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backpacking pots and pans

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backpacking pots and pans

Postby js hill » Fri Feb 25, 2011 5:00 pm

I've been using the same aluminum pots for the last 30 something years. They have served me well but I was thinking about investing in some lighter ones and/or ones that are easier to clean. Titanium seems to be the material of choice. I've noticed that many titanium pans do not have a non-stick coating. How are they to clean? My current set has lids that can be used as frying pans, my wife uses the lid as a plate and I eat the rest of the meal out of the pot (less dishes to clean). We would like to stay with a similar design. Thanks for any input you have on this topic.



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Re: backpacking pots and pans

Postby markskor » Fri Feb 25, 2011 7:54 pm

Miscellaneous thoughts:
For my personal (solo) cook-set, carry a 10-inch, uncoated, titanium fry pan, as well as traditional aluminum 2-liter pot and lid, and a spork - no Teflon ever.

Titanium is funny, conducts heat but burns food rather easily too, especially over a canister stove if set too high. You really have to watch it/ stir it often while sauteeing anything small (onions/garlic) but works quite well for fuller pans - potatoes, omelets, or pancakes, as well as doing a great job of simmering/finishing rice-type medley dishes.

FYI, For cooking with Titanium, you need a stove that has a wider flame (dispersed - like a MSR Windpro) and that can just plain simmer. One thing nice about titanium is that it does not oxidize. Boiling water and a metal scrubby makes minor clean up easy. Surface stays good even with some minor scrub marks.

As for frying trout though - forget about it, cleanup is a messy chore if just frying them the traditional way in oil - sticks. Found the best way is to wrap individual trout (chunks if big enough) in aluminum foil (olive oil, spices, etc), and then fry up the packages, turning often. Maybe 8 - 10 minutes total, unwrap, and no cleanup afterwards.

As for Teflon...too high a heat (>450º) burns the coating - cracking it, releasing toxic residues that can get into food (also harmful to breath). (How hot is your stove?) Teflon also scratches easily - any metal dings (sporks or metal scrubby), and the coating is soon toast/ easily ruined - IMHO, lucky to get one season out of this type of pot if regularly cooking anything complicated.

Would not recommend Teflon at all either if cooking over any open fire, unless very closely watched and fire is low - recipe for disaster.

All that being said, if just boiling water - why not...The pot bottom then only gets to 212º.

Just my 2¢
Mark
Mountainman who swims with trout
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Re: backpacking pots and pans

Postby lambertiana » Fri Feb 25, 2011 11:14 pm

Titanium is a poor conductor of heat when compared to aluminum, that is why you need a wide burner head to do much with Ti pots and pans. Ti is strong so you can make them thin and light, but the cooking properties leave something to be desired. Darker pots are also more efficient.

I usually use anodized Al pots; they cook well and are easy to clean. For larger groups I use a GSI set, medium size I like to use the Jetboil GCS pot (works on other stoves, it is super efficient when coupled with my Windpro stove with windscreen). For really light I take the larger pot from the Brunton IB set.
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Re: backpacking pots and pans

Postby freestone » Sat Feb 26, 2011 6:39 am

Aluminum tea kettle (Trangia), Squishy bowl and cup, with cozies. No pot cleaning, minimal fuel to boil the water, turn the bowl inside out and lick it clean. Sounds like the trade off with titanium is more fuel needed to offset the poor heat transfer characteristics. With a canister stove that is probably no big deal, but with liquid fuel, it can add up.
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Re: backpacking pots and pans

Postby vandman » Sat Feb 26, 2011 11:21 am

I love my Snow Peak Trek 1400. Super light and compact.
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Re: backpacking pots and pans

Postby rlown » Sat Feb 26, 2011 1:09 pm

I carry the GSI large fry pan and a 2 qt 30 year old aluminum pot, but then I don't go solo, so they are community gear. The GSI has been known to have coating problems, and a torch of a stove will not help that situation. The GSI has been useful for 5 seasons, but it's about time for a new one. Sporks and Teflon do not get along well.

