The HC Canteen Really Is that Good: A Review

Discussion in 'General Bushcraft Discussion' started by BradGad, Sep 8, 2019.

  1. BradGad

    BradGad Supporter Supporter

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    When I got my Heavy Cover Ti canteen and cup, I was pretty sure I had made an expensive mistake. I seriously considered returning it.

    A month or two later, my position became "You can have my canteen when you pry it from my cold dead hands!" The HC became the one "non-negotiable" piece of gear I always take. I am forever trying different knives. I choose from among multiple packs or bags depending on multiple factors. I have a hatchet of choice, but I don't always take a hatchet on short outings. A quilt, a blanket, a sleeping pad... those aren't needed on a day hike or scout. I always wear my wide-brimmed hat, but I am not sure we can call the hat "gear".

    What caused this shift? It's hard to articulate, but I will try.

    Two provisos:

    I haven't tried every other option out there. (Has anyone?) I have used an old Boy Scout aluminum canteen, the old green Oasis Kwencher flask canteen (which was standard issue for backpackers in the 70s), multiple plastic Nalgene bottles in varying sizes, a pair of Klean Kanteen stainless bottles, discarded Smartwater bottles, and the (discontinued) Stanley Adventure Multi-Use Bottle paired with a nesting Ozark Trail knockoff of the GSI cup. I have not used the Pathfinder / Self Reliance Outfitters stainless canteen cookset or any of the many milsurp or milstyle aluminum, stainless, or plastic kits having the same basic design pattern as the HC. I haven't used the guyot or Nalgene stainless bottles.

    And, I am not going to try to settle whether the bang is worth the buck. Everyone's circumstances are different. Clearly there are plenty of perfectly serviceable options out there at a fraction of the price.

    What's wrong with the plastic Nalgenes? Not a darn thing! But I find I very much like having the option of not packing a cook pot. I often pack just the HC kit and a kuksa. I boil water in the canteen and then make a hot meal in the canteen cup and hot tea in the kuksa, and have enough hot water left to clean up the canteen cup.

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    What's wrong with the Klean Kanteens? Well, in my experience, they are not as rugged as I want. I once tossed this one down on the forest floor, never imagining it could be a problem, and it buckled. I was quite disillusioned.

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    What's the best alternative to the HC kit I have found? It's actually a totally different approach. The Stanley 24 oz. cook set matched up with with one of its cups and that Ozark Trail knockoff GSI, the Mylar liner from boxed catered coffee, an alcohol stove, a tea strainer, and any old water bottle. A discarded Smartwater plastic bottle is a good choice: very lightweight, essentially free, and the threads mate with the Sawyer Squeeze filter. Everything but the water bottle nests into one compact package.

    Sometimes I still pack this when I am going full load, but for "any old water bottle", I use the HC. Because I have it. And sometimes (a lot of the time), I take a twig stove instead of the alcohol stove.

    But I don't need all that all the time.

    Why do I like the Heavy Cover Ti kit so much?

    It's the confluence of many things -- many of them small things -- coming together in a package that always seems to meet my needs.

    I like that it is very lightweight.

    I like how tough it is. I know it has a failure point, but I am confident that that point lies well beyond normal extended use and things like tossing it on a forest floor. I like that feeling of confidence.

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    I like being able to boil water in either the cup or the canteen. I like not having to pack a cook pot. The canteen can be suspended over a fire. A bottle hanger is nice for this but not required. Loosen the threads on the canteen cap. Use either a cord or a pot hanger stick to suspend the canteen over a fire. When steam or spurts start coming out around the threads, the water is boiling. (A surprising number of bottles and pots can’t pull off this simple trick.)

    The flexible bottle of a Sawyer Squeeze filter is ten times easier to fill when you have something to dip water with, to pour into the bottle/bag. I like having a well-shaped dipping cup already nested to the canteen I'm going to fill with the filter. (Of course this applies to a lot of set ups.)

    I like the flattish form factor. It rides against my body or fits into a haversack better than a round bottle of comparable capacity.

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    I like having a stellar piece of kit like the Centerline Systems MCC to pair with it. For short outings, the MCC and matching tool roll beat a daypack in several ways. Often when I am working around the property and know I am going to be moving around a lot, I put the canteen in the MCC and tote it around with me. Water and little necessaries are always at hand and I spend less time tromping back to the house or the shop.

    I like putting either the canteen or the cup in a sandy creek bed and scrubbing it around to scour off soot and sap.

