Titanium is, to put it simply, a super neat material. It boasts a high strength-to-weight ratio and low thermal expansion, is resistant to corrosion, and is totally non-toxic. It’s commonly used for aerospace engineering, medical implants, and now… cooking your ramen!
Titanium cookware is a favorite of lightweight backpackers, bikepackers, alpine climbers, and others for whom weight is a top concern. Many titanium pots are now affordable enough to attract the attention of non-gram-counters as well. If you often prepare your trail meals by simply boiling water, there’s little reason not to use a titanium backpacking pot. When cooking with fresh ingredients there’s a risk of scorching your food, but it’s possible with practice, so bring on the ultralight backcountry feasts.
I’ve been using various titanium backpacking cookware for about ten years on my hiking and bikepacking adventures. I love its light weight, distinctive luster, and durability (every item in my collection is still going strong). I’m a perfect use case for titanium pots: mostly boiling water for rehydrating meals, but occasionally cooking something more substantial in town. Yes I’ve scorched some food, but I’ve survived.
This article covers all you need to know about titanium cookware for backpacking: its considerable advantages, some important drawbacks to be aware of, and a roundup of the most popular titanium pots, pans, and sets available.
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The biggest reason to use titanium cookware for backpacking is simple: titanium pots are lighter. Titanium is a relatively light metal to begin with, and its high strength-to-weight ratio allows for using less of it without sacrificing too much durability. For example, the GSI Outdoors Halulite Boiler made from hard-anodized aluminum weighs 8.6 oz while the Toaks Titanium 1100 ml with identical capacity (1.1 liters) weighs a mere 5.6 oz. Though the extra 3 oz won’t bother everyone, gram counters will note that the aluminum pot is 1.5 times heaver.
Titanium pots, being an ultralight favorite, are typically made with thin walls that transfer heat quickly. While this has downsides for cooking (see below) it’s very efficient for boiling water. Titanium also won’t leave a metallic taste in your food, doesn’t rust, and isn’t typically used with non-stick coatings.
Drawbacks of Titanium Cookware
When it comes to cookware, the lighter weight of titanium does come at a cost (literally). Titanium pots are more expensive, all else being equal. In the example above, the lighter Toaks Titanium 1100ml costs $49 while the aluminum pot from GSI Outdoors costs $40, so 22% less. That said, those on a budget can consider the cheap copycat brands on Amazon.
Titanium pots and pans are not good at distributing heat evenly. This is no issue if you mainly use your pot for boiling water to rehydrate dried meals, as many lightweight and ultralight backpackers do. But if you want to scramble up some powdered egg or fry the fish you caught in the lake, you’ll need a stove with good simmer control, some oil, and finesse to avoid charring your meal.
Though titanium is a stronger metal in general, some people say ultralight Ti pots are a bit less durable than aluminum or stainless steel. In most cases a titanium pot will last a long time and continue working well, but it may look older faster. Some users report their titanium pots warping over high heat, and it’s common to have spots of discoloration after even minimal use. It’s not recommended to cook with titanium directly on a campfire, though some people do it (and the same recommendation goes for aluminum).
Key point: Titanium cookware is light but not particularly great at distributing heat, making it ideal for people who care a lot about weight and often cook by boiling water. It’s a favorite of fast-and-light backpackers, alpine climbers, minimalist bikepackers, and others who are more interested in making forward progress than gourmet meals.
Titanium vs. Aluminum
Hard-anodized aluminum is another popular material for backpacking cookware. Compared to titanium it’s heavier, more affordable, and (perhaps most importantly) transfers heat efficiently and evenly to your food. If you like to cook “real food” in the backcountry instead of just boiling water, an aluminum pot is probably worth a few extra ounces.
Titanium vs. Stainless Steel
Stainless steel is heavier than both aluminum and titanium, and it shares titanium’s tendency for hot spots that burn food. Its main selling point is its extreme durability. It will last forever and stay looking new much longer than other materials.
What Size Pot?
The biggest decision to make about any backpacking pot, titanium included, is the size. Pot sizes are denoted by the number of liters or milliliters of water they can hold. Too small and you’ll struggle to fit all your food (if doing some real cooking) or need two rounds of boiling water to prepare your whole meal. Too large and you’re carrying extra weight and bulk you don’t need.
