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592 Trail Sense

camp cooking gear

When we are packing our kitchen for a backcountry trip, we try to go as light as possible. Despite our weight saving efforts, the kitchen has to be able to cook (or prepare) the foods on our menu. For example, what good would it be to bring a frozen hamburger for the first night's dinner, if the only stove and pot you were packing was a JetBoil (note: the JetBoil stove is a boiling machine, you can adapt a frying pan to use on the burner or use theirs, but the pan would be something extra to carry)?

So which comes first, the food or the kitchen? From years and years of camping and buying kitchen gear, we have a collection. We could choose the food first, what we really want to eat - and then match the cookware to prepare the food. The only problem is, the kitchen might not be the lightest. Instead, we put together our ideal backcountry kitchen and then choose foods that we find palatable and able to be cooked with our kitchen system. If there is some menu item we must have, then we have to pack the pot, pan, or utensil to aid in cooking it. The kitchen and food to be prepared must be a balance of weight to taste, to functionality, to calories.

The shelves of the outdoor stores are filled with cooking gear. The only limiting factors are how much you will spend. Here is what we actually use and some comments ...


our kitchen

Platypus water bottles - we each carry a 2 liter bag in our packs, not necessarily filled with water. The big water bags supplement our hydration system while we are on the trail and then we also use the bags for the cooking water at camp.

JetBoil Ti Sol Stove - the lightest and fastest stove/pot set around. It limits what you can cook, but the weight savings are worth it to us.

MSR Ti Mug (cup) - a small cup that we added lids and cozies to - we like our coffee.

Orikaso Bowls - these origami-like folding bowls are the lightest and take up the least room. They also can be used opened up as a plate or as a cutting board and are easy to clean.

CGI Spoons - a small light and almost unbreakable spoon.

Guyot Designs Spreader - better than a knife, don't use the spork that you also have to buy in the set.

Small Knife - we have several to choose from including a small Swiss Army. We each carry a small knife as a part of our first aid/emergency kits. We use the same knives for cooking.

Scrubber - a small sponge scrubber.

Seasoning - small plastic bags with enough seasoning for the trip.

Gas Canister - enough to match the number of days and meals we are planning to cook.

Trash/scrap bag - a bag for the left overs

Over the years our cooking system has evolved. Yours will too. Go through all your kitchen gear and pick the best weight vs functionality gear. Then, choose food for the trip to match the gear. If you want to add a menu item that requires special gear, remember the extra weight of the gear. You might have a yummy meal, but is it worth it at the expense of your aching back?

Our kitchen has gotten lighter with our aging bodies. : - )

Happy balanced kitchen trails


Trail Sense Food Links

Importance of Food

An Edible Diet


Kitchen Extras



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