Stainless Steel Bottles

Whether it’s for taste, aesthetic reasons, or environmental and health concerns, many people are switching from plastic to stainless steel water bottles. A trip to your local outdoor store will confirm this. As recently as one year ago, plastic bottles made up a large majority of the drinking bottles at REI, but now it’s flopped the other way and stainless and coated aluminum outnumber plastic by a wide margin.

I’m seeing more and more stainless bottles on bicycles as well. I’m also receiving quite a few e-mails asking what kind of bottle/cage combination I’m using. I’ve only tried out a tiny fraction of what’s available on the market, but I’m happy to pass along what has worked for me.

On our recumbent tandem we’re using Specialized brand injection-molded bottle cages with Klean Kanteen stainless bottles. The Specialized cages are nothing “special”; they’re nearly identical to all the other plastic/nylon cages on the market in the $10-$15 price range. These cages comfortably hold either the 18 oz. or 27 oz. Klean Kanteens. Klean Kanteen sells their own version of this cage.

If you have an aversion to plastic bottle cages (they’re pretty ugly), the fillet-brazed Nitto Hourglass Cage from Rivendell is a more aesthetically pleasing alternative. The Nitto cage is beautifully hand-made in Japan and it should last a lifetime; this is a good thing considering its price tag of $48. Like the injection-molded cages, the Hourglass holds either the 18 oz. or 27 oz. Klean Kanteens. The 27 oz. is a great fit and doesn’t rattle at all, but the 18 oz. will rattle unless you modify the cage or bottle (this is not an issue with plastic cages). I prefer the 27 oz. bottle since I’m not concerned about weight and I like having the larger bottle with me at work.

I’m sure there are many other cage/stainless bottle combinations that work well. If you have one you’d like to share, please post the information in the comment section below this post.

Nitto Hourgalss Cage @ Rivendell
Klean Kanteen @ REI

19 Responses to “Stainless Steel Bottles”

  • jamesmallon says:

    Plastic cages break in the cold (I ride in Canadian winters). I find that Planet Bike Aluminum cages work well for a non-boutique price. Kleen Kanteen works well, but suck for drinking fast on the go. I have a great 500ml thermos for winter rides that lets me gulp quickly, but have not found a non-insulated summer version: http://www.thermos.com/Product_detail.aspx?CatCode=THER&SubcategoryID=1&ViewAll=true&ProductID=282

  • Harry H says:

    I’ve been using Sigg bottles and have been very happy with them. There are different lids available, my favorite being the sports bottle lids.

  • jamesmallon says:

    Just be aware that Sigg bottles, unlike Kleen Kanteens or double-walled thermoses, are ‘resin lined’: plastic-lined, though perhaps not BPA. I’m done with plastic, and done with trusting industry to tell me what’s safe. Stainless has been around for a few centuries; we’d know if there was a problem by now. If you are not sure if the bottle you’re buying is plastic-lined or not, get a finger and rub the inside and outside to figure it out.

  • ksteinhoff says:

    My primary liquid source is my Camelbak MULE. I carry water bottles to refill the MULE, to pour over my head or to help out someone I run across on the road who needs water.

    When It came time to put cages on my new LHT, I told my LBS I had only three requirements: black, aluminum and cheap.

    My kid, who must have had too much time on his hands, wrote this comparison of insulated vs non-insulated bottles.

    http://www.palmbeachbiketours.com/2008/06/16/insulated-water-bottles-vs-uninsulated-bpa/

  • Elliott @ Austin On Two Wheels says:

    We did a review of the Klean Kanteen last fall. The build quality and taste is good and they are more stylish than plastic, but anyone in hot climates should avoid them unless you don’t mind drinking hot water. Even when filling the container with ice, the water became plain hot within about 15 minutes of riding in the Texas heat. This is much faster than regular plastic bottles or Polar bottles, which are my favorite for our 6 month summer season. The other issue I had was with the incessant rattling that occurred when I put it them in metal bottle cages.

  • Greg says:

    jamesmallon: well, perhaps the lining isn’t plastic, but it’s definitely some sort of epoxy. Ironically, there is a lot more BPA in aluminum linings than what leaches from polycarbonate. (I read this a long time ago, don’t have the link handy.) Same article recommended that #1 way to reduce BPA exposure is to limit use of canned food. But really, all our prescription meds and other industrial chemicals are showing up in the water supply. We can’t obsess… still, I use the steel bottles some of the time, a camelbak bladder the other times.

