Sierra Cup

1:59 p.m. on August 15, 2013 (EDT)
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Do any of you own one of these? I have had mine 36 years.

2:02 p.m. on August 15, 2013 (EDT)
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From our website: Things that don't work;


      The Sierra Club Stainless Steel Hiking Cup.  Yes, we know this is blasphemy, and that John Muir will strike us dead from above, but these cups are just plain ridiculous.  They are the badge of every dyed in the wool Sierra Club member---but I can’t help wondering how many of them actually get out on the trail.  They are impossible to use with hot beverages, because they burn your lips.  They ping against anything they touch, whether hanging from your pack or on your hip belt.  They are heavy compared to any suitable plastic mug.  And they are indestructible, so you never have an excuse to toss them out for something more functional. If you still pack with a wood-frame pack, wool blanket bedroll, and an overcoat; by all means take one of these along.  Otherwise, take advantage of modern technology and get a good plastic cup that is more functional in every way.

2:11 p.m. on August 15, 2013 (EDT)
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I take pride in the fact that I still have mine. Yes, it does burn the lips but so does my MSR 1 quart cook pot when I drink from it.  I carry mine inside my packs top pocket and still use it to drink straight from high mountain streams that probably have Giardia in them when I stop to take a break. I have also used it as a trowel for a Cat Hole. Mine is well made with the wire handle running all the way under the lip of the cup. 

7:27 p.m. on August 15, 2013 (EDT)
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My first half-dozen or so Sierra Club Cups I got by hiking into the Sierra a couple days behind one of the Sierra Club High Trips in the 1950s. In those days, before the high impact was fully realized, the Sierra Club would have huge backpacking trips to introduce people to the beauties of the Sierra, upwards of 100 people on the week-long hike (Wikipedia says the largest were 200 with 50 staff). Your gear and all the food were carried on mules on those hikes. By the late '50s and early '60s, the Club realized that this horde was having a huge impact on the trails and campsites, including the huge bonfires around which everyone would gather in the evenings to sing songs and play the musical instruments that they were encouraged to bring along. The trips were scaled down and eventually discontinued in the '70s.

When I and my hiking buddies would follow one of these trips, we would gather the detritus and pack as much as we could out to the NP and USFS rangers. Since no one would show up to claim the gear, we got nicely outfitted. I had 2 of the old original tin-plated "Sierra Club of California" cups plus several more stamped just "Sierra Club". Somewhere over the years, these have all disappeared, though we still have 2 or 3 of the later stainless steel cups and one titanium one (all manufactured by other sources).

Only time I ever burned my lips was when I would heat the water for a cup of tea on my Svea 123. If I just scooped hot water from a pot, the wire handle stayed cool enough that there was no problem.

Not sure I would use one for scooping out a cathole, though.

7:43 p.m. on August 15, 2013 (EDT)
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Yes I used a Svea 123 also hiking in Yosemite from January to May 1980. And often heated cocoa water in my Sierra cup.

2:23 p.m. on August 16, 2013 (EDT)
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As a forester, I thought of the Sierra Club as the enemy for years and never carried one. There are so nostalgic however, that I recently bought one and use it for everything like soup, coffee, and serving hors derves.

Chinese tea cups never have handles. If the tea is too hot to hold in your hands, it is too hot to drink. Sierra Club cups are the same.

4:13 p.m. on August 16, 2013 (EDT)
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i have one.  it is about 25 years old.  i don't use it much any more. 

in the winter, food cools off too rapidly in it, and the proximity of metal, heat, and cold is sometimes detrimental to your well-being.   burning your tongue is bad, but so is getting your tongue stuck on a frozen metal rim.   i have trended toward plastic in the winter.  nothing fancy, a typical thermos top works fine.

i also don't like the outward-sloping wall's innate ability to spill liquids, so in the summer, i use a metal cup that looks like the MSR or snow peak titanium mugs, except mine is relatively inexpensive steel.  heavier, but durable. 

metal mugs and handles are great heat conductors, no way around that, but i have never burned my hand on a cup handle.  pots and pans, on the other hand, i'm pretty careful, but i have nonetheless burned/melted many a capilene glove fingertip when i wasn't paying attention.   

7:30 p.m. on August 19, 2013 (EDT)
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I've carried a steel Sierra Club cup clipped to my backpack belt for decades.
I found it very handy for drinking from every stream, brook, seep, creek, runnel, rivulet and mud hole I came across. I bought my cup back in the early 1980s, or maybe it was in the late 1970's?  20 years ago when my wife started backpacking with me we naturally got her one too, but she never took to clipping it to her belt. She didn't need to, I always had mine handy.

Eleven years ago while canoeing the Bowron Lakes up in Canada I leaned over the side of the canoe with it to scoop up a drink and dropped the cup! My wife and I spent twenty minutes retrieving that cup! 

We were upstream of a lake on a small tributary at the time. We spun the canoe about and my wife in the bow seat reversed position facing the stern so she could solo paddle like heck and try to keep the canoe in position over the cup on the fast flowing stream. I knelt forward and dug through our huge Duluth packsack for our Timberline tent, pulled out the longest aluminum pole, one of the steel shepherd hook stakes and some duct tape. I fastened the stake to the pole, leaned over the side and went fishing for the cup. The water was ice cold and the cup was visible on the bottom about five feet down.

