Gear · Trail Cooking

Is It Worth It?

A long time ago (you know, in the 2000’s and early 2010’s) as the decade was closing in, a number of gear companies were having a major renaissance and producing some of the best cooking gear for the outdoors. MSR was producing some amazing pots and cooking sets. I had come into a number of them while doing a gear review article for Backpacker Magazine. I had a number of their HAA pots (Hard Anodized Aluminum) and happily used them.

One of my go to’s back then was their 1.3 Liter HAA pot with metal lid. It weighed in at 7 & 3/8ths ounces or 210 grams. Inside I can fit a Snowpeak Giga stove, small fuel canister, backup lighter, and fuel canister support. For one to two persons this was a near perfect pot.

MSR still makes a pot similar, but alas, they dumped the lightweight lid for plastic. My classic here drained well, and due to the thin HAA walls came to a boil quickly.

HAA is stick resistant by nature, giving easy cleanups if you cook in the pot, not just boiling water. Over the years, a number of companies have produced thin walled HAA pots. Some came with nonstick added, but that isn’t needed.

For a pot that has cooked a LOT of meals (and I mean a lot), it still looks relatively new. This is a very important part of the tale……I have used plastic, bamboo and yes, even metal, in this pot. I have boiled water, I have fried food in oil, I have cooked up meals that stick to it. You have seen this pot in a number of pictures for the past decade plus. It is the pot that rides in my daypack, that I use for nearly every meal I review here.

But then….I got a bad case of ultra light wants.

Oh, how I wanted this pot so badly. It was mesmerizing. It was Titanium, it called to me every time I was in REI. It didn’t matter that I did own the Titanium water boiler they sold, or the mugs. I HAD to have this pot. I dropped a $100 on this pot.

And on its maiden voyage….I chose poorly. I was cooking up a new recipe for the WTA magazine, for the column we wrote back then.

I was cooking Berry Dessert in it. I wrecked my pot in its first use. I didn’t even have the Giga stove up high. It was a low simmer.

Oh, Titanium is so pretty when you mess it up. The bubble puffs out, so the pot never could sit balanced on a stove again. It is nothing more than a decorative $100 piece of junk, and has been for the past decade.

But the best part? It weighs 6 & 5/8 ounces or 187 grams.

I only saved 23 freaking grams but spent 3 times as much for the pot.

All for it to work one time.

And due to that, any time I get gear lust I look at it quite carefully. What exactly is it bringing to the table for me – it needs to weight a lot less, and be durable.

And….we know what is in my backpack a decade later. It isn’t the Titanium piece I lusted for.


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