Thursday, December 12, 2013

Klean Kanteen Stainless Steel Insulated Bottle Review - Part 2

Klean Kanteen Wide Mouth Insulated Water Bottle
What sold me about this bottle was its stainless steel interior -- not just the body, but also most of the cap. Product photos I found online, not just the description, confirmed this. The only non-stainless steel part that made contact with the water was supposed to be a gasket to seal the cap.
Thermos and Klean Kanteen
Unfortunately, this bottle set me back about CAD$ 30 versus the CAD$ 15 that I paid for the Thermos. In addition, the Thermos is, if I remember right, rated to be able to keep hot drinks "hot" for up to 12 hours while this Klean Kanteen only lasts up to 6 hours according to the product description. This isn't a big deal for me because my plan is just to carry water to work and use it mid-way through the day, so six hours would be perfect.

Klean Kanteen Interior
I ordered the 20 oz. brushed steel bottle from Amazon and it came in an oversized box with a few bags of air to keep it in place. Can't blame them because they can't stock every imaginable size of box. Overall, good packaging and it shipped quickly despite the Christmas rush.

As for the bottle itself, first things first: were there any stickers on the body of the bottle and did they come off?

Yes and yes.

There was a circular sticker attached to the lower third of the bottle that I received from Amazon. However, it came off very cleanly as the adhesive was only on the label. I believe the label was attached like a sleeve (i.e. slid on) rather than glued directly onto the body.

Another stick was found on the bottom of the bottle -- I was worried. Nope: the sticker was directly attached to the bottle, but it peeled off easily and cleanly.
Klean Kanteen Base
Does it work?
This bottle is very new to me and I've only been able to use it a few times over the past week, so we'll see how it goes over time. So far? I am impressed. It HAS leaked at the cap though.

Update: It turns out I missed the warning on the brochure included inside the bottle saying to cap the bottle only after the contents have cooled down to a drinkable temperature. Doing so may lessen the warping of the lid and decrease internal pressure, so maybe it's my fault. Conversely, I didn't notice a warning in the online FAQ for Klean Kanteen's bottles (as of mid-December 2013), and I did not see a reason in the brochure for why to cap it after the contents have cooled down. My interpretation of the warning is that it's so you don't scald anyone. It should be expected that a person buying an insulated bottle would fill it with very hot, probably freshly boiled, water -- especially if he/she knows the contents will lose heat over time. On the bright side, I've started filling it with cooler water (adding cold to hot), filling the bottle only 2/3 to the top, death-tightening, and hanging the bottle in my bag so it stays upright: the bottle has not spilled since.

This happened on my third, fourth, and fifth "outings". I've been trying to keep it upright in my generally empty backpack by wrapping it in a spare set of sweat pants. Well, that didn't work out on day three because I got to work and opened up my bag to find the bottle tipped completely on its side -- and the pants soaked. The bottle was also filled near the top for once. My estimate was that about 100 mL (~3 oz.) got out -- lost about an inch in the bottle. I thought it happened because I didn't screw the cap on tight enough to account for the hot water expanding the cap. Good thing I had those sweat pants in there to soak it up and my $50, 5 year old dumb phone was unscathed in the front compartment. The cap was pointing towards my back, away from the phone/front.

Then it happened again on day four. I made an effort to screw the lid on extra tight after pouring the hot water in -- hard enough that it wouldn't turn anymore then some with my dominant hand. To make matters worse, I spent the entire evening of day three sewing a loop into my backpack, so that the bottle would stay mostly upright as long as I kept the bag upright. The loop definitely helped because the pants I wrapped the bottle in were only lightly soaked. After getting to work, I tried screwing the lid on even tighter -- there was space -- and flipping the bottle upside down and on its side. The water wouldn't come out. It probably happens because the hot water causes the plastic lid to expand and create a gap just big enough for water to get out. Having this in a bag while constantly shaking and agitated by walking/movement doesn't help.

