Author Topic: My cooking gear  (Read 3725 times)

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Offline davidbonn

My cooking gear
« on: December 31, 2023, 03:57:54 pm »
What I typically carry on a long tour:



Clockwise from top left:  GSI Soloist cookpot (nonstick), Sea to Summit sippy cup, MSR Pocket Rocket Deluxe, Sea to Summit collapsible bowl, kitchen knife from Target, awful little spork, spoon with can opener.  The puppy is usually not carried.


I might not bring the bowl or the spoon with the can opener if I won't need 'em.  The bowl is handy for soaking foods like tabouli and for carrying a salad on the ride.

Some stuff I might bring or might substitute in on a faster-and-lighter trip:



L to R:  gold filter coffee maker, bic lighter with duct tape, BSR-3000T stove, small Snow Peak Ti pot.


The smaller pot and BSR-3000T stove are a better choice if you are on a tour where your cooking is all boil-water-and-stir.  The larger nonstick pot is good when you might be reheating food out of a can.  The MSR stove simmers better and consumes less fuel, especially at lower elevations and lower temperatures.

Opinions, pet peeves, and suggestions welcomed!

« Last Edit: December 31, 2023, 04:03:48 pm by davidbonn »

Offline froze

Re: My cooking gear
« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2024, 12:47:40 am »
I took a cookware set I got from Walmart for about $10 from Ozark Trails made of thin thus lightweight stainless steel; the kit includes a pot but I don't take it.  I also didn't take the pot lid, what I did was drill a hole in the center of the plate, put the knob from the lid, and attached it to the plate, which becomes a lid that goes over the pan and locks, the locking thing is the pan's handle.  By doing that stuff it lightened up the mess kit.  I do use the plastic cup that came in the mess kit, it's a measuring cup as well.
 
I also use a cheap Ozark stainless cup which I can use to cook some stuff in or boil water for coffee.

A Toaks titanium folding spork no other separate fork or spoon is necessary and it won't melt.  I use a pocket knife for cutting food if needed.

The Soto WindMaster stove works fantastically even in the wind, I no longer have to carry a windscreen.

GSI Outdoors Ultralight Java Drip attaches to my plastic cup, then I pour the boiled water from the stainless cup over the grounds and into the plastic cup.

All of that stuff except for the Stainless and plastic Cup fits into the pan with the lid closed over the top and snapped locked.

Some people think that the Walmart stuff will weigh a lot more, not true, sure a titanium cook set with the same stuff I have would weigh less, but not by much, with the pot and its lid the kit weighs a pound, but remove the pot and the lid and it's down to about 8 ounces, the same set up as I have in titanium will only save me about 3 ounces, but cost me $80 more, and a non-stick mess kit will weigh more than mine, plus cost more.  That Walmart stuff has so far lasted me 2 seasons with no damage, it will probably last a long time.

Offline davidbonn

Re: My cooking gear
« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2024, 02:54:01 pm »
Thanks for the insights!

Yeah, Ti cookpots are expensive.  But this basic 700ml pot from Toaks is all you need if you are just boiling water and it runs only $40.

https://www.toaksoutdoor.com/products/pot-700-d115-l

You could use one of the many Sea to Summit collapsable cups as a lid for that pot and it would work fine.  This is a small 12oz version, but there are 16oz versions and some with a screw-on lid.

https://seatosummit.com/products/x-tumbler-cool-grip?variant=38033270440109

A lot of people swear by this inexpensive Stanley cookpot.  I haven't used it but have one of the mugs and they are nice.

https://www.stanley1913.com/products/adventure-the-nesting-two-cup-cook-set

I discovered HumanGear recently.  They have an interesting spork option that lets you have a long-handled plastic spork.  I will probably try one out on my Spring shakedown tour (planned for April), and if it works I might retire that stainless steel spoon after almost forty years:

https://www.humangear.com/shop/p/duo

Oh, and Ti nonstick pots for all practical purposes Do Not Work.  The metal is too thin and you end up with a hot spot that inevitably burns and eventually also damages the nonstick coating at that hot spot. 

The 1L GSI cookpot is probably overkill for a solo traveler, but it ticks the boxes nicely on being nonstick (very convenient for cleanup, especially in a dry or semi-dry campsite).  A 750ml version of that pot would be perfect but I couldn't find one:



« Last Edit: January 07, 2024, 02:56:37 pm by davidbonn »

Offline davidbonn

Re: My cooking gear
« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2024, 03:21:37 pm »
Oh, yeah.

