GSI Backpacking Kettle Field Report

January 24, 2010

A little while back I wrote a short piece on a new GSI backpacking tea kettle I had received (Original Post) and while I had done a couple tests in the comforts of my home, today I got to use it for real. I love rainy days so a rare ~50F degree winter day promising steady rains might not spark much excitement in the normal person, but to me this meant a great day for hiking! I never claimed to be normal. Rain normally spoils most hikes, but for me I would rather hike in the rain than the sunniest of days. Good rain gear is essential, but it’s not that hard to do. A Marmot Precip lightweight rain jacket over a fleece and synthetic long-sleeved t-shirt and some polypropylene long-underwear under a pair of nylon zip-off pants, and my North Face Surge daypack and I’m off. I brought along the GSI kettle and my Coleman F1 Ultralight stove with a small canister of Jetboil fuel… and most importantly some Song Zhong Dan Cong. The darker flavor with hints of peach would be perfect after a few hours of cold and wet hiking.

After about 5 miles I found a small wooden bench along the trail which would be the perfect spot to test out the kettle and down some tuna salad and crackers. I set up the stove and poured 16oz. of cool water into the kettle which rested perfectly stable on the diminutive backpacking stove. From the initial flame to boil was about 2 minutes, maybe 2.5 at most! That’s pretty fast! I brewed up some tea in my stainless steel mug as the rain poured down and the warmth of the mug was sublime on cold hands. The tea was exactly what I needed, and with about 8oz. of water left in the kettle I made a quick packet of Lipton chicken noodle soup. Belly warm and full I began to repack the gear for the journey homeward. The kettle was completely cool in just the short time it took me to drink the soup! A big bonus. The stove took a bit longer to cool down for packing. The only drawback was that when pouring the last of the water for the soup I had to tilt the kettle almost vertical and my initial concerns about the loose-fitting lid were correct, it would flop out if not held in place during pouring. They do have a nice rubberized handle on the lid to make this easy even with bare hands, but it just seems so unnecessary. I’ll probably make a small modification to have the lid fit snugly, but it really isn’t a major deal. When I repacked the small fuel canister, it felt barely used! Since the rain was picking up and the stove was still hot I decided to just heat another 10oz. of water for a second cup for the last 2 miles. Less than 2 minutes to the start of a boil, even with cold rain and wind! packed it all away and enjoyed the last leg while sipping some hot Song Zhong which made the miles seem like feet.

Completely happy with the performance and utility of this kettle in about as poor conditions as possible. Even after the second boil I would mistake the small canister for a fresh one! Almost no major fuel use which is a massive plus for this kettle. A great addition to the pack.