I backed this campaign on Indiegogo because I was looking for a way to carry around a cup to heat up water that wouldn’t take up a lot of space inside my go-bag.
The Bear bowl is a different kind of bowl: It has a lightweight aluminum base to suck up the heat from your stove, and then some slick plasticky stuff on top that folds together to make the bowl itself.
It does require a little effort to get the bowl to fold together correctly the first time you try it, but after that, it’s pretty intuitive. To test out the bowl in it’s natural environment, I set up my Esbit stove on a baking sheet on my kitchen table while I was waiting for the power to come on last week, filled up the bowl with 2 cups of water, lit the fuel tab, and off we went.
A brief explanation on why I want a stove and some way to heat water in my bug out bag: I don’t have any Mountain Home meals or similar in my bag because I’m not planning on using that gear for the long-term. The purpose of my bug out bag is to keep me going for a minimum of three days, and I can survive quite nicely (if a little hungrily) on energy bars and similar food for three days, maybe even a week. The stove is there to boil water if I need to purify it and to heat up water for instant coffee. Yes, you can survive without coffee, but why would you want to?
With that in mind, it’s important to me that my stove and water container can create good rolling boil to make sure all the bad critters in the water are well and truly dead, and sadly, this is were the Bear bowl falls down on the job.
The Esbit fuel tab took around eight and half minute to burn up, and the picture at right shows the best boil I could get with this bowl. While that level of boil may be good for heating up freeze-dried meals or for coffee, it’s not going to work for purifying water. I’ve seen videos where an Esbit stove is capable of getting a rolling boil in around six minutes, so what I suspect is happening here is that the fabric on the bottom on the bowl is acting like an insulator (as plastic is wont to do) and impeding the boiling process. This test was done at sea-level. How this bowl will perform in the mountains is anybody’s guess.
In addition to this, the Bear bowl requires a controlled flame on the bottom of the bowl to work, and I question it’s utility for heating up water on a campfire or an improvised grill, and I just can’t guarantee I’ll have a stove handy if I have to use my bug out bag.
Bottom line is, I give the people behind the Bear bowl full marks for creative thinking and coming up with a unique way to save space when you’re trekking into the great outdoors. For me and my needs, though, it’s back to a metal cup when it comes to boiling water when no power is to be found.