Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Stanley Cooker and Nesting cups

A couple years ago on Bushcraft USA I first read about the Stanley Cooker and Nesting Cups set. A few months ago I was at Target with my daughter and saw that they had them in the camping department, and each bought a set. Cost was $14.95 each, plus PA's 6% sales tax.

The cookset consists of a 24 oz. stainless steel billy pot with a lid, a handle that folds over the top when not in use, and two plastic cups that fit inside the pot. The billy handle locks in place and if you keep it out of the flames stays cool to the touch.

The billy has fluid measurements stamped on one side for 8 oz./237 ml, 12 oz./355 ml, 16 oz./473 ml, and 20 oz./591 ml. This will be handy for boiling water for dehydrated meals.

The diameter at the top is about 3.75" and it's about 6" tall. After a couple inches it steps down in diameter to approximately the same outside diameter as a 32 oz. Nalgene bottle. One side of the lid has one vent hole while the other has six. You could use these to strain out water if you've cooked something like noodles in the pot.

The lid's handle is a folding plastic tab. If you will only use the pot on top of a stove this will work OK and it stays cool to the touch. However, if you're going to put the pot in a fire it'll burn off. (There are pics of this on BCUSA.) So, I removed the plastic handle with a set of dikes and replaced them with stainless steel split rings.

The original handle and now the split rings are held to the lid with a strip of stainless steel that is spot welded to the lid. Unfortunately, each end of the strip is held with three tiny spot welds. I managed to break the welds on one end of the strip on my set, so I'll need to reattach it with either a rivet or stainless steel nut and screw. Keep this weakness in mind if you plan to suspend the set by the ring. (You can lock the lid on with the handle and hang the whole thing over a fire from the split ring.)

Aside from this one shortcoming the set is very well made, especially for under $20 retail.

The two plastic cups each have a line inside near the top, which marks where 8 oz. of fluid reaches to. I like the cups. We used a set to boil water for hot chocolate and the cups were comfortable to hold with the hot liquid. A few guys on BCUSA don't care for the cups and said that it made their drinks taste like plastic, but I did not notice this. The Stanley pot will nest inside a GSI Space Saver cup, as commonly used with a Nalgene bottle. Combining the two gives you more flexibility in your cooking and eating arrangements.

As seen in various threads on BCUSA, if you take out at least one cup you can store a folding butane canister stove and small fuel canister inside the billy bot. Or, if you keep both cups, there is still plenty of room for food or drink you can prepare with this set, such as tea bags, bullion cubes, or oatmeal packets.

One thing to be aware of is that because of its shape (tall and narrow) it will take longer to boil an equivalent amount of water than a pot that is short and fat, if you're heating it from the bottom. Less surface area on the bottom means that there's less surface area to absorb heat from your heat source. However, if you put the billy in a fire, e.g., next to burning wood, the tall/narrow shape may actually allow it to absorb heat faster. This shape may also fit in some backpack pockets better than a short/fat pot.

The one real downside of this pot is that if you have large hands it may be difficult to reach into the pot and clean the bottom well. In that case you may want to use it just for boiling water or get something else.

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