This post is part of the Backpacking Gear for Beginners course.
Why do you need pots to cook?
Just like at home, you’ll need dishes and cookware on the trail for the type of meals you like to cook. If you are cooking up a gourmet meal you might need a pot, a pan and multiple stoves.
I prefer to keep things simple and boil water for everything. That requires a stove and a pot. Most of the dehydrated food bags that I make for dinners need 400 to 700 ml of water so I need to bring a pot that big. The one I usually carry is about 700 ml so if I need a lot of water for tea and a meal, then I need to boil twice. If you bring a slightly bigger pot, you can boil once for a meal and a hot drink or 2 meals. I like carrying a smaller pot.
If you like boiling a lot of water or cooking bigger meals, you might need a larger pot, 1.5 or 2 liters. Larger pots are less stable on small stoves and you still have to carry that large pot every day.
Backpacking pots and pans can come in many different materials.
Stainless steel is the cheapest and heaviest. It distributes heat well if you are trying to simmer something.
Anodized aluminum is lighter than steel and only a bit more expensive. It can be very thin but still strong. I recommend most people start with anodized aluminum cookware. It’s easy to use but still lightweight.
Titanium is the lightest material of all and considerably more expensive than both aluminum and steel. It doesn’t distribute heat well but can boil water very quickly.
As we talked about above, pots range from 500 ml up to 2 liters or more. If you are ok with boiling twice for 2 meals, then 700 to 1000 ml (1 liter) should be enough. If you want to be able to boil water for three 700 ml meals, then you’ll need something 2.5 liters or more. Bigger pots are heavier to carry.
When you are portioning water for dehydrated meals, you’ll need to measure the amount. They are often around 400, 500 or 600 milliliters. Some pots and water bottles have measurements on them. Just make sure that you have something to measure in the same measurement as your food is: milliliters or cups.
Some pots have attached handles, others don’t. They may have a separate pot grabber. This is personal preference but I prefer pots with handles so I don’t lose them or have to go looking for them. They can get hot when the pot gets hot.