VARGO TITANIUM SIERRA 750
TEST SERIES BY NANCY GRIFFITH
August 12, 2008
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5' 6" (1.68 m)
132 lb (60.00 kg)
My outdoor experience began in high school with involvement in a local canoeing/camping group called Canoe Trails. The culmination was a 10-day canoe voyage through the Quebec wilds. I've been backpacking since my college days in Pennsylvania, then for years in Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina and now mostly in the Sierra Nevada of California. Most of my trips are section hikes or loops from a few days to a week. I mostly hike in the summer and fall. I've recently discovered the virtues of lightening the load by updating some older gear, but I'm not an ultralight backpacker.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Vargo Outdoors
Year of Manufacture: 2008
Manufacturer's Website: www.vargooutdoors.com
MSRP: $39.95 US
Listed Weight: 4.5 oz (128 g)
Measured Weight: 140 g (4.9 oz)
Bowl: 76 g (2.7 oz)
Lid: 48 g (1.7 oz)
Bag: 15 g (0.5 oz)
Listed Volume: 750 ml (25 fl oz)
Measured Volume: Approx. 22 fl oz (650 ml) measured by filling the bowl with water and pouring it into a kitchen measuring cup.
Photo courtesy of Vargo Outdoors
The product tag simply states:
Titanium "Sierra 750"
Weight: 4.5 oz
Made in China
Packaged in USA
The Sierra 750 is the size of a large bowl or small pot with a ventilated lid and is pouched in a mesh drawstring bag. The bowl has a folding wire handle with a sliding handle stabilizer bar to prevent the handle from being squeezed during use. There are 6 strainer holes located near the edge of the lid on one side and one vent hole near the edge on the opposite side. The drawstring on the bag has a plastic cord lock.
The bowl and lid are titanium. The lid has a plastic knob.
The construction does not appear to be of the highest quality in that the top edge of the bowl is not flat, the rolled lip is not uniform around the circumference and the lid does not fit at all snugly. The photo shows the lid in the best position I could manage and there is still a 1/8" (3 mm) gap on one side.
There is some discoloration on the lid near the logo. I have not attempted to clean it yet.
TRYING IT OUT
When I removed the Sierra 750 from the mesh bag, I heard a noise as if something was loose. It turns out that there is a small particle trapped within the rolled lip that rolls around the diameter of the cup when it is turned. I found this to be quite annoying and will attempt to brush it out prior to use. There are other particles trapped at the edge of the rolled lip which can be seen in the photo.
I was able to open the handle and snap it into place easily although once I did squeeze it too much such that the wire handle came out of its hole. This was easy enough to put back in place, so it really was not a problem. The stabilizer bar that pushes against the wire handle to keep it from collapsing is key. It is easy to slide into a useful position and seems sturdy enough to prevent an inadvertent collapse of the handle.
Although the lid did not fit snugly to the bowl, it was easily pushed and held in place with the knob on the lid to provide a snug fit while draining water through the drainage holes in the lid.
My testing strategy is to use the Titanium Sierra 750 as my primary cup/bowl/pot throughout the testing period. I will use it as a cup for drinking cocoa, as a bowl for eating oatmeal and hot dinners and as a pot for heating water and cooking meals. I will have to carry a measuring cup during the test period, but at the conclusion I plan to make my own markings on the Sierra 750 so that it will serve both purposes.
Most of my backpacking trips will be in the Northern Sierra Nevada mountains of California. I also have a backpacking trip planned to the Superstition Wilderness (Arizona) for 3-4 days in April. The rest of that week will be car camping where it will also be used.
The Sierra 750 will get hand washed on the trail and in the dishwasher at home (post trip) so I will be able to comment on ease of cleanup with both methods.
Additionally, I plan to evaluate the following :
How well does it keep liquid warm?
How does heat transfer from warm liquid, i.e. is it hot to the touch of hands and lips?
How stable is it with its sloping sides?
How does it fit in my hand with and without gloves?
Is the handle comfortable?
How does it hold its shape in a backpack?
