Posts tagged Ethos
Experiments in lightweight Firepans

In 2015 Grand Canyon explorer and American Packrafting Association Executive Council Member Rich Rudow contacted me to see if I would like to develop a lightweight firepan suitable for packrafters and kayakers on self-supported trips on the Colorado through GCNP. Firepans are required on many popular rivers to reduce the impact we inevitably bring when we visit these beautiful places. I agreed, and so began a long journey of experimentation. Rich had seen a design attributed to Boyce Greer, a well known kayaker who tragically lost his life on the North Fork of the Payette River (Idaho) in 2011. Boyce's design remains online here:

As a professional designer I know well that, as Mikhail Kalashnikov said: "to make something simple is a thousand times more difficult than to make something complex". I took Boyce's design and worked on reducing the weight. Boyce used Aluminum plates which I eliminated, using instead a sheet of thin Titanium foil supported by a grid of interlaced Titanium rods. The design was light, under 5 lbs, but still used 4 threaded fasteners per leg.... fasteners that are prone to being damaged and lost, they also add cost.

Prototypes of this design were used by Rich Rudow and Mike Curiak ( in the Grand Canyon and on the Salmon River. Everyone agreed that the fasteners had to go and Mike C. proposed and implemented "pinning" the legs to the sides with tent stakes. I modified my remaining prototypes with Mike's simple & elegant solution.


Impressed by the resilience of the Titanium foil, and not content with the weight of our previous efforts I had started toyiong with using only Titanium foil for the "pan". After several paper models I formed a simple pattern from the flat sheet and pinned the corners using Titanium tent stakes. The unique properties of the Ti foil made forming a integral pan possible. Several leg designs were prototyped and I settled on using 2 bent aluminum bars with captive nuts and thumb screws. The system is simple and compact. The ultralight pan weighs only 1.48lbs and packs down to 4" x 19". Wrap your fire blanket around the pan to protect both it and your boat.


The firepan will be produced in small batches. You can declare your interest by emailing me: tomw (at)

There is no other firepan on the market which is as compact and lightweight.