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- The MSR Pika Teapot ($24.95 at REI, and currently on sale at Backcountry for $18.95) is incredibly well-designed, featuring an insulated handle and a lid that won’t fall off.
- The cleverly designed spout also allows for perfect pouring so you won’t accidentally spill boiling water on bare feet, which I unfortunately did last year.
- The pot is also so pretty that you’ll want to use it even when you’re at home.
As much as it pains me to admit, there are things I’d learned in physics class at school that are pretty useful in my adult life now. When camping, it’s helpful to know that levers help move heavy objects with ease, heat rises, and lenses can help take great photos and start fires.
With that said, I hadn’t really thought about fluid dynamics much in the past decade or so though, and it’s certainly not something that I think about when I’m out hiking or sipping a cup of tea — and I’m British so I think rather a lot about tea.
There are some things I do remember about tea from high school, notably that it played a major role during the Industrial Revolution. Supplying caffeine and sugar, and ensuring that water was boiled and therefore safe to drink, it became the fuel of the British working class. Now, I don’t work in a coal mine, but I do know that long days on the trail are much better when punctuated with stops for tea and snacks.
So, what does any of this have to do with the MSR Pika Teapot ($24.95)?
Well, for those of you who also spent physics class trying to ignite your friends with Bunsen burners, laminar flow occurs when fluid particles follow smooth paths in layers that slide past each other like playing cards. It’s a very orderly flow with no cross currents so particles flow parallel to the solid surface nearby. In this case, when you pour hot water from an MSR Pika Teapot, you’ll know exactly where that water is going to go and you know that it won’t dribble when you stop. Laminar flow can make a big difference in your tea — and just about anything else you do with hot water.
Honestly, I really should have worked this out a long time ago — before I accidentally poured boiling water from a Jetboil onto my bare feet in the desert last winter, but at least now, I’ll have a scar to help me remember what my physics teacher never could get me to.
But it’s not just the predictable pouring that makes the Pika my favorite piece of outdoor cooking gear, nor is it my British affection for tea.
The Pika has a whole host of really well-thought out design elements. Sit the pot down and the lid comes right off to easily refill, but when correctly aligned, it never falls off even when you’re pouring thanks to a clever lip which helps prevent boiling water from spilling out of the top, which can happen with cheaper camping kettles. There’s also a handle, but unlike basic kettles, it stays upright and is insulated, removing another way that I have burned myself in the past.
This teapot might only weigh a hair over five ounces, but it can easily boil a liter of water, which is enough for three cups of coffee. A wide opening lets me store camping stove parts, coffee filters, and a collapsible pour-over cone inside the pot. For a lot of camping trips, my only need for a stove is to heat water for hot drinks and dehydrated meals, so that means that everything I need fits inside the Pika.
Although I have used the Pika a lot out in the field, it’s simply too enjoyable for it to stay in my gear shed all week and only come out on weekends. The simple design looks good enough to leave out on my stove at home and the precision pouring is much better than a standard kettle for making Hario V60 coffee in the morning.
Unfortunately, the aesthetics also led to its downfall — kind of. According to designers Owen Mesdag and Evan Williams, "All of [our] samples were stolen when [we] sent them to friends to ask for feedback on the design." Mesdag also told Business Insider, "Even my mother stole one to use at home!"
Tea might have been a proletarian pleasure in the Industrial Revolution, but today, it can be a decidedly bourgeois indulgence. At $24.95, the Pika is reasonably-priced and makes a great gift for anyone who likes tea, camping, or honestly, just well-made products.
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