I weighed the GSI Cookpot (from the Pinnacle Soloist II cookset) without the "Foon" (that I definitely won't use) and the mug/bowl and stuff sack (that I probably won't use) and it weighed in at 6.7oz.  The old Snow Peak Ti pot which is smaller (about 2/3 the volume) weighed in at 4.3oz.  More than the lower weight the smaller size of the Snow Peak pot might be a big advantage on fast-and-light trips with very little pack space.  But on most tours you might as well bring the bigger pot.

The Pinnacle Soloist lists for around $80, which is a lot.  But I see discounted versions on the net for around $42.  So it pays to Shop Around.

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: My cooking gear
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2024, 09:15:44 am »
I love Sea to Summit stuff.  I have their collapsible cup and bowl, though mine are several years old and thus don't have that grippy finish that cup has.  They next inside each other and take up a tiny fraction of the space my rigid cup and bowl used to. (The StS mattress I have is also the favorite one I have ever owned.)

As for the rest of the kitchen, I do a lot more than boil water, so by cooking gear is probably more extensive than most.  Always induces either my MSR Dragonfly or Optimus Nova liquid fuel stove.  The former is for longer trips because it has a larger fuel bottle.  I also bring two pots that nest inside each other.  All in all, I think the collection is efficient for what it can accomplish.

Offline froze

Re: My cooking gear
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2024, 11:38:50 am »
I love Sea to Summit stuff.  I have their collapsible cup and bowl, though mine are several years old and thus don't have that grippy finish that cup has.  They next inside each other and take up a tiny fraction of the space my rigid cup and bowl used to. (The StS mattress I have is also the favorite one I have ever owned.)

As for the rest of the kitchen, I do a lot more than boil water, so by cooking gear is probably more extensive than most.  Always induces either my MSR Dragonfly or Optimus Nova liquid fuel stove.  The former is for longer trips because it has a larger fuel bottle.  I also bring two pots that nest inside each other.  All in all, I think the collection is efficient for what it can accomplish.

I do more than boil water too, I found that I don't need a second pot though.  Anything I make that I need to boil goes into the stainless cup, for all other cooking stuff, I use the pan.  But I travel alone, if I was with another person that would probably have to change.

I'm trying to cut down on weight, but in doing so I have to weigh in the costs such as is it worth it to pay $50 or more for something and save an ounce or two?  Then you run into the lighter-weight stuff not being as durable.  So it's a battle trying to find the right combination that will give you durability vs weight vs cost.

The mess kit I have is cheap, but I had a lighter-weight aluminum kit but it only lasted one season.  The one thing I have noticed is that eventually you'll burn food, and sometimes that burnt stuff won't come off like it did with the aluminum mess kit, so I threw it away because it was cheap, the same thing I can do with this Ozark Trail kit, if it gets messed up I'll just throw it away and buy another one at Walmart, but the stainless steel kit I can scrape away hard on it to get burnt stuff off without damaging it, but someday I might not be able to do that, so I'll only be out $10.  But if you burn crap on a Ti pot, or especially in a non-stick pot that pot is gone.  I would think the Ti without a non-stick coating pot should hold up as well as Stainless, but I've never owned a TI mess kit so can't answer that, but it seems that would be the case.  I'm not a good cook, so burning stuff is something that happens when I cook!  LOL!!

A lot of backpackers and bike campers don't even take a mess kit or a stove to save on weight, they eat packaged stuff that requires no cooking.  I like cooked food better than pre-packaged bars, or bags of trail mix. I do take some pre-cooked foil-packaged meats, but I will heat those up to make stuff, but I don't have to heat those meats.  I also like coffee in the morning, so that means I have to be able to boil water at the very least.  Everyone has a different take on what they want to eat out in the field, you just have to find what you like best.

YouTube has all sorts of videos about how to eat when backpacking, which applies to bike camping too, and there are a lot of sites that show you how to do it cheaply without buying those expensive camping meals in a bag that start at $8 and go as high as $18, geez for that kind of money I think I would just find a restaurant!  Going to a restaurant would also cut down on food weight, but the cost to go camping would skyrocket, but some people are ok with that.

Offline davidbonn

Re: My cooking gear
« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2024, 02:43:16 pm »
I too love the StS stuff.  And I've been intrigued by their collapsible pots but can't yet justify one.

As for nonstick pots, I had an old MSR 1.2L nonstick aluminum pot that lasted about ten years before being lost.  So a properly cared for nonstick camping pot can last a long time.  Like I noted, I do appreciate the cleanup being easier and if you are a little careful you won't burn things to it.  I can't say the same for Ti nonstick pots, where it seems to scorch almost instantly if you try to heat a can of refried beans in one.

