The Best Ultralight Backpacking Cookware and Titanium Pots
Here is a guide to the best ultralight backpacking cookware and pots.
See the guide to backpacking stoves to fully complete your ultralight kitchen set.
Example of a versatile cookset where the pan doubles as a cover for the pot.
You’re going to be cooking a lot of food when backpacking. At least once and maybe even twice a day, you’ll bring out your pot or kettle to make a meal. Meals are typically a relaxing time so don’t spoil it by choosing cookware that’s frustrating to use. We’ll help you decide between a pot, pan, or kettle and then help you find the best one for your needs.
|Type||Pot Capacity (ml)||Pan Capacity (ml)||Weight (oz)|
|Evernew Titanium Pasta Pot||Single Pot||750||n/a||3.4|
|Vargo BOT||Single Pot||700||n/a||4.8|
|MSR Titan Kettle||Single Pot||850||n/a||4.2|
|Toaks Titanium||Single Pot||750||n/a||3.6|
|Snow Peak Trek 700 Titanium||Single Pot||700||n/a||4.8|
|Vargo Titanium Ti-Boiler||2-pc Set||900||400||6.6|
|Evernew Deep Pot||2-pc Set||900||250||4.4|
|Keith Titanium Set||2-pc Set||1200||400||6.5|
|Toaks Titanium Set||2-pc Set||1100||280||5.6|
Types of Cookware
There are several types of cookware options for backpackers. There is no right or wrong choice. What you pick to throw in your pack depends on what you plan to eat on your trip.
A. Kettle: If you are only boiling water, then you should consider a kettle. Just like your household teapot, a backpacking kettle is designed to boil water rapidly and pour it without spilling into another vessel. It has a wide base, a small pout, and a lid to help hold in heat. They tend to be relatively small in size holding 1.5L or less of water. Kettle’s heat water quickly but they can be bulky to pack and difficult to clean.
B. Pot (Cup): You also can choose a pot, which people also call a pot. A backpacking cook pot looks more like an oversized mug than a typical kitchen pot. Most people heat water in their pot, but you also can use it to simmer food that needs some cooking time. It has a wide opening at the top so you can eat from it and then easily clean it. Best of all, many pots are big enough to hold your fuel canister. Being able to nest the two together can save some significant space in your pack.
C. Pan: Pans are great if you are frying or sauteing food, but they are not as versatile as a pot/cup. Because they are flat and wide, you can’t boil a lot of water in them. They also are usually heavy to carry and take up a lot of room in your pack.
D. Cookset: There are a ton of multi-piece cooksets on the market, but we did not include the larger kits in this roundup. Many of those kits are too heavy for backpacking and are really meant for camping. Some of our pot choices may have multiple parts like a lid or a cup, but these items add value to the pot without adding too much weight.
Backpacking Cookware Materials
Just like the pots in your kitchen, backpacking cookware is available in a variety of different metals. Some are heavy, some are light. Some are cheap and some are expensive. Below we breakdown the materials most commonly used for backcountry cooking:
TITANIUM: LIGHTWEIGHT, STRONG, FUEL EFFICIENT AND EXPENSIVE
Titanium cookware is the most popular for ultralight backpacking and my personal favorite. As a raw material, is one of the lightest of all the material options. Despite being super light, it is extremely strong (on par with steel) and is known for being highly corrosion-resistant. Because the material is so thin, it can transfer heat efficiently without using too much fuel. This efficient heat transfer makes titanium perfect for boiling water, but it is not ideal for “slow-cooking” as it tends to distribute heat unevenly. You can burn your food before you even realize it. Titanium’s other Achilles heel is its cost. Titanium cookware tends to be the more expensive option. In general, titanium is considered safe for cooking. It’s non-porous and does not tend to leach. It also does not corrode and is durable so you don’t have to worry about it flaking off into your food.
Different models and sizes of titanium cookware.
ALUMINUM: USUALLY LARGER AND LIGHTER BUT LESS DURABLE
Anodized Aluminum is actually *slightly* lighter than titanium. It is the best for actual cooking as it distributes heat evenly across the cooking surface. This even distribution is why anodized aluminum is the first choice among household pots and pans. It is the least durable option though and can require a little more maintenance, especially if it has a non-stick surface. Aluminum pots typically are larger than titanium which is important if you need to heat water or simmer food for a group. There’s also concern that aluminum may leach out into the food. This only happens when the pot is not anodized. Anodizing hardens the cookware and makes it more durable. It also makes it non-reactive so it will not leach into foods.
