The Ultimate Guide To Canteens

canteen cup uses

Canteens are one of the best survival items that should be a part of your kit. Especially your bug-out bag. In this post, we cover canteen cup uses and also answer common questions about them.

What is a canteen cup?

Canteen cups are cups that are nested in the top or bottom of a canteen.

A canteen cup can be an essential survival tool for outdoor enthusiasts and people in the military. It was not until 1910 that the Military started using a canteen system that included the popular canteen cup.

These containers can have many functions, which is why the military uses them. It’s one of the items they always have with them. Listed below are 10 ways to use them that will be useful for you to know.

10 Canteen Cup Uses

  1. Boiling Water
  2. Cooking Food
  3. Digging Holes
  4. Carrying Items
  5. Drinking
  6. Making a perimeter alarm
  7. Stove
  8. Dipper
  9. Make a char cloth
  10. Shaving cup

Boiling Water

If you need hot water for coffee when you are enjoying the outdoors all you need to do is heat your canteen cup, but make sure it is covered with a lid. Using a lid will trap the heat inside and make your water boil faster.

When you are out in the field of the wilderness you may find yourself needing to purify water or boil up snow to drink in order to remain hydrated. With a canteen cup, you have the tool needed to avoid dehydration.

Cooking Food

Most often canteen cups are used to cook soups, noodles and rice dishes; though, other foods can be cooked as well in a canteen cup. Cooking the above foods follows the same process as boiling water.

Digging Holes

In a pinch, you can use your canteen cup as a shovel. The shape of the cup makes it great for digging in the dirt when you do not have a shovel handy.

Gardeners can use a canteen cup to dig small holes to plant vegetables or flowers if they do not have a trowel.

Carrying Items

If you need to transfer small items from one place to another a canteen cup works great; especially for transporting liquids.


Canteen cups allow you to drink the contents of your canteen without having to drink directly out of your canteen. This is better if you plan on sharing your canteen with others.

Making a Perimeter Alarm

When you are out camping you can protect yourself by setting up an alarm around the perimeter of your campsite. You can use your canteen cup to make this alarm system.

You need to string your canteen cup up on a line and place rocks inside. When an intruder, person or animal, makes their way into your campsite they will come in contact with the line and cause a clatter alerting you to their presence.


When you are out in the wilderness trying to survive you will need a way to prepare yourself meals o. A stove can be a necessity but you can’t always carry around elaborate grills with you.

A canteen cup can be used effectively to cook your dinner. All you need to do is invert your canteen cup so the cup is facing down and the bottom is facing upward.

This will provide you with a stovetop to use.


Another purpose of a canteen cup is as a dipper. A dipper is a cup that can be used to dip into other liquids and transfer them to another container.

You can use a canteen cup as a dipper to fill your canteen or bring back stream water to your campsite to boil away any impurities

Make a Char Cloth

Another ingenious way to utilize a canteen cup is to use it to create a char cloth. Char cloth can be made out of cotton, linen, or jute.

Putting a piece of material in a heated up canteen cup with a lid will make char cloth. Char cloth is a slow-burning fuel that can easily be ignited.

This is an efficient way to start a fire.

Shaving Cup

People often use canteen cups as storage devices for small items. One thing people often store in these cups is their shaving essentials because it’s easy to carry from one location to another.

Best Canteen

Have you ever used a Stanley Canteen? Stanley has been around serving the outdoors community for decades.

If you are interested and in the market for getting your own canteen with a cup, the Stanley Classic 24 Oz Vacuum Food Jar is the best retail model available.

If you’ve been in any shop for an outdoorsman or even one of the best EDC stores, you have seen Stanley.

stanley canteen
Stanley Canteens are some of the best

This is one of the highest quality canteens out there. Not only that, but it also has a proven track record for decades.


  • 18/8 stainless steel that does not rust
  • Naturally BPA free
  • Keeps cold and heat in for up to 15 hours
  • Wide mouth container that is suitable for soup and chili
  • Insulated lid that can act as a bowl
  • Sturdy handle for transporting food.
  • Leakproof
  • Holds 24 ounces

Cost: Under $50

Dimensions: 4.30 x 4.30 x 10.80 Inches



The wide mouth makes this one of the best canteens on the market. It allows you to carry chunky food easier than other narrow mouth canteens. Because of this, the Stanley Classic 24oz Vacuum Food Jar shows more versatility.

Suitable for Everyday Use

Besides hiking and camping people use this insulated container to transport their lunches to and from work. It is durable and provides an environmentally friendly alternative to disposable styrofoam cups used to transport drinks.

Keep Food Heated and Cold Longer

This canteen works well to keep your food warm when traveling outside in the winter and cold in the hot summer months. Food and drinks will remain fresher longer in this vacuum-sealed food jar.

Transport More

You can take more food on the go with you with this 24 oz bottle. You can carry 3 cups of coffee in this jar and keep it warm throughout the whole day

For more information, see our post on the best canteens.

Frequently Asked Questions

There are a lot of questions about canteens, here are some of the most commonly asked.

Does the military still use canteens?

Canteens are still issued to members of the military but they are rarely used outside of training facilities. The canteen cup is used more often.

What does the word canteen mean?

A canteen is a small bottle used by hikers and soldiers to transport water; though, the word has been used to refer to a cafeteria, a small supply store, or a recreational place for soldiers.

Why are canteens round?

Not all canteens are round instead the more useful ones are kidney-shaped. The round ones are iconic and were first made from recycled flasks.

How many ounces are in a canteen cup?

A military-style canteen cup can hold about 24 ounces if completely full.

Where did the word canteen come from?

The word canteen may have developed from the French word “cantine” meaning sutler’s shop or the Italian words “cantina” meaning vault and “canto” meaning corner. “Canto” is a descendant of a Latin word.


Canteens are one of those must-have items to have with you when you’re camping, backpacking, or spending any period of time out in the wilderness. Even if you don’t intend on spending much time out in the wild, you and I both know sometimes things go wrong.

Sometimes you have a pro-longed visit with Mother Nature. And she gets lonely sometimes.