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Stove and fuel: There is a trend called cold-soaking which is basically just what it sounds like. It involves rehydrating food by soaking it in cold/room temperature water, thus eliminating the need for a stove and fuel. Cold soaking is usually a process used by ultralight backpackers that are looking to eliminate ounces from their gear. I personally do not recommend it. For one, there is just something extra satisfying about a hot meal at the end of a long day on the trail. It’s a feeling that a cold bowl of oatmeal just can’t achieve. Secondly, a cook system can also function as a back-up water sterilization method should your filter/sterilizer fail, get lost, or run out (depending on your method). Depending on your cook system, it may very well also work as a back-up fire source.

There are several types of backpacking stoves on the market to consider. The most common types are canister (rocket stove), liquid fuel, solid fuel, alcohol, and wood (or wood pellet) burning stoves. I feel that the canister stove is the best all-around stove. They work well in a variety of weather conditions, are lightweight, and can be relatively inexpensive. Canister stoves can be troublesome in extreme cold, but I have personally never been camping in weather cold enough for it to be an issue. I love a wood-burning set-up such as the Solo Stove, but my wood burner weighs about twice as much as my full canister cook system, including fuel and cook pot. A benefit to a wood burner is that you can fuel it with sticks, twigs, and leaves that you find around your campsite and do not need to worry about carrying fuel or running out of fuel. The flip-side of that is if it has been pouring down rain for several days there may be no dry fuel to be found. Wood burners are a great emergency, car camping, or bug-out stove, but for backpacking, I still prefer the canister stove. Jet Boil offers a variety of canister cook systems and is the go-to stove for many hikers. If you are on a little more of a budget (or want to shave some weight) you can get a generic burner off Amazon and a Toaks titanium pot and you will have a light-weight cook system for under $50. And while you’re at it, pick up a Toaks long handle titanium spoon. I have a no-name burner that I got off of Amazon and I’ve been using it for years with no issues. The BRS 3000T titanium burner is another great option and is probably the lightest one out there. Just keep in mind that it doesn’t have a built-in igniter, so you will need to use a match or lighter to light it.

Kitchen supplies: The exact list of supplies will look different depending on your cook system, food that you brought, and personal preference. Remember you have to carry all this stuff, so I recommend keeping it simple. You will need an eating utensil. I typically bring at least a couple of dehydrated backpacking meals that can be cooked right in the pouch they come in, so all I need is a small pot (550-750ml) to boil a few ounces of water. Toaks makes titanium pots and utensils that are very reasonably priced. Depending on what you select for food, you may want a second pot or pan to cook in. Remember you do not want to be lugging around a full-size frying pan from your kitchen. If you chose to use dehydrated meals such as Mountain House meals, you can cook and eat right out of the pouch they come in thus eliminating the need for additional dishes.

If you are eating out of a pouch, a long-handled spoon will be quite useful. I have found a utensil kit at Walmart that works quite well. It is made of plastic, so it is lightweight (be careful around heat, it will melt) and has a knife, a fork, and a spoon. It is in two pieces that lock together for storage and can be flipped around and locked together creating a long-handled spoon. All that for just a couple bucks and a couple of grams of weight in the pack. It really is the best bang for your buck.


I also like my morning coffee and evening tea, so a hot beverage cup or mug is another essential item for me. There are a lot of options, so just pick one that works for you. Just don’t take something that will break like ceramic or glass. I used to take a French press mug with me, but it is a bit weighty and bulky, so I have switched to using a collapsible silicone cup and either take instant coffee or coffee pouches. Angela uses a lightweight metal carabiner mug that clips on her pack. There is also a lightweight, collapsible, pour-over filter on the market that I have yet to try, but it looks like it would work well and is lightweight. A microfiber cleaning cloth is also a useful addition to a cook kit and something like a mesh bag, a bandana, or even just a rubber band to help keep it all together.


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