trip to Hartman Creek. We'd stopped off at a walgreens in Oshkosh so that one of our number could entrust their car to the parking lot for the duration (they worked at a different location and got permission), and while inside I decided it was time for a metal water bottle, instead of the plastics I'd been using. In retrospect black hadn't been a very good paint choice, by the time our hike reached Allen Lake, I could've made tea in the bottle the way the sun heated it up. Hardly a problem now though, that silver's nice and reflective.

Better than the generic bottles like that, have been the Kleen Kanteen bottles. First, I bought a pair of them with sport caps (i.e. a little spout you can drink from) from a sale. I think I know why they were being sold on Woot, the sport caps they came with made a very... Weasel-like chittering noise as you drank from them. It amused people to no end when they'd be on the phone, or voice chat on the computer and suddenly you'd hear this chitteirng chattering noise as the valve let air into the bottle. Sadly, I lost the little rubber valve in cleaning, and the O ring broke, both to one of the caps. The other one I lost, I swear I left it in my friend's car one time when we went in to the bar, but there's been no sign of it since june of 2012. The remaining bottle is still in my possession, if a bit pummeled by the abuses of time. If you haven't gathered, I'm a bit tough on equipment, and the metal water bottles have a definite advantage over plastic in this regard. If I'm driving somewhere and tuck my water bottle between my hip and my car door, and it falls out when I stop and open the door, or if I'm walking somewhere and it slips out of my grasp, slams into the ground, a metal water bottle might deform a little while a plastic one is more likely to crack. I say this, having cracked a plastic nalgene with a cap-hit. My metal bottles I've actually hammered back into shape after such a fall. Doesn't look pretty, but it's completely functional.

The downside to the metal bottles? They're heavy. Not a problem for daily use, when I'm not walking 20 miles and every ounce counts. Not a problem for when I'm training for the trail either, and I want my load to be sub-optimal for the extra weight. But when I'm actually hiking? I'm a lot more likely to carry a plastic water bottle in place of the metal. Not even a nalgene, I'm taking a cue from the ultralight crowd and just carrying a couple of 1L Nicolet Artesian Water bottles.

This one here, used to be all black:

You can see it here, on the picnic table beside me:

Kleen Kanteen, my prefered brand for day to day use. 24oz w/ sport cap, 40 oz in blue:

But when I'm backpacking and want to carry without the weight of metal, I resort to a humble 1L nicolet artesian water bottle:

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