Last updated: 16/10/2022

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Have you ever thought about what canteens are for? Today, we’ll be talking about this versatile and useful container that will help you maintain your hydration levels during travel, hiking and any kind of outing.

Flasks have been around throughout history, so even though they may seem like a simple product, there are still a lot of questions in our heads. We will now take care of debunking myths and establishing criteria so that you can get to know this product and choose the right one for you.

First the most important thing

  • Stay with us because we will answer the most frequently asked questions about canteens, such as what it is, the liquids we can use and the most common accessories related to it.
  • Thermos flasks are often confused with canteens, as both are two types of containers for keeping water cool. However, the canteen is able to keep water cooler for longer and under adverse weather conditions, whereas the bottle is for casual use and is affected by heat.
  • In order for you to choose the right water bottle for you, you should think about the purpose or activity you will be doing. Then it will be very easy to distinguish between the materials and ideal capacity, other uses you can make of it, and the transport for you to take it everywhere you go.

The Best Canteen in the United Kingdom: Our Picks

Buying guide: What you need to know about a canteen

A water bottle that fulfils all its functions correctly is the aim of this buying guide. If you want to find the one that is ideal for the activity you do, we invite you to consult the following buying guide, where we will answer all your questions about this product. We hope it will be useful for you!

A canteen is a source of clean, fresh water in any outdoor activity (Photo: Dmitrii Shironosov/

What is a canteen?

A canteen is a container used to carry liquids or cold drinks, ideally to places where there is no access to drinking water, e.g. hiking, camping, mountain sports. They are characterised by being light, resistant and easy to uncork. Sometimes they can even be used to heat water.

Canteen or Thermos – what should you pay attention to

Technically, both are containers for accessing water in hard-to-reach places. However, they have small differences that are worth noting, especially so that you can get the most out of them for the sport or activity you are doing.

Water bottle. It is characterised by having a slightly narrower shape and a flattened mouth, with the purpose of drinking and transporting it easily, in a place with quick access. On the other hand, it is responsible for isolating the liquid, maintaining its properties and freshness in any type of climate.

For this reason, they are usually made of aluminium, which easily adapts to cold temperatures, although the insulating effect is generated by a protective cover or an air chamber between the walls. We also see them made of plastic, which keeps the water at room temperature and does not freeze it when it is cold.

Thermos. This is a tubular-shaped container, which sometimes also includes a cup. They are intended for casual use and depending on the material, the temperature and freshness of the water will last. They are mainly made for hot liquids, but as they have a better thermal insulation, they are perfect for keeping them cold.

Flask Thermos
Suitable for hot water No Hot and cold
Materials of construction Aluminium and plastic Aluminium, stainless steel and plastic
Cold retention Up to 12 hours 3 – 5 hours
Type of insulation Protective sleeve or air chamber Air, vacuum or foam

Can a canteen be used to contain cold liquor?

As alcohol is a beverage that we generally drink cold or at room temperature, a canteen could eventually be used. However, there are specialised containers for this type of purpose and they are called flasks.

“Using a traditional flask for this purpose will only cause the liquor to lose its qualities, consistency and may even diminish or change its taste.”

What is a canteen with a ladle and cooker?

These are usually products that can be found on site or in a survival kit. They are preferred for military or camping purposes. Their materials are usually made of aluminium because they must withstand direct contact with heat.

The ladle is a type of cup that hides on top of the canteen to save space. When detached, it is free to be used as a container for making tea, coffee or any kind of food. The cooker is a separate accessory like a portable cooker that holds the saucepan so that it is not in direct contact with the heat source.

Buying criteria: factors that allow you to compare and rate different canteen models

When you’re a fan of spending time in nature, you need to be cautious so that the experience doesn’t turn into a tragedy. Learn about the factors that will help you compare the models on the market and choose one that suits your personal needs, so you can stay hydrated at all times with your ideal water bottle.

  • Materials
  • Capacity
  • Other uses
  • Transport


There are many materials that stand out in the manufacture of water bottles. Although it is a decision of personal taste and budget, here are two materials that will cover all your needs. You decide!

Metal. They are ideal for outdoor activities because they are light, resistant, keep the water very cold and can be placed directly on the fire. Stainless steel is recommended as it is antibacterial. Aluminium is also very popular, but may change the taste of the water after a few hours.

Plastic. They are inexpensive and very light to carry. Although they are more susceptible to shocks, they are very durable. They are recommended for cold climates where a metal canteen can freeze the water; a plastic one will keep it in perfect condition. Avoid them in hot weather, as they are not the best thermal insulator.

Did you know that the name canteen comes from the metaphor “it sings and cries” because of the sound the water and the container make?


Depending on the activity you want to do, you should choose a water bottle that will provide you with water for a good amount of time. Especially if we are in a place without access to drinking water or if we are with other people who may need it.

0.75 cc – 1 Litre. Less capacity means less weight to carry, but also less hours you can be outside. They are recommended for short walks or when you have drinking water sources nearby. They are perfect for smaller children who can’t carry as much weight.

1 – 1.5 litres. This is the standard capacity, enough to supply the needs of one person for no more than 5 – 8 hours approximately. Best of all, this capacity is lighter to carry for the duration of your excursion, hike, trek or activity.

2 -3 Litres. This is generally the capacity of the military canteens, which will get you through a full day in the outdoors. They are a little heavier, but allow you to ration your water better. Recommended for camping or spending most of the day outside.

Other uses

Although it may seem a little obvious that the liquid will be water, being a specialised product for outdoor sports, we can highlight other types of cold drinks that can ideally be carried in a water bottle. These uses will be clearly indicated by the manufacturer on the product.

Flavoured drinks. The taste and properties may change in an ordinary water bottle. If you don’t want this to happen, there are some that can preserve citrus drinks and spirits. Recommended for enjoying a cocktail, isotonic drinks, energy juices, etc. on occasions that merit it.

Carbonated drinks. It is difficult for a soft drink to taste good if its properties are not preserved. However, the versatility of some models makes it possible to keep the carbonation intact. It is recommended only for a picnic day, when you don’t need to drink water, when a sugar hit is required or simply for more freshness.

Some specialised flasks are ideal for fizzy, flavoured or sports drinks (Photo: blasbike/


Because the main use of water bottles is for outdoor activities or sports, ease of transport is so important. In addition to being lightweight, it should be easy and quick for you to access.

Storage bag. These are very useful as they attach to a belt so that you have it at hand at all times. In addition, they usually include other pockets to store objects of equal importance. They are recommended for more extreme activities, for long hours or as part of an outdoor survival kit.

Hook. They are lighter and can be attached in many places. It can be on your trousers, backpack or bag. They tend to break easily, move around and have direct exposure to the weather so they are recommended for lower impact and shorter duration activities.

Strap. The canteen is attached to a strap on the sides. It is very easy to put on and take off and is within easy reach. It is recommended for free and direct access to your hydration source, especially for children.

(Featured image photo: Norasit Kaewsai/