I’ve always liked the look of a traditional wooden kuksa, a drinking cup made by the Sami people. When I saw the plastic and wood composite Kupilka cups, I fell instantly in love. I always wanted a wooden cup, but didn’t want the maintenance or weight that comes with it. The plastic version seemed like a good substitute. When I first saw the cups, availability was limited to Europe, but I managed to get a Kupilka 21 and a 5 in exchange for a review.
The Kupilka 21 is a round cup with a molded handle that extends from the cup’s lip. The cup hold about 8 oz. It has a lanyard hole for attaching it to something. Mine weighs 2.8 oz. The Kupilka 5 is a shot glass and miniature version of the 21. The manufacturer uses a natural fiber composite material, that consists of 50% pine fiber (wood) and 50% plastic, to make the cups. Michael at the company claims that the “plastics are free from Phthalates and Bisphenol and meet EU standards, which are very high.” He lists the benefits of this hybrid plastic/wood as:
- Natural look + feeling
- Better heat endurance compared with plastic
- Higher durability compared with plastic
- Stiff structure
- Doesn’t absorb smell and taste
- Insensitive to humidity
- Hygiene factor
- Light weight
When I first got the cup, I noticed a pretty strong odor that I don’t know how to describe. I washed it and noticed the smell remained. After my first taste of hot chocolate, I still noticed the smell. I decided to wash it a few dozen times to see if the smell dissipated. It didn’t, so I set the cup aside for about a month until I used it again. Although, not gone, it’s more subtle. It’s not an unpleasant smell, but it’s not pleasant either, and it definitely influences the flavor of whatever you consume out of the cup. Note: Michael Negele, the sales and marketing manager at Kupilka, says that washing it three to five times in the dishwasher will remove the smell if you don’t like it.
I like the cup’s shape. It’s large enough to hold in two hands to let the heat soak into cold hands, and the shape of the handle makes it easy to hold while eating out of. The bottom is plenty flat and big enough to sit securely on the ground. It’s hard to spill. There’s something organic to the shape that seems to pull you towards fondling it, which makes it fun to eat and drink from.
The cup isn’t the lightest out there. A titanium cup, such as the MSR Titan Mug, weighs less and holds more, which makes it more practical that the Kupilka, but the Kupilka is cooler and the wide mouth is easier to eat out of. Because I don’t have two, I can’t tell if it nests, but if the cups nests — it looks like it would — it would be easier to carry in a pack than two cups.
Overall, it’s a neat cup and fun to drink from and eat out of. I’m curious about the smell. Other reviewers didn’t note anything unusual, so I wonder if it’s just my overly sensitive nose. If you’re looking for an interesting cup, then this is the way to go. It’s fun to eat out of and unique enough to make your paddling partners green with envy.