If you plan carefully and know a few tricks, it is possible to eat pretty well just boiling water and stirring.  Instant dried refried beans are available universally through the magic of in-store pickup at Wal-Mart, and are tasty and nutritious inside a tortilla; you can make quite plausible and appetizing burritos and enchiladas (although you'd have to bake the enchilada, I managed in a frying pan covered with aluminum foil) in camp with them.  Tabouli is another favorite of mine (also available at Wal-Mart) that doesn't even require boiling water.

When optimizing for weight, starting with cookware is a poor idea.  Best is to start with heavier items (bags, sleeping system, tent, all your clothes) first and optimize there.  You'll get much higher returns on the investment of both your effort and money that way.  It is important to keep in mind that it is not universally true that lighter-weight items are both less durable and more expensive.  Let's just say it gets complicated.  In recent years we have seen the emergence of a lot of inexpensive ultralight gear made in China and available on Amazon.  Quality varies widely and in often bewildering ways, though.

I have a couple of camping frying pans (also nonstick) and am debating bringing one along.  When traveling by myself I probably can't justify it for a longer expedition but for a short trip it might be kind of fun (and tasty).

Offline davidbonn

Re: My cooking gear
« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2024, 03:41:42 pm »
...
YouTube has all sorts of videos about how to eat when backpacking, which applies to bike camping too, and there are a lot of sites that show you how to do it cheaply without buying those expensive camping meals in a bag that start at $8 and go as high as $18, geez for that kind of money I think I would just find a restaurant!  Going to a restaurant would also cut down on food weight, but the cost to go camping would skyrocket, but some people are ok with that.

The big problem with freeze-dried meals is that not only are they expensive, but often they aren't very good for you.  Eating them for a few days likely won't hurt you and will in fact make that enormous salad at the end of the trip even more enjoyable.  But eating them exclusively for weeks or months on end is probably going to result in fairly spectacular vitamin or nutrient deficiencies.  So I might eat them for a night or two on a fast-and-light bikepacking trip (although even there I'd be just as likely to load up on dried refried beans and put 'em in a tortilla with cheese and hot sauce) but for any kind of longer trip they aren't really a practical solution.  Also, on a long cross-country tour they are unlikely to be easily available from stores along the way.  Best to learn how to "live off the land" and improvise meals from what is available at local stores. 

Probably one case where a freeze-dried meal makes a bit of sense for bike touring is as emergency food.  It isn't hard to find some freeze dried dinner that is unappetizing enough that even a hungry cyclist won't eat unless it is a real emergency. ;D

Offline froze

Re: My cooking gear
« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2024, 01:05:46 pm »
...
YouTube has all sorts of videos about how to eat when backpacking, which applies to bike camping too, and there are a lot of sites that show you how to do it cheaply without buying those expensive camping meals in a bag that start at $8 and go as high as $18, geez for that kind of money I think I would just find a restaurant!  Going to a restaurant would also cut down on food weight, but the cost to go camping would skyrocket, but some people are ok with that.

The big problem with freeze-dried meals is that not only are they expensive, but often they aren't very good for you.  Eating them for a few days likely won't hurt you and will in fact make that enormous salad at the end of the trip even more enjoyable.  But eating them exclusively for weeks or months on end is probably going to result in fairly spectacular vitamin or nutrient deficiencies.  So I might eat them for a night or two on a fast-and-light bikepacking trip (although even there I'd be just as likely to load up on dried refried beans and put 'em in a tortilla with cheese and hot sauce) but for any kind of longer trip they aren't really a practical solution.  Also, on a long cross-country tour they are unlikely to be easily available from stores along the way.  Best to learn how to "live off the land" and improvise meals from what is available at local stores. 

Probably one case where a freeze-dried meal makes a bit of sense for bike touring is as emergency food.  It isn't hard to find some freeze dried dinner that is unappetizing enough that even a hungry cyclist won't eat unless it is a real emergency. ;D

I didn't know they were bad for you, and my brother, who is paranoid, bought about a year's worth of freeze-dried emergency food for him and his wife, those buckets of food they sell online.  No one ever talks about how they might be bad for you!

I don't buy the camping freeze-dried stuff because of cost, but also because the salt content is quite high, then because the food is often bland they put all kinds of crappy spices on it to disguise the true flavor.   

Living off the land on a road bike tour could be difficult since very little food these days is found near the side of roads, if you're going off-road then that might offer some opportunity to find food in nature but I wouldn't count on surviving for long with whatever I found.

If you have ever watched the survivor show called "Alone", the longest a person has survived was 100 days, no mention of how much weight he lost, but another contestant that lasted the second longest at 87 days lost 70 pounds, which was borderline dangerous, another 5 or so days and he could have been pulled out of the contest for possible danger to his well being.  These people on that show have to show they have abilities to survive or they can't be on the show, so even top survivor type of people cannot last very long.

