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What are the best canteens?

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

Flat and round designs are popular for how easily they can be worn on your body rather than in a bag, and many include a strap for just this purpose. Canteens may be made of metal or plastic, but some are also covered in fabric to prevent wear and damage. 

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

The key features of canteens

Before you start comparing canteens, think about what factors are most important for keeping you hydrated and leaving your canteen accessible. 

Canteen materials

Modern canteens are commonly made of stainless steel, titanium, aluminum, or plastic that’s free of the potentially harmful chemical bisphenol A. 

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

Canteen covers, insulation and straps

Make note of whether the canteen has a fabric cover, often made of cotton or nylon. This not only protects the canteen but also can be soaked in water to keep canteen contents cold through evaporative cooling. Some covers also have a layer of insulation to prevent heat from permeating and warming the liquid in the canteen. If the cover has a pouch-like design, you can easily remove the canteen without having to lift the strap over your head.

Straps may be long enough to be worn over your shoulder, and some canteens have straps closer to the container so they can be carried on carabiners. Straps are usually made of either nylon or canvas. While both materials are inexpensive, canvas is far 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 appropriate to how far you’re traveling and your access to clean water.

The best canteens to buy

Best Keith Titanium Ti3060 Canteen Mess Kit

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

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Best Goetland Stainless Steel WWII U.S. Military Canteen Kit

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

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Best Stansport Blanket Canteen

Stansport Blanket Canteen 
Few canteens come with decorative pouches like this one’s, and its 1-gallon capacity makes it well-equipped for long hikes. The BPA-free plastic body keeps the weight down at 19.75 ounces when empty.

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Best Alfa 1 Military Stainless Steel Canteen

Alfa 1 Military Stainless Steel Canteen 
True to its name, this canteen meets several military specifications with its thick stainless steel construction and hefty cap. While it’s on the heavy side, its quality and classic design make it well-suited to years of heavy use. 

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Best Laken Spanish Bota Bag Leather Canteen

Laken Spanish Bota Bag Leather Canteen 
For a classic wineskin 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 up for storage. 

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Best Jffcestore Military Canteen

Jffcestore Military Canteen 
The 2-quart polyvinyl chloride body of this canteen makes for a lightweight, durable vessel. The camouflage-pattern nylon cover provides some insulation, especially if soaked. 

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Best Boundless Voyage Titanium Military Canteen Cups Set

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

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Best Pinty GI Army Stainless Steel Canteen

Pinty GI Army Stainless Steel Canteen 
This canteen stands out for its unique belt design — the belt can be wrapped around your waist to prevent the canteen from swinging and bouncing as you walk. The stainless steel doesn’t add any taste to water, and the included cup is a nice addition to this affordable kit. 

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

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