Quick Tips for Canteen Cups

Quick Tips for Canteen Cups

Quick Tips for Canteen Cups

“Necessity is the mother of invention.” This old maxim is especially true as it relates to metal canteen cups. Invented over a hundred years ago just prior to WWI, the military canteen cup is still in use today, mostly by civilians. The U.S. Army’s use of Meal, Ready to Eat (MRE) rations, prepackaged water, and other changes has reduced the need for a separate canteen cup.

Historic Wartime Origins


These stainless steel cups were originally made of aluminum and part of a canteen system which included a cover that attached to a soldier’s belt containing an aluminum canteen for drinking water, nested within a canteen cup used to heat water, coffee, stew or soup over an open fire.

Beginning in 1942 the cups were made of non-corrosive steel instead of aluminum, and minor modifications to the canteens themselves were introduced over the years, replaced with a plastic model in 1961.

The design we see today dates to the mid-1970s. Instead of a single folding handle, the cup has two steel wire handles known as “butterfly” or “wing” handles that open out for use, and fold flat against the side of the cup for storage.

Contemporary Canteen Cup Uses


Enough history, let’s move on to some quick tips for using your U.S. G.I. surplus canteen cup.

The metal canteen cup is intended to hold hot liquids, such as coffee or soup, and can be used to boil liquids. Made of heavy gauge stainless steel with the locking "butterfly style" folding handles, these cups are highly durable and with proper care can last you a lifetime.

Camping - Backpacking - Emergency Preparedness

  • Cooking -

    Great for heating soups, stews, chili or pasta, either over a fire or on a camp stove. Steel construction takes the heat, and the handles lock together in place for a firm grip, easy and safe handling.

  • Boiling Water -

    Perfect for heating water over a campfire for coffee, tea, and for preparing instant noodles or those freeze-dried “just add hot water” meals.

  • Mixing Drinks -

    Ideal for mixing powdered drinks or mixed drinks with ice. Mix and drink right in the same container!

After cooking with these over campfires, naturally they’ll get gunked up. Since they’re stainless steel, cleanup is very easy. Simply soak the cup in warm soapy water, then scrub with a sponge to remove the blackened residue. There’s no need to shine to a brand-new sheen since the cups will see tough use again anyway. Canteen cups were designed to take a lot of abuse, not to be show pieces. They’re practical, and practically indestructible!

These are no-nonsense outdoor gear suitable for weekend campers, cross-country hikers and disaster preppers alike. Here at Coleman’s, we sell only authentic U.S. G.I. Canteen Cups in unissued condition. Our low price includes two cups measuring 3¼ x 5¼ x 4 inches deep, and each military surplus stainless steel canteen cup is sized to hold a one-quart plastic canteen.

You owe it to yourself to pick up some of these classic, historically practical must-have items. Our online selection also includes a wide variety of military surplus products including other military mess kit listings and camping gear.