  • Alan says:

    @Elloitt

    In my experience it’s only the smaller 18oz. bottle that rattles. I’ve tried the 27oz. in various cages with no issues. Did you find this to be the case?

    Thanks,
    Alan

  • Ron Georg says:

    Howdy–

    I like this one with my Kleen Kanteen:

    http://www.kingcage.com/Iris.html

    Its shape favors straight-sided bottles, as it doesn’t have one of those vestigal tabs on the underside from back when all water bottles were tiny. I’ve used mine with different sized bottles, and it has stood up to adjustments well. That’s because it’s steel, so it also won’t blacken water bottles. Mine holds my Kleen Kanteen tight enough so that it doesn’t rattle.
    Happy Trails,
    Ron

  • beth h says:

    @ Ron Georg:

    That shape is available in a slightly cheaper version from Delta, available through several wholesale distros that your LBS can order from. My Delta cages cost 11 bucks retail lat year and do a nice job of holding the Klean Kanteen. If you pull the sides apart just slightly, a Stanley 1/2-quart thermos will also fit.

    As for plastic, California Springs — bottle suppliers to shops nationwide — now offers a “BioGreen” bottle that is entirely free of the harmful alphabet soup formerly found in plastic bottles. My shop brought these in as an affordable alternative to the KK last year. I’m still using one on my bike and, well, water still tastes like water. Since not everyone can afford (or justify) 18 bucks for a water bottle, it’s nice to be able to offer a cheaper alternative.

  • Elliott @ Austin On Two Wheels says:

    Alan,

    The bottle I tested for the review was the 27 oz.

  • Alan says:

    @Elloitt

    So maybe the Nitto Hourglass cage is unique in this regard. This is the kind of info I was hoping to glean…

    Thanks!
    Alan

  • Nathan says:

    I love using a kleen kanteen for its durability and uncoated nature. I’ve dropped it several times and ended up with some dents, but I feel they just add to the overall character of them.

    One simple modification to eliminate rattling in any bottle cage is to wrap your bottle with cotton/cloth tape. 1 roll should be plenty for a 27 oz. and it adds a ncie soft/unique grip to your bottle. You can also keep your water cool/insulated by getting the cloth tape wet on a hot day.

  • Charlie says:

    Nathan: Great tip, thanks.

    Does anyone know the history of bottles and cages? What were bottles made of before plastic? Glass?

  • Alan says:

    @Charlie

    In many of the old photos I’ve seen it appears they’re using either aluminum or steel bottles (think of an old canteen). Metal bottles used to be manufactured in France and reproductions of those antiques can be very expensive. It appears we’ve come full circle…

  • Ton says:

    SUBZERO Stainless Steel Bottles have been a great alternative for our family. Safe with stainless and also green since stainless has a high recycle rate.
    Couldn’t be more happy!

  • Chandra says:

    I agree with Elliott @ Austin On Two Wheels on the Klean Kanteens getting too hot in the TX heat. I saw something about a Camelbak Insulated Bottle. Has anyone tried these? I am skeptical about these bottles fitting in a “standard” bottle cage.

    I will share my experiences if I try these!

  • Chandra says:

    I did try the Camelbak Insulated Stainless Steel Bottle. I love how cold it keeps the water. I filled it with ice cubes (about 10) and cold water. For 30 hours or so the water stayed drink-ably cold. For at least 10-12 hours, there were still some un-melted ice cubes . Getting it to fit in my King Iris cage was initially a pain but I got it to work smoother now.

    Initially, I had some reservations about the shape of the bottle but I have since changed my mind and I have started liking this bottle.

    It is a great bottle. I wish it could hold a bit more water.

    I am gonna try the Torpedo by CycleAware (larger capacity) next. I shall post the results here soon afterwards.
    Peace,
    -Chandra…

  • Bargain Lover says:

    I have found an amazing bargain. This company has a small misprint on their bottles and they are selling them cheap. I have a Kleen Kanteen 40oz bottle that I paid $22.00. It is a good bottle. I bought 2 of these 40oz bottles with a misprint on them for $9.95 each. The caps are interchangeable and the company says their bottles are made in the same factory as Kleen Kanteen. I like the misprint one better. They have 3 different sizes, insulated covers and all kinds of accessories including a bike cage for only $2.95. Go to http://www.greenvirginproducts.com

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