STAINLESS STEEL: AFFORDABLE AND DURABLE, BUT HEAVY
The strongest and heaviest option for cookware. Steel is able to take a beating with minimal, or no, scratching. It’s also the most affordable material with some pots costing less than $10. There is little to no evidence that stainless steel is harmful for cooking. It does contain elements like iron, nickel and chromium that can leach into your food. The amount that can leach into your food is minuscule unless you damage the cooking vessel. Wash it gently with water and a mild soap if possible. Don’t use abrasive steel wool or harsh chemicals and you’ll be fine.
NON-STICK COATINGS: NOT DURABLE, POTENTIALLY UNSAFE
Some pots add a non-stick coating like Teflon to prevent food from sticking to the inside of the cooking vessel. It also makes it easier to clean. As convenient as it is, we recommend avoiding any non-stick coatings. They shorten the life-span of the pot. Your pot can be perfect on the outside, but once the non-stick coating starts to flake, you need to throw away the pot. There’s also the question of safety as perfluorooctanoic acid or PFOA used to make the non-stick layer is a suspected carcinogen. Mot manufacturers, though, no longer use this chemical.
CAST IRON: NO WAY!
This is not the 1800’s. Don’t bring it any cast iron cookware. It is way too heavy. Save your cast iron for car camping or van life.
CAPACITY/ VOLUME: 600 ML MINIMUM
Pot size is measured in millilitres (ml) or liters. Just to give you a sense of millilitres – a 12-oz Coca Cola bottle is about 350 ml. Therefore, a 700 ml pot is about the size of two bottles of Coca-Cola (24 oz). I recommend a minimum pot capacity of 600 ml. This will give you enough to boil water for a simple backpacking meal – a dehydrated or freeze-dried meal, a cup of noodles, etc. Unless you are backpacking with a partner, anything above 1,000 ml (or 1 liter) will be extra weight and too clunky to carry around.
Don’t go too small, especially if you want to use your pot as a storage container. Most 750ml pots are big enough to hold your fuel canister, a pocket stove, a lighter and even a cleaning sponge. If this is important to you, you may want to bring your cooking gear when shopping for a pot or read reviews that talk about what can fit inside a specific pot.
LIDS: MUST FIT SNUGLY
A well-designed lid should fit your pot snugly both for cooking and so you don’t lose it on the trail. A snug lid also lets you store items inside the pot and not worry about them falling out into your pack. Keep in mind that the lid will be hot most of the time you want to lift it. Therefore, a small knob or tassel to easily lift it is essential. If you are a pasta or ramen fan, a lid with a built-in strainer can be a helpful feature to have as well.
A strainer built into the lid is a great option if you’re going to cook noodles or pasta.
HANDLES: EASY TO FOLD AND RUGGED
Most backpacking pots have hinged handles that fold away when not in use. Make sure these hinge and swing without much resistance. Also, make sure they are rugged as you will be using them when you remove the pot off of your stove or pour out the hot water.
These metal handles will get hot on the stove. Some pots add rubber coatings to prevent you from burning your fingers, but they can melt off and are not practical for any kind of fire use. Look for cookware with bare-metal handles and grab a small cloth (bandanna, towel, sock, etc) to hold the handles when they are hot.
MEASUREMENT GRADIENTS: ETCHED INSTEAD OF PAINTED
Little tick marks on the inside of your pot can be super helpful to quickly eyeball measurements for cooking. I wouldn’t buy a pot without them. Measuring a little more accurately can prevent your noodles from turning into a watery sludge. or, on the contrary, a dry and crunchy paste. Try to find gradient lines that etched into the pot itself and not painted. Lines that are painted eventually wash off, leaving you to guess where you should fill your water.
WEIGHT: UNDER 5 OZ FOR A SINGLE POT
Your target weight will vary based on the materials you choose for your pot. In general, the lighter, the better as long as you are not compromising quality.
- Titanium: The average titanium pot weighs around 3-4 ounces and holds 650ml. They are among the lightest pots you can purchase. It helps that most titanium pots are on the smaller size, with a capacity of 1L or less.
- Aluminum: Aluminum pots tend to be bigger and, and, as a result, heavier to carry around. The typical aluminum pot holds 1L and weighs about 8 to 9 ounces. Aluminum is soft and dents easily, so you don’t want to go so light that your pot is easily damaged.
- Stainless steel: Much heavier than their aluminum or titanium counterparts. A 1.5L stainless steel pot weighs a whopping 20-ounces. Most stainless steel cookware is sold in sets and is meant for car camping or short distance backpacking where weight is not a concern.
Measurements, retractable handles and a snug lid are must-haves.
