When packing for a backcountry trip, the cookset is often the most spatially-awkward bit of kit. Typically it’s a cylinder that’s often already full of micro stove and fuel and it can’t swallow much else, so everything in your pack must fit around the cookset. Add in a bear canister, and you’ve got two big ole’ pains in the butt to pack around.
If you don’t mind sacrificing just a little weight, the Sea to Summit X-Pot series is a pretty clever little solution to the backpacking cookset packing problem, but it’s also great for car camping. Space saved is space saved. I’ve used the 2.8L pot as part of the “X-Set 31” of collapsible dinnerware all summer, and have even brought it on solo trips a couple times, leaving my featherlight titanium cookset at home just to see if I could do it. And I sure could.
The X-Pot (I’m using the 2.8L size) has a flexible silicone body which you very much don’t want to put a flame to, on top of a hard-anodized aluminum base that you very much do. The whole thing sort of accordions down to a flat three-quarters or so of an inch. It’s just over eight-inches in diameter. The coolest part: Two bowls and two mugs also collapse down and nest inside the larger pot. So you get a big pot, two bowls and two mugs all in an eight inch by three-quarters of an inch package. The pot also sells separately, if you’re not into the whole set.
The pot has little flop-earred handles so you can pick it up while hot, but the handles also fold back over the lid and snap it into place, securing the nested mugs and bowls when it’s time to break camp. Pretty cool.
Of course, there are downsides.
It weighs 21 ounces, which is almost four times as much as my regular cookset, the titanium mini solo from Snowpeak. But, it slides so easily into flat spots of a backpack, like some hydration sleeves, maybe in a mesh pocket on the pack’s outside, or anywhere you’ve got eight inches by one inch of free space. It’s very close to being worth the extra weight if you’re packing a cookset for two, or if you value space as much as weight.
Also, the silicone sides of the mugs tend to absorb the smells and tastes of whatever you ate or drank out of them. This is less of a problem for the pot itself since I usually just boil water in it, but if you eat some kind of dehydrated noodle dish out of a mug, it will likely have a little whiff of pad thai, or whatever, in the morning which can be an annoyance—or a bonus, I guess, if you’re into that. Frankly, I don’t really care. I’m in the backcountry, not at the counter of a Blue Bottle Coffee. It’s a miracle I can have good food and coffee out there at all, I’m not sweating it if my food mixes a little.
If you’re a hardcore, ultralight, cat food can stove person, this probably isn’t for you. If you inhabit the vast middle ground of backpackers who value comfort AND ease and packability—especially if you pack for two—the X-Set is a nice addition to your camp kitchen arsenal.
$110 • BUY
More awesome cooksets
The Snowpeak Ti-Mini is my lightweight cookset of choice. Just over five ounces, plenty of room for one person’s soups, coffee, oatmeal. $76
For only $25, the Optimus Terra Solo is an aluminum cookset almost as light as titanium at a fraction of the price.
The GSI Outdoors Halulite Microdualist Cookset is also inexpensive, nestable, and a little bit lighter than the X-Set 31, though not as packable. $55