Carrying a reusable water bottle to make sure we never need to buy a single use plastic bottle when we’re out and about is now second nature to many. Fantastic. Next up on the agenda has to be carrying a reusable coffee cup – another very simple step in the right direction to rid the world of plastic waste. As a chain tea-drinker, if using a mug isn’t going to be possible or sensible, I carry something with me to make sure tea is always close to hand.
If you are looking for an insulated reusable coffee cup you will no doubt have noticed the sheer number of different brands, shapes, styles and designs available. One of the market leaders is Klean Kanteen, a California based company who introduced the first stainless steel, BPA-free, reusable water bottle in 2004 as a non-toxic solution to single-use plastic water bottles. In this post I am specifically looking at two of their insulated drinks bottles; the Insulated Tumbler and the TKWide Insulated Flask.
Klean Kanteen Insulated Tumbler
I have had my Klean Kanteen Insulated Tumbler (the 16oz version in “bamboo leaf”) for a couple of years, and I can’t deny it, I genuinely do love it. To look at, it’s just perfect – the shape, the proportion, how it is to hold, and the fact that it looks just like a coffee cup should – it is simple, clean and unfussy. I’ve never had an issue getting it filled up at a coffee shop, service station, or work networking event.
I use mine mainly for tea (no, really?!), and the tumbler keeps my drink at a decent temperature for about four hours. I’m very used to filling mine up before I leave the house in the morning ready for my post-swim or post-hike rehydration, it fits perfectly in the cup holder in my car for when I’m on the road, and it’s great for camping too. The slanted sides mean you don’t have to tip the tumbler far to drink from it, making it very easy to use on the go.
It’s also good for keeping drinks cold, and I’ve been known to use it for soft drinks at service station fast food chains, ideal for a road trip on a hot day. I think because it looks like a normal cup it’s much easier to hand over and use for cold drinks. The normal lid works fine, but swapping to the straw lid and stainless-steel straw (with silicone tip) makes drinking cold drinks from the tumbler even nicer in my opinion.
While the standard coffee lid fits very well thanks to a silicone gasket that keeps it in place, and you’re unlikely to spill any drink if you hold it as you would a normal cup, it’s worth noting that it does have a hole in it to drink from that does not have a cover – therefore if you knock it over, you will lose some of your drink. It also means you can’t just chuck the tumbler in your bag or in your boot, because it does need to stay upright. The straw lid fairs a little better, with the hole in the middle it’s less prone to spillage if you were to rush for the bus or knock it along your desk. But the benefit of the uncovered drinking hole is that you can use the tumbler one handed, which is much more convenient if you are carrying a bag or pulling a suitcase.
The Klean Kanteen Insulated Tumbler costs £21.95 for the 16oz version with the standard tumbler lid. You can pick up the straw lid (with straw) for just under £7. My tumbler shows two years of use and abuse, and has faired incredibly well, although I did have have to have have to replace the lid thanks to leaving it behind on a camping trip earlier this year.
Klean Kanteen Insulated TKWide
Whereas the tumbler above is a coffee cup inspired insulated mug, the TKWide is a flask. And it is a flask in the truest sense of the word; it’s vacuum insulated and will keep your hot drink hot or cold drink cold for hours and hours. It is easy and pleasant to drink from through the coffee cup style lid, or with the lid off entirely if you prefer, and has a very useful metal handle so you can carry it with just your little finger if you are particularly laden.
The key difference between the Insulated Tumbler and this TKWide is that the lid closure. The TKWide has an internal thread, rather than a silicone gasket, so it is secured in place. In addition, the drinking hole has a cover that twists over the top, so there is nowhere for liquid to escape from should you tip or knock it. I can confirm that you can jiggle, shake, knock, and even roll this down a hill and it won’t spill. I’ve taken this on hikes, had it in the boot of the car, and chucked it in the main compartment of my work bag, and don’t worry about my tea being anywhere other than inside the flask.
This secure closure does mean you need two hands to actually drink from the flask, though – you can’t twist open the cover with the same hand you are holding the flask with, and so while you can carry the TKWide with your little finger, you can’t drink unless you free up your other hand.
I did once have a coffee shop refuse to put my iced tea in my TKWide because “they don’t fill flasks”, a problem I’ve never had with the insulated tumbler. I tried to protest but it didn’t work, so I left drink-less. This has only ever happened once, though, and I’ve not returned to that particular outlet.
The TKWide comes in at a slightly dearer but still reasonable £27.95 for the 16oz with the standard café cap. Mine is the Melon Punch colour, which is pink so you know I wouldn’t have chosen it myself, but it’s nice and bright and cheerful and very easy to spot in my kitchen cupboard when I need it.
Choosing Between Them
Both the Insulated Tumbler and the TKWide will keep your hot drinks hot and your cold drinks cold for hours. The TKWide will do so for longer and will be much more appropriate in very hot or cold climates, but the Insulated Tumbler does very nicely.
They both come made from stainless steel, which means you can put pretty much any drink in them and not worry about flavour transfer (assuming you wash them out regularly, of course). They both also have a chip-resistant coating on the outside so they take a while to look battered – I’ve used my insulated tumbler regularly for well over two years and am genuinely not very careful with it at all, and I’d say it still passes as nearly new.
The lids and their respective closure methods are probably the biggest difference. The Insulated Tumbler is convenient and easy to use – the lid pops right off when you’re rushing into a coffee shop, is nice and wide so it’s easy to make your drink in the tumbler itself, and there’s a drinking hole that works a treat when you are on the train, in the car, or walking into the office. The TKWide’s lid is much more secure and requires a bit of effort to remove, is much narrower so you are more likely to want to pour a ready-made drink into it rather than making your drink inside the flask (although I do make my tea in it without issue, it’s just a little harder), and you have to “open” the drinking hole to sip on the go which means you need two hands.
The TKWide does come in at about a fiver more than the tumbler, I guess the extra insulation and the more complicated lid is to blame for that. To honest I think both demonstrate good value for money and anything around the £25 mark for something that will last for years, save you adding to the single use plastic pile, and save you money on your hot drinks when out and about (because you can make the first one at home and carry it with you), is perfectly acceptable.
Which is Best?
If you are looking for a flask that won’t spill when you tip it, or that is good to carry your tea up a big hill for a picnic lunch, then the TKWide should be your choice. If you are looking for something more akin to a takeaway coffee cup, that you will hold upright when walking around or want to use one handed, then the Tumbler is the one. The TKWide will keep your drink hotter for longer, but that isn’t always a good thing when you are carrying your hot drink to drink now rather than later. Both are honestly superb at what they do, and I am very fortunate to have one of each to choose from – I guess the final decision will be down to you!
You’ll find the Klean Kanteen Insulated Tumbler here on their own website and here on Amazon. And you’ll find the full range of Klean Kanteen Insulated TKWides here on their website and here on Amazon.
What’s your go-to reusable coffee cup or flask for days out? Feel free to share your recommendations in the comments below.
Klean Kanteed kindly gifted me the TKWide, but I’ve had the tumbler and accessories for much longer and I chose those myself. I use both regularly and talk here about the pros and cons of each as a genuine user and customer. Some links are affiliate links.