It all began a year ago when I received a funny-looking thing for my birthday from my brother and his wife. “It’s a pot for cooking; we thought it would be good for your hiking and camping trips,” she explained. I had to examine it a bit to understand what it was: a collapsible cooking pot, made of aluminum and silicone. With no backpacking or canoe trips in my immediate future, I put it away with similar equipment (and apparently almost forgot about it).
Now fast-forward to this year, while I was preparing for a spring trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. REI had just started its annual sale, and I was there to pick up what maps and dehydrated meals I’d need for the trip. I was really hoping to make fish soup up there (pending a good catch, of course), and since Sea to Summit X-Pots were all on sale, I considered picking one up. It was then I remembered that I “might have one of those at home….” Sure enough, I did. Mine turned out to be a 4 liter X-Pot; I was thrilled to be able to toss it into the dry bag.
The X-Pots & X-Series
The X-Pot comes in three different sizes: 1.4 liter, 2.4 liter, and 4 liter. Each features a translucent plastic lid that also doubles as a strainer. The lid is attached by silicone tabs when not in use, which I imagine will also serve to protect your fingers when tipping the pot to strain liquids through the lid. The rim is reinforced with an embedded stainless steel ring to keep the pot rigid. On the whole, it is literally a solid piece of engineering.
Sea to Summit has designed an entire line of cookware and dinnerware based on the collapsible silicone vessel. From the 4-liter X-Pot all the way down to the X-Shot, there is a wide range of sizes available that are all designed to “collapse and nest neatly with other X-Series pieces to form a small disc that can easily slide into a pack, car or picnic tote.” For this trip, I picked up an X-Bowl, which I knew we would use every morning for oatmeal. Not only was it easy to clean, it also features a hard bottom that is suitable for use as a cutting board. I put it to the test cutting my onions, and afterwards it showed nary a scar or nick from my knife. I was impressed.
First Time Out
On our first good day of fishing, my wife caught her first lake trout, a gorgeous specimen of almost 20 inches. When escalating winds forced us to go ashore for an early lunch, I started the preparations for what I now call “Forager’s Fish Soup.” I popped the pot open to its full capacity and perched it atop the backpacking (isopropane) stove. I was a bit worried that the large-diameter pot might not sit solidly on a comparatively small heating appliance, but it never appeared unstable; the bigger challenge was actually finding a flat and stable enough surface for the stove to sit on.
The anodized aluminum base of the pot proved to be an able conductor of heat while I sautéed the onions, and I soon needed to adjust the heat downward. This was judged to be a good thing because when the pot was filled, I wouldn’t want to waste excess fuel on heating the pot itself. (I have since learned that I should not have used the pot to do my sautéing, as this may cause damage to the silicone. For this use, they offer the lightweight X-pan.) Once the water and the rest of the ingredients were added, the whole pot did indeed come to a simmer in a hurry.
After the meal, the pot was easily cleaned and its traveling contents were restored. In the interest of saving space on this trip, I used the X-Pot to store not only the X-Bowl, but also tortillas, all our instant coffee packets, tea bags, and other drink mixes. In this way, a person could also store other, more fragile things for transport on a similar trip. I suppose the sky is the limit when it comes to what a person could stow in there.
Overall, I was very happy with the functionality and performance of my X-Pot on its debut outing. While staring down the options at REI, I considered getting either the smallest size X-Pot in 1.4 liter, or the 1.3 liter X-Pot Kettle. Either of these would have proven too small for the volume of soup I ended up making. The 2.8 liter X-Pot probably would have been the Goldilocks size in this case, but I was glad for the pot I have- it’s better to have too much volume than too little. All of these sizes would of course have their own moments to shine, based on what you want to cook and for how many people. The only drawback is that on a weight-conscious trip like backpacking or bike touring, you would probably want the single best pot for the job since they range in weight from 9 to 19 ounces. At approximately 2 and a half pounds for the whole X-Pot set, you’d have to make choices.
Pay attention to the use and cleaning instructions on the packaging and on Sea to Summit’s website; it would be a shame to damage your X-Pot, because they appear to be built for a lifetime of use. I look forward to my next outing with my X-Pot, as well as some of its related companions. Soup, anyone?