How do you deal with handling hot pots / cups without using a pot grip (see the picture for an example)?
It's inexpensive and rather light-weight, but why add gear if you can use what you already have? :)
I've been usually using a small Leatherman and a stick to stabilise the pot, but it's not particularly convenient and I've had a few mishaps (a whole cup of hot water ending on the ground...)

example of pot grip

  • 6
    The most common source of backcountry injuries might not be one to cut corners on Sep 6, 2019 at 19:47
  • If you're talking more of a skinny solo "pot", I use a cotton bandanna.
    – topshot
    Sep 6, 2019 at 20:30
  • Are you trying to reduce weight, or looking for an emergency alternative in case you loose the handle grip while out in the wild? For the first I'd honestly not bother - or completely change your cooking setup to a lighter version...
    – fgysin
    Sep 9, 2019 at 8:55
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    As an avid outdoorsman and enjoyer of long trips, that piece there is one I would not be without. If the question was "I lost my... how do I cope" - it'd be a better angle IMO... it is super light and performs its function super well with all the equipment. I'd be impressed to see any answer that can lift the sizzling hot frying pan full of butter and trout so you can pour some potato mash into it (from the pot), and then eat directly from the pan with it afterwards. I'd be more than impressed. I'd be amazed.
    – Stian
    Sep 18, 2019 at 12:31

5 Answers 5


I use a small cotton towel, such as a tea towel, folded a few times in to a long strip. If the pan is small and light you can wrap the towel round and hold the ends tightly together to form a handle. Otherwise use 2 hands. You do need 2 layers, and synthetic fibres can melt or ignite (if they brush against part of the stove, for example - at least some can handle boiling water).

Me holding a saucepan one-handed using a tea towel

When travelling light it can be worth carrying something like this. It's obviously good for drying things (you might not need to dry dishes but you can dry yourself with it, perhaps starting with a small synthetic towel) but it's grey useful for handling hot things if everything else you've got would melt or conduct heat fast enough to burn you. I carry one when bike camping, for example. A muslin (as used for babies) would be a little lighter. My (as yet untested) very light cooking system relies on cooking everything in a mug with a handle. That doesn't get as hot, so if it's a little uncomfortable to hold, any glove would be OK.

  • Apologies for the indoor-ness of the picture, but it's dark out and I'd just cooked dinner in that pan
    – Chris H
    Sep 6, 2019 at 19:28
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    I was going to suggest this, but then realized that the OP is likely asking about tools they might already have while camping/hiking, and most people do not carry tea towels, especially non-synthetic, while hiking.
    – jhch
    Sep 6, 2019 at 19:29
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    @JohnHughes I carry one bike camping for this and similar purposes, because pretty much everything else I carry would melt or conduct heat fast enough to burn me. You could use this to dry yourself instead of dishes if you didn't need anything for the latter . A muslin would be slightly lighter and even more versatile.
    – Chris H
    Sep 6, 2019 at 21:25
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    Hi Chris H! The additional information in your comment is interesting. I wonder if you might want to add it to the answer, so we can all see it! It's up to you, of course! Sep 7, 2019 at 1:26
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    @JohnHughes, a bandana or a shemagh are common camping/hiking items. It doesn't HAVE to be a tea towel, the concept is the same
    – B540Glenn
    Sep 12, 2019 at 17:22

A common way in the past was to have a handle similar to a bucket's attached to the pot, often made from a thickish wire (e.g. baling wire). Classically this was called a billycan, and meant that you could suspend the billy over the fire by the handle using just a stick, either cantilevered over the fire, or suspended like you might find in a spit-roast.

You can then pick up the billy by the handle, either using a stick or a bit of handy cloth and tip with another stick pushing the bottom of the billy.

  • I suspect that the thickish wire weighs about the same as the aluminium pot gripper depicted in the question :).
    – Pont
    Sep 7, 2019 at 13:58
  • @Pont Possibly, if the wire is made out of steel/iron. I've seen them with aluminium wire pretty commonly.
    – bob1
    Sep 7, 2019 at 17:34
  • @Loduwijk Yes, language is ambiguous - I should have said "have a handle similar to a bucket's". Edited to fix. I was suggesting adding a handle, like Sherwood Botsford does in a post below. This is how the original billycans were made - just a left over food can with a handle attached.
    – bob1
    Sep 11, 2019 at 18:45
  • @Pont I have a gripper just like the one in the question. The gripper is light, but I think a thin wire is lighter still. The wire will also take up less space. I sometimes leave the gripper behind just because I don't have a good place to put it.
    – Loduwijk
    Sep 11, 2019 at 20:34

I canoe camp, and I bring lightweight canvas or cotton gloves (leather dries too slowly) to prevent paddling blisters. (There's a picture in my answer to https://outdoors.stackexchange.com/a/6996/163 ) They are also fantastic as "work gloves" eg carrying logs and when you need to handle something hot, like a pot. They're small enough to fit in a pocket and to be nearby whenever you need them.

I have tried and failed to buy these online; your best bet is a store for farmers (eg The Co op, a hardware store in a farming area, etc) and a little patience.

  • I wonder if cotton gloves as used in the photo printing business, jewellers etc. would be thick enough. They're much softer than the canvas gloves I've used but available online.
    – Chris H
    Sep 11, 2019 at 6:26
  • I assumed they wouldn't be - their uses involve things where you need to feel what you're touching but not get skin oils on it. I don't want to feel the rough parts of the log or the hot parts of the pot. But they're cheap so perhaps the experiment is worth while? Sep 11, 2019 at 10:58
  • I may have some somewhere. If so I'll try to remember to give it a go.
    – Chris H
    Sep 11, 2019 at 11:17

Small pair or two of channellock pliers or locking vise grips. The locking vise grips are a little more multi purpose but either or both are handy to have (grab, grip, clamp in the case of the vise grips, tighten bolts, etc)


I use tin cans as pots. I put a nail hole in opposite sizes just under the rim and string a chunk of bailing wire about 1.5 can diameters. Twist at each end. Most cans now have a thin liner of plastic -- essentially a layer of varnish. While nominally food grade, when it burns it becomes uncertain. Burn the can in a campfire or your wood stove before making a pot out of it. The inside of the lip can have a sharp bit where the can opener finished.Burnish the inside of the cut with the shaft of a screwdriver to press any jaggies flush.

Anyway: In camp, I can use a leather mitten, or a stick to move a pot on/off the fire. When I have to actually hold something hot, I get out my leatherman -- which is part of my repair kit. A small pair of channel lock pliers works better, but, hey, the ounces add up.

In practice the leatherman in plier configuration is mostly used to pour coffee or hot water from pot to cup.

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    If you are using regular tin cans, like you might find canned tomatoes or baked beans in - these have plastic inside and are not designed for heating the food in - the plastic melts and contaminates the food with some fairly noxious chemicals
    – bob1
    Sep 8, 2019 at 3:45
  • I burn out the can first. Then scrub it. Sep 8, 2019 at 23:03
  • @bob1 Thank you for bringing that to our attention! I'm going to look into that. I have cooked in them before and did not realize this. Ewwww.
    – Loduwijk
    Sep 10, 2019 at 22:40

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