What to Look for in Lightweight Camping Cookware

Pushing the boundaries is part of the outdoor experience. I like to see how much faster I can go, how much further into the wilderness, and how much fun I can pack into my outdoor adventures. A natural part of this pursuit is finding gear that empowers me to push the boundaries of the outdoor experience. If this sounds like you, you’ll want to check out titanium cookware.

Titanium is great for many outdoor gear applications, but it especially shines in the world of cookware. First of all, it’s unearthly light—ideal for backpackers like me that trim their toothbrushes to save weight. It’s also non-reactive, doesn’t impart any flavor to food, and has an otherworldly grey luster that casually whispers, “I am cool.” Here’s a primer to buying the best titanium cookware for outdoor adventures.

What is titanium?

Titanium is technically a “transition metal” that was discovered in 1722. It has an atomic number of 22.

Why is titanium awesome for Camping Cookware?

Titanium is mega light.

It’s more than 40% lighter than steel, which makes is a great material to create the lightest backpacking cookware.

Titanium is durable.

More than twice as hard as aluminum, this metal is seriously hard to scratch! I’ve seen a hiker cooking tea in a titanium cook pot that a bear attempted to eat. It still held water, and the only damage were some tooth-shaped dents.

Titanium is uber-strong.

Better than simply light-weight, titanium has incredible strength-to-weight ratio. This material is so strong, in fact, that it’s used to shield and protect the pilots of many military aircraft!

Titanium has a very high melting point.

Titanium melts at more than 3000 °F—that’s more than twice the melting point of aluminum. You’re going to have a VERY hard time scorching a pot made from titanium.

Titanium is non-reactive.

Titanium doesn’t rust, and doesn’t react with even the most acidic foods. Acids as weak as tomato sauce can discolor even stainless steel or un-coated aluminum cookware. Since titanium is non-reactive, it won’t leach anything into your food or drink—even if you’re boiling an acidic liquid in it for a prolonged period of time.

Titanium transmits heat very rapidly.

Though it doesn’t transmit heat quite as well as aluminum, it’s stronger. Cookware made from titanium can be made much thinner than aluminum, leading to wickedly fast boiling times. The downside? If you’re not careful, you can burn food easily.

Ideal for use with lightweight stoves.

The unique combination of strength, durability, high melting point and high heat conductivity make titanium ideally suited for use with lighter stove solutions—like alcohol stoves, and wood burning stoves.

Titanium looks awesome.

Titanium has a futuristic, dull gray sheen. Even to my jaded eyes, this material just screams “cool.”

How Does Titanium Compare to Other Metals?

Melting
Point
Thermal
Conductivity
Young’s modulus
(Stiffness)
Mohs
hardness
Density Cost
Aluminum 1220.58 °F 237 W/(m·K) 70 GPa 2.75 2.70 g/cm³ $
Titanium 3034 °F 21.9 W/(m·K) 116 GPa 6.0 4.506 g/cm³ $$$
Stainless Steel* 2552 °F 16.2 W/(m·K) 193 – 200 GPa 4 8g/cm³ $$

 

   *All stainless steel characteristics are approximate, since there are so many alloys in use.
   Information sourced from Wikipedia

What kind of camping cookware is made from titanium? Which ones are good for what uses? What features should I look for?

Larger pots (1+ liter)

Making larger pots from titanium makes sense. These larger capacity items can be prohibitively heavy for one person to carry if they’re made from stainless steel, but if they’re constructed from titanium, it opens the possibility of making huge portions of pasta, tremendous volumes of coffee, and even fancy deserts when you’re solo backpacking.

Perfect for: Solo travelers with huge appetites, solo travelers in cold weather, couples or friends traveling light.

Features to look for:

  • Strainer lid: Who carries a colander into the backcountry? These ingenious lids let you strain pasta right in the pan.
  • Foldaway handles: Nothing is worse than a pair of handles poking you in the back through your backpack. Folding handles make storing and packing your pot so much easier.

