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Favourite gear: GSI sipper mug

GSI sipper mug on a winter hike of the Gritstone Trail in 2022
GSI sipper mug on a winter hike of the Gritstone Trail in 2022

Browsing gear online many years ago I came across a plastic nesting bowl and mug from GSI Outdoors. I checked the measurements, looked at my titanium pan and rang the helpful staff at Ultralight Outdoor Gear and asked if the one would nest in the other. She confirmed it would and five minutes later I had one ordered. I have been using that mug on most trips ever since. It has now travelled thousands of miles and happily served up post-hike oxo, pre-sleep hot chocolate and countless pints of strong tea at any time of day or night. I briefly tried the nesting bowl that came with the mug, never needed it, so that gets left at home. Frustratingly you cannot buy the sipper mug as a stand alone item. It packs inside my pan and the mug also cuts down the rattling of metal on metal from whatever stove is nested inside.

Mid-day brew-up

The mug is BPA-free polypropylene with a capacity of 591ml / 20 fl oz US (20.187 fl oz UK). So I can just about fit in my morning pint of tea but it is better with a smidgen less. There is no handle and it is the better without one. It sits in my hand comfortably and nestled correctly, it doesn’t burn when at its hottest but will act as a hand-warmer when required. The mug will cope with food and drink from -5° to 100° C. Obviously I can’t put it on a stove as I would a metal mug, but that is not how I prepare food. It suits my way of doing things though I understand may not suit others. I have prepared food in it, instant mash and the like, but tend to make a brew, then enjoy that while I faff around making an evening meal.

Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path, 2017
Winter day walk- Kovea Spider
Hot brew while watching the sun set. Gregs Hut, Pennine Way
A hot brew while watching the sun set. Greg’s Hut on the Pennine Way

This is a stable low profile sipper mug. It has a diameter of 128mm and stands 56mm high. So roughly five inches wide and two and quarter inches high. The positive fit clip-on lid has a small hole to allow air in, opposite the slot to drink from and the plastic material means that lips are not burned. Using a lid means a hot beverage stays hot and stops flies landing in it. The low centre of gravity enables me to perch it on a sleeping pad, uneven tent floor or tussocky grass without much fear of it tipping over or spilling a drink, especially if the lid is snapped on.

A brew starts the day

I have tried many other mugs on trail, anything from the burn-your-lips titanium 450ml Evernew mug (with easily mislaid Snow Peak HotLips), the awful top heavy collapsible X-Mug, the too-small Wildo Fold-A-Cup, to the good but over-specced and heavier GSI Infinity Backpacker Mug. But I have almost always immediately returned to my old favourite. There is a slip on EVA cover for the side of the mug (the base remains uncovered) but I frequently leave that at home unless it accompanies me in colder weather to better insulate my drink. However I am never that keen on how it seems to accumulate food muck, drink spills and general damp and detritus.

Meths/alcohol cook set inside mug inside pan
Gas cook set and brew-kit inside mug inside pan. Soto Windmaster stove wrapped in Lightload towel lessens rattling as does the plastic mug

This is just a mug of course and nothing to get excited about. But it works as part of my cooking system, packs well, is reasonably light at 71g (including 24g lid), food safe and easily cleaned, and, most important, enables me to enjoy that all so important morning pint of tea, or post-hike rehydration drink. It isn’t at all surprising that this is one of my favourite pieces of gear.

GSI Ultralight Nesting Bowl and Mug. Total weight- 110g (listed weight- 122g)
New version GSI Ultralight Nesting Bowl and Mug, with insulating sleeve and lid. Total weight- 110g

All that said, after thousands of miles and many hundreds of drinks the lid was getting a little loose and losing it’s ‘snap’, so I bought a replacement set of nesting bowl and mug, as before, consigning the unwanted bowl to the gear locker. There have been a handful of cosmetic changes in the intervening years and the weight of the mug somehow shaved from 71g to 67g (including 24g lid). The old 9g version of the insulating sleeve was stretchy and stayed on well but the 4g sleeve included today is not only lighter, but also less stretchy, stiffer, and now has silicone non-slip dots on the inside. If the mug is nested in the accompanying bowl, friction now tends to pull the sleeve off as the two are separated. The measurements on the inside of the mug are now almost illegible on the current version. Not that this bothers me as I don’t use them.

New style GSI mug with insulating sleeve, bowl and sipper lid
New style GSI mug with insulating sleeve, bowl and sipper lid
Inverted lid sometimes gets used as a cutting board
Inverted lid sometimes gets used as a cutting board
Slip on/off neoprene insulating sleeves. Old style on left and improved current version on right
Slip on/off insulating sleeves. Old style on left and current improved lighter version on right
500ml measurement in 100ml increments with 16 fl.oz / 2 cup measurement in 4 fl. oz increments. Old style mug
500ml measurement in 100ml increments with 16 fl.oz / 2 cup measurement in 4 fl. oz increments. Old style GSI sipper mug
Measurements inside the new style GSI sipper mug are almost unreadable

Unsurprisingly, the price of this plastic mug is reasonable if you look around but it is more expensive when purchased off Amazon. GSI still list this product and it can be combined with their various Dualist Cook sets (that I do not have), for which there are a couple of colour variations.

Old and replacement GSI mugs side-by-side. Unused nesting bowls behind
My old (left) and replacement GSI mugs side-by-side. Unused nesting bowls behind
The size of airhole in the mug lid was enlarged slightly in the second generation
The size of airhole in the mug lid was enlarged slightly in the second generation

This has been part of a short series looking at some favourite pieces of gear. Others have been:

GSI sipper mug, a favourite piece of gear
GSI sipper mug, a favourite piece of gear for Three Points of the Compass
Preparing a hot brew

4 replies »

  1. I really like the look of this may investigate. I currently use the large or small Waldo folding cup. I carry the small cup with a flask as the flask cups are really too small. The larger verision is just about right for normal use. I live my world in metric ville so only drink pints in a pub these days.

    Liked by 2 people

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