How easy is it to bend the handle?
I would like to cycle the handle multiple times and evaluate whether it becomes loose or suffers other problems
Is it scratch resistant?
How easy is it to heat water directly on my MSR Whisperlite stove? Is it stable? Does the handle get too hot?
In summary, I found the quality of the Sierra 750 to be somewhat lacking especially in that the lid does not fit snugly to the bowl. I like the light weight.
Thanks to Vargo Outdoors and BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to test the Sierra 750.
This concludes my Initial Report. The Field Report will be amended to this report in approximately two months from the date of this report . Please check back then for further information.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
During the field test period I used the Vargo Titanium Sierra 750 for a total of 13 uses during a 3-day camping trip and a 3-day backpacking trip. I used it as a cup, a bowl and as a cooking pot. I estimate that I washed it 13 times by hand. I haven't washed it in the dishwasher.
I used it in conditions ranging from freezing morning temperatures to warm desert sun at elevations from 2,000 to 5,360 ft (610 to 1630 m) and temperatures from 32 F to 85 F (0 to 29 C). Wind conditions ranged from calm to sustained winds of 20 mph (32 kph) and wind gusts up to 30 mph (48 kph). Both trips were in the Superstition Wilderness (Arizona).
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
As a cup:
The handle is a bit unwieldy to hold while sipping a beverage, but I found that if I held the cup instead of the handle that it was quite comfortable. If I heated water directly in the 750, then I only had to wait several seconds for it to cool enough to hold with bare hands which was nice on cool mornings and evenings. One down-side is that my beverage cooled so quickly that it was no longer warm when I took the last sip.
I did an experiment with cooling time in the Sierra 750 vs. a double-walled polycarbonate mug which I typically use. I heated water to the same temperature (near boiling) and measured the time to cool to approximately 100 F (38 C). The water cooled in the Sierra 750 in approximately half the time as compared to in the mug. Although the mug adds unnecessary weight to my pack, I will probably still choose to carry it for this purpose.
As a bowl:
The 750 is a nice one-person size for use as a bowl. I used it for eating dinners that were prepared in a larger pot as well as for oatmeal which I had prepared in the 750. My titanium spork did make a lot of noise on the Sierra 750 but this was only for the last few spoonfuls and didn't really bother me.
As a pot:
I mainly used the 750 for heating water and found it to be quite useful. The down side was that with the tapered sides, the handle got quite hot especially in windy conditions when the flame was able to blow around the side of the pot. The bottom is large enough that it was stable on my MSR Whisperlite stove as well as when setting it down. The lid worked well for draining liquid from tortellini. The knob on the lid protected my fingers from the heat of the pot while draining. I noticed that when filling it with water, there was a film on the water surface. No matter how many times I cleaned the pot and used different water, a slight film still appears.
Water heats quickly in the Sierra 750. I did an experiment using a set flame height and heated water in the Sierra 750 vs. a stainless steel pot. The water reached the same temperature (near boiling) in approximately half the time with the Sierra 750 as with the steel pot. The exact time to boil was difficult to determine because the Sierra 750 holds bubbles on its surface while the steel allows the bubbles to release immediately. This made the steel appear to boil quickly, but when I compared the time to achieve a specific temperature, the Sierra 750 was much quicker.
Over the test period, the Sierra 750 became slightly discolored from the heat although this did not affect its performance at all.
The handle did not seem to loosen due to cycling open and closed. The stabilizer bar on the handle continued to work as intended throughout the test period.
I found that the handle would get stuck on the mesh sack while inserting and removing it, so I didn't use the sack that came with it. Rather, I packed it into my stainless steel pot along with my stove, utensils, etc. It fit nicely. As for durability, the Sierra 750 didn't appear to suffer any harm from how it was packed or used and I made no attempt to be easy on it. The handle of the 750 did cause a dent in my stainless steel pot lid due to how it was packed. So, the Sierra 750 turned out to be more durable than the steel in that case.
