Friday, March 27, 2015

GEAR REVIEW: Snow Peak Trek 900 Titanium Cookset

Obsessing over gear and planning trips may not be the best way to deal with cabin fever, but it's how I get by. One of the highlights of last month was a trip to REI to get some hands on the gear before buying, and chat up the employees there. I'd been considering picking up a lightweight gas stove there, but wound up deciding to stick with my BioLite and maybe order one of those inexpensive chinese made stoves. (Spoiler Alert: I did, and you can see my review of it Here). I found myself trying some trekking poles out, and browsing everything in the store while I tested them out, and I stopped to consider two different little cooking pots.

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:

Without banana:

On the Gas Stove:

On the BioLite:

Interested? I bought mine at REI, they're also available on Amazon

1 comment:

  1. did the heat transfer math and even some empirical testing and found that the heat transfer characteristics of titanium, while less than aluminum, don't materially detract from water heating times. The payday from Snow Peak's Ti pots is mainly weight savings and durability. Very low weight, and quite strong(as far as paper thin titanium goes).
    I love the light weight of SnowPeak's Ti stuff, coupled with the ability to drink boiling hot tea/ noodles directly from the pot w/o burning my lips. If it weren't for the expense, everybody would be backpacking with Ti pots. Only thing Ti definitely struggles with is frying. An Al frying pan would solve that issue.