Five Things To Look For In a Hiking Cook Pot

   03.21.18

Believe it or not, not all hiking cook pots are created equal. As good as some of them sound, they are not suited for lightweight hiking.

Decades ago a backpacker would probably grab a small pot out of the kitchen, toss it in the pack and take off. Or, someone may have a military surplus canteen cup. Personally, over the decades I used both-a kitchen pot in the 1970s-1980s, and a G.I. surplus canteen cup in the 1990s-2000s.

Then along came stainless steel and eventually titanium backpacking cook pots. I jumped on the stainless bandwagon for a little while with the MSR Alpine Stowaway Pot.

Let’s take a few minutes and talk about points someone may look for in a cook pot.

Weight

There is an old say, “Ounces equals pounds, and pounds equals pain.”  Every ounce someone can  shave off their pack weight, the better.

When it comes to weight, titanium is probably the best, and stainless is probably the worst. This includes stainless steel G.I. surplus canteen cups.

What about aluminum? It is lightweight, but bends easy. Then there are the health issues of cooking with an untreated aluminum pot. Aluminum can leach into the food if the pot is not lined.

By going with the titanium pot we can shave two ounces off the pack weight.

Size and Shape

For noodles and freeze dried meals, 550 ml would probably be the absolute minimum for boiling water. However, I do enjoy the size of the 775 ml MSR pot. Two of my main backpacking pots are 550 ml, and I find them rather small.

To save space in the pack it is nice to be able to store the stove inside the pot. Some pots are designed in such a way that they are too short for a stove. For example, Vargo makes a titanium cook pot that is wider than it is tall. Only the smallest stove in my collection, the BRS mixed fuel stove, will hit in the pot with the lid in place.

Bug out bag cook stove

Capacity Markings

Some pots do not have markings on the inside of the pot. So when you need to boil say 12 ounces of water, it may be a guessing game.

The Toaks and Optimus Terra Solo have markings on the side of the pot.

MSR stowaway, Vargo and G.I. canteen cup do not have markings.

While not a deal breaker, the markings are a nice feature.

Handle

One thing I do not like about the Toaks 550 ml pot is the small handle. It is directly above the flame of the stove and gets very hot. The MSR Stowaway on the other hand, has a long handle and almost never gets hot.

To prevent the stove from rattling around inside the pot, the stove is wrapped with a cloth rag. The cloth rag is used to handle the lid and the pot.

The handle of the Optimus Terra Solo are rioted on, while all the others are spot welded.

BRS ultralight weight stove

Price

Expect to spend $25-$40 for a decent cook pot.

If someone wanted to get off cheap, there are some G.I. surplus canteen cups. As of March 2018, used surplus canteen cups are going for around $10 on Ebay. Sometimes merchants will put together package deal on Ebay which contain the canteen, canteen pouch and cup.

Final Thoughts

My first camping cook pot was something from my moms kitchen back in the late 1970s. From there it was a canteen cup for over a decade.

Eventually, I ended up at the Toaks 550 ml pot. Chances are the 550 ml will be upgraded to a 650 ml pot.

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