The 2 qt pot carries my fresh bait, if that's warranted for where i'm going, otherwise, it carries whatever I can cram into it that is cooking related; all in one spot.
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Re: backpacking pots and pans

Postby Ikan Mas » Sat Feb 26, 2011 1:35 pm

I bough a REI titanium pot two years ago and like it. It is much lighter than my old aluminum pots and heats faster. Only minor thing that has bothered me, the rubber coating on the handles melts when I put the windscreen around the pot. I would cut that stuff back on the pot side of the handle.

I did not buy a titanium frying pan though, as I felt that they would burn too quickly (aluminum is bad enough). I did find a nice aluminum one at REI outlet for 9 bucks that has done well for trout.
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Re: backpacking pots and pans

Postby paul » Sat Feb 26, 2011 4:42 pm

Titanium pots can be as light as they are because titanium is so strong that the pots can be made of very thin metal. Unfortunately this fact and the relatively poor heat conducting characteristics of Ti mean that they do not spread heat very well. So - great for boiling water, not so great for simmering/frying. Thus, if you like to cook in the backcountry, rather than just heat water and reconstitute, aluminum is a better choice, and you may not want the lightest aluminum pots you can get, as even with aluminum the same physics are at work - lighter pots are thinner pots, and do not spread heat as well. Some stoves have more dispersed flames, which can help.
If you do like to cook then you are already committed to carrying a little more weight to gain that pleasure, as you will use more fuel than the boil and soak folks. So I'd say it would be worth it to carry a couple extra ounces of cookware if you enjoy cooking. And if you want to fry, then aluminum is the only way to go.
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Re: backpacking pots and pans

Postby oldranger » Sat Feb 26, 2011 4:57 pm

After hearing about and seeing markskor's 10" titanium pan I looked and looked but couldn't find one. I settled on a 91/2 inch pan that was part of a large aluminum cook kit I found at REI. It is coated and does ok when cooking trout above the legal limit for fires. Below the legal limit I usually wrap the fish in foil and cook over coals (same prep as markskor describes above but never as good as markskor). For boiling water I use two different 1 (solo trips) and 1.5 qt. (with spouse and/or kids) titanium pots.

Mike
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Re: backpacking pots and pans

Postby js hill » Tue Mar 01, 2011 10:19 am

Thanks everyone for your input. Most of our meals consist of boiling water for freeze-dried entrees (which we prepare in the pot), soups, oatmeal, and coffee/tea. I'm thinking titanium might be the way to go for us. Anymore opinions would be welcome.
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Re: backpacking pots and pans

Postby Flux » Tue Mar 01, 2011 10:59 am

One thing about kitchen choices is what kind of hike and what kind of food you are doing for that kind of hike. If you are heading out for a lengthy trip and are limiting your cooking time and prep time with freeze dried foods and easy boil type meals, then a Ti pot and canister top stove will do nicely.

On the other end of the spectrum, if you are simmering and frying alot, then a remote canister stove and thicker aluminum pots and pans might be a better ticket. More elborate meals for shorter hikes where pinching pounds is not a big deal.

Non-stick seems to be the ticket either way, just a matter of who has the good non-stick coatings.

I have an MSR windpro and it's an amazing stove that is not all that heavy. Great flame control and a wide flame for better dispersion. I have a set of the Blacklite Aluminum pots. I wish the post had built in handles though, the grabber has caused a few spilled meals. not cool.

I recently bought a Ti 1400 ml pot from backcountry.com. it's the tall ones that fit a canister and mini stove in there. I purchased a Crux Lite stove that has reasonable flame size. This setup will do well for boiling and simmering. I will have to test it with a fry pan. I suppose if you kind of move the pan around over the flame you can get better even heat. Might be a pain, but it should work. This would be a good setup for simplicity, light weight, and small size.

My $0.02 which is probably worth $0.0000001
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Re: backpacking pots and pans

Postby fishmonger » Tue Mar 01, 2011 12:13 pm

anyone have multi-pot experience regarding snow melting? I have two titanium pots right now, both about 1.5 to 1.7 liters, and will be melting snow quite a bit on my upcoming trip. Any reason to look at a pot with heat exchanger bottom to optimize fuel use (Jetboil FluxRing or similar)? Is it worth it if you're looking at 5-8 days in the backcountry between resupplies, with the chance of having to melt a lot of the water you consumer in that time?

I'm reluctant to drop $50+ on a 2 or 3 liter pot that may just add a pound of weight to my pack and not save me much fuel after all.
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