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Reviews > Cook Gear > Cooking Accessories > Stanley Classic 17 oz Food Jar > Test Report by Tim Earley

STANLEY CLASSIC 17 OZ. FOOD JAR
Test Series by Tim Earley
Long-Term Report
August 3, 2010


Tester Information

NAME:         Tim Earley
EMAIL:         timothyDOTearleyATgmailDOTcom
AGE:             26
LOCATION: Yonkers, New York, USA
GENDER:     M
HEIGHT:      6' 0" (1.8 m)
WEIGHT:     185 lb (84 kg)
SHOE SIZE  12 1/2 (45-46 European)

My first exposure to backpacking was about seven years ago in the Army where I learned everything I needed to learn about being comfortable in the wilderness with little to no “comfort gear.”  I primarily do day hikes now, with the occasional overnight jaunt thrown in whenever possible.  I consider myself a lightweight packer, though not a minimalist.  My favorite hikes are those that have significant elevation change as these provide the best views, most challenge and best reward.  I am most comfortable in cool to cold weather as I tend to overheat in other seasons. 



Product Information

Manufacturer: Stanley-PMI Outdoors
Web site: www.stanley-pmi.com
Product: Classic 17oz Vacuum Food Jar
Year manufactured/received: 2009
MSRP: $21.99
Weight listed: 1.6 lbs (720 grams)
Actual weight: 1.5 lbs (680 grams)

Product Description

The Stanley Classic 17 ounce Vacuum Food Jar, hereafter referred to as "the jar" or "the food jar" is intended as a method of keeping food or soup cold or warm for up to twelve hours.  It should not be confused with the Outdoor Food Jar of the same manufacturer that is expressly designed for backpacking and camping.  The jar has a 12 liquid ounce (350 ml) double wall stainless steel cup/lid, a wide mouth opening and is constructed of 100% stainless steel in all regions that contact food, save for the inside of the cup/lid.  It uses double walled vacuum insulation to prevent cooling or warming of the contents for up to twelve hours.

INITIAL REPORT
March 21, 2010



First Impressions:

I received the jar in a regular postal service box packaged with bubble wrap and a flyer describing the jar.  There were no dents, scratches or other defects in workmanship.  The jar consists of the following three parts: a main jar to hold food/beverage, an inner cap to seal the jar and a 12 liquid ounce (350 ml) cup/lid for sipping or using as a bowl.  My first impression was that it felt very solid.  The jar is sturdy, compact and simply feels like it can take a beating, which makes sense since this particular jar seems to be marketed towards "high wear and tear" users.  The inner cap (seen below) screws very securely to the main jar and the cup/lid affixes very securely over that.  This gives the impression of high quality manufacturing which should lead to good durability.

When I first took the inner cap off and took a look inside, I thought the capacity looked a bit small for the overall size of the jar.  I would estimate that jar is a full half inch (1.3 cm) wider in diameter and an inch and a half (3.8 cm) taller than the actual storage area.  I realize this is a function of using a vacuum for insulation but it raises the question of whether the bulk is worth the capacity.  Also, the inner cap sits directly in the inner storage compartment which raised a fear that it might intrude on the stated 17 oz (500 ml) capacity.

I measured 17 liquid ounces (500 ml) of water and poured it into the container to see if the cap decreased the capacity and found that it did not, in fact, reduce the capacity.  I also shook the jar around a bit and heard a tiny amount of water sloshing, indicating there was slightly more than 17 liquid ounces (500 ml) of storage.  After shaking the jar, I unscrewed the inner cap to see if water had made it past the seal and was happy to find that not a drop did.  This little test confirms two things.  First, the capacity is at least 17 liquid ounces (500 ml).  Second, the seal on the inner cap is water-tight.  Water droplets can be seen on, but not beyond the white rubber seal below.


The container also pours water easily into the cap without running down the side of the container.  This is a huge plus as if I carried something on my back all day the last thing I want to do is waste any of it.  The container does seem deep, though not overly so, for camp utensils as my GSI Pinnacle Dualist "foons" just barely make it to the bottom.

Overall I am happy and satisfied with the quality and capacity of this product though I am anxious to see if it is worth the weight and bulk.  I believe it will be most appropriate for a hot meal on cold day hikes.  I also think it will prove useful in keeping food cooked at night warm until the morning, drastically reducing breakfast prep time.  My main goals are to determine if the container (especially the cap with a plastic inner) retains flavor of any kind, if the twelve hour insulating claim is accurate, how the seal holds up to repeated use and if the product is generally user friendly to a backpacker.  I look forward to testing these concerns both on an upcoming multi-day backpack on the Appalachian Trail as well as several day hikes and overnighters thereafter.
 
This concludes my Initial Report.  The Field Report will be amended to this report in approximately two months from the date of this report .  I'd like to thank Backpackgeartest.org and Stanley-PMI for the opportunity to test this product.

FIELD REPORT
June 2, 2010

Field Conditions:

I have taken this jar on approximately a half dozen day trips.  I have not had the opportunity to test it on an overnight trip as of yet.  My day trips were anywhere from 5 to 12 miles (8 to 19 km) in length with a light pack consisting mostly of water, food and some layers.  Elevation gains ranged from minimal to 1500 feet (457 meters).  Temperature ranged from approximately 5 F (-15 C) to approximately 80 F (27 C).  Wind chills bottomed out at approximately -15 F (-26 C).  Terrain was mostly established trails with occasional bushwhacking once or twice a trip and variable amounts of fresh or compacted snow on the ground.  Some terrain was rocky and required scrambling but overall, I carried this jar on smooth terrain.

