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How to prevent pots from tipping over

backpacking-pot

Q. Hey Gear Guy, My dad and I are planning to buy a new mess kit for me and my younger brother. For some unknown reason, the pot that you can boil water in tipped over while my brother was cooking his meal on the trail and now he is left with a horrible blister that he has had for at least two weeks so far. Do you have any suggestions to solve this problem?
— Toppling Tim, Palm City, Fla.

A. Sorry to hear about your brother getting burned. That’s no fun. And though it’s impossible to say exactly what made his pot tip over, I’d guess it has more to do with the stove than the pot. Lots of traditional backpacking stoves have small metal arms that you rest the pot on. These arms are generally not very long so they aren’t the best for supporting large pots full of water.

My suggestions are:

  1. Be sure not to overfill your pot of boiling water. That’ll make it heavier and more likely to tip over.
  2. When putting the pot on the burner, make sure to center it right in the middle of the stove so it’s really well balanced.
  3. For that new mess kit of yours, don’t forget to buy a pot grabber. It’s a little tool that snaps onto the rim of the pot and allows you to handle very hot pots and pans safely and easily so there’s less risk of spilling there too.

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3 Comments on How to prevent pots from tipping over

  1. Rocks! I have both a liquid fuel (built in tank) and a propane single burner. make me a little tip over nervous. So I use 3 or 4 nice rocks to stabilize them.

  2. Several years ago, one boy in my troop got badly burned when a pot of boiling water spilled over from a picnic table into his lap. After this, my troop made a rule that stoves boiling water must always be on the ground to prevent this from happening again.

  3. Another tip is to not sit directly down hill from the pot you are boiling. Unlike the young man in the photo.

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