Metal Water Bottles - Sigg & Klean Kanteen

Translucent polycarbonate water bottles (plastic water bottles) made by companies like Nalgene and GSI Outdoors used to be the only thing going for hydration in the outdoors. Now metal is moving in.

Sigg Switzerland Inc. and Klean Kanteen are two prominent bottle makers respectively banking on aluminum and stainless steel to captivate the market. Recent scares of polycarbonate and plastic leaching chemicals like bisphenol-A — whether founded in truth and logic or not — has no doubt been good for business.

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The paranoia and polemics of plastic bottles — which I covered in a column last year (see this article on Polycarbonate Polemics and this article addressing BPA in plastic water bottles for details) — is not the topic of discussion for this column. Instead, I want to discuss metal bottles from the standpoint of performance in the field.

Test No. 1 was on a mountain bike, and both Sigg Switzerland (www.sigg.com) and Klean Kanteen (www.kleankanteen.com) failed to impress. While the companies make bike-bottle-shape products, I found metal to be a poor material choice for cycling on the road or off.

Among my several gripes, the metal bottles were more slippery than plastic. They don’t stay put in bike bottle cages as well, and some metal bottles weigh significantly more than their plastic counterparts.

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But my biggest complaint on the bike stems from the fact that you can’t squeeze a metal container to get liquid out. Instead, the bottles require sucking, which is hard when you’re pedaling and huffing and puffing in the saddle.

For hiking and general use, metal bottles fared much better in my tests. Indeed, Sigg’s 1-liter bottles, which weigh about 3 ounces when empty, are lighter than many comparable polycarbonate competitors. A similar-size Klean Kanteen weighs 8 ounces when empty, which is a bit hefty if you’re counting ounces and grams on a backpacking trip.

Sigg bottles are not exceedingly durable. I dropped one from a few feet up and its base crumpled in slightly like an accordion, though it did not leak. The heavier material used by Klean Kanteen is more sturdy.

Liquid in a Klean Kanteen contacts only stainless steel (and sometimes a plastic cap), whereas Sigg bottles are lined with a resin to keep water off the aluminum inner wall.

The caps on both companies’ bottles come in multiple styles, most of which are plastic. Two Klean Kanteen caps — the Loop cap and Flat cap — have stainless steel bases, keeping water from ever touching a plastic surface, which is important for some people.

Collectively, Sigg and Klean Kanteen sell bottles in dozens of shapes and sizes, and almost every one is more expensive than a comparable polycarbonate or plastic model. Sigg’s prices range from $15 to $20 for bottles up to 1-liter in size; Klean Kanteen’s prices go from $15.95 for an 18-ounce bottle to $23.95 for the 40-ounce.

Polycarbonate and plastic bottles are still staples for me during activity. Metal hasn’t revealed any big advantage for biking or hiking.

For everyday use, however, I employ Sigg and Klean Kanteen almost exclusively. I like the cleanliness of metal, the aesthetic of the bottle, and the perception metal gives of a clean, cold and unfettered taste.

Posted by walt - 05/31/2007 02:27 PM

totally agree! they suck! never saw the point of these. can’t see what’s growing inside, tops not adaptable with water filters, they freeze in the cold and heat up in the…heat, and you can’t squeeze the water out. genius!

Posted by Patricia - 07/16/2007 02:32 PM

I think the point is not to drink water that has been sitting around in a plastic bottle. Plastic may not freeze as readily but it sure gets hot, and I am not sure what migrates off the plastic when it heats up.
Although metal does not suit everyone’s needs it sure suits my needs to carry my filtered water from home in a non plastic bottle.

Posted by Kristen - 08/21/2007 10:25 AM

I’ve used a one-litre Sigg bottle for mountaineering, backpacking and kayaking for over ten years, and though it’s bashed about a bit, it keeps on doing its thing.

Posted by Andy Mueller - 12/20/2007 09:41 PM

i’m a big fan of the Kleen, but i use it IN the campfire for warming water to bathe, or I heat it in the winter, throw it in a sock, and sleep with it at my feet.

Posted by Glenn Sveum - 12/28/2007 09:05 PM

We live in a time where the air we breath has dangerous chemicals and particulates in the form of pollution. The food we comsume has pesticides and growth hormones in it. Why are we worried about a small little harmless chemical that “might” be in a plastic bottle. We have been giving our babies milk from plastic bottles for years, how is this any different? Are we poisening our children? Do you really thing that apple your eating is “all natural”? Wake up folks. Don’t worry about it.

