Gear winner: The classic Sierra Cup

5:01 p.m. on January 29, 2010 (EST)
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This thread is for comments on the article "Gear winner: The classic Sierra Cup"

Now that we're  well into our ongoing Outdoor Retailer coverage, what piece of gear has garnered the most positive comments by our Trailspace members? That would be the classic backcountry dinner companion, the Sierra Cup (which we didn't even highlight in the blog). Whether its titanium, stainless steel, or aluminum, the simple styling of the Sierra Cup still earns a lot of backcountry love...

Full article at

7:10 p.m. on January 29, 2010 (EST)
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Its kinda funny that the "classic Sierra Cup" featured in your photo is not the classic at all. I believe the folding handle model was called a "Cascades cup". In fact the model shown does not have the traditional hooked handle.

Still the reason why people stopped carrying them for so long was two fold, it doesn't sit on stoves well due to the small bottom, and as a drinking cup hooked through your belt, the last few dribbles always ran down your leg as the cup hangs with the wide part toward your leg. The model shown above will not hook through your belt.

This is a 40 year old model and I am wondering why the resurgence and what people see in t. Someone convince me to carry mine that has been retired for 40 years, basically since its second or third trip.

Jim S

7:31 p.m. on January 29, 2010 (EST)
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You learn something new, Jim. Thanks.

I actually was looking for a picture of a non-folding version quickly, and didn't find one, thought I could have just gone and taken a picture of my own (non-folding) Sierra Cup, which I still use on occasion. I like that it's simple.

FYI, the one pictured is Vargo's Titanium Ti-Lite Sierra Cup.

8:29 p.m. on January 29, 2010 (EST)
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I carryed my old Sierra Cup for years, then lost it one summer bushwhacking thru thick young Aspens in the Gros Ventre (Gro Vont) Range in western Wyoming.

I used mine for everything from a candle holder to cat hole digger and Bear Bell in Alaska. It fit on my old Svea 123 stove with the pot legs turned inward. I always burnt my lips on the first sips of hot cocoa. I miss it very much...

3:02 p.m. on January 30, 2010 (EST)
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Coghlan's also sells a Sierra Cup and a Jumbo Sierra Cup. These are cheaper than the Vargo but appear to lack the fold-away handle.

Snowpeak's Titanium version is much pricier w/out the folding handle.

3:27 p.m. on January 30, 2010 (EST)
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geez, Jimmy, you mean you never used your Sierra Club cup (a genuine one with the logo stamped into the bottom) to heat a cup of water for tea on a Svea 123 (or Primus 71L in my case)? Actually, there was a problem doing this - the steel wire got very hot (MUCH hotter than the boiling water) and would fry your lips. The main reason I suspect for the decline of the use of the cups was the primary use for many decades - just scoop water out of that sparkling, bubbling stream or spring and drink. People have become paranoid about the contamination of the water - giardia, cryptosporidium, etc. So now you don't dare drink water straight from the stream or lake. You have to treat it with chemicals, filtering, and boiling (preferably all of the above). Otherwise you will die on the spot.

At one point, I had a half dozen (at least) of the genuine Sierra Club cups with 2 or 3 different logos - 2 different "typefaces" of plain print and one with a little symbol of a conifer of some kind (can't remember, might have been a sequoia). I collected them by going into areas a couple days behind Sierra Club High Trips (amazing the amount of gear I collected that way - and more amazing the stuff people left behind). But those all disappeared many years ago.

I had one like the first image, which I understand to be the very original from the 1920s through 1940s (apparently valuable to collectors now) and several with the plain type like the second image, but plain stainless steel, not the gold-plated one in the photo.

8:44 p.m. on January 30, 2010 (EST)
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I forgot about it burning yer lips drinking hot drinks, and then cooled off too quickly, sigh.

I did not know they were as old as dirt, thanks Bill. I think the legendary status of the cup comes from its Sierra club origin and Colin Fletcher. I guess every camper of a certain era read The Complete Walker. Colin had a lot of influence and the "Image" of dunking your Sierra cup into clear cold running water and drinking your fill, was just the image of camping that people wanted to believe in. It seemed so free, so delicious and satisfying. Talk about selling the sizzle and not the steak.

Ok you can use it on the SVEA, but yes I do remember that you couldn't grab the handle either. The truth is, I couldn't afford white gas and considered it too heavy so I cooked over a campfire and there was no way to balance it on three rocks over a fire.

Jim S

June 24, 2018
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