Ever read the book version of the second Rambo movie? They’re gearing up Rambo to drop into the Vietnam jungle and they give him some razoo night-opticed, suppressed, select fire, machine pistol (In the movie, an MP5SD with an early laser sight) and say how it’s the latest and greatest. Rambo says “Thats really nice, sir, but what I really would like is an AK-47.” The guy equipping him snorts and says “An AK-47? Hell, every twelve-year-old in Vietnam has one of those!” “Exactly.”
See the line of reasoning there?
Ever hear the expression ‘legacy weapon’? Or ‘legacy gear’? It means a system of something (weapon, computer, whatever) that has been in use and around a particular place so long that it has become organic to the environment. A good example would be the Airtronic RPG. Since RPG rockets abound over in places like Afghanistan and Iraq, why not make a well-made launcher to take advantage of the latest in materials and technology so you can use the plentiful legacy ammo? Kinda like making AR’s that take AK mags and shoot AK ammo.
I mention this because, if you’re into preparedness for any amount of time, you eventually wind up with legacy gear. An good example would be the old ALICE gear. Back in the 80′s and even the 90′s this was the most modern stuff available on the surplus market and many of us wound up with plenty of gear that used this system. Nowadays the technology, designs and materials have changed and our older gear is not only out-of-date but may not be at all compatible or useful with the new gear. (To take advantage of ALICE legacy gear, some outfits make rucksacks that mount onto the old ALICE frames….smart.)
One of the gifts I got for my birthday was the Nalgene Canteen. It’s a good example of new materials being used to make stuff compatible with the older ‘legacy gear’…in this case, canteen carriers, cups, etc. The GI canteens are fine, but in my experience they hold odors and it would be nice to be able to see how much remains inside (as well as be able to see if anything is growing inside them). The standard Nalgene bottles are awesome in this role but they require special carriers and don’t fit as well in gear that was designed around the shape and footprint of the GI canteen.
So, let’s get down to the job at hand. How are these things vs. the standard OD plastic GI canteen we’ve all got banging around in our piles of gear?
First, a side by side comparison.
Does it fit in the usual canteen cover? Yes.
Does it fit in the canteen cup? Sorta. It’s a snug fit and does not fit as well as the GI canteen. The result is that a cup/canteen combo using the Nalgene may not fit into the legacy canteen cover. However, there are several new style canteen covers out there that it will fit into…although then we’ve gone from new gear/legacy combo to new gear/new gear combo.
Capacity is the same as pretty much everything else. US GI canteen = US GI 1 liter canteen = Nalgene canteen = Nalgene bottle. No matter how you slice it, youre getting at least 32 ounces of water.
Surprisngly, the Nalgene is actually 8% heavier than the USGI canteen. The Nalgene clocks in around 4.65 oz. and the GI canteen comes in around 4 oz. I’ts a bit surprising since the GI canteen seemd to be a bit…thicker….but apparently the Nalgene is packing a little bit of extra weight somewhere. From a durability standpoint I’d say both are about as indestructible a piece of gear as you can make for carrying water.
Preferences? Well, I rather like the round wide-mouth Nalgene bottle for it’s incredible durability, excellent aftermarket accessories and the wide-mouth. But, the Nalgene canteen lets me use most of my existing gear that accomodates the GI canteen. Additionally, I like the transparent nature of the Nalgene compared to the USGI since it lets me know how much liquid remains and if anything is growing in the canteen.
I’ll probably wind up phasing out the GI canteens and replacing them with either the Nalgene bottles or the Nalgene canteens. The USGI ones will get bumped down to secondary or tertiary level backups. All in all, though, the Nalgene canteen seems to be a good choice to replace the GI canteen and still have the advantage of most of the GI canteen accessories.