Observations

This jar really excels during cold weather day hikes.  It allows me to leave my stove and fuel at home and still have hot food to warm up my core during a lunch break.  However, when hiking below freezing with a significant wind chill, the jar needs some help to maintain the temperature of the food.  During these times I have found that food will often be room temperature or even cool after a 4 hour hike.  My solution to this problem is the same solution used to prevent water bottles from freezing.  Simply wrap the jar in a few layers inside the pack and it will maintain an appropriate temperature until at least lunch.  I like to throw my down vest around it and so far have had no issues.  Additionally, heating soup or chili beyond the normal temperature will result in warmer food a few hours later.

One nitpick that I must mention is that I have found it difficult to get food out of the bottom corners of the jar.  I use an REI spork which is great but the head is too large to effectively scrape this area.  While it isn't a problem on a day hike as I just wash it when I return, I will be sure to test how easily it can be field washed for overnight or multi-day trips.  Additionally, the tall cylindrical shape of the jar's inside isn't the easiest to eat from but then again, that's what the lid is for.  Perhaps a shorter, wider shape would be more user friendly for those who don't want food residue to dirty up the lid and everything underneath it.

The weight of the jar has turned out to be a non-issue for me since during cold weather hikes I normally pack a canister stove and fuel just in case.  I have simply replaced these with the food jar with no appreciable change in pack weight.

Summary

This jar has proven to be surprisingly useful for me.  During cold weather I make it a point to eat something hot during lunch and this jar just speeds up the process.  I can crack it open and either pour the soup into the lid or just stick my spork right into the chili and start eating.  As I stated previously, however, the jar needs a little "help" when exposed to very cold conditions.

I'm unsure of the jar's usefulness and practicality during warmer months but I will be sure to put some cold foods in and see how well it maintains those temperatures.  Thanks to Backpackgeartest.org and Stanley Outdoors for allowing me to test this product.

Please check back in a few months for my Long Term Report.

LONG-TERM REPORT
August 3rd, 2010


Field Conditions:

Since my field report, I have taken the food jar on about 8 or so outings.  They have ranged from day hikes to overnight trips to a couple car rides where I wanted to bring some food with me.  This summer has been quite a scorcher so far with temperatures consistently above 90 F (32 C).  My overnight trip saw low temperatures of about 60 F (10 C) and high temperatures of about 85 F (29 C).  Most of my day hikes saw temperatures from 80 F (27 C) to 90 F (32 C).  Elevation gains were similar to my field testing conditions (0-1500 feet or 0-450 meters).

Observations:

My first impression of the food jar was that it would be a specialty item.  After the long term test period I still believe this to be the case.  Allow me to elaborate on this point.  In my experience, this jar is best suited to a day hike where food needs to be kept either hot or cold, not just "medium temperature."  This limits the jar to use in extreme temperatures such as keeping lunch hot during a winter day hike or keeping some macaroni salad cold during a hot day hike.  With that said, I struggled to find a use for this jar in warm weather above 70 F (21 C).  I was able to fill it with ice cold macaroni salad or potato salad and have that salad be the proper temperature when I sat down to eat.  However, I don't normally eat macaroni salad when on a day hike.  Likewise I do not eat fruit salads, potato salads, or cold cereal on a day hike.  Again, I struggled to find a use for this jar in warm weather.

I planned to test the overnight applicability of this jar by cooking breakfast before I went to sleep and seeing if the contents were ready to eat in the morning.  I filled the jar up with some oatmeal, sealed it and placed it inside the bivy to act as a hot water bottle.  Upon waking up I was disappointed to see my oatmeal was as cold as the air around me.  I can not say I really fault the jar for this as asking a jar to keep oatmeal hot for seven or eight hours is a tall order.  Nonetheless, a potentially game-changing application for the jar had been eliminated. 

On a subsequent day hike I used the jar to store some macaroni salad and made a typical bachelor mistake.  I forgot to wash the jar out.  When I went to open the jar about a week later I was greeted with a smell that would make a skunk turn away.  Fortunately, with a little soap and water, the smell was gone in about five minutes and the inside of the jar was pristine.  The inner cap took a bit of scrubbing to clean the threads but otherwise cleaning was really a snap. 

This brings me to my next point about this jar.  It is very easy to clean.  I have moderately large hands (thin but long fingers) and so might have an easier time than most but I still found it easy to reach the bottom and wipe it clean with a cloth (when I remembered, that is!), even on the trail.  Also, filling it with water and replacing the outer cap (but not the inner) and shaking it up like a cocktail shaker will usually remove most food particles from the lower portions.

The jar has proven to be very durable.  I'm not easy on my gear and this jar was no exception.  Nevertheless it has stood up to repeated drops without any sign of damage or any detectable decrease in performance.  The seal has also never allowed a single drop of liquid to spill.  I think Stanley built a tough little food jar.  With regards to packability and weight, my fears of it being overly heavy or bulky were never realized.  It easily tucks away into my pack and I don't mind the minimal extra weight.

Summary:

Despite some of the faults I found in my Long Term Report, I find this food jar to be an excellent piece of gear for cold weather day hikes. The warm weather during my Long Term Report period probably played a significant role in my recent experience and as such, I would like to emphasize that when the temperatures and conditions are right, this jar is great.  That said, I am convinced this is a specialty item ideally suited for a particular niche (cold weather day hikes) and not quite ideally suited for others (hot weather, extended trips).

Things I like:

1. Tough
2. Sized just right to store enough food without being overly bulky
3. Insulates plenty for a day hike

Things I don't like:

1. Just not that useful in the warmer seasons.

I would like to thank Stanley-PMI and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this item.

Read more reviews of Stanley PMI gear
Read more gear reviews by Tim Earley

Reviews > Cook Gear > Cooking Accessories > Stanley Classic 17 oz Food Jar > Test Report by Tim Earley



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