Gear Archives: The Simple Perfection of a Good Bowl

©Earl Harper

In the 1970s and 1980s, focused on using the latest technologies, MSR made its early cookware of the lightest modern materials available—titanium, aluminum and non-stick aluminum. While carrying the lightest possible gear was the priority of most backpackers, the MSR product development team recognized the undeniable benefits of stainless steel as well, which was more durable, conducted heat more evenly, and ultimately was more affordable than aluminum or titanium.

In the mid-1980s, MSR began offering individual pots and nesting pot sets made of stainless steel. The cookware was so well received that the line was expanded, adding the now-classic Alpine Teapot and Alpine Fry Pan in 1996, followed by the “Mountain” Plate in 1998 (now called the Alpine Plate), all of which are still some of our top-selling pieces of cookware to this day.

But it was what happened in 2002 that came as a bit of a surprise. Originally added to the line as a trial run on a new machine, the MSR “Mountain Bowl” (now Alpine Bowl) was introduced, and amazingly sold nearly 10,000 units in its first year. This humble little bowl was a runaway hit, so rugged and simple in design that it remained unchanged for the next 12 years.

Photo from the 2002 MSR Catalog


Unchanged, that is, until now. For 2014, our engineers have tweaked the design and production process of the Alpine Bowl so that the contour of the bowl enables it to nest compactly inside another. Renamed the MSR Alpine Nesting Bowl, a set is now easier to store, and up to eight of them will fit inside an Alpine 2 Pot Set.

Simple, functional, reliable—the Alpine Bowl’s durable design was nearly perfect from the start.

Sixteen years after its introduction, there are now over a million stainless steel MSR Alpine Plates and Bowls in the field, currently riding in a backpack, bouncing in the back of a truck, getting food scrubbed out of it at a group camp-out, or delivering a hot meal to a hungry adventurer high in the alpine, where it’s at home.