Best Backpacking Cookware: Single Pots
Evernew Titanium Pasta Pot
Capacity: 750 ml
Super light weight, compact and strong pot. To my knowledge, the Evernew Pasta Pot is the lightest pot on the market with this much capacity. On top of being feather light, the lid has a built-in strainer handy for letting steam out and straining your favorite noodles. Complete with graduated measurements and rubberized coated handles. It is an exceptionally well-made pot and feels solid in your hand. It comes complete with graduated measurements in both milliliters and ounces. The ounce measurements are marked as 10 and 15 ounces instead of 8 ounces (1 cup) and 12 ounces (1.5 cups), which are the volumes you typically use for backpacking meals. Rubber-coated handles provide extra grip and let you move the pot when it is hot. When you are done cooking, the fuel canister and a pocket stove fit nicely inside the pot.
🛒 Available at Amazon.
Capacity: 700 ml
Vargo coined the name “BOT” as a shortened nickname for Bottle Pot. What makes this piece of titanium so awesome is that it functions effectively as both a bottle and a pot. The BOT comes equipped with a watertight screw-top lid for an easy access drink on the trail. It also excels at cold-soaking thanks to this leak-proof lid. It’s one of the few pots that let you cook one meal and cold-soak the next. Once at camp, the lid doubles as a cooking lid for boiling or simmering. You do have to be careful threading the pot so it’s not misaligned. The lid also sometimes sticks due to pressure changes from hiking or sealing hot food inside the pot. Just use something slim like a credit card and slide it between the lid and the pot to break the seal. The pot includes graduated measurements and foldaway handles (700ml version). It’s also big enough to hold a small gas cylinder, a stove, and a lighter or matches.
🛒 Available at Amazon. Also check out the larger 1 liter BOT.
MSR Titan Kettle
Capacity: 850 ml
Just a few fractions of an ounce heavier than the Evernew, the MSR Titan Kettle is another great ultralight backpacking pot with a little bit more cooking capacity. It’s a sturdy pot with handles that provide a solid grip especially when the pot is full. A unique feature is that the lid fits tightly. and with a drip-free spout, it makes it easy to pour hot water without any mess or endangering your hands. The top-lid handle is insulated, making it easy to lift off the lid when cooking. The side handles are not, though. You literally can stick it in the fire and not worry about melting the handles. Our biggest gripe with the Titan Kettle is its height. The kettle is a tad too short to fit some fuel canisters. The canisters slide nicely into the pot, but you can’t use the lid.
🛒 Available at MSR.
Capacity: 750 ml
The Toaks Titanium is an outstanding value. It is a well-made pot for a fraction of the price (under $40!) of other pots. It’s a lightweight pot, weighing in just under 4 ounces. Because it is so light and thin, you do have to treat it gently. It can get crushed or dented easily. Depending on the damage, you may not be able to attach the lid securely. The pot comes with a lockable lid grip, which means the triangle at the top will stand freely without falling – making it easy to take on and off while in use. Comes with a nice stuff sack, foldaway handles, steam holes, internal gradation. No rubber coatings either so you don’t have to worry about melting them off. The 750ml version is the perfect size for a small fuel canister, pocket stove, matches/lighter, and even a collapsible mug that you can store at the top instead of the lid.
🛒 Available at Amazon. Also see the related Vargo Ti-Lite 750.
Snow Peak Trek 700 Titanium
Capacity: 700 mL
The Snow Peak Titanium Trek 700 achieves the perfect balance between weight and usability. The pot is lightweight, weighing just under 5 ounces, but it doesn’t scrimp on features. The Trek 700 has a lid with a drain hole/strainer so you can boil up some ramen and pour off the water without losing your noodles. The 700ml vessel is the perfect size for one or two people. It holds plenty of water and can double as a storage container for your canister, stove, and more. It’s roomy enough for a Jetboil press. Even the Jetboil lid fits it if you don’t like the stock titanium lid. One gripe . the cover sits flush but does not snap into the pot. If you are not careful, it may fall off when you are daring water. It also may come off inside your back, spilling all your cooking contents.
🛒 Available at Amazon.
Best Backpacking Cookware – 2 Piece Sets
Vargo Titanium Ti-Boiler
Pot 900 ml
Pan 400 ml
Vargo Titanium Ti-Boiler is a two-piece cooking kit with a larger pot and a lid that functions as a small pan. The Ti-Boiler lid is uniquely designed to nest on top of the mug. It can be used as a double boiler allowing you to get creative with your food. You can boil water below in the cup for pasta and heat your sauce on top in the pan). The lid can also be used separately as a pan, which is handy if you want to cook something quickly. The cup and lid fit snugly and have a sleek and seamless ultralight titanium construction. Both the pot and the lid/pan have foldaway handles without any rubber insulation.
🛒 Available at Amazon.
