So, what kind of cooking stuff do we use, when and why?
We us different gear in different circumstances! High alpine terrain or winter time asks for a different approach than warm summer mountains. Below is what we use for cooking on all our hikes. On expeditions and other trips we might use something else.
Stove / burner
Probably one of the most light weight solutions is Esbit. But we do not use Esbit because the fumes may cause cancer....
In almost every environment and on almost every hike we use the Ultra-light alcohol stove from Vargo or a Trangia (just the burner).
As a wind screen we then use the natural surroundings (rocks, moss etc.). If we go to more barren places with more wind, we use a thin aluminum windscreen that you can buy for gasoline stoves (like MSR). There is a big advantage with alcohol stoves. They are very light weight and do not need a pressurized fuel bottle. Which is heavy. You can just use the lightweight plastic bottle were the alcohol came in.
When hiking in areas where there are more people and official campgrounds around, like the Alps, you can find gas canisters in many places. There we often use an ultra-light weight titanium burner (hardly weighs a thing) with the same aluminum windscreen we mentioned earlier. We also use the gas canisters when open fire is prohibited (fire danger, dry woods etc.). However, we find gas canisters wastefull. So it's our second choice. If we hike on our own, we might use a Jetboil. Which is basically a burner and pot in one. They actually work really well.
We sometimes take gasoline burners with us when we go to places where it is likely not possible to get natural gas canisters or alcohol. We don't use gasoline burners that much. They have moving parts, nipples, O-rings etc. and they sometimes tend to clog up or break from time to time. It needs more maintenance and they are a lot heacier than the other setups. So they are not our preferred choice. However, gasoline (for our MSR Whisper lite and Dragon fly) is available everywhere. And our MSR XGK even burns diesel. Which was handy in the middle of the jungle were we could get some diesel from an outboard motor… So when we are unsure about if we can get alcohol or gas canisters (like Patagonia), we switch to these burners.
What we choose also depends heavily on the altitude and temperature. In wintertime or in high altitudes alcohol does not really work. Gas can do more but we usually switch to gasoline.
Remember, we are talking about HIKING now, not expeditions!
Pots, pans & utensils
This is what we use:
1 Lapland mok (nap) each. Don’t know if there is an English word for it so here is an image.
One 1 Liter titanium pot with a lid. We do not use aluminum pots because it is suggested by scientists that prolonged indigestion of aluminum particles might cause early dementia. Don’t know if it’s true, but just in case ;-)
1 Ultra-light-weight aluminum pot grabber.
One Plastic and One Titanium Spork (spoon and fork in one). The plastic one tends to break often. But it's lighter than the titanium one. So one of us eats with the plastic one, the other with the titanium.
1 Swiss army knife (smallest one there is). Lethermans and other multitools are just dead weight. You almost never need to use something like that on a hike. The same goes for Rambo knives, axes and what not.
Matches or a lighter in a ziplock bag + spare all weather matches in our first aid kit
Water bottle: for direct drinking we just use the very light and sturdy 1 liter (1 quart) plastic bottles from the super market. Like Smart, Spa, or other water brands.
Water storage inside the pack (filling up for cooking, long sections without water etc.): One 2 or 3 liter Platypus bag. In dry areas this can be more. We leave the drink hose back home. Just adds weight plus with transparent bottles you can see how much water there is left. With a blatter inside the pack it’s difficult to guess.
If we hike on our own we might use a Jetboil.
That’s it for now.
We hope this blog helps you in making a good decision for your next hike.
See you on the trail or on the next blog which is about: Shoes and Clothing