Energy & Sustainability Technology
How-To: Ultralight camp pot from Heineken “keg” can

In the summer of 2002, Heineken introduced its 24 oz. “mini keg” can in the US. Besides having twice the volume of a normal aluminum beverage can, the “mini keg’s” unusual design includes a number of ridges and rings that make it much more rigid. Sometime around 2004, so far as I can tell, ultralight backpacking enthusiasts began experimenting with using the new can design as a cooking pot.

The community has evolved the design of these cooking pots to a remarkable extent, and although there seem to be as many variations as there are builders, a few common features seem to be emerging:

  1. The top of the can is removed with a side-cutting can opener and preserved for use as a lid. The tab may be bent up to provide a handle, or a small knob may be attached.
  2. The side of the can is wound with 1/16″ fiberglass wick to provide an insulated gripping surface
  3. An elastic silicone wristband is stretched around the rim of the can for drinking comfort.

I’m sure to screw it up if I try to give any particular person credit for any of these ideas, but the embedded video overview from Minibulldesign Cult gives the best general overview of the idea I can find. And Rick of Wilderness Survival Forums has produced a good phototutorial describing the fiberglass winding process.


10 thoughts on “How-To: Ultralight camp pot from Heineken “keg” can

  1. Fiberglass wick is dangerous. Even after flaming the wick, there are still little glass fibers that get stuck in your fingers and eyes. Not good if you’re in the woods!

    Try kevlar tape, 3 inches wide, and glued in place with JB Weld (a high temperature epoxy available at auto stores and Walmart). You can find the Kevlar tape at fire-breathing equipment stores. Seriously. Try It’s used for wrapping torches. You’ll need about 12 inches per pot. Stretch it around the pot and cut it a fraction of an inch too short. Then mash the loose ends into a big glob of JB weld smeared along the side of the can so that they don’t protrude too much. Make it look nice while it’s wet, because when it’s dry, it’s tough to fix. Wrap the pot with a length string to mold the tape into place while the JB weld dries.

    And, if you’d like a snazzy holder for the whole shootin’ match, make matching zip-loc containers.

  2. Well, thanks a lot, Sean. Now you’ve turned me onto this brilliant design, and it sent me on a quest that led not only to more Heineken can pot ideas, but also the brilliant “penny stove” made from these same containers. Now I’m obliged to build said pot and stove, which means I’ll have to get some Heineken. Any ideas on disposing of the noxious crud these come filled with?

  3. Alan, This is a job for a Professional. I am a Certified Beer Disposal Technician.
    Send your Full beercans to me and I will Safely & Legally dispose of the contents for you.
    Then I will return the empty cans back to you for your creative use.
    There is No charge for this service, you only pay return postage & handling.
    Don’t try this at home folks, this is one time where it should be left only to the Pros.
    LOL !, JJ

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I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

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