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GSI Outdoors Cascadian Cup SPOTLITE REVIEW

Strong polypropylene, will not burn your lips, twelve fluid ounces capacity, 1.7 ounces weight and $1.75 USD: it can't be too bad!

Hightly Recommended

Overall Rating: Highly Recommended

A combination of a light weight, unbreakable construction, good capacity, easy to clean and a low price, plus it is easy to hold and can't burn your lips.

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by Roger Caffin |

GSI Outdoors Cascadian Cup SPOTLITE REVIEW


There is no end to the cups offered for outdoor use, but many of them have faults of one sort or another. We will skip the traditional enameled steel ones without comment. The titanium ones are terribly trendy, but at nearly $30 USD each, they are hardly 'lightweight' on the wallet. Their weight isn't bad, at 2 ounces (56 g), but despite what they say about the poor conductivity of titanium, I still burn my lips on them.

There are mass-market cups made of hard plastic and sold at supermarkets: lighter and cheaper, but many of them have the standard '1 cup' (250 mL) capacity, which isn't really quite big enough for a walker. I often have to 'top-up' half way through a cup of coffee. The hard plastic can crack if hit hard too, then they leak. Good, but not quite good enough.

The common wisdom has been that the mass-market companies cannot produce anything worthwhile for the lightweight crew. Well, that may have been true in the past, but the times they are a' changing. GSI Outdoors has come out with this Cascadian brand cup: cheap, light, slightly flexible but robust, non-cracking, and with a decent capacity. The handle is quite strong and dead easy to pick up, even with a gloved hand. If you have a couple of them, they stack quite nicely. Cleaning is pretty easy: a rinse and shake works most of the time.

The measurements on the GSI Outdoors website should not be used: the Backpacking Light ones are more accurate! In particular, note that the claimed twelve fluid ounce capacity is nice and generous. You might also like to check the inside of the cup very carefully: there is a faint scale on one side showing cup measurements, up to one and a half cups. For reasons which utterly pass me by, the text on this scale is in mirror image: perhaps someone made a slight mistake here in making the mold?


  • Manufacturer: GSI Outdoors
  • Year/Model: 2007
  • Manufacture: China
  • Material: Polypropylene
  • Capacity: 12 fl oz (340 mL) quoted, but nearly 13 fl oz (460 mL) to the brim
  • Size (diameter x height): 3.75 x 2.95 in, (95 x 75 mm), but the handle is extra (BPL measured)
  • Weight: 1.66 oz (47 g) (BPL measured)
  • Colors: Red, orange, green, and blue
  • MSRP: $1.75 USD

What’s Good

  • Light
  • Cheap
  • Almost unbreakable
  • Easy to pick up, even with gloves
  • Suitable capacity for walkers

What’s Not So Good

  • Cannot be held over a stove

Recommendations for Improvement

  • Fix the lettering on the scale!


"GSI Outdoors Cascadian Cup SPOTLITE REVIEW," by Roger Caffin. (ISSN 1537-0364)., 2008-05-20 21:45:00-06.


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GSI Outdoors Cascadian Cup SPOTLITE REVIEW
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Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
GSI Outdoors Cascadian Cup SPOTLITE REVIEW on 05/20/2008 21:49:58 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

GSI Outdoors Cascadian Cup SPOTLITE REVIEW

Dave .
(Ramapo) - F - M
Hmmm on 05/21/2008 06:19:32 MDT Print View

You know what's nice about Titanium though? It isn't plastic.

Is there any reliable information out there regarding the safety of drinking hot beverages out of polypropylene?

Personally I don't mind paying extra for a titanium mug. It affords me peace of mind!

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Re: Hmmm on 05/21/2008 10:53:59 MDT Print View

At least it is designed to be heated and used to hold water. The biggest danger from plastics is that people use plastic that isn't food safe or hasn't been designed (or tested) for hot food or water. I've made this mistake before, when putting food directly into a (non-food safe) grocery bag. I know that isn't a direct answer to your question (sorry).

Ryan Krause

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Safety on 05/21/2008 15:17:10 MDT Print View

According to current research and analytic techniques, polypropylene doesn't appear to leach.

Glass transition temperature: -10C
Melting temperature: 173C

Pedro Arvy
(PedroArvy) - MLife

Locale: Melbourne
Why do you need a cup? on 05/21/2008 17:27:25 MDT Print View

Why do you need a cup?
I drink out of my cooking pot.

Scotch, coffee, soup it handles the lot!

