Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Top 4 Compact Travel Can Openers
After discussing what makes for a good can opener, we reviewed and rated traditional can openers and smooth edge can openers. Several leading can openers make opening can a smooth and painless experience, yet most, if not all of them, are quite bulky, and represent too large a tool to take along when you are going camping or backpacking. What are your best choices when small and compact tools are necessary?
These models did not make the grade
ChefCraft Butterfly Can Opener appears to be an exact copy of the Ekco can opener, but a bit more expensive. The Bradshaw Mini also appears to be a clone of the same.
Coleman can opener is compact and folds, but it is quite a bit larger than the P38 and P51 G.I. folding can openers, works on the same principle, and has no advantages over them. For some reason the longer edge of this can opener is on the wrong side, and therefore does not increase the leverage needed to open a can. This tool works for right handers only.
Ekco Mini Can Opener (also here) is small, compact, and inexpensive, but bends easily and requires significant hand strength. Reviewers complain that it is hard to figure out how to use it.
The best compact travel can openers
P38 G.I. can opener, known by all ex-servicemen in our country, goes back to WWII when it used to be included in each ration pack. An article by Major Renita Foster discussed all the uses that it could be put to... It is thin and foldable, and so small that you can put it on your key ring. It requires significant hand strength to punch through the can lip, much less to go around the top. It is a great classic for all hikers and campers. Beware of imitations (really no cheaper than the real thing...) which fold, bend or rust - the only models we know of that work reliably are made in the USA, preferably by the same company which manufactures them for Uncle Sam. This model is for right handers only, and can be obtained for $1 to $2.
P51 G.I. Can Opener is almost twice as large as the P38, and gives more leverage on the cap lid., requiring slightly less strength to puncture the top. It is our favorite among G.I. can openers, and a perfect tool to slip into a pocket for a light backpacking trip. When a couple more ounces are acceptable, our #2 choice winner below is preferable because of its ease of use and better ergonomics. Again, avoid non-authentic versions of this great classic, which are likely to be of poor quality. This model is for right handers only, and can be obtained for $1 to $2. The picture below shows relative sizes for the P51 and the P38.
Nogent Super Kim Can Opener is an outstanding compact can opener, easy to use, requiring comparatively little hand strength (i.e. within the compact can openers reviewed in this category), although very expensive ($45). It carries very few reviews on the web, but we tested it at ConsumerPla.net and came out impressed. Made of totally out of stainless steel , it carries high leverage due to its long butterfly handles (wrapped with thick, comfortable vinyl) and makes it easy to start opening cans. Its gears have a special spring which maintains the opener in tight contact with the can once it is started. Because of its compactness and geometry, it is easy to clean. Its stainless metal is sturdy and does not rust easily despite our attempts. We talked to several owners of Super Kims who reported upwards of 10 years of continuous use without damage or rust.
Butterfly by Normann Copenhagen, available on line for $20, is the most recent of all can openers reviewed in our series, as it was introduced in 2009! Its use on a can is illustrated by our introductory picture at the top of this page. We were not able to find a significant number of user reviews for it, but had it in our testers' hands - and they were were truly impressed. It has elegant, sinuous lines, and comes in 8 bright colors which allow it to be easily found in the kitchen (one of the design criteria for its creators). Although it is for right handers only, the shape of this can opener is particularly comfortable, and gives a great amount of leverage to the hand, particularly compared to the P38 and P51 (although we feel that it still requires more strength than the Super Kim). It is small and compact, more so than the Super Kim, although not as compact as the P51 because it does not fold and it is made of thicker metal., The butterfly handles are wrapped with comfortable vinyl. The combination of lightness, simplicity, and comfort made it our favorite among all compact can openers. Some of our testers liked it so much that they stated they would use it in their kitchen.
In an intriguing note, we should mention that we actually tested a model that our testers rated higher than any of the models below - but we were not able to either find it on the web, or even identify its manufacturer: it is a butterfly-like rigid can opener, about the size of the Normann Butterfly but with an additional metal side parallel to and alongside the opening blade, manufactured in a French speaking country, and marked RC Lame Acier Trempe JUNIOR. Our testers found it easier to use than all others, more rigid, and with more leverage. If you can identify this compact yet powerful can opener please contact us!
All of the can openers reviewed here require more strength than the top choices in our traditional and smooth edge can opener reviews, although only marginally more for the Super Kim and the Butterfly. The difference is enough for us to recommend that arthritic cooks should not consider these selections, which focus on compactness as the main criterion.
Next we discuss online sources for manual can openers, and for other kitchen tools... So come back soon!
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