The Vault Regulars

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The great lightweight gear myth

Earlier last year i started to make  serious inroads into lightweight backpacking gear after many years of not really taking it too seriously.
How i carried some of the stupid weights of the past, only my now knackered back can tell you.
Without a shadow of a doubt it is the right way to proceed though and this post is just a wake up call for me if nobody else. 

After reading numerous recent lightweight gear reviews of the benefits of going the Titanium way, and as an engineer i agreed with the reviews, i fell into the trap. 

Looking on the web I cringed at the prices, anything from £15 - £25 just for a mug! 
I took the plunge and bought a Titanium mug from Lifeventure for £15 and saying to myself "if you want to make inroads into pack weight you have to pay for it". I know this or i thought i did.

It arrived, wonderful, gosh, isn't it light we all said!
Into the backpacking gear it went and out went the old mugs into the reserve store. I was a happy bunny, until today.
 I was putting some gear back into the loft. From one of the bags my old polypropylene cup fell out. It brought back many memories. It has certainly travelled around the world and has completed thousands of miles. It still looked in good nick.
When i picked it up i realised it was quite lightweight. How can this be, it's 20 yrs old. 
I decided to weigh the 2 cups just because i could and lo and behold here are the results.

The Titanium cup

The Polypropylene cup
Titanium mug 60 gr.            Polypropylene mug 57 gr,  
What! how can this be, the Titanium mug should be lighter surely. 

So the moral of this post is:- be aware before parting with your hard earned cash exactly what you are getting. I wasted £30 because i bought 2 mugs thinking they would be lighter.
 The original poly cups are still available today from dozens of places at a cost of between £1- £2. We got swept away on the Euphoria, YOU don't have to be, just check first.

On the benefit side, if you want to use the Titanium cup as a cooking pot then weight wise you win hands down, but that's not what we wanted them for.  On the down side they are not that good to drink from because they hold the heat and you can burn your lips if you are unaware. The poly cups do a better job of doing what they were made for, being Mugs. (oh sorry the mugs me!)


Mac E said...

I fully agree, I bought ti mugs as I could use them directly on a stove but since I can't do that with a cone windshield designed for a bigger pot or with the Reactor I've gone back to a polymug. Much nicer to drink from than titanium for the reasons you mention.

AlanR said...

Hi Richard,
I have made a cone windshield in the past to suit the mug but being honest i didn't get results which made me go in that direction. The flames on my stoves are much wider than the mug base so most of the heat gets lost.

Even the gram weenie didn't suit.
Esbit tabs might, but i havn't tried them with the mug. I may give it a go sometime.

Mac E said...

I think all things considered you might as well use a bigger pot with a cone to suit if you wish and just carry a polymug to drink from. I actually cut the handle off mine, not to save weight but so it would fit inside a tibetan ti 450ml mug.

Another ti product that I'm unconvinced about is V section tent pegs with slots or holes cut to save weight, I find the Hampton Works alloy V's to be just as light at 12g but while they'll bend under strain the ti ones buckle, there's something on PTC which shows a ti V peg that collapsed just where the holes/slots are.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tip! I've been toying with getting titanium for a while but the prices (and my perfectly serviceable plastic cups and sporks) have put me off

AlanR said...

I agree with you. I do like my Titanium Evernew 600. For us two it's perfect and it was a weight saving on my previous pot. I have made a couple of new stoves specifically to fit into it. I will be trying them out from Sunday onwards.
I will have a look at PTC when i get back. Thanks.

Yasmine, Thanks for your comment and i am glad to have been of help.
I also have a Titanium Spork which i never use and it's no lighter than the Light my Fire sporks we always turn to..

Tony Bennett said...

I've had two plastic mugs in 30 years. The first got split ion a caving trip. I was gutted. I'm not sure about the evernew pans as I mentioned in my blog recently. Depends what you want to cook in them. Hope you have good weather in the Lakes. I love Eskdale and the Duddon Valley though the pub in Boot isn't the same without Josie ;)

Martin Rye said...

Hail the plastic mug. Good point Alan. On cheep I will get a photo of my new 89p super light stove on the blog this weekend. Who says going light is expensive.

-maria- said...

Thanks for this post! I've just begun to reduce the weight of my pack, and you made me weigh my (old, not fancy at all) plastic cup - 34 gr! Seems that I cannot go much lighter here :)

AlanR said...

Tony, I only boil water in the pan, i never "cook" anything. So it's ideal. Especially suits my new stove.
Good old Josie, i remember those days, say no more, children may read this.

Looking forward to seeing the cat can stove. Not sure when i will be back on line after today.

No problem, No i don't think you will find much less than 34g but you never know what crops up on blogs like this. It's a challenge open to be beaten now. But lets keep the challenge to be a proper cup and not a cut down coke can etc... Alan

Laura said...

This is a good post - makes you wonder how many other 'innovations' are not what they seem!

AlanR said...

Hi Laura, thanks it just shows you how easy it is to fall into a trap. If you don't check.

Unknown said...

I just have an MSR Titan Kettle for cooking (well, boiling water and making porridge) and I drink directly from it. Also, I find that a drop or three of water from the platypus around the lip area cools it enough to drink from straight away - I find titanium weird like that, it will cool extremely quickly with a bit of cold water.

AlanR said...

Thanks Maz. I will try that out.

selfpowered said...

ha, yes, good review! keeps things in perspective dunnit!!

Our cook kit is a 2ltr pot for food, and plastic picnic bowls and cups from Woolworth. Maybe not as elegant as titanium, but when cooking for 2 i wouldn't do owt else. Future solo trips where i can cook and eat from 1 pot might necessitate a ti-treat ;p

nice blog, all the best

AlanR said...

Hi David, Thanks for your comment. It goes to show that we can go lightweight without spending a fortune.
I hadn't come across your blog before. I have taken a quick look and when i have finished my posts in a few days i will take a closer look. Regards.

markswalkingblog said...

Alan, your post has confirmed some of the thoughts I have had, since I found a old aluminum Gaz Globertotter pan that is 30 years old and it is lighter than a similar Ti pot. Saved me about £35. I do use a Ti mug for boiling water and don't usually take a separate pot with me so you can save weight + space with this.
I take a plastic folding cup and plate sometimes. Weighs practically nothing and slips down the inside of pack unfolded.

Just goes to show that the latest new kit isn't always better than stuff made years ago

AlanR said...

Hi Mark.
I too have a folding mug but i didn't get along with it. It's a type of soft rubber material that folds inside itself. Coffee just tasted horrible. I would be interested in what type you have.
I pre-prepare our breakfasts, putting everything into a small clear food bag. We just add water to the bag and eat it straight from there. It means we don't have to carry a dish or anything. Cost about 1p per bag.
There are inexpensive options to going light.

markswalkingblog said...

It is a folding flat product that I got from Bob at backpackinglight. I have had a look at the site tonight and they have a similar range of products as a set called Flatworld.

AlanR said...

Thanks for the info.

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