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Why do you need a cup? on 05/21/2008 18:29:51 MDT Print View

How about this...

Two hikers. You both want a cup of tea, but are sharing one stove. Two cups faciliate your efforts.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Why do you need a cup? on 05/21/2008 18:59:51 MDT Print View

Hi Petras

> Why do you need a cup?
> I drink out of my cooking pot.
On day walks, of which my wife and I do many when we aren't off on a longer walk, I carry a Trangia kettle for morning tea. It is ancient and much loved, albeit a little heavier than some Ti versions. (No problem - keeps me fit.) And it has a wide base which means it is efficient in heating.

Now, have you tried to drink out of a Trangia kettle? Remembering it is aluminium, which is an excellent heat conductor too. And what does my wife drink out of?


Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
The GSI Line on 05/21/2008 21:47:04 MDT Print View

If you all haven't noticed, GSI has quite the new line out this year. They also have two style of nesting mug/cup sets. One is 20 ounces and round, the other is 14 ounces and triangle shaped. They are of the same material as the Cascadian mug.

For those concerned, Polypropylene is used in many items these days. It is what Fozzils and Orikaso dishes are made of. It is recyclable as well.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
YEP! on 05/22/2008 00:34:48 MDT Print View

Been using a nearly identical cup for decades. It has 1/4 cup marking rings around the entire inside of the cup.

I use the cup for measuring water for putting into freeze-dried food bags, drinking coffee or tea etc. and I couldn't get along without it. Best type of cup I've ever used for backpacking.

That cup, my Cool Whip bowl and a long-handled Lexan spoon are ALL my utensils. (Yeah, a Cool Whip bowl - used 'em for decades also.) In winter I bring the Cool Whip lid to keep food warm whilst I'm chewing, drinking & attending other cooking chores. BUT, in winter I drink from a closed top insulated mug.


Monty Montana
(TarasBulba) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: GSI Outdoors Cascadian Cup on 05/22/2008 10:51:13 MDT Print View

"For reasons which utterly pass me by, the text on this scale is in mirror image"

Um...'cause it's made in China?

I'm glad you reviewed this item! I've been using a similar cup that was included in my Boy Scout mess kit for years and my only complaint is that it holds only 8 oz brim full, so a 12 oz capacity cup would be worth having 'cause I do enjoy a slug o joe in the morning.

Phil Barton
(flyfast) - MLife

Locale: Oklahoma
Re: Re: GSI Outdoors Cascadian Cup on 05/22/2008 11:57:00 MDT Print View

Monty, I have the exact same comment as you. I can finally replace my 8 oz. BSA cup of the past 40 years. I just haven't taken the time to find where to locate a $1.75 cup without paying $8 in shipping.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Shipping on 05/22/2008 12:57:21 MDT Print View

I had to laugh....the sad thing is paying $8 shipping will soon be cheaper than driving to a store to find one if you drive a typical American style vehicle.

Kathleen B
(rosierabbit) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
GSI Cascadian cup and bowl on 05/22/2008 13:02:12 MDT Print View

A well-known outdoor retailer is selling these in multiples of 4, with cups, bowls, and plates. However, I'd rather wait to see if Sarah will stock them on her site. For longer treks, it would actually be easier to use the non-zip sandwich bags to package the meals and then dump one into the bowl or cup to rehydrate, assuming it can handle seriously boiling water.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: GSI Outdoors Cascadian Cup SPOTLITE REVIEW on 05/22/2008 14:17:12 MDT Print View

I have something similar as well, only it holds 450ml and only weighs 37 grams. Cost me NZ$5 from Bivouac. I added my own measurement markings with an indelible pen on the outside...the cup is yellow so is JUST transparent enough for this to work. I don't go anywhere without my yellow cup, nor does my partner with the red version.

Why carry a cup?? As above, I mostly hike with my partner. Often when we stop for a brew, I'll have soup and my partner will have tea. In the evenings my partner might have some icky sweet orange drink while I tend towards whiskey while cooking dinner in the 2L pot. In the morning its coffee for me and tea for my better would be world war III without our own mugs!

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: GSI Cascadian cup and bowl on 05/22/2008 16:33:45 MDT Print View

Kathleen, I think I will pick them up on the next order, which I will do after Memorial Day :-) GSI is pretty cool with I can pick and choose what I buy. So I have to ask - if I carry them, what is the color choices you'd love? ;-)
Btw, thanks for the idea of getting them!

