My primary intention was just to boil water. Simple, right? I could have skipped the biolite, chinese stove and titanium pots entirely, and gone for a whole system like jetboil does. I'm told that it's hard to beat for fuel consumption and boil speed, but it's not very versatile. It pretty much boils water and that's... it. Anything you want to cook with it, had better be based around boiling water. So, I figured I'd be better off with a stove that I could put practically anything on. Figured that I didn't need to spend $50 on a pot, right? The $13 stainless steel pot ought to be good enough. And it was just about the right size too. The primary thing I'll be boiling water for, is mountain house (and similar) dehydrated meals, so I don't need to boil a whole kettle worth of water for that.
Well, I wound up talking to a REI employee who'd done some through-hiking, and just chatting about gear choices and experiences with him. While I do always point out to my clients that the first word in the job title of a salesman IS "sales" I like REI, and go to REI expressly for their outdoors savvy employees. Well, he really did get me thinking about the titanium pot. Maybe he was just a good salesman, but I don't regret going with it. The first thing he pointed out is that titanium transfers heat better than steel, so your water starts boiling faster, your food starts cooking faster. This is entirely true, small bubbles appear virtually instantaneously in the water. Rather than having to heat the whole vessel up at the same time you heat its contents, the heat goes straight through into the contents. The second thing that was pointed out was how swiftly the pot cools down. It really doesn't hold heat at all, which is nice for packing up. I won't ever have to wait for the pot to get cool enough to put away. Third, it is notably lightweight. It adds virtually no weight to my pack.
Additionally, and I didn't notice this advantage until I used it to test my $6 stove, but those aforementioned heat-related properties are beneficial if you want to eat or drink right out of the pot. I sipped my cider directly out of the pot and realized that if I had gone with the stainless steel and tried to consume it from the same vessel I'd heated it in, I would probably burn myself on it. The titanium was much kinder in that regard. Totally sold on it, would recommend to anyone looking for some backpack cookware. On top of being a pot/extra-large-mug, the lid also serves as a small pan. Bonus!
With my stoves:
With the banana: