About a month ago, we had our annual PWYP gathering which is a time for outdoors enthusiasts to come together to share stories, skills, and, more importantly, food. The number of people that attend the event annually has increased over the years, and quite of few of them are very skilled cooks. Each person uses their own favorite method of cooking whether it’s by Dutch Ovens, grills, or other means. Me, I’m not that great of a cook, but I decided I wanted to be a little more adventurous when it came to meal times, so I figured I better be prepared. I contacted the rep for MSR about their new Quick 1 System that’s an all in one cook and eat kit that can be packed up fairly compactly. MSR graciously sent out a demo system for us to try down at PWYP to see how we did with it and how well we liked it. The MSR Quick 1 System is actually an elegant solution for the soloist in the wild, and it’s a significant step up from just the basic can/cup for boiling water and adding to dehydrated meals.
The system consists of a 1.3 liter titanium pot, an insulated stainless steel mug, a strainer lid, and their Talon pot handle. The mug is actually shaped a bit like a trapezoid (if I remember my high school Geometry) which allows it to lay flat and be packed inside of the titanium pot with the lid in place. Once that part is finished, the Talon pot handle just folds over to complete the packing process. It’s a tidy little package that’s lightweight because of the materials used, and when packed, there’s still room inside the pot and mug to store various items like spices, kitchen tools and so forth.
One of the PWYP attendees is a very nice and generous lady who is a great cook. Her name is Care (picture to the right), and she’s been coming down to our gathering for the past several years. It seems every time you turn around, she’s got some fantastic concoction that she’s put together about every three hours. You name it, and she makes it. Whether it’s Cowboy Potatoes, Brownies, Buffalo Dip or whatever else she makes, you definitely don’t feel like you’re actually roughing it where food is concerned. Unfortunately, her camp was rather close to mine and watching her whip up her outdoors recipes made me feel rather inadequate.
To make matters worse, on the other side of my site was Ethan Becker. A lot of outdoors people will recognize that name for his involvement in the knife industry and other areas dealing with the outdoors. Another project Ethan has on his table is authoring new updates to the book, “The Joy Of Cooking”. Yes, Ethan’s family members were responsible for that world famous book about cooking and the torch was passed on to Ethan to continue the legacy. Part of his training to do that job involved flying overseas and going to school in France. Are you starting to get an idea of how completely outgunned I felt at our outing? Needless to say, I quietly did my own cooking experiments without much fanfare, but it actually turned out much better than I thought!
The centerpiece of the kit and the first item I tried out was the pot. The first thing I used it for was boiling water to test boil times for a MSR stove which I’ll cover in another review. But, I wanted to get the tedious stuff out of the way and get to cooking, and I did so in rapid fashion. The pot is very light because of its Titanium construction, but it’s got plenty of room for making a substantial meal. I really liked the Talon folding handle that’s used on the pot. The main portion of the metal handle is coated with an insulating material to keep it from getting too hot to use. But, the slick feature of the handle is the red spring-loaded button latch that locks the handle into place once it’s unfolded for use. That latch keeps the handle rigid while cooking, but it’s a simple matter to push the button to fold the handle back up again when you’re done. At first, you worry a bit because it feels like there’s a bit of play in the handle where it attaches to the pot. But, that wiggle room is necessary to allow the movment of the handle, and even to detach it from the pot if necessary.
I noticed during the boiling tests and the cooking process, that it took a little longer to heat up the contents with the Quick 1 pot versus my aluminum MSR pot that I’ve had for several years. But, from my experience, that’s just typical of the difference between the two metals. Aluminum will conduct heat better, but you get the lighter weight with titanium, and you’re getting more strength as well. The conductive difference, though, wasn’t significant enough to be any kind of trouble. So, it wasn’t too long before I finally had my hodge-podge meal simmering along. Feeling like a real cook, I put the straining lid on it and let the stove work for a while as I did my best Barney Fife pants pull over my accomplishment.
I do like the idea of the straining lid. There are a lot of meals cooked on the trail (i.e. spaghetti, macaroni, rice, etc.) that require draining before you eat. The straining lid makes easy work of that task. Just grip the center nub, turn the pot upside down and let gravity do the work. No more worries trying to hold your food back with a spoon or other utensil while you carefully drain out excess water. Nice touch!
Another nice touch to the kit is the insulated steel mug. I’ve tried the various bare metal cups and have often believed their ability to boil water was worth the hassle of making sure I handle it carefully when the cup is hot. It does get a little old after a while. That isn’t the case with the included Quick 1 mug. It has a nice layer of insulation on the outside so you don’t have to worry about that issue. The first thing that I actually used it for was as a bowl. Ethan Becker had finished one of his great dishes and offered me some to supplement my own meal. You’re a fool if you turn down Ethan’s cooking, so I grabbed the Quick 1 mug and let Ethan spoon out the savory bits of potatoes, sausage, and other ingredients. It was a tasty mix, and the Quick 1 mug did just fine as a makeshift bowl for the mix. Certainly, it wasn’t as convenient as a wider and more open dish, but it’s not like it was a burden to use in this fashion either. Plus, when I got through the with the meat and potatoes, I looked much more civilized drinking down the broth right out of the mug than I would have looked drinking from a bowl!
The mug also comes with a plastic snap cap with a drinking hole to help keep your drinks warm on that cold evening on the trail. During the trip, I used the mug for coffee, tea, and hot cocoa. The variety of drinks were courtesy of other camp members who were generous enought to share. The mug really did the trick. One thing I did like about it was its semi-flat profile that allowed me to just slip the mug in my jacket pocket without it feeling overly bulky or in the way. Sounds like a little thing, but all the individual campsites were spread out over about 100 yards. So, if you’re visiting another site, you don’t have to worry about setting the cup down and forgetting it when you go back to your own site. It’s right there in your pocket.
I wanted to get other people’s opinions of the gear I took down with me to test for different reviews. So, for the MSR Quick 1 System, I solicited the help of another Woods Monkey writer, Scott Wickham. I asked him to use the system for a night and just give me his thoughts on it. Overall, his responses were positive, and he seemed please with how the system was put together. Specifically, Scott said, “I liked the insulated nesting cup, comfortable shape and the fact it did not burn the hand from morning coffee. The little locking rubber nub on the pot lid kept it all contained and the foldout handle is very secure! I shook the dish water out of it after the meal and even upside down with vigorous shaking, the handle never folded over and smashed my fingers. Very quaility kit.”
All in all, I enjoyed using the Quick 1 System by MSR. It was very sturdy, yet lightweight, and did a nice job in allowing me to expand my cooking repertoire. The Quick 1 System is actually the basic kit in a group of other similar cooksets. The other sets, such as the Quick 2 System include more components and are intended for two or more people. This would come in handy for those folks that share gear on the trail.
To be honest, I wasn’t overly surprised by my impressions of the Quick 1 System. I’ve used various MSR stoves and cookware in the past, and I have always found their gear to be well thought out and of robust construction. The Quick 1 System was no different. The responses from others were positive and I found that it was a great system to use on the trail and help me improve my camp cooking skills. But, most importantly, I could do that while still keeping a relatively lightweight and compact package overall. If you’re in the market for just such package, I’d strongly recommend giving this Quick 1 System a try!