I have some friends that go stoveless while backpacking. It saves weight, money, and is sometimes required on certain sections of trail out West where the fire hazard is too high to allow backpacking stoves. While I could go stoveless, I never want to. Sometimes the only thing that gets you up the last mountain or across that last stretch is the thought of a hot meal that evening. I reviewed the MSR Pocket Rocket earlier, and now I’m going to talk about the second part of the hot meal camp kitchen: your cooking pot.
Whether you are cooking food in the pot (hello, Ramen Bomb) or just boiling water to pour into an expensive Mountain House meal bag, a great cook pot is a must. Enter the SnowPeak titanium pot and lid.
After reading countless reviews and deciding that I’d spend the extra money for lighter weight and higher quality, I bought the SnowPeak Titanium mulit-compact cookset. It has a large pot with a lid (holds about 1 liter) and a small pot with a lid (holds about 780 ml). The small pot and lid nest inside the large pot and lid, which is convenient. For backpacking solo, I only carry the large pot and lid; if I’m with a friend who doesn’t have their own cookset, I’ll bring the small one along. Even with the two pots and two lids, it’s just 11.6 oz. I also have a SnowPeak titanium bowl if there’s a third person.
[Yes, I have an obsession with SnowPeak cookware. The only reason I don’t have one of their awesome mugs is I am devoted to my GSI mug and I need a bigger pot to cook in than the Snow Peak mug allows. Plus, who wants to have to choose between drinking from their mug or cooking in it? I want to eat AND drink, dang it!]
You can use the lid as a lid (duh), a sauce pan, a fry pan, a plate, and I’m sure lots of other things. The lid has a folding handle, which has its pros and cons. Pros – using the handle to place the lid on top of the pot to boil faster, using the handle to hold onto the lid when I use it as a plate, collapsing it to fit in my kitchen stuff sack. Con – squeezing a little too hard on the lid’s extended handle and having it collapse and dump hot grits down my leg and on the ground. No, I did not eat the grits on the ground. Yes, I did scrape up and eat the grits on my leg.
The cookset comes with a mesh storage bag, but I re-purposed that for other storage and just keep the pots inside my Granite Gear kitchen stuff sack. The pot and lid are easy to wipe (or lick) clean, and through many, many uses, only have a slight discoloration from the heat; they are still just as strong and cook just as evenly as the day I bought them.
Rounding out my kitchen ware is the utilitarian backpacking must have: the humble spork. The SnowPeak titanium spork is lightweight (0.6 oz) and super strong. I’ve used it in unintended ways (as a flat head screwdriver, to pry things open, etc.) and it has never bent or broken. I have the basic silver one, but they come in a variety of anodized colors. I have heard from other hikers that the colored ones lose their colors in places with repeated use, but that wouldn’t matter to me. A spork may not seem like a big deal – and why spend $10 on a titanium one when Taco Bell gives plastic ones away for free, or an aluminum one is half the price? Here’s why: frozen Nutella.
We went through a cold snap in New Hampshire, and Tree had Nutella he was going to eat for breakfast. When he retrieved it from his bear bag, it was frozen solid. He took his aluminum spork and tried to scrape it, but the spork broke. My spork was strong enough to scrape the Nutella (although I had to point out he could just wait a bit for it to thaw, but… hiker hunger). He and I shared my spork for the next few days until we got to town and he could get a replacement.
So, to summarize:
SnowPeak titanium cookset and spork = good. I know titanium anything is pricey, but these are definitely worth the money you’ll invest.