Canteen vs Water Bottle (which is better?)

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Written By John Roe Stephen

Are you confused about which bottle to buy next? Well, if you are planning for a getaway like a hike or an outdoor activity, then a canteen would be the best choice. But if you’re just casually hanging out, then carry a normal water bottle.

Not just the activity, the type of bottle that you should carry depends on the weather outside. A water bottle won’t keep the water cold if it’s hot out. Therefore, a canteen would work best. Similarly, this article will talk about the most common debate – Canteen vs. Water bottle! So, let’s get started.

What is a canteen?

A canteen is quite popular among military troops and people who love hiking. It is a reusable drinking water bottle that was designed especially for campers, hikers, soldiers, and even firefighters. It was also an invention for field workers in the 1800s.

The canteen bottle has a specific belt around it so that you can carry it on your shoulders and fasten it on your belt or body. There is a cloth covering around the body and that extra padding for insulating the contents of the bottle.

People would soak the padding around the canteen so that the contents inside the bottle could become cool as a result of evaporative cooling. Several canteens also come with a specific canteen cup.

Historically, the gourds were hollowed out to pose as canteens, or bags made out of leather were used as canteens since they could keep the contents put inside cool. However, other inventions used glass bottles covered by a woven basket. Also, a cork was used as a stopper on those glass bottles.

Merits and Demerits of Canteen & Water bottle

CanteenWater Bottle
MeritsThe contemporary designs have single as well as double walls in the bottle that provide enough insulation  

Single-walled canteen can be used on an open stove or fire even to sterilize water.

Convenient and mobile hydration option.

Liquids can be easily stored inside these bottles.

Free of impurities like dust, debris, and bacteria.

Water bottles are recyclable
DemeritsThe canteen is only able to hold liquids and no other items.

Even if the canteen is empty, it still takes up space more than it should.

The size is heavy so carrying becomes a lot difficult
Bottles are expensive.

If kept too long in a closed and hot space, the water bottle can release toxins in the water.

Plastic is non-renewable and adds to the degradation of the environment.

Intake of water from a water bottle can be risky for health.

Canteen vs. Water bottle – A comparison

SpecificationsCanteenWater Bottle
Material usedPlastic, titanium, aluminum, stainless steelGlass, Plastic, metal
Price$4-$15$2 – $12
Size12oz, 18oz, 27 oz, 32 oz, 40 oz, 64 oz.10oz, 17oz, 20 oz, 24oz, 40 oz.
UsageContain liquid items as well as solid itemsHolds liquid items and various beverages for instant consumption
Special featuresMetal canteens consisting of a single metal wall can be kept on an open stove or fire to heat the contents put inside.Water bottles are environmentally friendly, durable, sturdy, dishwasher safe, and lightweight.
Liquid Holding CapacityCanteen can hold up more liquid, i.e., 1 L water with 2 inventory slotsWater bottle takes 2 inventory slots but only 600 ml of water.

Material Used

Since canteen is a very old invention, it used polycarbonate to make the canteens, but now people use plastic, titanium, or even aluminum and stainless steel for their production.

On the contrary, Water bottles are generally made with Glass, metal, or the most common material, plastic.


Since costing depends on the material used, and the production time is taken, a canteen is more expensive than a simple water bottle. Since the items used to make water bottles are cheap, their production cost is not high at all.

Whereas canteens do require a single-wall or double-wall interior so that water remains cool and purpose gets solved.


A canteen is a much better holder of liquid than a water bottle as it can hold up to 1 L of water inside it. At the same time, a water bottle may take up more space in the bag but may hold only 6ooml of water.

The fun thing is that the canteen and water bottle requires the same amount of space when carrying, but the size of a canteen is more than its competition.

Special features

The mind-boggling thing about a canteen is that it can be placed over an open stove or fire to heat and sterilize water inside the bottle without hurting the body of canteen. Now, this is crazy but only possible because of the material used to make it.

On the other hand, water bottles are really cheap to buy, environmentally friendly because they can be reused. Not just that, the bottles are light in weight, and the body is durable and sturdy. They are also known to be dishwasher safe.

Liquid Holding capacity

The liquid holding capacity of a canteen is way better than a water bottle. For example, let’s say that there are 2 inventory slots left to carry the bottle. 

Now canteen and a common water bottle would take 2 inventory slot space, but canteen can hold up to 1L water whereas water bottles can only hold up to 600ml.

Therefore, the canteen can hold more water than a water bottle, which makes them an amazing option for a water bottle.

Is canteen better than a water bottle? 

  • Save money by investing in a single canteen than buying a number of water bottles only to stop using them at one point.

  • Save the ecosystem. Even though you must think that buying a water bottle is safe, it’s not safe for the environment. Did you know that plastic takes millions of years to decompose? Now imagine using so many bottles and how much pollution it will cause. Therefore, invest in a stainless steel canteen and use it for a long time.

  • Stand differently from others. Now, start a trend of using canteen bottles because saving the environment is cool. Canteens defeat the purpose of carrying water everywhere and do not cause harm to society.

  • Less garbage to throw out. Since you are using a single bottle, you have less waste to throw and even less plastic usage.

  • It’s beneficial for your health as well since plastic bottles may release some chemicals in your water if the bottle is kept under constant sunlight. Canteens cannot do that since they use metal in their interior.

How long does a canteen last?

If the canteen is sealed, then you can leave water in the canteen for at least a few weeks since the water does not rot at all. However, the water may get some plastic taste which is not ideal for drinking but will not really cause any harm to you or your body.

Moreover, canteens use metal or stainless steel as their interior, so you can keep the water cool inside without risking its safety. Also, keep the canteen sealed properly to save it from any bacterial or viral infestation. Sealing is the best way of keeping the water safe.

Do Militaries still use canteens?

You wouldn’t believe it if I said yes! Militaries have adopted new stainless steel water bottles and camelbacks now. But still, some people prefer carrying a rubber canteen since the canteen cup that comes along with the canteen is useful as a glass or a cup holder that one can use for drinking water or even coffee.

Moreover, you can heat liquid in a canteen by placing it over a fire or gas. Therefore one can even make coffee inside this canteen by brewing the coffee and then adding water to bring about a final boil.

One can even carry soups and liquid food items that can be reheated afterward and act as a great carrier of food as well.

How much do military canteens hold?

Soldiers are known to carry several basic things as part of their everyday routine, among which the Canteen bottle is a must. For a very long time, canteen has been used as a standard for water bottles that can carry cold water.

The U.S. Army canteen is known to hold at least 1 quart, i.e., 0.95; liters in volume during the 1990s, and now it is known to have till 64oz water.


Militaries have gone through harsh conditions and settled on the fact that canteens stand way better than plastic water bottles. When you read about the argument above, you’ll understand that canteen may be heavy to hold and take space in your bag, but the content inside the bottle will be safe from foreign material.

Therefore, if you decide on buying a bottle, then do consider the purpose of buying it and whether requirement of a bottle is for a longer duration or a shorter duration.

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