One of the things I enjoy most about the mountains is moving quickly and efficiently. For over-nighters and fast-packs, one of the barriers to moving fast is the bulk and weight of the cooking equipment. Once you put a stove, gas canister and a couple stainless steel pots, your pack is already quite bulky and heavy. The Sea to Summit X-pots and the MSR Pocket Rocket stove go a long way to helping here. (See my review of the MSR Pocket Rocket.)
Sea to Summit is an Australian company, named after a 1990 solo Everest expedition which, surprise, went from the sea to the summit. It is focused on bringing high quality, lightweight, low-bulk equipment to the market. This posting focuses on the X-pots – a series of silicone-sided, collapsible pots, bowls and cups – and particularly the X-set 21, one of their most versatile sets. Although fairly expensive, retailing at $90, this meets most your cooking needs for up to two, maybe three, people for a reasonable trip.
The X-pot is 1.4litre (recommended that you don’t cook with more than 1.0litre contents), 250g, with an anodized aluminium base to allow heating. The rim is reinforced to prevent collapse, and the handles double to lock the lid down. The lid is clear, so you can see how the food is progressing, and has holes so it can double as a strainer. Don’t lock the lid down while cooking… it could result in spills and burns! Care must be taken to keep the flame from the stove form reaching the sidewalls of the pot!
Nesting inside the X-pot is the 650ml, 80g X-bowl. The base is a cut-resistant nylon base, intended to be used as a cutting board. The rim is not reinforced, since it isn’t intended to be used for pouring.
The last part of the set is the X-cup (250ml, 45g). The reinforced rim makes for easy drinking and pouring.
All three components are marked on the inside walls – showing litres on the one side and cups on the opposite. If you cut down the handles, you can fit plastic fork, spoon and knife, and a pocket knife in with the stack… all in one!!
The total weight of the set is 375g – about the weight of a beer and a Clif Bar! The side-walls of all components are BPA free, food grade, heat resistant silicone, and the set received the Backpacker Magazine 2015 Editor’s Choice award.
Some obvious, and not-so-obvious, things to be careful of with the X-pots
– Don’t crank your stove too much, or use a stove with an over-size burner, as this will endanger the side-walls
– Don’t use windshields on the stove, for the same reason
– Beware mice! They seem to love nibbling the silicone. On the other hand, I have found the mouse-hole in the size of my X-pot makes for a nice precision-pouring spout.
Sea to Summit has a wide range of other products which may also be useful, including larger pots, up to 4.0litres, coffee strainer, bowls of differing sizes and kettles. Check out their website!