I have been a long time user of the Nissan & Stanley line of stainless steel thermoses, water bottles and coffee mugs and have a couple of things to add to BigSky’s article. One pertains to TSA’s interest in them and the other is about over-the-fire uses.
I have carried the Nissan stainless steel coffee mug (16 oz.) everywhere for years, including airports. Last Christmas there was a “threat alert” pertaining to bomb making material being carried in stainless steel thermoses. Ever since then I have been pulled out of line for further inspection by the TSA because of my Nissan coffee mug. Five times now they have gone straight for it and ran all their tests for bomb making material on it. They then ran the tests on my hands and recently (2 weeks ago) they emptied my day pack that carried it and did the tests on it. I love my Nissan TherMax coffee mug and have never dreamed of leaving it behind when I travel, until now. The threat never panned out but they are still scrutinizing people carrying stainless steel thermoses (coffee mugs included).
I have almost 30 years of backcountry wilderness experience and have used the old Stanley stainless steel thermoses a lot. A number of times on shorter backpacking trips I substituted the thermoses in lieu of a stove, pots and pans. I am quite adapt at making and using fires so I do not always go with the more conventional methods. My old thermoses lost its handle years ago so I can just put it in or over the fire for heating water and food (no lid while cooking). I can’t count the number of times I have slept curled up to my filled thermoses wrapped in my wool shirt. Then in the morning I pour myself a cup of fairly warm coffee and start the day on a happy note. Even when camping (not backpacking), my ritual every night is to make myself a pot of coffee, put it in the thermoses and then wrap the thermoses in wool. I am totally spoiled to waking up and just pouring a cup of hot coffee while still in my sleeping bag.
Having used my old Stanley thermoses in or over an open fire for almost 30 years I can report that I have not had any problems with doing so as long as you don’t have a plastic handle on it, leave the lid off while cooking, and don’t fill the bottle all the way up (leaving room for boiling action). About 4 or 5 years ago I started replacing most of my plastic-type water bottles with the stainless steel ones. The ones I have tried successfully so far are made by Nissan, Nathan and Klean. Mine are still fairly pretty in appearance so I have not gotten to the point of actually putting them in the fire but have tested them over an open fire. They do well as long as you pay attention to the plastic rim around the top and don’t overheat it. You can also use the old fashioned Army stainless steel canteens and mess kits in the same way.
I got the idea a gazillion years ago that it was probably okay to do this from my habit of not liking to dirty a pot while camping if I didn’t have to. I am notorious for just opening a can of whatever and putting it in the fire to heat then eating straight from the can. Look Ma, no dishes!
I have the thermoses, water bottles, mugs and vacuum bottles in every size and kind. When backpacking or hiking I have not had a problem with the added weight of the stainless steel because I can just choose a smaller size depending upon need or carry less equipment (stove/pot) due to the multi-functionalality of thermoses. I also do not mind the extra weight because I do not carry 2 or 3 gallons of water, as previously recommended in one of the recent articles on your blog. The most I have ever carried is 2 quarts because I always have 3 or 4 methods of purifying water on me at any given time. Who carries 2 gallons of water?? I would humbly suggest losing the dependency and acquiring some skills.
I worked professionally for Outward Bound for 10 years and acquired a healthy amount of wilderness experience. I no longer carry a 60-to-70 pound pack. With ingenuity and some of the light weight equipment that is now out there the most my backpack or multifunctional BOB weighs is 40 pounds or less. I am beginning to feel more comfortable sharing some of my experience with your readers due to an openness to the “wilderness” component of bugging out that I have perceived in your blog recently.
Thank you for all you do and provide. May you always have dry powder & socks. Multitudes of blessings to all. – Skylar