Junk in the Trunk: The Insulated Klean Kanteen

What sets the double-walled, vacuum-insulated mug apart from the average Flying J thermos

A coffee mug for people whose Subaru trunks look like this. PHOTO: Derek Taylor

A coffee mug for people whose Subaru trunks look like this. PHOTO: Derek Taylor

Klean Kanteen Double Walled Vacuum Insulated Bottle and Mug
MSRP: $27.95 (16 ounce)

I have a problem. Well, two problems, actually: I really like coffee, and I'm a slob. When I say I like coffee, I mean I chain-drink, all day long. As for being a slob… there are still grass clippings all over the back of my car from when I had to transport a lawn mower sometime in the summer of 2013. Combine the two, and you can imagine how quickly a stockpile of brown-stained paper cups and black lids can build up in my passenger seat.

The solution, obviously, is a coffee mug, and to this end, I've gravitated towards the Klean Kanteen Double Walled Vacuum Insulated bottle and mug—or the Insulated, as KK refers to it on their website.

Here are a few of the features that set this apart from the $7 mug you can pick up at a the Flying J on your next road trip:

Sizes: Like my local coffee shop, the Insulated offers three sizes: 12 ounce, 16 ounce and 20 ounce (and no, thankfully they haven't given them ludicrous Italian names).

The Cap: With the café cap, this mug/bottle works like any other reusable coffee mug. Put the loop cap on, however, and it functions as a water bottle or a thermos. The Insulated comes spec'ed with the loop, but the café lid can be added for $4 more, or bought separately for $6.

The vacuum insulation: The Insulated keeps my coffee hot for up to six hours, and cold bevies chilled for up to 24 hours. In other words, I can drink half a cup on the way to the hill, ski half a day, and still have warm joe for the drive to the office—rather than a half-filled mug of disgusting cold liquid that I will likely leave to freeze overnight. I'll also fill a backup 16 ouncer if I'm going to be somewhere away from good coffee or if I'm driving long distances. Switch lids when the first cup is finished, and dive into round two.

Versatility: I use mine primarily as a coffee mug (I actually have four, in two different sizes), but that's just one of a litany of uses. Fill it with tea and use it as a thermos for a morning ski tour. Hot cider and whisky, and you're winning the post-ski tailgate. In the summer, keep your water cool on long hikes, or have a cold margarita waiting in the car after a bike ride. It's made with food-grade stainless steel, features a wide mouth with external threads, and has rounded inside edges that are easy to clean, making it an ideal do-everything camping vessel, good for everything from oatmeal to water to soup to mixed cocktails.

There are, of course, a few aspects where the Insulated won't measure up to your Flying J jug:

It's not dishwasher safe. Putting it in the dishwasher could ruin the vacuum seal. But it's reasonably easy to hand wash with soapy water and a bottlebrush.

It'll cost ya: The 16 ounce retails for $28, or $32 with the café lid included. The versatility helps make up for the cost.

No eagles flying into the sunset: If you want it to say Montana with a roaring grizzly bear, you'll have to airbrush it yourself. Though Klean Kanteen has co-branded with companies such as Patagonia, Black Diamond, Powell's Books, and New Belgium Brewing.