Everitt Gordon
(Everitt) - MLife

Locale: North of San Francisco
Re: Hmmm on 05/22/2008 19:52:42 MDT Print View

why assume titanium is safe to eat out of? It's not been around that long and many other metals have proved only years, or centurys later to be harmfull or deadly. If peace of mind is based on high cost is the space shuttle safer than my bicycle....Everitt

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: Hmmm on 05/22/2008 19:59:31 MDT Print View

I know of very few (OK, I can't really think of any) materials to make a food container/cooker out of that have been 'proven' to do no harm over the long is just plain deadly and we may never know if that ceramic casserole dish, the clay grain storage, the cast iron pan or even that lovely glass drinking utensil are truly doing us no harm.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Hmmm on 05/22/2008 20:00:46 MDT Print View

Aren't titanium mugs lined with some sort of chemical coating as well?

This thread may be the first one about plastics where David and Sarah aren't fighting each other. :)

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
BAH! HUMBUG! on 05/22/2008 20:11:53 MDT Print View

A pox on Titanium backpacking vessles (likely carried by Titanium-loving, latte-sipping, carbon fiber pole-using, effete backpackers)!

Coated aluminum is better in virtually every way.

(Now lessee, where'd I put my Ti BushBuddy stove? Oh, there it is, beside my Ti Caldera Cone and my Ti Vargo burner.)


Kathleen B
(rosierabbit) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Red GSI bowl on 05/23/2008 09:58:54 MDT Print View

Sarah - The red looks cool. Or anything but orange. If you get several colors, I may spring for 2 in different colors. Mr B's birthday is coming up, and I would be willing to spring a few bucks on him! Who knows, if you design a cozy for the bowl and/or mug, I may go really crazy and get that, too!

Robert Blean
(blean) - MLife

Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
Plastic measuring cup on 05/23/2008 10:37:21 MDT Print View

My plastic 2-cup measuring cup meets all the pro's listed:
* Light -- only 1.5 oz
* Cheap -- at your favorite discount store
* Almost unbreakable -- I still have my original, many years later
* Easy to pick up, even with gloves -- and has a very nice size/shape for holding in your hands to warm them in cold weather
* Suitable capacity for walkers -- 2 cups has always worked out to hold plenty without worrying about slopping over

-- Bob

John Coyle

Locale: NorCal
Thanks Roger on 05/23/2008 13:49:26 MDT Print View

Just wanted to mention that several years ago I bought the GSI Bugaboo cookset for car camping which comes with the Cascadian bowl and cup. My cup and bowl are blue though. I have been very happy with the entire set, although I am a little concerned with the out-gassing situation with plastics, but it is my understanding that this is more of a problem with lexan cups than polypropyline. In any case, I am not concerned enough to stop using it! Not down with the tea though, coffee is my drink.

I appreciate your amazing expertise with stove issues also. Hope to backpack in your wonderfull country some day!

Rod Lawlor
(Rod_Lawlor) - MLife

Locale: Australia
Light and cheap on the Australian market on 05/23/2008 19:38:17 MDT Print View

The Australians on the list, you might like to check this out. I have also posted this on the bowl thread, but I know I searched hard for a cup.

You might want to check out the Decor range. This is their standard range, not the new microwave range, which is significantly heavier on my "one in each hand" scales.

The original range have good lids for solids, 100ml markings, stack well and let you compact down(stack) as you eat the cereal or crackers you store in them. (10 Weetbix in an 800ml rectangular container)

The 800ml in rectangular or round are about 46g plus 18g for the lid. cost around $3.00 at Coles or Woolies.

They do a nice, short round 350ml one which I think is around 29g plus lid (mine is at work at the moment. I'll edit on Mon) Very tip resistant due to the straight sides and low height. I've drilled a hole in the lid on one side, with a breather opposite, to make a drinking lid. No handle but the reinforcing rib around the seal gives a burn proof way to hold. In reality polypro transmits less heat than even ti.

The practical working temp (ductile, flexible semisolid) is around 160 C, so boiling water has no effect on stability of these containers, like it does on PET. Which leads me to the lightest, cheapest practical bowl I have found so far.......

The Coles brand 1kg honey container. Take the plastic bail handle off this and you have an approx 800ml polypro container with a pretty good lid. The jar is 27g and the lid is 10g. The wall thickness is less than the Decor, but even filled with boiling water, it's still suitably rigid. I haven't tried stacking yet, as I'm only half way through the second jar, but with my kids, I reckon on about ten days until it's ready. (I'm not sure how many of these I put in recycle before I realised how ideal they were.