It was easy to clean up on the trail although I never burned on any food or left it for long periods before washing. My clean up consisted of filling it with filtered creek water and rubbing off any food particles with my fingers and then rinsing.
Overall I found the Sierra 750 to be a useful piece of cooking equipment especially for one person cooking. It is versatile enough to be used for a pot, bowl and cup and as such could serve as a very light weight set for a single hiker.
Quick time to heat water
Beverages cool too quickly
During the remaining test period, I plan to use the Sierra 750 on more trips. I plan to look at the following:
1) I would like to experiment more with draining various smaller-sized items to see if the gaps in the lid fit allow food to slip out.
2) I also plan to leave food for a longer time before clean-up to see if it is still easily removed by hand-washing. I may even purposely burn something.
3) See how it does in the dishwasher.
4) See if the film that appears on the water surface goes away with further use.
Thanks to Vargo Outdoors and BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to test the Sierra 750.
This concludes my Field Report. The Long-Term Report will be amended to this report in approximately two months from the date of this report. Please check back then for further information.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
During the long-term test period, I used the Sierra 750 for an additional two backpacking trips, one boat camping trip and a car camping trip. In total I used it 10 more times. All of my trips during this period were in the Sierra Nevadas of California.
1) Castle Peak Area - 2 day trip - Elevations ranged from 7,200 to 9,103 ft (2,195 to 2,775 m) with temperatures from 50's to 80's F (10 to 30 C). It sprinkled during the late afternoon and then turned to a hard rain storm in camp for several hours in the evening.
2) Carson Pass Area - 3 day trip - Elevations ranged from 8,573 to 10,381 ft (2,613 to 3,164 m) with temperatures from 50's to 80's (10 to 30 C). Conditions were dry.
1) Hampshire Rocks Campground - 1 overnight - Elevation of 5,800 ft (1,768 m) with temperatures in the 60's to 80's (15 to 30 C). Conditions were dry.
2) Loon Lake - 2 day trip - Elevation of 6,500 ft (1,980 m) with temperatures in the 60's to 80's (15 to 30 C). Conditions were dry.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
I used the Sierra 750 as a pot for boiling water to make oatmeal and cocoa for breakfast. For dinner, I used it to boil and drain macaroni. Although the lid does not fit well, it was easy to push down with the knob and drain the liquid without spilling any macaroni. I also used it as a bowl for eating dinner prepared in another pot and as a cup for drinking cocoa.
I washed it by hand 10 times which consisted of pouring stream or lake water into it and loosening food particles with my fingers. If needed, I used sand, gravel or pine needles to scrub it out and then rinsed. I also washed it in the dishwasher upon arriving at home for a total of 4 times. I never had any food burned on or anything particularly difficult to remove.
The discoloration did not seem to worsen throughout this test period either after additional use over a flame or from being in the dishwasher. The handle and stabilizer bar did not appear to loosen after many cycles of use. It did not scratch easily at all. In fact, I only see a few small scratches on it despite setting it on granite boulders on a regular basis. Transport in my cookset did not distort it although I had to cram it in fairly hard to fit everything. A small scratch on the lid and the discoloration on the bottom can be seen in the photo.
I didn't notice the oily film on the water that I had at first so it seems that the substance finally wore off.
The Sierra 750 is a handy piece of backpacking kitchen gear especially for one person, but it can also be useful for a two-person or larger group.
Quick time to boil water
Rapid cooling of beverages
I will continue to carry the Sierra 750 on most of my backpacking and camping trips. In fact, I can't imagine not carrying it unless I am really trying to limit my pack weight.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
Since my trips require cooking for two, I prefer to cook in a larger pot. However, I will still use this for making a quick cup of cocoa or as a serving bowl. It is such a light item that its versatility makes it worth carrying even though it would be more efficiently used as a one-person backpacking cookset.
This concludes my Long-Term Report and the test series for this item.
I would like to thank Vargo Outdoors and BackpackGearTest.org for choosing me to participate in this test series.
Read more reviews of Vargo Outdoors gear
Read more gear reviews by Nancy Griffith