What are the best canteens?

Canteens are a classic option for carrying your water on a long trip, and modern canteens are made from durable materials.

Flat and round designs are popular for the ease with which they can be carried across your body rather than in a bag, and many include a strap for this purpose. Canteens can be metal or plastic, but some are also covered in fabric to prevent wear and damage.

Choosing the right water bottle means considering the conditions you will be traveling in, how much water you need and how you will be transporting your water bottle.

The main characteristics of canteens

Before you start comparing canteens, think about the most important factors in keeping you hydrated and making your canteen accessible.

Canteen equipment

Modern canteens are usually made of stainless steel, titanium, aluminum or plastic that is free of bisphenol A, a potentially harmful chemical.

  • BPA-free plastic has the advantage of being light and inexpensive, but it can give water an unpleasant taste and heat up quickly. Some plastic canteens are collapsible so you can store them when empty.
  • Stainless steel is very durable and looks great uncovered. However, it’s the heaviest option and it’s usually not dishwasher safe.
  • Aluminum is strong and light, but can be dented if dropped. Its low cost makes it popular.
  • Titanium is durable and lightweight, although it is generally the most expensive canteen material.

Canteen covers, insulation and straps

Note whether the canteen has a cloth cover, often cotton or nylon. This not only protects the canteen, but can also be soaked in water to keep canteen contents cool with evaporative cooling. Some blankets also have a layer of insulation to prevent heat from penetrating and warming the liquid in the canteen. If the lid has a pouch-like design, you can easily remove the canteen without having to lift the strap above your head.

The straps can be long enough to carry over your shoulder, and some canteens have straps closer to the container so they can be carried carabiners. Straps are usually nylon or canvas. Although both materials are inexpensive, canvas is much more durable.

Canteen capacity

Canteens can typically hold more water than bottles or thermoses, with capacities ranging from 3 cups to 1 gallon.

While larger capacities mean you can go longer without a water source, they also mean more weight to carry. Choose a capacity that suits the distance traveled and your access to drinking water.

The best canteens to buy

Keith Titanium Ti3060 Canteen Mess Kit
With its titanium construction and extras like the carry pouch, cup and lid, this is a kit for the serious camper. Although the cost is higher than most canteens, the lightweight titanium makes up for it.

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Best Goetland Stainless Steel US WWII Military Canteen Kit

Goetland Stainless Steel WWII US Military Canteen Kit
Designed to look like a standard US military canteen, this set includes a mug and a simple nylon cover. This is a compact stainless steel canteen at a low price.

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Best Stansport Cover Canteen

Stansport Hedge Canteen
Few canteens come with decorative pouches like this, and its 1-gallon capacity makes it well-equipped for long rides. BPA-free plastic body keeps weight down to 19.75 ounces when empty.

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Best Alfa 1 Stainless Steel Military Canteen

Alfa 1 stainless steel military canteen
True to its name, this canteen meets multiple military specifications with its heavy gauge stainless steel construction and sturdy cap. Although it is rather heavy, its quality and classic design make it well suited to years of heavy use.

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Leather canteen with Spanish bota bag Best Laken

Spanish Leather Canteen Bota Bag Laken
For an added classic experience, this leather bota bag features a soft plastic body that can be squeezed to squirt water. When empty, you can fold or roll the bag to store it.

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Best military canteen Jffcestore

Military canteen Jffcestore
The 2-quart polyvinyl chloride body of this canteen makes it lightweight and durable. The camo-patterned nylon cover provides some insulation, especially if soaked.

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Best Boundless Voyage Titanium Military Canteen Mug Set

Boundless Voyage Titanium Military Canteen Mug Set
For the serious adventurer, this titanium kit offers an oxford fabric carrying pouch, two cups and a hanging wire. The weight and strength of titanium makes this kit worth the price.

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Best Pinty GI Army Stainless Steel Canteen

Pinty GI Army Stainless Steel Water Bottle
This canteen is distinguished by its unique belt design – the belt can be wrapped around your waist to prevent the canteen from swinging and bouncing when you walk. Stainless steel adds no taste to the water, and the included cup is a nice addition to this affordable kit.

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Peter McPherson written for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their buying decisions, saving them time and money.

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