Whether you live in a camper van or are hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, space is key. And in the van life community, we’re all hunting for the next great way to keep our things to a minimum, whether that’s migrating all your books to an ereader or only having enough forks for you, your partner, and one guest (guilty as charged). There’s really nowhere harder to keep our things to a minimum than cooking supplies. Even when we shift to lightweight, stackable pieces designed for an RV or camper van, we still find ourselves with an entire cabinet used up. And if you’re camping or hiking? A pot takes up precious pack space that could have been used for food, a journal, or a few extra socks.

But as it turns out, there’s a solution for those of us eager to eke out every cubic inch possible from our living situation: the Bear Bowl from Bear Minimum.

Based in Spokane, Bear Minimum is a family-run company that made it big thanks to Shark Tank earlier this month. And from the looks of it, their product is about to take the camping world by storm. Their smallest pot – endearingly called the Baby Bear – holds 32 ounces of water…and folds down to the size of a wallet.


bear bowl foldable

(Credit: Bear Bowl)


Talk about a space-saver. When you have a cookpot that can fit in your back pocket with ease, the space your pot took up in your pack or cabinet saves more room for food, fuel, or perhaps even the luxury of a few books. Even now, I’m eying my cabinet that’s crammed with my pots and pans and thinking about how much more easily I could fit my teapot up there if I had collapsible pans…
If 32 ounces doesn’t sound like enough to suit your needs Bear Minimum offers two larger sizes aptly named the Mama Bear and the Papa Bear. Clocking in with a gallon capacity, the Papa Bear is the most impressive, folding up to the size of a journal.


bear bowl

(Credit: Bear Bowl)


So how do they pull this off? By lining a fiberglass exterior with Teflon, they created a nonstick, collapsible, and watertight container perfect for whipping up a meal when you have limited space and need a brisk cleanup.

What’s the catch? For starters, it’s made with Teflon, a material that has sparked a great deal of debate about whether it’s safe for human exposure; In 2016, DuPont lost a lawsuit against a man who said that working in the factory producing Teflon caused his cancer. Yikes. More than that, if you’re living in a camper van and looking for longevity, these may not be your answer. According to Outside Online, inventor Cory Santiago and himself said that he got roughly “70 uses out of a Bear Bowl before it started to break down.” So if you’re the occasional camper or backpacker looking for an easier way to get cooking in the wild, this looks like the dream solution. But for those of us living full-time? I’ll take the reduced cabinet space in exchange for some stainless steel and longevity.