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    I like how quickly titanium transfers heat and how quickly the lip of the cup cools off.

    I like the large capacity of the cup.

    I like putting the filled canteen in a fire before bed on a cold night, wrapping it in a shemagh, and sticking it down in my quilt.

    There are stainless bottles out there with wide mouths, and that has advantages. But a wide mouth is a little awkward to drink from: it's easy to slosh. I like having the moderately sized opening of the HC canteen to drink from and the "wide mouth" cup to mix things into water. Neither is the mouth on the HC canteen chintzy small, as it is on many milsurp and milstyle offerings.

    Do I like that big seam around the middle? No, not really, but I bet there are sound manufacturing reasons for it being there. It's not a problem.

    Many things, many of them small things, coming together. Fair disclosure: I have only had the HC for about a year. But after dozens of outings with it, I can't imagine going back. The bottom line is, I haven't found anything else that works as well in as wide a range of situations.

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    Last edited: Sep 8, 2019
  2. Jonah L. Archer

    Jonah L. Archer ~Roughian #21~ ~ MOA #62 ~ Supporter Bushclass II

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    Great... now I want one! :25::9:

    Thanks for the review Brad!
     
  3. Paul Foreman

    Paul Foreman Supporter Supporter

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    well reasoned. thank you.
     
  4. gohammergo

    gohammergo I like sharp things.... Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Thanks for the review Brad. I appreciate the time you took to do it.

    I'm still thinking pretty serious about one. I do have a few surplus canteen cups around. I have never used one before. I'm going to spend some time with one and see how I like the shape of it.
     
  5. doulos

    doulos Supporter Supporter

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    Great Review! Thanks! :dblthumb:
     
  6. BradGad

    BradGad Supporter Supporter

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    Thanks man... on another thread, I made the bald assertion that the HC is awesome. People told me to shut up or put up. :)
     
  7. holygoat

    holygoat Supporter Supporter

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    I use mine in the woods, when I travel, and basically all the time, and have done for about 18mo.

    A while back someone stole my canteen when I foolishly left it in one of my company’s offices overnight (went out for dinner, didn’t make it back to the office until the morning), and I ordered a replacement canteen the next day. Expensive, yes.

    I don’t know exactly what it is that makes it so good — the wide, rolled mouth? The great cup? The capacity? The way it fits in travel bags and briefcases the way a Nalgene doesn’t? The way it works well with stoves and fires? — but I’m sold.
     
  8. BradGad

    BradGad Supporter Supporter

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    > “basically all the time”

    > “I don’t know exactly what it is that makes it so good”

    I know! It’s not like we drank the Kool-Aid... we already have the canteen and all peer pressure is off.

    I sleep with mine. We don’t cuddle or anything like that, but — same deal as out in the woods — it turns out to be really good for having water if you need a drink in the night. Secure lid, good shape, doesn’t tip over like a glass on a nightstand...

    It’s hard to explain, but I am convinced it’s not Kool-Aid thing.
     
  9. PAcanis

    PAcanis Bushmaster Lifetime Supporter

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    Nice pics.

    How is the cup for cooking foods that might stick? I've read that Ti fry pans can be a big learning curve, but folks tend to cook more "liquidy" stuff in their canteen cups.
    Does the cup lid lay in place or is it a press fit?

    I see these come with two canteen caps now. Do you know why? Didn't these have a leaking problem when they first came out? Maybe it was the seam... I seem to remember reading something about Ti canteens leaking :33: But if you're putting yours in a fire and it's holding up, maybe they fixed it.

    I've always liked the looks of these until I see the price :(
    I'm not sure the weight savings is worth it on something you're going to fill with water anyway. Or maybe it's more important :33:
     
  10. BradGad

    BradGad Supporter Supporter

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    About sticking, it’s OK... not non-stick but I haven’t noticed it being harder to clean than other stuff.

    The lid just lays in place.

    I think they offer two caps just to give people a choice. Both work great.
     
  11. xrayit

    xrayit Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    I have three HC canteens and HC four cups with lids, I use the canteen and cups every day. Never had a leak with the HC canteens, all of the other Stainless steel or aluminum canteens I have leak unless you crank down on the lids and some leak regardless. The spouts on most stainless and aluminum canteens are way too small and the stainless 32 oz bottle have a spout that too large and terrible lids. The HC canteen has the perfect size spout IMHO allowing me to drink with no spilling and easy clean up. Getting the gunk out of the small opening of a stainless steel canteen can be challenging. The lid falling off of a large stainless bottle (pathfinder model) is also infuriating and happens often on that design. I spent way more money buying canteens and bottles looking for the perfect solution than the cost of the HC set.
     
