Plastic-Free Water Bottles: Klean Kanteen vs. EcoTanka

EcoTanka vs. Klean Kanteen “Reflect” – Which is The Better Plastic Free Alternative?

When it comes to truly plastic free water bottles, the market is not exactly teeming with competition. At least when the lid and seal are supposed to be plastic free as well. After a year of using each, I feel a review of these two popular and high quality contenders is in order. Since comparisons between the two are inevitable, it made sense to combine their tests in a “vs” format.

See here why we should be avoiding plastic – even BPA-free plastic – in food contact.

Note: The Ecotanka range comes in varying sizes and lid options, most of which are PP. The bottles I’m testing and reviewing are equipped with the “Wave” lid option depicted above.

Material

Both the Ecotanka range of bottles equipped with the Wave lid and the Klean Kanteen Reflect are made of 100% stainless steel, apart from the silicone seal on both and the bamboo finish on the Klean Kanteen lid. Perfect.

Design

The main difference in the functional design of these bottles is the lid. The Klean Kanteen bamboo cap and its seal just sit on top of the bottleneck, while the EcoTanka Wave lid encloses the mouth piece. I vastly prefer the latter design, as I don’t like the part of the bottle that will touch my lips constantly being exposed. Makes it much harder to keep it sanitary and disqualifies it from use in public, where hands are not always clean (read: sterile). It’s okay for hiking, though, so it’s still in the running, even though the main reason I bought it was that I did not know about EcoTanka at the time.

The only design problem with the Wave lid is the seal, which is really hard to remove from the lid for cleaning.

Build Quality / Finish / Functionality

The EcoTanka comes with a brushed steel finish, which I personally like, but which is more difficult to clean perfectly (fingerprints). The polished surface of the “Reflect” has a nice feel to it as well and is easier to clean.

Speaking of how they feel, the Klean Kanteen bottle seems a bit more stable than my TrekkaTanka, which may be due to its bigger size (1L vs 800ml) and EcoTanka using the same material strength for all sizes. Whatever the reason, I feel like I can dent the TrekkaTanka with just the strength of my hand, while the Reflect bottle doesn’t budge.

This is underlined by what the bottles look like after a few accidental drops. The reflect was dropped on Asphalt a few times and carried away a few small dents at the bottom and minor blemishes. The TrekkaTanka meanwhile experienced a tumble down a rocky mountainside. They now look like this:

To be fair, the tumble downhill was much rougher than the occasional drop on concrete, but the bottle just does feel softer, less stable than the competition. But it still works and looks kind of cool, rugged, and like a real trekking bottle now, doesn’t it? 🙂

The last point I have to subtract from the TrekkaTanka is the build quality of the lid and thread. It’s not terrible, but it just doesn’t feel as buttery smooth as the one on the Reflect. A bit coarse, and on the big MegaTanka (2L) variant, the lid can easily jam if one isn’t very careful to screw it on straight.

Also, the handle just flaps about, while the one on the Reflect lid is mounted less loosely and stays in the position you leave it in, which just feels better. Also because it will not clank against the bottle all the time, which drives my wife insane when we’re on a hike and may or may not have contributed to the tumble the poor bottle took down the mountainside.

Miscellaneous

One big pro in favor of EcoTanka is the variation in their range of stainless steel bottles. For in one terms of size, where they range from 350ml to 2000ml, for another in terms of lid variety, where you can find one for every occasion, if you’re ok with PP lids.

EcoTanka offers free replacement seals. Klean Kanteen doesn’t seem to offer outright but it’s possible you’ll receive one if you contact their customer support.

Finally, and as previously mentioned, EcoTanka offers something nobody else does: Huge 2L bottles you can carry in your backpack to make sure you’ll definitely not run out of water on your hike (without having to resort to plastic again):

Due to their sheer volume, your water will even stay cold most of the day. As someone who drinks a lot of water throughout the day, and especially while sweating heavily of course, I really appreciate having two of these with me on day hikes.

They’re even pretty light, not much heavier than a stable plastic bottle of the same size.

Recommendation

Pro

EcoTanka
Klean Kanteen
Lid Encloses MouthpieceHigher Build Quality
More Size OptionsEasier to Klean
Lots of Lid Options
MegaTanka

Con

EcoTanka
Klean Kanteen
Thin Steel, not Very RuggedMouth Piece not Covered
Finicky Lid / Thread
Seal Difficult to Remove

Both bottles are good choices, depending on your priorities. To me, the closed lid shape and bigger size make EcoTanka the only real choice going forward. If you don’t care about the exposed mouthpiece and don’t need as much volume, you’ll appreciate Klean Kanteen’s higher quality threading and more stable construction.

Availability

If you’re reading this in the US, I have some bad news: EcoTanka does not have a US retailer yet. You can find it on Amazon DE and UK though. Or have a bit of patience.

EcoTanka
Klean Kanteen
Amazon (Affiliate Link*):

(Amazon Germany)

Amazon (Affiliate Link*):

(Insulated only for some reason)

EcoTanka Home & Store LocatorKlean Kanteen Store (Normal Link)

*Affiliate Links placed on this site mean that if you click one of them and end up buying a product, roman-reviews will receive a commission on that sale at no extra cost to you. I only link to products I believe in, as you can tell from some of my less favorable product reviews on this site.

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