More than once my wife suggested we just give up, but I was determined! I'd had that cup for a very long time and was not going to leave it. Besides, it was the start of a two week trip and I didn't fancy not having a cup to drink my tea from! I was starting to get desperate and was contemplating simply diving in and swimming for it when I hooked the cup and retrieved it!

Sadly, I lost that cup again in 2011 on the Long Canyon Loop in Idaho. The snow pack was unusually heavy that year ( about 150% ) and we were doing the loop to durn early in the year. All the stream crossings were a raging torrent and looking back on that trip we should have simply given up. But, I'm nothing if not a thick headed Dutchman, so we pressed on. During one stream crossing my faithful old Sierra club cup was washed away.
I spent some time searching for it hoping it had lodged somewhere on the streambed, but never found it.

So, if anybody finds a Sierra Club cup on the Long Canyon Loop, let me know!

Interestingly, as a result of the influence of the New Wave Ultralight Backpackers, I've been trimming away at my gear in recent years. One change was a switch to a lighter plastic cup carried inside my backpack for a spell. But, just this year I've reverted to the heavy old steel Sierra Club cup clipped to my belt.

Old habits die hard, it seems.

Every dang time we crossed even the smallest trickle on the trail my wife would bug me "pass me your cup so I can take a drink"  - I'd have to drop my pack and dig out my plastic cup!

I tried carrying my plastic cup ( a GSI Cascadian, not a bad cup really ) outside the main body of my pack a few different ways, but it was never the same.

At first I really liked the lighter and larger plastic Cascadian, especially when I carry only one pot. I can boil water for my meal, pour off enough for a cuppa tea, then cook the dinner or whatever. But I find in practice, especially when I tramp with my wife, that I carry two pots and make tea by the pot. Then, the somewhat smaller Sierra Club cup does not limit my tea intake, and permits the convenient gulping of trailside water.

I imagine folks that filter or ( GASP! ) chemically treat their water don't find having a cup clipped to yer belt very handy though.      

A few years back my wife and I swung through a local pawn shop on the way home. While I was stuck looking at the guns my wife looked over a pile of brass knick knacks and discovered a brass REI 50th anniversary Sierra cup!

We got it for a buck! It shinned up nicely and sits nested with our one remaining original steel cup in our kitchen. Both see regular use in the kitchen for warming maple syrup or melting small amounts of shortening, etc...

The brass cup is lighter than the steel, but I've resisted the urge to use it backpacking. It isn't as sturdy, and I'd hate to loose it!  




10:57 a.m. on August 20, 2013 (EDT)
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I will be found on the trail with mine for as long as I go backpacking and day hiking. I have lightened the main equipment in my pack over the years, but some things I will always use like my Sierra Cup! Mine is the original steel variety with the steel wire handle that loops along in the rim and meets its self on the opposite edge. It also has a old long blackened initials of mine on the bottom in what was once red nail polish, which has blackened from many a campfire or stove top blaze, but in nearly 40 years has not worn off.

Its also covered in dings and scratches in the metal. I use it also as a candle holder for those little 2 hour candles and a alternate lid for my 1 quart MSR cook pot.

11:26 a.m. on August 20, 2013 (EDT)
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Good story. Tie a piece of parachute cord around the handle of your new cup. Then you can loop it on your wrist and never lose it. Boat people do things like that all the time.

I have a Dutch Oven that I got from my great uncle. It is from the 30s and an heirloom. A friend was paddling solo on a river trip in OR and carrying some extra freight including the DO. He sank his boat after a rapid with large standing waves. We dragged the oven and the lid across the bottom of the John Day River about 40 feet to retrieve it. I still take it everywhere.

10:34 a.m. on August 21, 2013 (EDT)
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I thought I would include a picture of my own mug taken this morning. Although not a Sierra Cup, I do have a strange attachment to it.

And yes, that is a light dusting of snow on the Peltigera aphthosa.

The boardwalk goes out to our MET station.

7:09 a.m. on August 22, 2013 (EDT)
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Looks like an enamelware cup?

10:35 a.m. on August 22, 2013 (EDT)
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Yes, it is an enamelware mug; I picked it up in Dawson a couple of decades ago where the selection was small. I have boiled water in it over a campfire many a time, and the broad base, in comparison to the Sierra Cup, allows me to use it on my MSR stove as well. It is 750 ml. I have also just used a tin can with a wire bail.

Ironically, I did not hear about the Sierra Cup until I spent time in a city down south where it was a fashion statement amongst the university crowd. 

7:10 p.m. on August 24, 2013 (EDT)
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my brother had one in his boy scout backpacking days. don't know what happened to it.

7:28 a.m. on August 25, 2013 (EDT)
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I bought mine after my first time in Yosemite in 1977. I think I bought it in Anchorage Alaska at Gary Kings Sporting Goods the winter or spring of 77-78. I use it as a candle holder in my tent with those 15 hour candles. And making Hot Chocolate in the mornings or buillion in the afternoons.

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