One of the bulkiest items in our lightweight bikepacking or camping gear has - often - been the cooking pots. Unwieldy in size and shape it is often difficult to find a spot in our bags that doesn't result in squandered space due to their unyielding corners and space requirements.
Step up the Sea to Summit X-Set 21. We are all used to seeing cups and bowls made from concertina silicon, folding almost flat for packing, but this is the first time we have seen the technology applied to pots. Or to be exact in this set: one pot, one bowl and a cup. All fold flat and sit inside each other in ever decreasing circles leaving a package that is 190mm diameter yet only 35mm thick.
As a result they could be slid down the back of hydration packs or panniers, leaving the bulk of the space free to stuff jackets or sleeping bags into. Without the odd cylindrical shapes of standard pots to cater for, it made a decent space saving.
Weight wise they are a bit heftier than our benchmark MSR Titan 850ml pot which weighs in at 118g. The main 1.4 litre pot comes in at 276g with the handy pasta-straining lid, 342g with the cup only and 428g as a complete set with the bowl.
Of course this convenience requires a bit of compromise in use. The aluminium base, bonded to a silicon concertina top, is the only part that can have heat applied, so you really do have to use the main pot with more care than usual and, of course, cooking over an open fire is out of the question. Basically if flames come into contact with the silicon for any length of time it is game over.
It does raise a concern if you are taking a longer trip where a slip in concentration could leave you pot-less, but with a bit of care we didn't have any mishaps. Not being able to cook over an open fire could be a show stopper for some too, and as we regularly blacken our more usual titanium pots on driftwood fires this might preclude the X-Set from certain trips. On overnight smash-and-grab bikepacking trips they will definitely have a place in our packs however.
Overall they are a superb space saver, and mean you can carry pots in places you never thought of before. The performance is excellent, with those silicon sides holding onto heat more than standard metal pots and the stainless steel ring moulded into the silicon at the rim keeping everything rigid in use. As long as you are careful to keep the stove flame from coming near the silicon, they should last.