What’s the ideal size? The smallest solo backpacking pots start around 0.5 liters (500 ml), basically just a mug. These can work for solo fast-and-light hikers eating dehydrated meals directly from the pot. Many solo backpackers prefer a bit more volume, around 0.75 or 0.8 liters, so there’s extra water for a hot drink or cleaning dishes. If you cook directly in your pot instead of just boiling water, err on the larger side.
If sharing with a partner, 0.8 liters is about as small as you want to go. Pots in the range of 0.8 to 1.3 liters work well for pairs. If you hike solo at times and with a partner at others, it’s reasonable to use a pot in the 0.8 liter range for both (unless you’re a major gram counter when solo).
For larger groups, especially those doing real cooking, look at pots from 1.5 liters on up. It’s less common to find titanium pots in this range since Ti is usually a favorite of fast-and-light folks, but there are a few. At 2 liters the MSR Big Titan Kettle is one of the biggest titanium backpacking pots.
Titanium Pots for Backpacking
Below you’ll find a roundup of the most popular and well-reviewed titanium pots for backpacking. For simplicity, models that come in multiple sizes are grouped together under one listing.
Sizes: 550, 650, 750, 900 ml
Weights: 2.6, 2.8, 3.6, 4.0 oz
Prices: $30, $37, $27, $45
Simple, ultralight, and surprisingly affordable, this is my personal go-to titanium pot. It’s available in four sizes geared mostly toward the solo backpacker, but the 900 ml size (available in two shapes) is perfect for sharing with a partner.
Size: 550, 650, 750 ml
Weight: 3.7, 3.9, 4.3 oz
Price: $25, $28, $29
Of all the budget copycat brands selling titanium backpacking pots on Amazon, Lixada is one of the most established in the outdoor space. Their line of solo pots looks suspiciously similar to those from Toaks, and though they’re slightly cheaper the difference is actually pretty small. That said, if you’re looking for an ultralight titanium pot on a budget and can find a coupon for these on Amazon, they will save you a few dollars.
Size: 700 ml
Weight: 4.8 oz
This small titanium pot from Japanese brand Snow Peak is designed for the solo ultralighter who eats directly from their pot. It’s simple, lightweight, and nests well with Snow Peak’s smaller 450 mug if you want to eat food and drink a hot beverage at the same time. The lid has a slot for draining pasta, though some gram counters say it’s relatively heavy compared to the mug.
Size: 700 ml, 1 L
Weight: 4.8, 5.5 oz
Price: $100, $110
Vargo takes the ultralight mantra of multi-use gear to another level with this line of titanium backpacking pots. The BOT 700 and 1 liter BOT HD both feature a unique screw top lid designed for pre-soaking meals in your pack for faster cook times, and/or doubling as a water bottle between meals. These pots, though expensive, are perfect for the minimalist thru hiker or fast-and-light backpacker obsessed with streamlining their gear list and camp routine.
Size: 0.85 L, 2 L
Weight: 4.2, 6 oz
Price: $70, $100
This simple pot from MSR comes in two sizes, 0.85 liters for solo backpackers (or a minimalist pair) and a 2 liter size that’s one of largest titanium backpacking pots available. The pour spout is a nice feature for draining pasta. These pots are relatively expensive though, and reviewers on REI report that they’re not as durable as expected, even for ultralight gear.
Size: 900, 1300 ml
Weight: 4.1, 4.6 oz
Price: $74, $77
These medium-size titanium pots from Japanese brand Evernew are extremely lightweight for their size, ideal for a pair of gram counters who share a pot. The insulated handles are a nice touch that most others in the category omit.
Size: 900, 1400 ml
Weight: 6.0, 7.4 oz
Price: $60, $70
This set is ideal for those who mostly boil water but occasionally want to fry fresh ingredients. It includes a lid that doubles as a pan, but as with other titanium pans you’ll need low heat and a watchful eye to avoid burning your food. Like Toaks, Snow Peak is a favorite titanium cookware brand among ultralight backpackers. I’ve used a mug of theirs for the past 9 years and it’s still going strong.
Size: 1 L
Weight: 4.1 oz
The perforated lid on this unique design from Evernew makes it especially easy to drain pasta. Even if you don’t cook pasta on the trail, it’s a solid option for boiling water thanks to its thin walls, very light weight, and insulated handles.