And once more on day five despite filling it only half-way, death-tightening, and tying it down in my backpack to keep it mostly upright. The goods news is that I'm almost sure that it's because of me screwing the cold cap on after adding hot water. Why? Because I unscrewed the warm/hot cap at work, screwed it back on half-assed, tipped it over repeatedly, left it upside down, and it didn't spill a drop.

Sigh. I'll try to keep the water level lower from now on. Definitely let the water sit for a while to heat the cap up before I put it in the bag -- this way I can do one final death-tight turn before crossing my fingers. Regardless, anything that can't get wet in my back is now in a zip-lock bag in another compartment.

Update: I tested the cap by filling up a room temperature bottle with ~75 C hot water. The bottle was capped tight then left on its side on a sauce plate. It didn't leak for 5 minutes, and then I heard the sound of water moving within the bottle and a steady leak at the cap. Looks like the heat warps the seal or cap because I was able to tighten the cap further after it was found leaking -- bottle didn't leak after that. Also, I was reading some reviews on Amazon and read about pressure building up inside the bottle with hot liquids. That wasn't something I considered, but it makes sense. Damn you, pV = nRT. Fermentation or decay of food or other organics is apparently also an issue -- glad I only use it for water.
Klean Kanteen Cap Interior
Heat Retention
Usually, the bottle is filled with hot -- not boiling -- water just before I leave, and the water is used about one to two hours later. It stays hot, as in uncomfortable to the touch or to drink, at the two hour mark just after being poured out. I have been letting it sit for 10 to 20 minute after being poured out to make a cup of tea before drinking. Since I don't have temperature measurements, one's mileage may vary depending on the starting temperature.

One thing that I've noticed over the past week is that the steel part of the bottle remains cool to the touch even at the one to two hour mark. However, the plastic cap gets warm -- not enough to be uncomfortable. Off the top of my head, I'd say the cap gets to around 45 C from previous experience with a thermometer, my hand, and hot water. The fact that I could still burn my hand with the water after pouring it out is "good" -- not a serious injury, just very uncomfortable. I'm guessing it's because the water is in contact with the cap because I am unable to keep the bottle perfectly still and upright in transit. Thank goodness for the stainless steel cap-interior.

Update: I've noticed that the threads at the opening of the bottle reeks of plastic when I go in for a sniff. This isn't a big issue because I only use the bottle for transport and have not taken a drink directly it. The smell is obviously from the cap being heated by the hot water. It came out after washing with soap and water. Hope they release a fully steel cap for the wide-mouth bottle at some point!

Like it a lot despite that it leaked on me. To be fair, this may just be a matter of dumb physics and heat expanding a malleable lid and/or seal -- no bottles are perfect? The bottle works (thermal-wise, mostly containment-wise), it looks nice, and the majority of the interior should be stainless steel. It is definitely a bit pricier than other stainless steel insulated bottles I've seen around hovering around the $20, but not by much. Another perk is that the bottle is "modular" in the sense that caps can be ordered separately on demand. I believe the one for this bottle is around $5. Good feature to have over the long term.

Do I recommend it? Yes, but with a bit of caution. Fact is that it's leaked on me. Maybe my bottle is defective. Maybe I'm not screwing the lid on hard enough. Both leaks weren't all that serious. Now that I know, I can at least prepare for it better.

The Tumbler
Money's a bit tight, but the second I'm "free", I will be looking into the Klean Kanteen Vacuum Insulated Pint Cup. I love this cup. It's 16 oz. and appears to be completely stainless steel from top to bottom. This is cool because the only stainless steel insulated cups that I've come across had stainless steel bodies, but plastic handles and/or felt pads on the bottom. My main tea cup is one of these plastic handle and felt base cups. It works fine aside from the stain build-up at the handle. The good thing about these steel/plastic cups is that the ones I've come across have lids. It does not appear that the Klean Kanteen version has a lid. I wouldn't use it to carry anything in a situation that would require a lid, but it's nice to have? Oh well, awesome looking cup. Must. Have.

Update: Screw it. It's been ordered. Review here.

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