Posted by Gabe Filmmaker - 12/30/2007 07:07 PM

Glenn sells $1000 rubber rafts, so when it comes to reality checks, he’s probably not the best guy to be offering advice. Google “Toxic Nalgene” and it’s pretty easy to find reputable reasons to believe that some plastics leak hormone-altering chemicals. The toxin-leaching plastics are new, so that squashes Glenn’s baby bottle arguement. So, why risk it? Metal bottles look cooler, clean easier and are absolutely safe. Case closed. Overpriced rubber rafts on the other hand? Avoid at all costs.

Posted by Gerald De Benetti - 02/22/2008 07:14 AM

Big thumbs down for Kleen Kanteen. After a couple of hours sitting it imparts a metal taste into the water (Kleen also sell sippy cups – great! these kids don’t have the words to complain).This calls into question the quality of the metal and whether the leachates pose any risk. Another problem is that the bottle sweats. I have a stainless Starbucks travel mug which when filled with water remains unchanged taste-wise. I have five of these Kleen Kanteen bottles thinking I was doing my children a favour now I am kicking myself for not doing more research and am disappointed that these products have passed government tests .

Posted by betty - 03/21/2008 02:41 AM

So I was recently turned on to all this metal knowledge. My prob is that I really enjoy drinking my tea on the go, and the metal sure gets hot hot hot. I have to hold the dang thing by its top. But I’m pretty sure that it’s safer for me than drinking melted plastic.

Posted by gene - 03/21/2008 06:08 PM

my sigg bottle is sweet. Got as a gift from my friend who saw my old dangerous nalgene. He told me about the dangers of bisphenol in nalgenes and even if unproven I don’t want to risk it. he got it for me from http://www.metalwaterbottlestore.com. Really light weight and nice to look at.

Posted by deb - 04/01/2008 02:36 PM

Siigs haven’t passed my tests. I left a full bottle in my car overnight in Gypsum, Colorado (outside of Vail). It froze, expanded and cracked. Luckily it was still frozen when I got in the car at 7 a.m. to head to the mountain. Had I left it in the car much longer, it would have warmed up enough to melt the ice and make a mess all over my car. The metal is too good a conductor of heat and cold. The bottle is either too hot or too cold to handle.

Posted by Kent - 04/19/2008 11:59 AM

Resin Lined Sigg Bottles and Toxins
So Nalgene bottles leak toxins…... I get it. So people run out and buy Sigg resin lined bottles…... I guess the presumtion is that resins don’t leak toxins….. I am not sure I believer that.

Posted by Steve - 04/21/2008 11:14 AM

After ditching all my Lexan bottles I came up with the perfect solution to staying hydrated and safe. I recently started using Grolsch bottles…think about it. First get to drink the finest Dutch lager available, but the real enjoyment comes when you begin using grolsch’s classy capped green bottle as a non-alcoholic beverage container. My mind is somehow tricked into thinking that the water that now fills my Grolsch bottle is actually that fine Dutch Lager and my water intake goes through the roof! It’s by far the best way to stay hydrated in camp or in the car. Just don’t drop it or get pulled over!

Posted by Ethan - 05/01/2008 04:03 PM

Kent: Sigg water bottles have been put through many tests by several different reputable groups – they don’t leech any chemicals whatsoever.
I’m replacing my Nalgenes with KKs very soon – the only problem that is listed by any reviewer that may affect my enjoyment is the temperature conduction. But hey, it’s better than getting cancer and imbalancing my hormones.

Posted by Michael - 05/21/2008 11:19 AM

Perhaps KK or Sigg might want to create a metal bike bottle by coating a metal bottle with a non-slip outer surface to keep it from slipping or ratteling in the cage

Posted by Jim - 07/07/2008 10:47 AM

Check out this new company. They are bringing eco-awareness and providing a good a third party certified product that tastes clean and can be used for all sports.
www.ecosportsbottle.com

Posted by Baker - 07/11/2008 05:53 PM

Sigg bottles are aluminum. Stainless steel is way stronger and has NO lining to possibly come off, or later be found to be as dangerous as plastic bottles. Check these out. They use all the great nalgene accessories and can also be used with common filtration systems
http://www.guyotdesigns.com/stainlessbottles?sc=11

Posted by sausie - 09/02/2008 04:26 PM

I agree that for every day use metal is pleasant. But for hiking or other outdoor use, metal bottles hurt a lot more than plastic when you fall on them.

