Gear Guy

What’s the story on titanium cooksets?

What's the story on titanium cooksets? A friend of mine has one from MSR and while it's super light, it doesn't seem to heat up as rapidly as my stainless steel set. I like the lightness of titanium, but if I have to bring 50 percent more fuel to cook with, I'm not sure it will be worth the price premium. Steve Young Mountain View, California


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Aha! You have made a mistake that would allow me to cut you to ribbons if we were having a formal presidential debate and Peter Jennings asked this question: “Mr. Young, as president of the United States, you will be asked to tackle many sensitive issues. Where, for instance, do you stand on titanium cooksets?”

Your mistake: You say your friend’s titanium cookset “doesn’t seem to heat up as rapidly as my stainless steel set.” No empirical data presented! And in fact, titanium has better heat transfer capability than stainless steel. Plus, it can be made thinner (although I do not know if MSR takes this step) because it’s stronger, further enhancing heat transfer. And, the corrosion-resistant capability of titanium—better even than stainless steel—ensures that no crud attaches to the outside of the cookset, crud that can further affect heat transfer.

In short, titanium saves weight AND saves fuel. At least theoretically.In the real world, due to the thin metal in a cookset, titanium’s heattransfer properties probably don’t result in measurable differences when compared with stainless steel. So, no reason to buy titanium for that reason. But, as you correctly note, it is light, light, light.