Extensively tested and reviewed by Trek Scotland throughout May to October in the Cairngorms, Glen Affric, Glen Coe and surrounding mountainous areas.
Vargo are a company we didn’t know much about up until recently. Building up a reputation as a specialist in lightweight minimalist gear we have been very impressed with the items we received up to now. The Bot 700, it has to be said, was top of our list in terms of interest. Essentially, it’s a titanium cooking pot with a few extra features added on. Reading reviews from hikers abroad it seems that the Bot 700 works best for different people in many different ways, but the end conclusion is always positive. So how did it fit in with life in the Scottish mountains?
Firstly, lets get an obvious point out of the way, one in which many may gasp at… the price. Made of pure grade titanium (and quite a bit of it due to its 700ml capacity) the Bot 700 fits into a niche market. Just as a chef buys the highest quality knifes the Bot 700 is aimed to those who seek the highest quality when searching for ultralight minimalist equipment. Costing close to 5 times what most people would expect to pay for a cooking pot of this size is going to push many away, but do you really get back in return the extra spent?
As mentioned before the construction is with pure grade titanium except for a heat resistant O ring. It has a large capacity of 700ml, a watertight screw top lid and fold away handles. Impressively this all come in a mere 138 grams. The body and lid fit together with ease and the overall build is very high quality. The size can be considered a one-person pot at 122mm in height and 105mm in width. Vargo have obviously taken some thought with the sizing as internally the Bot 700 perfectly packs in a 4oz gas canister, small stove and windshield, with extra room for items such as a lighter and foldable spoon. There are other sizes available but for solo expeditions the Bot 700 is well balanced in terms of weight and sizing, fitting comfortably into the side pocket of our rucksack.
Throughout the past 6 months we have found the Bot 700 would mostly be used in conjunction with a gas stove making it easy for use throughout the Scottish mountains, but many other options can be applied. Place near to an open fire or over a portable grill and you can cook up water or a meal without the use of carrying fuel. Alternatively, meths stoves also provide a great option when a single fuel source may not be available through the duration of a trip.
Titanium can be tricky at first to cook with as you can easily burn food. The trick is to keep the stove at a lower level and then increase as needed stirring food frequently. Vargo recommend using the Bot 700 for pre soaking your dehydrated and freeze-dried meals thus saving fuel. This works great and really does reduce the amount of gas used compared to boiling water. Anyone trekking in the more remote areas of Scotland for extended periods could benefit greatly from this. Although we found mostly on shorter trips we opted to boil water to save on cleaning and also due to any water left over being handy for use as a hot drink. The handy measurements embossed on the Bot 700 make sure you add the correct amount of water needed for a dehydrated meal which is a great detail. There is also the option to go completely stove-less, by eating a pre-hydrated meal cold. So many options available to suit the environment and conditions.
Using the Bot 700 as a sealed container does have its benefits, especially when it comes to those times where you want a proper meal outdoors. Recently on a very blustery bike packing trip to Glen Affric, before leaving the warmth of the car the thought of spending a night in the wind and rain was quickly heightened by the fact that our Bot was packed full of fresh stew. Under the tarp that night I had a hearty warm meal. It takes away the minimalist attitude but from time to time its definitely worth carrying a first nights treat.
The sealed lid also makes collecting and carrying water easy and can take the place of a bottle or pouch especially if you plan to camp a distance from a decent water source. The lid also has a deep insert and doubles up as a smaller cup.
The Bot 700, it must be said, for all its plus points is not without fault. The main one being the handles. The handles can easily become very hot which makes the Bot hard to remove from the heat once your meal or water is to the desired temperature. We would have preferred longer handles, or some sort of design in which a utensil or stick could be used without the Bot losing balance when lifted. We noticed online that many people carry with them an additional handle something like the one used with a Trangia. We feel this goes against the idea of having a minimalist system when a simple change in design could solve the issue. We added some insulation tape to the handles to make it easier to handle with bare hands. There is an option for a pot hanger which Vargo supply separately which would help when using over an open fire.
The idea of having a pot with a sealed lid as a solo cooking system is not something new or revolutionary. Vargo have just created a version that is really good to use. Weighing in at a mere 138 grams it’s a minimalist’s dream item, especially considering the varied uses and ruggedness. If you are out on an extended expedition you can count on the Bot 700 to not only save on fuel but also be with you right to the end. After 6 months of heavy use on a variety of heat sources the Bot 700 has performed really well every time and is so easy to clean that hardly any marks are present. We have become big fans of the Bot 700 and expect it to be joining us on many an adventure for years to come.
Trek Scotland is a small family business based in the picturesque village of Tomintoul in the North East region of the Cairngorms National Park. They provide bespoke Mountain Guiding for Single Day Walks and Lightweight Multiday Trekking experiences, including wild camping, in the stunning Cairngorms wilderness and surrounding areas. Whether in the high mountains or lower valleys, their Multiday Treks are equipped with high quality, lightweight camping and trekking gear. They only work with small groups and, whatever your ability, pride themselves on designing your outdoor experience completely to your needs and with professional guidance and expertise. Adventure is waiting...