The Elusive Pot Parka

| April 27, 2012 | 1 Comment

I was checking out Forrest McCarthy’s ultralight gear list from his recent sufferfest on the Alaska Mountain Wilderness Ski  Classic, and was surprised to see that a pot parka made the cut.  I’ve been using them for years and haven’t been able to find them any more, so I was especially psyched to see that he even had a link for new ones at Liberty Mountain.

The pot parkas themselves are basically just an asbestos (?) cover that you put over your pot while it is melting snow, cooking or boiling water.  It helps a little bit with fuel efficiency, but it also serves to cut down on the roar of an XGK stove, and most importantly, you can redirect the stove’s exhaust gases to dry out gloves, boot liners or help thaw frozen food. It is a lightweight, multipurpose accessory that seems well worth the additional few grams.  They are available in two sizes (the 10″  fits a 3L pot well) and as an added bonus, folding them back up correctly is an excellent little time wasting brainteaser.

Using this setup with an MSR XGK stove for heavy winter burning, I figure on .18 liters per person, per day of white gas fuel consumption.

The pot parkas use to be part of the Backpacker’s Pantry baking kit and you could buy the parka as a spare item, but I haven’t seen that option for a while.  The parkas take a lot of abuse, but I did have one suddenly melt down on me, in which case it sent out a harsh acidic smoke that probably caused all sorts of lung damage.


The photo that launched a thousand “Where do you get those?” questions.

By putting items on top of the pot lid and below the parka, it is possible to steam them, or at least get a surface defrost going.  Gloves can be laid directly on top of the parka (mfg probably doesn’t advise this…), and boot liners can be inverted and balanced for a fairly good drying session.  You have to keep an eye out once the water starts boiling, as steam can quickly undo any drying progress you’ve made.

Thanks for the link Forrest!  The race looked, uhmmmm, fun and you probably didn’t need those three fingers anyway.  ;)
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Help support StraightChuter.com and put some heat into a pot parka with a MSR XGK EX Multi-Fuel Stove from Backcountry.com. Click on the photo below…

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Category: Gear Reviews

About the Author ()

Andrew McLean lives in Park City, Utah and is a gear designer, writer, photographer, ski mountaineer, climber, Mountain Unicycle rider and father of two very loud little girls.

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  1. Matt Kinney says:

    Speaking of the AWC race and parkas, former 2-time winter champ Matt Obermiller( Utah migrant) of Mile 58 Rich Hwy is pretty creative. He made a parka that expands to a tent. It’s made of sewn white TYVEK of all things. TYVEK is used as a vapor barrier in house construction. He never has to remove the parka and much like superman, it is suddenly a tent. Once under the shelter he disconnects from the parka and is all cozy and framed out with ski poles It’s actually an amazing parka that can also unfold to full coat length to the ground.

    Matt craves -20F and below and spent this past winter on many multi-day trips in the nearby Wrangells, skipping the race and thus “teasing young kids” as he says He won past races on ancient Silverattas on skinny skis. He has to make his own boots because of size 16 feet. Cost of parka was $0 . He salvages a sheet of Tyvek from a construction site.

    (If anyone know of size 16 hard shell AT boot let me know.)

    It’s the human toughest race in AK IMHO and some of the hardiest skiers I have ever met. Very good athletes. most of whom live under the radar doing more amazing things than just skiing another AK couloir.

    FWIW the summer AWC is from Thompson Pass to McCarthy.

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