Most new backpackers head to the local outfitter store and start off with the same aluminum pot. Let’s face it, by the time you get to the pot, all this gear is starting to add up and $30 is about all you want to spend at this point.
As you gain experience, you begin to learn about the ultralight world. You start thinking you need a titanium pot. There don’t seem to be any downsides besides the price and the fact you’re replacing a perfectly good piece of gear that’s just heavy.
Look, I’m all for cutting the weight down, but to say something is better just because it weighs less can be foolish. There are considerations for every variation of every piece of gear you own. You can’t make the right choice without knowing the details.
So I’m sharing my top backpacking pots, what to look for in a pot, and what each type of pot has to offer.
If you’re looking for the top list of pots, just click here to jump to it.
Interested in the pros and cons of Aluminum, Titanium, and steel? Check out this section.
Want to learn a bit more about what to look for in a pot? I’ve got you covered here.
Top Backpacking Pots
Toaks Light Titanium 650 mL Pot
Weight: 2.1 ounces for the pot, 2.8 ounces pot+lid
Toaks is one of the most popular brands of titanium cookware in backpacking. They offer great products at low prices.
The new Light Titanium line offers a pot with a lid at under 3 ounces. It comes in different sizes, but I like the 650 mL option. This is the perfect size if you need to boil 2 cups of water. Keep in mind that freeze-dried meals can take 1.5 cups, if not more.
If you prefer a smaller pot, there’s also a 550 mL version.
Both the 650 mL and 550 mL fit a 110 g (3.9 ounces) fuel canister inside. Perfect for streamlining your packing.
Right size, right price, well made. You can’t ask for more.
Where to Buy
Snow Peak Trek 700 Titanium Pot
Weight: 4.8 ounces including the lid
Snow Peak is a solid brand that makes great products. Their Trek 700 can stow a 110 g (3.9 ounces) fuel canister and some packable stoves inside. It has a capacity of 23.6 fluid ounces, which is almost 3 cups.
In the field, they’re solid. The titanium is made from Japanese titanium using a historic manufacturing process. You can see the craftsmanship when you hold the pot.
Snow Peak paid attention to what backpackers need. It’s the right size and weight, capable of boiling enough water for a freeze-dried meal and coffee, and it’s designed to streamline your packing.
Where to Buy
MSR Titan Camping Kettle (Titanium)
Weight: 4.2 ounces including the lid
If you’ve been backpacking for a bit, you know MSR. They make gear that lasts. This kettle is no exception. It’s also readily available online and at various outfitters.
It’s short and squat, a slightly different style than other pots on this list, and larger. The smaller kettle recommended here is 850 mL. A 110 g (3.9 ounces) fuel canister and a lighter will fit inside.
My favorite feature is the small lip for pouring. I pour my boiling water straight into the oatmeal bags and without the lip, I’m not sure I could pull this off.
This is the priciest product on the list, but it’s also the largest. To evenly compare prices, you would need to look at the 800 mL versions of the other products. If you don’t need the volume, then one of the other products would be a better bet for weight and price.
Where to Buy
Evernew Titanium Pot 0.6L
Weight: 2.4 ounces for the pot, 3.3 ounces pot + lid (the lid is not titanium)
Evernew was new to me until recently when a fellow backpacker showed up on a trip with one. I fell in love with the red coating on the handles. With most titanium pots, you’re left to fend for yourself with a bandana or other piece of cloth to avoid burning your hands. I appreciated the coating.
There’s a 570 mL version if you’d like something smaller. I like the 0.6 L because it can hold 2.54 cups. (And I don’t know why they switch to 0.6 L instead of 600 mL as the size increases).
A 110 g (3.9 ounces) fuel canister can just fit inside, but the lid won’t fit. It’s short and squat, but smaller than the MSR kettle. And the lid is not titanium. To save weight, you could leave the lid home.
Evernew also makes a non-stick version so be careful if you decide this is the right pot for you. Make sure you purchase you’re not purchasing the non-stick as it’s heavier.
Where to Buy
Sea to Summit 1.2 L Alpha Pot (Aluminum)
Weight: 6.6 ounces with lid
Sea to Summit is another well-known brand in the camping and backpacking world. This is an aluminum pot so it will be slightly heavier than titanium. However, for those 3 additional ounces, you get a few fancy features.
The coated handle locks the lid in place during storage and then swings to the side for cooking. There’s even a clip to attach the lid to the side of the pot so you don’t have to place it on the ground while eating.
If you’re making pasta, the lid has a handy drain system built-in allowing you to remove water without losing food.
For those that cook their meals in the pot, aluminum is a great choice and the Alpha Pot is one of the best.
My only gripe is that 1.2 liters is the smallest size available
Where to Buy
JetBoil Zip Cooking System (Integrated)
Weight: 11.75 ounces (includes pot, lid, stove, and accessories)
JetBoils are beloved on the trail. I have to admit that having 0.5 liters of water come to a boil in under 3 minutes is pretty impressive.
Don’t let the cost deter you, remember that a JetBoil is an integrated pot and stove. The cost is on par with separately purchasing a $40 pot and $50 stove.
My main gripe is the weight. I really wish they could get it down a couple of ounces. However, having piping hot coffee in under 3 minutes is tempting.
The pot itself is coated aluminum and get become scratched if you store your fuel canister inside. Be sure to add a buffer like a bandana to prevent this from occurring.
Where to Buy
What Type of Backpacking Pot Should You Get?
