As the tradition goes, a Kuksa should only be made by yourself or received as a gift. Unfortunately, I cannot say that I have 100% stuck by this tradition since I have purchased my own. However, it is Christmas time, and my wife did allow me to make the purchase, so, there ya go…
About two and a half months ago I was exposed to the Kupilka 21 cup (sold by Kupilka and located in Finland) from a review on hrXXlight.com. I immediately felt drawn to these cups, simply because of their looks; to me it looked like something “historic.” In light of coming across this cup on a backpacking blog, I myself, thought it would make an interesting, and worthy, piece to add to my backpacking gear.
Shortly after this, I again came across another review of the Kupilka 21 on a blog called Hiking In Finland. This only made me want the cup more. Then again, just a few days ago, I came across another review on the cup, on Brian’s Backpacking and Hiking Blog, which is in the US. The same day I also came across where Hendrik (from Hiking In Finland) just finished picking 3 winners for 3 Kupilka 21 cups from a contest he ran on his blog. Unfortunately, I missed this contest… However, this prompted me to go ahead and ask the wife for one…
I had contacted Kupilka via email when I first read about the cup and Michael from Kupilka told me that while there were no US stores, but that he would be happy to sell me one and ship it to me. So, the other day, I searched and found this information and contacted him again. He promptly sent me an order confirmation and today I replied and asked him to go ahead and ship it to me!
So, what is a Kuksa?
Originally, a Kuksa (Finnish) or Guksi (Scandinavian) is a type of drinking cup made by the Sami people of Northern Scandinavia from carved birch burl. Originally Guksi were widely used in the Arctic areas as a personal drinking cup and it is said that a well made Guksi would last a lifetime.These cups are still made today, but a real (traditional-made) Kuksa cup can be hard to come by, especially in the US. The birch burl, which these cups are made of, is rare and can be difficult to collect. Also, due to the hardness of the wood, the burl can be tough to work with. Once the burl is collected, it is contoured to a rough shape and carefully dried to prevent the wood from cracking, then formed in accordance with the local traditions.
Due to the rarity and the time spent on making a Kuksa, the real-deal cups can be rather expensive. However, many of these cups are sold as souvenirs to tourists visiting Scandinavia as well as on-line. To meet these demands, some Kuksa’s have been mass-produced from a burl which is much more common in the Arctic and sub-Arctic mountainous regions. However, more recently, the Kuksa’s have also been made of other materials. The company Kupilka sells the Kuksa’s which are made from a biomaterial (a Thermoplastic Natural Fiber Composites material made up of 50% pine fiber (wood) and 50% plastic).
- Classic drinking vessel
- Natural Fiber Composites Material
- Volume 2,1 dl / 7.10 fl. Oz.
- Weight 80g / 2.82 ounces
- Individual packing with recycled cardboard
- Available in Dual package with KUPILKA 55.
- Dishwasher safe
So, I am very excited to have finally ordered this cup. These cups are unique and beautiful, which is completely different from my other cups I take with me backpacking. Of course, as with all things backpacking, there are trade-offs. Some of the immediate trade-offs I immediately noticed concerning the Kupilka 21 is the weight and capacity. The cup I currently carry is a 1.9 oz REI Polypropylene cup that is graduated and has a capacity of 1.5 cups. According to the specs on the Kupilka 21, it is an ounce heavier than the REI cup, and holds almost 5 oz less. As well, the Kupilka does not feature the graduated markings. However, there is a mystique about this cup that says “It doesn’t matter…”
So, once the Kupilka makes its way into my hands, I will make another post with measured weights and capacities, as well as my overall impressions. Until then, I leave this post with this comment I found on a site that actually sells the real-deal Kuksa’s (Handmadeofwood.com):
Practically speaking a metal or plastic cup will be just as tough, and better in other ways, the only question is whether or not it is your favourite.