Evernew Deep Pot
Pot 900 ml
Pan 250 ml
Evernew continues to push the weight limits of backpacking cookware with the Deep Pot combo pot and pan cook set. Not only do you get a quality pot, but you also get a lid that functions as a pan with little to no hit in weight. Like most Evernew gear, the construction is solid and meant to stand up to the abuse of the trail. Both pieces come with insulated silicone on the handles. We especially like the silicone’s red color, which makes it easy to see in dim light conditions. Other bonuses include internal gradations for easy measurement and a nylon mesh stuff sack to hold all the pieces together when you’re not hiking.
🛒 Available at Amazon.
Keith Titanium Set
Pot 1200 ml
Pan 400 ml
The Keith Titanium cook set is for those times when you want to go big or go home. The massive 1200 ml pot is nearly double the capacity of our smaller single pots. This extra capacity is perfect for serious backcountry chefs or small groups needing to cook larger scale meals. The pieces fit together to offer a double boiler function – up to 1600 ml at a time!. Unfortunately, there are no graduated measurements, which is a major oversight in a pot this size. It’s tough to eyeball a cup of water in a pot this big, and nobody wants to carry around a measuring cup. Like most pots, the Keith Titanium cook set has a fold away and non-insulated handles. It also comes in at a great price – the Keith Set often sells for less than $60.
🛒 Available at Keith Titanium.
Toaks Titanium Set
Pot 1100 ml
Pan 280 ml
The Toaks Titanium 2-piece cook set is a great mid-size ultralight backpacking cookware set for backcountry cooking. Like most of Toak’s products, the pot and pan set is made with high-quality titanium and a rock-solid construction. The cook set strikes a nice balance between capacity and weight. It offers a little more volume than a standalone pot without adding too much extra weight. Unlike the other two-piece cook sets on our list, the Toaks Titanium cannot be used as a double boiler. You can use the pot and pan separately, but not together since they do not nest in that orientation. Both the pot and the pan have metal foldaway handles that are not insulated.
🛒 Available at Amazon.
How to Clean a Titanium Pot?
There are three common ways to clean your pot while outdoors. Which one you choose depends upon how dirty your pot is and how much effort you want to put into cleaning.
- METHOD 1 👅: You can follow the ultralight backpacker’s simple approach. Just lick your pot clean and dry it with a t-shirt. When in town, take the time to clean it properly with warm water and soap.
- METHOD 2 🌲: Take advantage of natural cleaning agents by adding a splash of water to your pot and scrubbing it with pine needles. Follow up by air drying it or wiping it dry with a towel or shirt.
- METHOD 3 🧼: If your pot is really dirty, you may have to wash it with soap and water. Scoop water from a water source and walk away so you don’t contaminate the water source with your residual food. Clean your pot properly with camp soap and a small sponge if you have one. Dry the pot with a camp towel before packing it away.
By Chris Cage
Chris launched Greenbelly Meals in 2014 after thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail for 6 months. Since then, Greenbelly has been written up by everyone from Backpacker Magazine to Fast Company. He wrote How to Hike the Appalachian Trail and currently works from his laptop all over the globe. Instagram: @chrisrcage.
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Best backpacking cookware and titanium pots for your ultralight backcountry kitchen. Top considerations including material, titanium, stainless steel, aluminum and cast iron. Capacity and volume, measurement gradients. Here are 2020's best 1-piece pots and 2-piece cooksets including Vargo, Toaks, Evernew, and more.
TOAKS LIGHT Titanium 650ml Pot
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The TOAKS LIGHT Titanium Pots are an even lighter version of the Titanium Pots as they’re made from titanium with a 0.3mm thickness. Although you save even more weight you still don’t loose out on the useful feature set such as fold away handles, internal graduation lines and lid with steam holes.
An even lighter version of the Titanium 650ml Pot, ideal for use when every ounce counts. This ultralight pot is made of thin titanium material of 0.3mm thickness. Comes with a lid with lockable grip and a mesh sack.
Titanium is one of the lightest materials on the market, and TOAKS does a great job integrating it into their products so you will not only have some of the lightest gear available, but it will be incredibly durable and perform well in the backcountry.
The TOAKS LIGHT Titanium Pots are an even lighter version of the Original Titanium Pot s as they’re made from a titanium with a 0.3mm thickness. Obviously this means it wont be as durable as the originals but sometimes you just need to make a decision between between whats more important on your trip, weight or durability. Although you save more weight with the LIGHT range of titanium pots, you don’t loose out on the useful feature set such as fold away handles, internal graduation lines and lid with steam holes.
The handle loops still have indentation on the bottoms so it’s more comfortable on your fingers, and the lids still feature a wire tab which makes checking on your food easy and burn free.
TOAKS LIGHT Titanium 650ml Pot available now at Ultralight Outdoor Gear with FREE UK+EU Delivery, in-depth reviews, full tech specs & helpful buying advice.