First things first. There are 4 main types of backpacking pots, Titanium, Aluminum, Steel, and integrated systems. An integrated system would be a JetBoil where the pot and stove are sold as a unit. These are almost all aluminum but deserve their own category.
Aluminum backpacking pots are popular among beginner backpackers due to their low price and availability. You can walk into any backpacking store and pick one up.
They also heat evenly which is great if you cook your food in the pot rather than just boil water for a pour-over meal. Think about that perfectly cooked macaroni and cheese with no burnt spots. Yum!
Did you know that aluminum also heats quickly, using less fuel?
The main cons are weight and scratching. Aluminum pots can be heavy, and if you store your fuel canister in the pot, it can scratch the coating. Scratching can be minimized by putting a bandana below the canister as a buffer.
As backpackers gain experience, many move to titanium because it’s lightweight and strong. I dropped my pack on a rock and heard the pot smack when it landed (doh!). When I took it out for dinner, I was able to easily knock the dent out. That was three years ago and there’s still no evidence.
Titanium is usually thin and heats quickly.
Believe it or not, there are some cons to titanium including not heating evenly. Remember that macaroni and cheese? You’re going to have burnt pieces.
In the past, I would have said that titanium pots are more expensive, but that’s no longer true. You’ll find several titanium options at the same price, if not lower, than aluminum.
There are die-hard JetBoil fanatics out there. While they talk about cutting ounces, you won’t be able to pry their JetBoils from them.
Integrated systems like the JetBoil boil water fast, and I mean fast. You can have 500 mLs of boiling water in under 3 minutes.
If you’ve ever camped with someone that has one, you probably stared in envy as they drank their piping hot coffee while you were still praying for bubbles. While it’s great to eat fast, this feature also makes the JetBoil fuel-efficient.
That being said, the JetBoil and other integrated systems don’t cook well. They’re best if you plan to simply boil water.
Are there any negatives? They’re heavy. Even considering it’s a pot, stove, and windscreen, the weight is still high. Price can also be an issue although you do need to consider it’s a stove and pot.
I’m adding this because other sites point out steel exists. I really don’t recommend steel for backpacking. You won’t find a steel pot on the recommendation list.
Steel is about the same price as aluminum and will last forever. It’s almost indestructible and can take direct heat. If you plan to cook over a fire, steel is your best option.
The downside is weight. Unless you really need it to cook on a campfire, are consolidating equipment and truly want to use steel, or are care camping or base camping with a short hike in, then I’d leave it on the shelf.
Features to Look for in a Backpacking Pot
Handles that fold for streamlined packing.
A lid. While you can use aluminum foil, that’s one more thing to mess with. A lid will keep the heat in as you cook, saving fuel. It also helps keep food warm for a longer time.
A spout for easy pouring. If you boil water to add to freeze-dried meals, having a spout makes things easier and prevents hot water from going everywhere.
Measuring lines. I don’t think this is completely necessary, but it does help if you need to boil 2 cups of water for your meal. You can also take a look beforehand and note if there’s anything like a handle attachment to note any measurements.
Wrapped handles. Just like your pots at home, the handles on a backpacking pot can get hot. Really hot. Some have a plastic coating to prevent you from getting burned. You can also use a bandana or other piece of cloth. Also, keep in mind the same goes for drinking out of your pot. You can burn your lips unless you wait for the pot to cool.
What Size and Shape Backpacking Pot do You Need?
Backpacking pots come in a variety of shapes and sizes. What’s best for you depends on how you pack, how you cook, how many people are sharing the pot, and simple preference.
Do you cook your meal in your pot or boil water? How much food or water do you need per meal? Are you cooking for more than one person?
500 – 650 mL pot
This is good for solo backpackers who don’t drink coffee or tea, or don’t mind boiling water a second time. It’s best if you simply boil water to pour into meals. They tend to be too small to actually cook a meal in the pot.
700 – 850 mL pot
I find this is the sweet spot for most casual weekend backpackers. It’s perfect for boiling enough water for your meal and that cup of tea or morning coffee. It’s also usually large enough to pack a fuel canister on the inside for streamlined packing.
If you cook in your pot, most meals for one will fit in this range pot.
900 – 1000 mL pot
This is a little big for most solo backpackers and not quite enough for two people. However, if it’s two people that don’t need water for drinks, and have meals that don’t need a lot of water, then it could be a good option.
1200 – 1500 mL pot
This is a good range for two people sharing a pot and both would like water for tea or coffee as well as meals that need at least a cup of water.
You’ve got your tall and skinny, and your short and squat.
I prefer a short and squat. I’ve found water boils faster, fuel canisters store inside more readily, the pot is easier to eat out of, and it packs easier too.
Tips for Storing Your Backpacking Pot
Make sure you clean and thoroughly dry your pot when you get home. Even if you only boiled water, it should still be cleaned well.
I store my pot with a few of the desiccant packets that come in every mail-order shipment. This helps to keep the pot from rusting. I just pop the packets in and lock the lid in place.
Don’t nest anything in the pot when it’s stored on the shelf. Just the desiccant packets.
Backpacking Pot Wrap-Up
There’s no wrong choice. As you continue your evolution, you’ll fall into a routine. Once you know how you like to prepare your meals, how much water you need, and how you like to pack, the right pot will be easy to find.
And your old pot? You can use it as a backup, take it car camping, or maybe give it to a buddy as a loaner.
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