Gear: Collapsible Cookware by Sea to Summit

This week in my Thursday Tuck & Tech post (where I’m making an inventory of the gear I use or would like to add to my collection) I’m looking at some of my essentially un-cast iron cookware.

…because apparently cast iron is too heavy to haul up onto a mountain on a four day backpacking trip.

Yet, we still gots-to-cook.

When I was in the Scouts in my youth our troop spent many weekends in the woods. Looking back we ate incredibly simply: oatmeal, sandwiches, hot dogs, and other things that could be boiled or suspended from a stick over a fire.

We had some go-to cookware that was worn and battered by years of use. It was a nesting-doll set of thin steel pots and pans that all wrapped up neatly into a pack a little smaller than a football, tucked into a mesh bag, and rattled around from the backs our packs as we hiked in and out. They were light(ish) and a simple way to get things cooked outdoors.

So, naturally, when I moved out and started buying my own camping gear, decades ago now, one of the first things added to my collection was that identical set of steel pots and pans. You go with what you know. And they followed me up more than one mountain in my twenties.

But they were pretty simple and underwhelming as far as modern backpacking technology.

We’ve since ramped up our adventure gear game and invested in a collection of much lighter, much more compact cooking pot… and matching cups, bowls, plates, and a pretty slick collapsible coffee strainer (which I’ll likely be writing about at a later date!)

This set has followed us up on a couple of long multi-day hikes. The pandemic put a cramp on our plans for 2020, but in the couple years since we built this collection I’ve had enough practice with it to give an honest evaluation.

The silicon design has a weight that is competitive with any metal pan, and while they’re not cheap, they’re not titanium-expensive either.

Our firefly stove was able to boil up a pot of cold filtered stream water in less than ten minutes (good heat retention!) though with the silicon sides not being flame friendly, I couldn’t run the stove at full blast else risk some side flames creeping up past the metal bottom plate.

One of the negatives is that it would have been nice to pick these up as a complete set instead of piece-by-piecing our set together (from three different camping shops.) Now that our set is relatively complete that was really a small thing that I won’t need to do again. I write that only because we opted not to buy the frying pan (which I assume would likely have been part of said set) as our go-to meals on multi-day hikes tend to be rehydrated food. A pot of boiled water and some bowls serve for nearly all our adventure meals. Yet, a reliable frying pan could probably inspire some backpacking-friendly ideas in those meal plans… especially for the cast iron guy.

Overall, this set can’t compare to camping with a cast iron dutch oven, but my back routinely thanks me for the lighter approach to our adventure cooking.

Gear: Tilley H5 Hemp Hat

This week in my Thursday Tuck & Tech post (where I’m making an inventory of the gear I use or would like to add to my collection) I thought I’d write about one of my favourite hats.

Way back in 1993 I was a boy scout. I was one of twelve thousand kids who attended the 8th Canadian Scout Jamboree in nearby Kananaskis, Alberta. If you are wondering what this has to do with a hat, then just know that with some spending money in our pockets and a day trip into the town of Banff, a small group of us spent our treasure on Tilley hats as a souvenir of the week-long campout.

While I still have that Jamboree souvenir hat over a quarter century later, sadly my teenage sense of style and taste didn’t end up fitting with my adult groove. The “natural” hued cotton duck was also a little sweat-stained and grungy, and generally I really just wanted a fresh look.

That’s the logic behind why, in 2014, I upgraded and bought myself a model H5 Hemp Hat in mocha brown.

The history of the Tilley Endurables company reaches back into the eighties, and while the company has since been sold and resold, it started off as a true Canadian tale of success. For about twenty years there, if you wanted a high quality Canadian lid for your outdoor adventures, a Tilley hat was a no-brainer for your brain.

In the nearly seven years since owning this particular hat it has toured Canada, the US, Mexico, Iceland, Scotland and Ireland. It has climbed to the tops of mountains, wandered along the ocean-side beach, and explored countless forests. It has been driving, flying, cruising, boating, camping, backpacking, fishing, and represented Canada at an authentic Highland Games. In fact, I’ve worn it in no less than eight countries, and that’s all of the ones I’ve visited since acquiring it.

It’s starting to get a little sweat-stained and grungy, too.

Note: this is a piece of gear I’ve owned for a while, and this post is not an endorsement (at least, it’s not a paid one.)