Gear · Trail Cooking

That Time I Wrecked A Brand New Titanium Pot

I was so excited. I had bought a coveted piece of gear. With money from selling trail cookbooks.

I owned a brand new dull (ya know that Titanium ain’t shiny) MSR 1.3 liter pot with lid.

I was nearly huffing the smell coming off of it. As I left the REI that day long ago (somewhere in the 2010 to 2011 era I think) I was daydreaming how’d this baby would cook alllll the food. Funny is, it wasn’t my first Titanium pot or mug to own, so I knew only too well how Titanium doesn’t “cook” well. It doesn’t retain heat, it burns/scorches, and gets so hot over heat. Then goes cold just as quickly after you take it off.

But it wasn’t the first, nor the last time I would get deluded by daydreaming how light my pack would be (and my wallet as well).

That tiny pot wasn’t cheap, it was at least twice the cost of the exact same HAA pot I owned by MSR, that I had bought earlier.

Wanna guess which pot is still being used all these years later? Yes. The $40 range HAA pot. It is my go to nearly always – most of our recipes are cooked in it.

Because back then MSR was still making the lids out of metal. Now they are plastic.

And the best part of my delusion was weight.

The Ti version weighed in at 190 grams with lid.

The HAA version weighed in at 210 grams with lid.

I paid double to save 20 grams of weight. They were otherwise identical. Same handle. Same lid.

I needed to prep a recipe for the trail eats column I was writing for Wa Trails then, so I grabbed the new not-shiny pot and headed out to make it.

And learned not 1, but 2 lessons on matching your gear to what you are cooking.

The recipe? It was Berry Dessert, a berry sauce to make after foraging wild blueberries and huckleberries, and serving it over cake.

I plunked in the ingredients and started cooking when it immediately went all wrong.

The Titanium pot warped on the bottom. I was burning the sauce. Turned off the stove and a long set of cussing came out of my mouth.

What did I do wrong?

I was using a focused flame stove, a simple canister stove, that while I thought was dialed down to a tiny flame, was super hot and concentrated. Had I been using a remote canister stove (Windpro) it might have been a smooth enough flame, though I still feel I’d have burnt the recipe.

Then I was cooking a small recipe, with barely any liquid. 2 Tablespoons water and a pinch of butter meant there wasn’t much to absorb the heat.

With how fast Ti heats up, it went from hot, to red hot, to wow…..the rainbow just showed up.

It left this mark on the bottom of the pot. I was so mad at myself, for a rookie mistake, I hocked it into my gear totes and ignored it for years. It doesn’t sit flat anymore, permanently buckled where the metal warped.

I do use the pot here and there, as a back up. It sat in my bug out bag for a few years as well.

It’s only used to boil water, because well….it does that just fine.

But maybe less rainbow would be nice while I watch water coming to a boil……


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