  12. PAcanis

    PAcanis Bushmaster Lifetime Supporter

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    Thanks, Brad.
    I've read people talking about Ti sticking more than they are used to, but don't recall if they say it is harder, the same or easier to clean up than anodized alum or SS. I've always wondered.
     
  13. Rich_S

    Rich_S Tracker

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    Like I said in the other thread - What about it justifies it being 4X the price of the Nalgene/Guyot SS bottle and GSI/Olicamp cup? I get Titanium is lighter than SS and some people find the kidney shape more ergonomic than a cylinder shape. But why should I spend $165 on a metal bottle and cup when I can get the SS Nalgene/Guyot bottle for $25 and the SS GSI/Olicamp cup for $10-15? I'm not in any way criticizing it as it appears to be very well made. But this is an enormous price difference over a relatively direct competitor.
     
    bacpacjac and BradGad like this.
  14. gohammergo

    gohammergo I like sharp things.... Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    I don't think anything really justifies it,per say...... As mentioned many times in various threads, it is just a metal water carrier. But some things just grab a person.....I have a titanium coffee cup. Toaks 450. My wife bought it about five years ago for me. It's just a metal cup, but I like it. It wasn't terrible expensive, but certainly more than a stainless cup. Since I have had it, I think I may have had less than a dozen cups of coffee that weren't in that cup. I'm drinking from it right now actually.

    It's just one of those things that doesn't need to be justified. :) Some people like them, some don't. There have been a few for sale on the blanket here, so not everyone loves them. But, for those that do, I think it is awesome. :) I personally, at this time, use round nalgene bottles. I have been looking a bit at the Pathfinder kit, because I do like the wider mouth opening. To each their own I guess.

    Everyone has that certain " thing" that clicks for them. Like the knife thing. I have seen some unhandled knives sell for what seems to me to be outrageous prices, more than what you could get a nice handled knife for. And the folks who buy them love them. :) Just not for me. :)

    The HC? Still thinking pretty heavy on it. No pun intended. :) Also pretty sure that if I do get one, it will likely be the last water container that I ever buy.
     
  15. PAcanis

    PAcanis Bushmaster Lifetime Supporter

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    That was well put.

    Even the Mother carrier is attractive.
    But is it better than dropping the canteen into a haversack? Especially if you are going to attach that gear roll to the bottom, which IMO would make the open top drinkability pretty cumbersome.
    How 'bout a Hidden Woodsmen haversack? At least the price point would be in the ballpark.

    But dang that is some sweet gear. It always has me looking anytime someone posts it. Sweet combo.
     
  16. Red Yeti

    Red Yeti Mostly Harmless Hobbyist Supporter Bushclass I Bushclass II

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    Nice thoughtful review. Thanks for that.
    Nice to know what you like about it.

    :38::38:
     
  17. holygoat

    holygoat Supporter Supporter

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    Two lids because the ti-on-ti can be a bit loud, and so some folks prefer a plastic Kleen Kanteen lid.

    I had one ti lid leak a little. Chris at Heavy Cover sent me two replacement lids the next day.

    Why a ti bottle over a plastic nalgene and an aluminum or steel cup?

    No worries about coatings or food interactions; ti is totally inert.

    I find water stays fresher for days longer for some reason.

    I can boil water in the canteen itself if it gets contaminated or if I lose the cup, or if I just want to cook and make coffee at the same time to conserve firewood.

    It’s lighter than steel (my steel Guyot nalgene is pretty heavy), and because of the reduced mass it cools off enough to drink from or to pack up much more quickly.

    I find a kidney shape easier to hang on to than a 1.2L round bottle, and it doesn’t roll away when I put it down on a slope.

    I also got a little Keith single-wall cup which I use for coffee at home. It’s strangely charming, and it doesn’t soak up all the heat from coffee right away (ceramic mugs need pre-warming).

    The closest I’ve come to finding a competitor is the British Osprey Kit — bigger, more useful cup shape — but the cup is hard anodized aluminum (which is less durable than uncoated titanium), and the bottle is plastic. I have suggested to Chris that a titanium Osprey set would be the bee’s knees, especially with a nesting stove — the BCB stove doesn’t really nest at all, so the setup is huge.
     

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