Gear Review / The Giant Loop Cactus Canteen Cures Your Thirst
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Gear Review / The Giant Loop Cactus Canteen Cures Your Thirst

Nov 18, 2023

Cacti are known for storing water safely inside their prickly exterior. There is nothing prickly about Giant Loop's Cactus Canteen, however. I’ve been trying out the 1-gallon and 2-gallon versions and have found both to be valuable additions to my life on the road. They sent these to us free of charge for testing.

Photo: Justin Hughes

The Cactus Canteen has nothing to do with the water canteens of old, other than the fact that it holds water. The outside is made of sturdy 840D nylon, preventing punctures and abrasions in much the same way good riding gear does. This protects an inner bladder of BPA-free food-grade TPU film to keep your water clean, safe, and tasty. Reflective webbing on the outside provides a wide variety of mounting options compatible with pretty much any system you can think of.

Off the bike, you can hang it vertically from a handlebar, tree branch, or whatever is handy for easy access to the short dispensing hose, which tucks away out of the elements into a pocket at the bottom. It has a convenient on/off switch and is compatible with standard hydration bladder attachments. Refills are easy with the wide filler neck on the top. It's plenty wide enough for ice cubes if you want to keep your water cold.

Since I tend not to ride too far or too long from my camper van home base, I’ve been using the smaller one-gallon Cactus Canteen on my bike. Since I haven't finished outfitting my V-Strom yet, I used some simple short bungees to strap it to my seat in front of my top trunk. You can do much better than that, but this has been working for me. Attaching it this way not only takes up no space in my top trunk or tank bag but having it out in the open reminds me to take a drink every time I see it.

This hydration hose is NOT included with the Cactus Canteen, but any standard hose will clip right on. Photo: Justin Hughes

Taking a drink isn't so simple while it's strapped down to the bike, so I picked up a generic hydration bladder drinking hose from Amazon to replace the short one that comes with the Cactus Canteen. With the press of a button, the standard hose came loose, and the replacement clicked right in. Keep in mind that the standard hose includes the on/off switch, so don't remove it unless it's empty or you turn it upside-down. Now I can drink while the canteen remains securely attached to the bike.

Photo: Justin Hughes

Meanwhile, I’ve been using the two-gallon version around camp. While it's unlikely that you’d drink 2 gallons of water in a single ride even on a hot day, this is a great option to bring out to a remote camp with you. My camp is anything but remote, but I’ve still found it handy to bring "running water" anywhere I need it, such as hanging off the side of my trailer to let me wash my hands during a dirty project. I keep it handy near a campfire in case of emergencies and use it to put the fire out at the end of the night. This could essentially become your faucet at a backcountry campsite, and two gallons will go a long way if you ration it carefully. At only 14 inches long and 10 inches wide when empty and 21 inches around when full, even the full 2-gallon canteen won't take up much space strapped down to your bike. (The 1-gallon version is 11.5 inches long and 7 inches wide when flat with a 17-inch girth when full.) It's built tough enough to be out in the elements, and not take up valuable space inside your luggage. Even the large canteen weighs less than 1 pound when empty, and you can roll it up to take up a minimum of space during the trip home, or to your next water fillup.

Photo: Justin Hughes

I am extremely impressed with the quality of the construction and materials. Everything is tough and durable. I could throw this off my bike as I ride down the road and still have my water when I go back and pick it up. It has all the straps, attachments, and features you need, but nothing more, so there are no extraneous parts to break or fall off. I particularly like how the nozzle hides safely in its own small zippered compartment. From the dusty desert to muddy trails, keeping the nozzle stashed away in here keeps it clean, preventing me from eating dirt the next time I take a drink. (My longer hydration hose counteracts this feature, but I can easily switch back to the standard nozzle for tough conditions.)

The last big surprise for me was how the light grey color of the Cactus Canteen helps keep the water inside cool. I recently went on a group ride on a hot Florida day, yet the sun did not heat up my water to the point where it tastes gross. There was a significant temperature difference between the water left over in my clear hydration hose, exposed to the sun, and the water that had been sitting inside the canteen. It has no insulation, so don't expect it to double as a cooler, but if you throw a few ice cubes into the wide mouth before taking a ride on a hot day, the water won't get too hot to drink without wincing.

The Cactus Canteen is helping me stay hydrated on long hot rides (which are already happening in the southern US, with apologies to my northern and Canadian friends). Dehydration is bad in itself, but it can also make your mind fuzzy, something we motorcyclists can't afford to happen.

I used to carry water bottles in my luggage. This worked, but out of sight, out of mind, and I would often forget to drink until I was suddenly quite thirsty. Even then, it was all too easy for me to run out of water partway through a ride, and I don't always ride where there's a convenience store around the corner. The Cactus Canteen solves all of these problems for me. The only real downside is the price. It's not cheap. The one-gallon version sells for $79, and the two-gallon for $99. It's rugged, well-made, and built to last, though, so I look at it as more of an investment. It should last more than long enough to make up for the bottles of water I might have otherwise bought along the way, and save all that plastic, too.