Camping 101: Neo-Bottles

Growing up enjoying the outdoors, there was no such thing as “water bottles” – you carried a canteen. Carrying other liquids meant scrounging around for a small container you hoped wouldn’t leak or break in your pack.

Then came plastic water bottles – simple and cheap at first, they quickly evolved into elaborately spouted, ergonomically-designed, expensive hi-tech accessory gear. All that was well and fine until concerns were raised about BPA (bisphenol A, an industrial chemical used to make certain polycarbonate plastics…) in food containers.

Even that’s behind us now thanks to the rise of what I call the NEO-bottles. These are containers for consumables that are BPA-free, made by environmentally aware companies (production resources and disposal concerns) and available in a wide range of sizes, shapes, and features. From thermally insulated canisters for hot/cold beverages to ‘growler’-size jugs to haul beer on draft, these new bottles have raised the bar on bringing beverages into the field.

Here’s a look at a few different types of neo-bottles:SPRTSMNSGDE16-INSULATED BOTTLES

While Thermos™ and Stanley™ are household brands when it comes to insulated bottles, Eco Vessel and Zojirushi are among those newer companies raising the bar on features and functions of the classic “thermos” bottle. All stainless steel insulated bottles are expected to keep things adequately hot/cold for several hours. The uniqueness of each vessel was in the type of top each features.

Eco Vessel’s camo-covered BIGFOOT Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle offers a wide mouth with a removable tea strainer/ice dam – a practical idea that worked very well  in the field. The Bigfoot did an especially good job of keeping water steaming hot for hours!

The compact TUFF SPORTS bottle by Zojirushi offers a multi-versatile top, one that features a “one touch pour-through spout” to close off its wide-mouth design. It excelled with iced beverages lasting longer, and liquids staying colder longer than in other vessels.


One limitation on the classic and lightweight plastic water bottle was their bulk taking up space when empty. Enter flex vessels: folding water bottles!

Basically these are envelope pouches with screw/clip spouts that can be filled and used just like an old fashion bottle. When empty, they literally fold or roll up into a much less space-consuming ‘packet’ that can fit into a pocket. Vapur calls theirs the ‘anti-bottle’ and features a nifty clip spout with a carabiner style hoop. GSI Outdoors’ Highland Fifth’ holds a whopping 25-ounces with a tether cap on its wider mouthed top. Both stand upright when filled and both can be frozen. These are quite the handy vessels for town or field.

Probably the closest container to the classic “bottle” is the Klean Kanteen. Made exclusively for cold liquids, it’s a big, space-consuming container. An electropolished stainless interior means no lingering tastes as you mix liquids. It’s perhaps the first “canteen” to actually serve as a growler jug for bringing – for example – beer fresh from the tap to your campsite!

Neo-bottles and other beverage containers (wine glasses, flasks) made of polycarbonates have also joined the family of neo bottles and other containers that make carrying liquids afield that much easier and enjoyable

Find everything you need for your next camping adventure at Sportsman’s Guide >

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