Several people have asked me how well the tool-dip modification that I made to the handles of my favorite Snow Peak 600 has stood the test of time, well the answer is not so well.
It worked great for the first few months of normal use, providing a non-slip protective barrier for my fingers from the heat of the metal handles, but it all went pair-shaped in a flash. The very first time that flames from my stove - I was using a wood burning stove at the time - licked directly at the tool-dip coating on the handles, they lit up like fuses and burned rapidly until all of the material was gone leaving nothing but a black powdery residue - poof!
So, I've been using my SP600 ever since without any special coating on the handles and just my skeletonized pot gripper to pick it up when necessary (I know I could remove the handles if I'm not using them). However, with the receipt of several packets of heat shrink tubing for Christmas stocking stuffers, I'm kinda excited about trying a new method to apply a coating/covering to the handles.
Heat Shrink Tubing for Handles
Apply heat shrink tubing to the handles of a mug like my SP600 is relatively easy, in fact the hardest part is pulling the handles off of the mug in the first place. It just takes a little bit of effort to pull the handles wider and they'll pop right out of the slots holding them to the body of the mug.
I used pretty long lengths of tubing for my handles so that the majority of the portion I would normally hold would be covered, thereby affording my delicate fingers protection from the heat. In the photo above you can see that I have added heat shrink to one of the bare handles and not the other.
I made sure that I took the time to align both of the sections of heat shrink on the handles so that they would be in the same place. There's nothing more frustrating to an UL OCD backpacker than uneven placement of heat shrink on your cooking vessel - trust me!
After giving the heat shrink a quick flash of heat from my Bic Mini so that they wouldn't move on the handles, I then reattached them to the mug and gave them a squeeze to make sure they were back in place. Next I used my wife's hair dryer to slowly blast the heat shrink with hot air to maximize the shrinkage. I've found that a slow steady supply of hot air is preferable to using an open flame.
The final results are pretty good, but time will tell how it holds up to use with my various types of stoves. I'm hoping it doesn't go the way of my tool-dip method and flare up on me the second a flame touches it. By the way, I toyed with the idea of using bright orange or yellow heat shrink for this, but didn't like the way it looked and figured it would get dirty and grimy pretty quickly. Black is more functional.
Other Uses For Heat Shrink
As is normal with most of my "little projects" I started going over-board with my use of heat shrink tubing - hard to believe right? Here is another really nifty use of heat shrink tubing in a quasi-backpacking application. You can use small lengths of heat shrink tubing to secure the ends of cordage like 550 paracord and stop it fraying.
The cord shown above is actually called SERE Cord and is made exclusively by OscarDelta SPD (UK) using hybrid kevlar inner strands to create a unique cord with an untested tensile strength of 1,505lbs! It’s taken over a year of research and design to develop this cord for SERE (Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape). A review on this amazing cord will be coming soon..
You should also take a look at Stick's Blog to see how he is using heat shrink tubing to add some high-viz coloration to his titanium tent stakes. What other uses are there for this amazing stuff? If you have any ideas or suggestions please share them below.
Brian is a Charlotte based backpacker, gear junkie, runner, and CrossFit(er). Originally from Southampton, England, Brian has lived in the US for over 20 years, finally settling in North Carolina. He spends as much time backpacking as his busy work schedule and family life will allow.