"TRAUMA" AKA JUSTIN LICHTER REVIEWS THE BOT
Every so often an idea comes around that makes you slap the side of your head and say, “why didn’t I think of that”. The BOT by Vargo is one of those notions. So simple, yet so practical.
A few weeks ago I tried one out on a two week ski trip through the Sierra Nevada Mountains, following the corridor of the Pacific Crest Trail and John Muir Trail. I skied about 300 miles through varying conditions and weather. I was excited to test out the BOT and this was a perfect trial.
It took me a day or two to get comfortable with the BOT. The higher center of gravity initially played tricks while I was cooking. I am used to the typical .9 and 1.3 Liter Ti pot shape, which is so stable that I hardly ever have a cooking disaster. On the first night cooking we were camping in the snow. I piled some sticks in the snow and cooked on top of them to prevent melting and settling, however I did have a tip-over. Luckily I didn’t lose my whole dinner! Also on the first day, it was snowing and windy with highs only in the 20’s. The top of my BOT froze and I was unable to open it until I set it on my stove to warm it up. Not a huge deal, but I would not recommend it for winter camping or winter conditions. The temperatures warmed up for the rest of the trip and I had no other freezing issues, despite continued overnight temperatures below freezing.
I also came to the conclusion that water boils a slower in the BOT. I believe this is due to the shape. I will try to toy around at home and make my alcohol stove a little more efficient for a narrow pot bottom, so I don’t lose as much heat and flames up the sides. This should help the boil time a lot.
I initially thought that I would need a silicon band near the top to help me pick up the heated BOT since I did not carry pot grippers. I quickly learned that due to the shape this was unnecessary. The upper area of the titanium never really got too hot to handle. Titanium is a poor conductor as far as metals are concerned, but in this case it was perfect because it aided in the simplicity of the product.
My biggest concern was that I sometimes mis-threaded the lid back on to the base and it became stuck. This was more of a nuisance than anything. All it took was a little tap on a rock or a tree and the lid would then come off and I could reattach it properly. Not a real issue once you learned how to deal with it.
After tens of thousands of miles of drinking from reused Gatorade, Powerade, and other plastic water bottles, I thought it would be great to have the opportunity to save weight, while also going BPA free. It seemed like a no-brainer, after all my plastic water bottle typically sits on the outside of my pack and in the sun all day. The sun causes the water bottles which aren’t meant to be reused to release the BPA, a potential carcinogen. Why not save weight and cut the BPA out at the same time?
All in all, I quickly became accustomed to the intricacies of using the BOT and I highly recommend it. While hiking a water bottle is likely your most used pieces of equipment. The wide mouth on the BOT handles and drinks smoothly and the shape will fit well into most outside stretch pockets. The lid doesn’t leak at all and it is perfect for making tea, Crystal Light, hot chocolate, and even saving leftovers for the next day. The Vargo BOT is a versatile tool to add to any outing. It quickly became my new favorite product and I am excited to add it to my kit. Why didn’t I think of that years ago!
P.S.- I also just used the BOT on a John Muir Trail thru-hike. On the final day of the hike I descended about 8000 vertical feet without opening the lid. I then got into a car and drove to sea level. The pressure change created a vacuum seal on the lid that I couldn’t wrestle open for the life of me. A few days later I went home (elevation 7,000 feet) and the lid practically fell off when I grabbed it. I felt like a weakling, but apparently there have been some other instances of this as well. So keep this in mind on big descents and when heading out of the mountains. Here’s a link that Vargo posted for some tips on how to deal with this: http://www.vargooutdoors.com/blog/screwing-around-with-the-bot-unsticking-a-stuck-lid/.