Posted by Jessica Mendoza - 09/25/2008 02:35 PM

After having my nephew be diagnosed with Leukemia 2 years ago, and still in treatment and my sister getting breast cancer last month, i certainly think it is critical we think about a lot of toxins so I have thrown out my Nalgenes . I’m trying out KK, and we’ll see how the water taste, I’m not throwing away my receipt, have a lot of friends try Sigg and they just aren’t very durable. So whether we know if chemicals do what to our bodies, its worth it for me, especially when this much cancer strikes my family. And we have all beed tested for cancer genes, and they are negative, so its got to be our toxic world.

Posted by Bob - 10/11/2008 07:18 PM

The research on BPA is extensive, and it shows that there is a very small amount that escapes. The BPA that does escape is less than 1 millionth of the level that would affect the human body, and the human body metabolizes, and excretes it completely with no noticeable after-effects.

Metal bottles are great, I’m eager to acquire my next one, but plastic bottles have some advantages. Don’t let the BPA bull**** sway you, it was/is a ploy from animal rights groups to mess with Nalgene. (they also make animal testing equipment) Pure political. Besides, all bottles have switched to BPA free plastics now.

Posted by Not Bob - 10/28/2008 02:04 PM

The softeners in cycling water bottles are bad.
The plastic itself? Not so bad. But the taste is really why I switched.

Whatever. I prefer the stainless steel bottle for taste, even though it’s harder to find a bottle cage that fits well and you can’t squirt water in your mouth or at chasing dogs’ faces or at bad car drivers through open windows or sunroofs.

Posted by Green - 03/23/2009 08:54 AM

I just bought a Kleen Kanteen from www.YouShouldGoGreen.com and I love it! There is no funny taste from the stainless steel and I like the colors. The shipping was fast and the prices were great. Good site, highly recommended.

Posted by M40 - 03/28/2009 06:41 AM

I think many folks here have forgotten one all important point. You can put a metal bottle over a FIRE to boil the water. Just remove the cap first. Try that with nalgene or any other plastics. All this new ultralight gear is great, but in some cases, the old standby’s are still the best. I’d rather carry a few more pounds in my pack and have the tools I need for an enjoyable and convenient experience.

I use the old military metal canteen/cup combos. Mine are dented and scorched black from a couple decades of use over countless fires and stoves. Call me old fashioned, but the plastic bottles are a cheap ‘solution’ foisted on gullible hikers. If the water freezes in one, you have to use precious body heat to thaw it (if it didn’t crack in the process). I can thaw the metal canteens in a hurry over a fire.

My advice… review your gear and decide whether you’d rather baby a piece of gear, or whether a couple ounces of extra weight is worth it to have a really nice and durable piece of equipment that will last you a lifetime of hard use and abuse!

Posted by Patrick - 05/03/2009 10:25 AM

Just an FYI, I did check on the SIGG site and the only thing they note for boiling water in you SIGG is that it may damage the outside paint so I tested my on my alochol stove and it heated the water well. Might have to make a heat exchanger for the bottom to capture more heat and make a snuggy for it but for going lite, it seems to work.

Posted by Carlos Garcia - 05/01/2010 12:12 PM

Precio por unidad, valor para entrega en colombia y minimo de unidades de venta.

Posted by Dan - 06/14/2010 10:16 PM

I guess the key is what you want your bottle to do; seems a lot of materials will keep the liquids on the inside (criteria #1); but, when it comes to boiling water (my criteria #2), I just don’t see the plastics doing as well as the metal bottles. As to the reviewers comments, may I suggest pulling over and taking a break? It’s easier to pour the water down the throat when you’re not navigating traffic or treestumps.

Posted by Paul - 11/05/2010 03:51 PM

Check out the Hydro Flask as an alternative to Sigg and Klean Kanteen. They only make double wall vacuum insulated stainless steel water bottles

Posted by Jim - 01/12/2012 03:55 AM

Try Flaska glass water bottle. It also changes and improves water in 5 minutes. And is compatible with your bike (not good for running, though). http://www.flaska.co.uk

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