Sizes: 1100, 1600 ml
Weights: 5.6, 8.2 oz
Prices: $49, $55
These two larger pots in the Toaks lineup come with lids that double as frying pans. A set like this is handy if you mostly boil water but occasionally fry up fresh foods like eggs and bacon or burgers for a treat. Because the set is titanium the pan is prone to hot spots and scorching, so make sure you keep a very close eye on your food. If you want to do a lot of backcountry pan frying, an aluminum set would be better.
Size: 770 ml and 1 L pots
Weight: 11.6 oz
If you’re sharing titanium backpacking cookware amongst a group, this set is the lightest you can get. It includes two pots, both with lids that double as pans (or plates), all nicely nested together for compact size. As with all titanium backpacking cookware, oil and a stove with good simmer control are helpful to avoid burning food in the pans.
Titanium cookware might be the star attraction, but titanium dinnerware (bowls, plates, mugs, utensils) is arguably an even better use for such an ultralight and durable metal. Titanium cookware’s main drawback, the tendency to scorch food, isn’t an issue if you’re not cooking in it.
Cost is the main downside to titanium backpacking dinnerware. Since it doesn’t need to survive an open flame like a pot does, there are cheaper ways to go ultralight (Talenti gelato containers, for example) and the weight difference is fairly small. It can feel splurge-y, but it will last a long time and might be more pleasant to eat from than a DIY hack. Nine years ago my husband and I received a pair of Snow Peak 450 mugs as a gift, which seemed extravagant at the time, but they’re still going strong and we love them!
Titanium mugs are useful for any backpacker who wants to enjoy a hot drink alongside a hot meal; you can’t use your pot for both at the same time. Look for a mug that nests inside your pot, if possible. Titanium bowls and plates are most appropriate for pairs or groups of weight-conscious backpackers sharing a single pot. Titanium spoons / sporks are probably an unnecessary luxury given how little utensils weigh in general, but what can I say, I enjoy my Toaks long-handle spoon.
If you do feel ready to invest in titanium dinnerware for its durability and weight savings, here are some favorites.
When choosing a backpacking pot, titanium or otherwise, consider these factors.
A tall and slim pot can hold the same volume as a short and squat one, but the shape impacts cooking and packing. A short wide pot is easier to cook real food in (think scrambled eggs), while a tall skinny one works great for boiling water.
Ideally you want a pot that’s well-sized for your stove. Too wide and heat isn’t transferred as efficiently; too skinny and you’re wasting fuel. In some cases a skinny pot might not even fit on your pot stand. The Toaks 750, for example, is too small for the large pot stand of my MSR International (a larger multi-fuel stove popular for international adventures) while the slightly wider Toaks 900 works great.
If your pot will double as your bowl consider the eating experience. Shorter and wider pots are usually more comfortable to eat from. If eating from a tall skinny pot you’ll definitely want a long-handled spoon.
Lastly, consider how you plan to pack your pot and stove. Ideally the pot can hold both your fuel canister and stove inside it. Think about whether you prefer the little 110g fuel canisters (great for short trips) or the more common 220g size. If you’re using a small ultralight backpack you might have limited options for where to pack your pot, so make sure it fits.
Pour Spout and Strainer Holes
There are two kinds of backpackers: those who cook pasta on the trail and those who don’t. If you want to cook real pasta and drain the water, it’s handy to have a well-fitted lid with pour spout (like the MSR Titan Kettle) or strainer holes (Evernew Titanium Pasta Pot).
Many lightweight backpackers, including myself, think cooking pasta from scratch (as opposed to ramen or dehydrated pre-cooked pasta) uses too much fuel and creates a Leave No Trace conundrum of what to do with the extra water. In all my years of backpacking I’ve never needed to strain pasta, though the need does come up occasionally while bikepacking. Lack of spout or strainer isn’t a deal breaker in this case, but a bit more care is required to drain pasta with just a lid.
These features probably won’t make or break your choice of pot, but they’re good to consider.
Measuring lines: Helpful for measuring water when rehydrating dried meals, though not strictly necessary.
Insulated handles: Adds a smidgen of weight but helps prevent burned fingers. You can get by with uninsulated handles, just use a bandana or gloves.
More Backpacking Resources
If you found this helpful, you might also like these:
- The Colorado Trail: Essential Thru Hiking FAQ
- How to Wash Clothes While Backpacking (Easily and Responsibly)
- 50 Liter Backpacks: Top Picks and Packing Tips
Or visit the backpacking section for lots more.
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