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Does the Diameter of Your Cooking Pot Matter?

We tested the difference between five different diameter pots to see if one size results in more fuel consumption than another. This is what we learned...

Paul Bodnar      Educational       1/11/2021
Paul Bodnar
Educational
1/11/2021

We tested 5 different diameter pots.

To see if the diameter of titanium pots make a difference in fuel consumption, we tested five different diameter pots varying from 78 mm (3.1 inches) to 133 mm (5.2 inches). We calculated the amount of fuel consumed to boil 1 cup of water using the MSR PocketRocket 2 and the Soto WindMaster. We tested each pot three times for each stove tested and then averaged the result.

Five different sized backpacking cooking pots on a table.

Larger diameter pots performed better in every test.

We were surprised to learn that the larger diameter pots performed better than the narrower pots for both stoves tested. The MSR PocketRocket 2 was 43% more fuel efficient with the wider (133 mm) pot than the narrow (78 mm) pot. The Soto WindMaster, however, was only 21% more fuel efficient with the wider pot than the narrow pot.

graph of fuel efficiency with different diameter pots

Why do larger pots perform so much better?

We noticed the sides of the small (78mm/3.1-inch) diameter pot became much hotter than the larger diameter pots after each boil. This suggests that the flame from the stove is warming up the sides of the pot instead of the bottom of the pot (where the greatest area of water is). The picture below shows the flame wrapping around the smaller pot when using the Pocket Rocket 2.  The less efficient Pocket Rocket 2 becomes more efficient as the larger diameter pot captures more of the heat.

Summary

  • Larger diameter pots result in less fuel consumption than smaller diameter pots.
  • A less fuel-efficient stove can be made more efficient by using a larger diameter pot.
backpacking stove boiling water in pot

The blue flame remains under the larger pot.

backpacking stove boiling water in pot

The blue flame wraps around the side of the smaller pot.

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A lake reflects a nearby wildflower meadow and trees.
Showers Lake Vista, Tahoe Rim Trail
Photo courtesy of the Tahoe Rim Trail Association

Trail guides that get you to places you’ve dreamed of.

As the makers of Guthook Guides, Bikepacking Guides, and Cyclewayz, we help you navigate the most popular trails around the world on your smartphone. Our hiking guides and biking guides work completely offline. Let Guthook guide your next adventure!

Download our popular hiking and biking guides!
About the Author
A man wearing an Arizona Trail baseball cap stands in a field in front of a mountain.

Paul Bodnar

Paul has always liked hiking and thru-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail in 1997 after college. After years of working in chemistry, he wanted to create a career involving the outdoors, so he hiked the PCT again in 2010 to do research for his guide book, Pocket PCT. He realized that creating a smartphone app for navigating the outdoors would make it easier to keep the data current and provide a better way to navigate. While hiking with Ryan (aka Guthook) in 2010, they decided to work together to create the first comprehensive smartphone guide for the PCT.