Justin Lichter, author of Trail Tested: A Thru-Hiker’s Guide to Ultralight Hiking and Backpacking and ultralight hiker extraordinaire, recently completed a 300 hundred mile traverse in the Sierra Mountains that incorporated skiing, hiking, and ultralight travel.
To help dial down his pack weight and gear list, we gave him the Vargo Titanium BOT to use on his trip. Here’s what he had to say:
Every so often an idea comes around that makes you slap the side of your head and say, “Why didn’t I think of that?” The BOT by Vargo is one of those notions. So simple, yet so practical.
A few weeks ago I tried one out on a two week ski trip through the Sierra Nevada Mountains, following the corridor of the Pacific Crest Trail and John Muir Trail. I skied about 300 miles through varying conditions and weather. I was excited to test out the BOT and this was the perfect trial for it.
It took me a day or two to get comfortable with the BOT. The higher center of gravity initially played tricks while I was cooking. I am used to the typical .9 Liter Ti pot shape, which is so stable that I hardly ever have a cooking disaster. On the first night cooking we were camping in the snow. I piled some sticks in the snow and cooked on top of them to prevent melting and settling, however I did have a tip-over. Luckily I didn’t lose my whole dinner! Also on the first day, it was snowing and windy with highs only in the 20’s. The top of my BOT froze and I was unable to open it until I set it on my stove to warm it up. Not a huge deal, but I would not recommend it for winter camping or winter conditions. The temperatures warmed up for the rest of the trip and I had no other freezing issues, despite continued overnight temperatures below freezing.
I also came to the conclusion that water boils a little slower in the BOT. I believe this is also due to the shape. I will try to toy around at home and make my alcohol stove a little more efficient for a narrow pot bottom, so I don’t lose as much heat and flames up the sides. This should help the boil time a lot.
I initially thought that I would need a silicon band near the top to help me pick up the heated BOT since I do not carry pot grippers. I quickly learned that, due to the shape, this was unnecessary since the upper area of the titanium never really got too hot to handle. Titanium is a poor conductor as far as metals are concerned, but in this case it was perfect because it aided in the simplicity of the product.
My biggest concern was that I sometimes mis-threaded the lid back on to the base and it became stuck. This was more of a nuisance than anything. All it took was a little tap on a rock or a tree and the lid would then come off and I could reattach it properly. Not a real issue once you learned how to deal with it.
All in all, I quickly became accustomed to the intricacies of using the BOT and I highly recommend it. While hiking, a water bottle is likely your most used piece of equipment. The wide mouth on the BOT handles and drinks smoothly and the shape fits well into an outside stretch pocket. The lid doesn’t leak at all and it is perfect for making tea, Crystal Light, hot chocolate, and even saving leftovers for the next day. The Vargo BOT is a versatile tool to add to any outing. It quickly became my new favorite product and I am excited to add it to my kit. Why didn’t I think of that years ago!
Thank you, Justin, for your hard earned insight. We’re glad the BOT has found its way into your pack!