Mugs

Mugs are the ultimate one-person backcountry cooking solution and the ultimate camping cookware accessory. In both applications, titanium makes sense. If you’re traveling solo, titanium can help make your cooking system as light as possible. If you’re using a titanium mug as an accessory, titanium will help blunt the weight penalty.

Perfect For: Solo hikers/campers seeking the lightest possible cooking solution, anyone who wants to enjoy hot beverage with their outdoor meal without the weight penalty.

Features to look for:

  • Strainer lid: Who carries a colander into the backcountry? These ingenious lid lets you strain pasta right in the pan.
  • Graduated measurements: Measurements etched right into the inside surface of the mug make it easy to follow a recipe or portion out food.

C. BOT

While some outdoor enthusiasts are familiar with mugs, cups and water bottles, most of us haven’t heard of the hybrid combination of these three—called a BOT. A conjunction of the words “bottle” and “pot,” this innovative piece of hybrid cookware is the ultimate in lightweight and space saving technology. A bot serves the functions of both a water bottle and a pot. During the day, for example, you can use it to store water. In the evening (or whenever you cook), you can use the same container to cook in.

Perfect For: Ultralight hikers, anyone that appreciates innovative cookware.

Features to look for:

  • Graduated measurements: Measurements etched right into the inside surface of the mug make it easy to follow a recipe or portion out food.
  • Double-purpose-lid: The dual purpose lid can be turned upsidedown to easily cover the bot while boiling water or cooking.
  • Water tight, heat resistant O-ring: Even the most carefully machined screw-top lids might not prevent a few dribbles of water from getting out. Look for a lid that includes an O-ring for a tight seal. With a heat-resistant O-ring, you can even store hot beverages!
  • Slim profile: Look for a bot with a profile that’s slimmer than a standard cook-pot. With a slim profile, your bot will fit many backpack sleeves designed to hold water bottles.

D. Sierra Cup

Nostalgic hikers and campers will have seen the classic “Sierra Cup” design inspired by the cup that accompanied early Sierra Club explorers in the Sierra Nevada range of California. Despite dating back to the early 1900’s, this design remains surprisingly versatile. The flared top makes it easier to eat from than a mug, and the narrow bottom concentrates heat for rapid boiling. The addition of modern titanium to this classic design makes it lighter, more durable, and updates the appearance.

Perfect For: Solo travelers looking for ultralight cooking solutions, anyone looking for a camping cup/mug.

Features to look for:

  • Strainer lid: Who carries a colander into the backcountry? These ingenious lid lets you strain pasta right in the pan.
  • Foldaway handles: Nothing is worse than a pair of handles poking you in the back through your backpack. This was, perhaps the only design flaw of the original Sierra Cup. Folding handles make storing and packing your pot so much easier.

Qualities to look for in a well-made titanium stove.

Titanium is a relatively uncommon metal, and it’s so hard, durable, and non-reactive that it’s uniquely difficult to work with. Manufacturers need special techniques and experience to make the best of this material. Here are a few things to look for to make sure you get the best possible titanium camping cookware.

Design

Titanium is a fundamentally different material than steel or aluminum—so you want to look for producers that design with the characteristics of this metal in mind. If you’re buying the titanium versions of a product that was originally designed as a aluminum product, ask yourself if you’re getting a product that uses this unique material to the max.

Experience

You don’t learn to work with titanium overnight. Look for a manufacturer that has a wide variety of titanium products, and has been working with the material for a long time.

Weld quality

Titanium is tricky to weld. Look for welds that don’t have a huge, bulky bead, are even, and don’t significantly discolor the material. Manufacturers that machine-weld get especially durable, consistent results with titanium.

Price

Expect to pay more for titanium products. This material is harder to work with, costs more to source, and lasts longer. If you’re considering the purchase of a titanium stove that costs suspiciously little, think again!

By | 2018-05-23T13:41:42+00:00 May 15th, 2018|Buyer's Guide|0 Comments

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