Kleen Kanteen Insulated Stainless Steel Bottle

Concept: 3 out of 5
Execution: 4 out of 5
Yeah, but: Less is cooler, but still less.

The Long Version: I really hesitated before buying this. After all, the standard 27oz/800mL Kleen Kanteen stainless bottle that I use every day - reviewed two years ago - has outlasted every other water bottle that I've tried. Did I really want to ad another one to the collection that I don't use, or conversely, do I want to risk buying one that will retire the grand-daddy?

I pondered for several minutes, standing there in the store, and then parted with the $28 (plus tax) that the new 20oz/600ml Kleen Kanteen Insulated cost.

I've been using the new bottle for a couple of weeks now, and it has quickly become my favourite. The biggest weakness of all metal bottles, such as the more traditional Kleen Kanteen, is that their contents warm up very quickly, they sweat in humid weather, and can't hold anything hot. Alright, maybe that's three weaknesses, but they all come from the same place: no insulation.

The Insulated bottle uses the traditional 'thermos' design of double-walled Stainless with a vacuum in between. It's very effective at keeping water cold - I haven't tried it with hot beverages - and just four ice cubes added in the morning will still be in slivers at lunch. And the wide-mouth design lets those ice cubes fit sideways, which is kind of nice as well.

The trade-off is that the Insulated bottle doesn't have the rolled lip of the standard bottles, which are really nice to drink from. The threads are on the outside of the bottle, instead of the inside, but they're still fairly large and rounded which makes the cap easy to open and secure. Frankly, that's where most of the other bottles that I've tried have fallen down - they're just too fiddly or too fussy to get along with easily. The loop cap has a lower profile than the standard bottle, making the 20oz Insulated slightly shorter - or rather, less tall - than the standard design, but it's sized well for opening with two fingers. That space in the cap is also the only place where condensation will form on humid days.

Kleen Kanteen recommends hand washing, but there's slim chance of that happening with me. The bottle goes into the dishwasher a few times a week, and I'm not about to worry about any cosmetic effects. (The two-year-old standard bottle that I treat the same way shows some wear on the logo, but much less than I expected.) There is a more stern warning about not putting the cap in the dishwasher, as water can be forced into the insulating portion of the lid, so I'm okay with doing that one by hand.

The big surprise to me is that I've managed to put a couple of little dings in the outer wall of the bottle already. The biggest is this one on the bottom, and I have no idea how it happened. I've certainly scuffed up my old bottle, but never dented it despite a couple of decent drops. Otherwise, it's very pretty, with a two-tone brushed finish over most of the bottle, and a high polish on the very bottom. It's overall dimensions are about the same as my 27oz model, and it still fits in standard bike-bottle-sized holders, like the one in the classic MEC pod sling pack.

But getting back to my original concern - does the Insulated bottle usurp the original, or does it fall by the wayside?

The answer, so far, is neither. When I'm only carrying my MEC pod for a little trip around town, the Insulated bottle is an easy choice. If I'm carrying my bigger T2 bag to work on a hot day, I'll carry both. And when I'm not quite willing to carry a spare, and think that the extra 200mL of the standard bottle will make a difference, then I'll just use the higher-capacity one and endure lukewarm water. While I'm currently using the Insulated the most, once the summer's over I'm sure that will shift back. They're both excellent, but make slightly different compromises. It's all good.


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