Are you looking to drop weight, and switch to using a kettle for your backpacking cooking?  We tested the MSR Titan Ultralight Titanium Kettle this summer and came away impressed with this light kettle.

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The verdict

The MSR Titan is a nifty little beast of an ultralight kettle. It’s definitely not the cheapest camp pot we’ve ever used, but it’s compact, versatile and super light. We expect to carry it on all our adventures, whether to cook or just make a cup of coffee, for years to come.

Overview

The MSR Titan Ultralight Titanium Kettle is a light, compact kettle that does double (or triple) duty as a cooking pot, a cup or a bowl or  pretty much anything you need it to be. Titanium strikes the perfect balance of weight and strength, and it perfectly complements the Titan 2 Pot set for a complete cooking set.

When to use

Backpacking, backcountry touring, climbing, hiking – anytime you need a lightweight and compact pot to boil water or just eat out of in place of a bowl. It’s light enough for one person, and mainly intended for just that, but large enough to cook for two.

Weight

3 ounces (85g), 4.2 oz. (118 g) with lid.

Pros

Weight to Space. The MSR Titan weighs only 3.1 oz (88 g) but holds 28 ounces (0.85L) (). It’s not the lightest cup, nor the largest, but a good balance for lightweight travel and packing.

Tough Titanium Build. Titanium weighs about half of what stainless steel does but is generally much tougher. We feel quite confident that this kettle will last a long, long time, even with some pretty tough use. It heats quite quickly, too.

Strong Handles. The folding wire handles are sturdy and stable when folded out, making it easy to pick up. They also lock firmly into place when folded up.

Cons

Not Non-Stick. If you’re just boiling water for coffee or tea, you won’t notice this. But if you’re cooking up some hot meals, be ready to do some scraping afterwards to get things clean.  But let’s be serious, who’s cooking elaborate meals with a kettle in the backcountry?  If you are, please let us know.  We’d like to hear more!

No Measuring Markers. Maybe not a big deal, overall, but having markers on the inside would make whipping up those freeze-dried meals and cups of java so much easier.

Handles Get Hot. The handles sit close to the heat and get hot very quickly. If you’re just using this for eating, then it’s not much of a problem.  If you’re cooking the handles get piping hot and a bit of insulation would certainly be welcome and would make this pot so much more convenient to use.  We usually kept a glove handy when cooking.

MSR Ultralight Titan Kettle
MSR Ultralight Titan Kettle

Titanium build + compact design

If you’re buying the Titan, it’s probably for two reasons. The first is that it’s from MSR, and they know what they’re doing. The second is that it’s titanium, which means it’s lightweight and compact but still ultra-durable.

As mentioned, titanium weighs about half of what stainless steel does in the same size/shape, but is just as strong, if not stronger. As a result, the Titian has a spacious 28-oz (0.85L) capacity and a solid, thick wall construction but still only weighs just over 3 oz (88 g). Throw in the lid and it’s still only 4.2 ounces (188 g) altogether.

At 4.2 oz (119 g), this kettle is light enough to justify bringing it on ultralight hikes where all you want to do is boil water, and is negligible on longer, heavier hikes, where several pounds of gear already occupy your pack. After bringing it with us on many backcountry expeditions, we can say it’s plenty sturdy and durable, and withstands almost any knock or accidental spill off a rock or inside your pack.

At 0.85L inside, it’s the perfect size for cooking on solo backpacking and camping trips. It could accommodate cooking for two if it’s a rather simple meal, like rice, canned soup or a dried meal. At 5” (13 cm) wide, it’s easy to stir and cook with, and still sits stably on your camp stove burner.

The nifty titanium lid fits on tightly and stays in place as you pour water out, e.g. when straining pasta. It even has a small rubber-coated handle that can be left pointed upward to grab and pull off easily.

 

Good cooking surface

MSR’s little design details all contribute to a complete package, like the rounded corners that help transfer heat more evenly and help keep food from sticking during cooking. As it doesn’t have any kind of non-stick coating, food will still stick, especially if you cook over high heat. Expect to have some residue left behind that needs a bit of scraping to get off. A general rule when cooking anything is, of course, to use oil whenever possible and allow it to preheat for maximum non-stick.

The rolled lips at the top are there to keep the pot from warping over high heat, possible when left empty. They also help the lid fit much more securely.

When it’s time to pack up and get back on the trail, the 0.85L capacity provides enough room for your stove burner, a spork or utensil kit, and washcloth, or your gas canister itself. It also nests perfectly with the Titan Cup.

One noticeable drawback to titanium is that it isn’t a solid insulator the way other metals are, like aluminum or cast iron. Hot meals and drinks will get cold very quickly once removed from the heat.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, of course, if you’re just making a quick cup of coffee, or if you like to scarf your food down as soon as it’s safely edible. But it also means that food burns quickly when cooking on high heat. That means scraping and cleaning afterwards.

Strong wire handles

Nothing dooms a piece of camping cookware faster than cheap, weak handles. MSR, thankfully, didn’t skimp on the Titan Kettle’s metal wire handles. They’re thick enough to feel more “metal” than “wire,” lock firmly into place, and are obviously sturdy enough to hold the weight of a full pot.

When you don’t need them, they slap firmly back against the side of the pot and stay there.

Our only complaint is that the handles get very hot overheat. This isn’t uncommon, especially for a pot this small where the handles sit so close to the flame. Since titanium isn’t a great insulator, they cool down fast. We think it would be a major improvement if MSR had rubber or silicone insulation on the handles to make them easier to grab onto when water starts boiling. That would, of course, add extra weight. Perhaps that is why MSR left them off.

Should you buy the MSR ultralight titan kettle?

The MSR Titan kettle is a great kettle at a good price point.  If you’re looking for a kettle to cook and eat with, then the Titan is a great option.