Offline davidbonn

Re: My cooking gear
« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2024, 04:51:17 pm »
...
Living off the land on a road bike tour could be difficult since very little food these days is found near the side of roads, if you're going off-road then that might offer some opportunity to find food in nature but I wouldn't count on surviving for long with whatever I found.
...

When I was saying "living off the land" in quotes, I meant resupplying from local stores along the way rather than be dependent on what you carry from home.  These days I challenge myself to start a bike tour with as little food as possible and resupply along the way.  I also work hard to purchase just enough food to get me to the next supermarket when I do resupply.  Under optimum karma I'll hit a supermarket once a day, preferably within an hour or two riding time from where I plan to stay that night.

If decent food is available on your route, there is very little point in stocking up and only resupplying every few days.  You can save carry weight and eat more fresh, healthy foods.  I try to eat salads three meals a day even on journey, which may sound weird but works for me.

Offline froze

Re: My cooking gear
« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2024, 06:37:10 pm »
...
Living off the land on a road bike tour could be difficult since very little food these days is found near the side of roads, if you're going off-road then that might offer some opportunity to find food in nature but I wouldn't count on surviving for long with whatever I found.
...

When I was saying "living off the land" in quotes, I meant resupplying from local stores along the way rather than be dependent on what you carry from home.  These days I challenge myself to start a bike tour with as little food as possible and resupply along the way.  I also work hard to purchase just enough food to get me to the next supermarket when I do resupply.  Under optimum karma I'll hit a supermarket once a day, preferably within an hour or two riding time from where I plan to stay that night.

If decent food is available on your route, there is very little point in stocking up and only resupplying every few days.  You can save carry weight and eat more fresh, healthy foods.  I try to eat salads three meals a day even on journey, which may sound weird but works for me.

Thanks for correcting me on that. 

I only carry enough food to carry me for however long the next store will be as well.  I do carry an extra half day of food just in case, most people recommend a full day of food, but there are so many stores that have food when road touring I just don't think a full day of emergency food is necessary.  Maybe someone with a lot more experience than me can give me reasons why we should be carrying more food.

Whenever I see a fast food place, or a mini-mart, etc., I'll go in and top of my water bottles, water is my biggest concern, but I have yet to run out of water.  I carry two 48-ounce Nalgene bottles that actually will hold 52 or maybe 53 ounces of water each, plus I carry two 24-ounce Polar bottles and a 20-ounce water bottle.  I have to drink a lot of water due to being susceptible to kidney stones, so staying hydrated is very important. I do carry a Sawyer Squeeze water filter thing, but so far I haven't had to use it.  I'm almost considering leaving the Sawyer behind and just carrying purifier tablets, haven't decided on that yet.  Again, maybe someone with a lot more experience can suggest the water situation concern I have.

Offline hikerjer

Re: My cooking gear
« Reply #11 on: January 09, 2024, 09:09:23 pm »
I'd add this.  It has been one of the most simple and helpful pieces of cooking gear I've come across. I carry it on every bike tour and backpacking trip.

https://gsioutdoors.com/products/compact-scraper?_pos=1&_psq=sc&_ss=e&_v=1.0

My wife gave it to me as a stocking stuffer years ago and I dismissed it as a gimmick. Boy, was I wrong. It's extremely handy, efficient, small and light.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2024, 01:46:14 am by hikerjer »

Offline froze

Re: My cooking gear
« Reply #12 on: January 09, 2024, 09:39:16 pm »
I'd add this.  It has been one of the most simple and helpful pieces of cooking gear I've come across. I carry it on every bike tour and backpacking trip.

https://gsioutdoors.com/products/compact-scraper?_pos=1&_psq=sc&_ss=e&_v=1.0

My wife it me as a stocking stuffer years ago and I dismissed it as a gimmick. Boy, was I wrong. It's extremely handy, efficient, small and light.

Is that scrapper similar to what they use on cast iron pots and pans?

Offline davidbonn

Re: My cooking gear
« Reply #13 on: January 09, 2024, 10:31:18 pm »
That scraper looks cool.  Usually I carry a quarter of a sponge and mooch paper towels (preferably the blue shop towels) from gas station mini markets on the tour.  Most of the time everything just wipes clean with a little bit of hot water.

On my emergency food, I typically carry approximately this:



But I might also throw in a small freeze-dried dinner or a pack of instant noodles.

On water carry, I typically carry two or three water bottles, might also carry a large water container like this one from Cnoc Outdoors:

https://cnocoutdoors.com/collections/collecting/products/vecto-28mm?variant=40173968425049

The above can be nicely strapped to the top of my rear rack, or can be carried in the overflow bag that sometimes rides there.

Another alternative is buying Smartwater bottles along the trip.  They are inexpensive and last quite a while and fit comfortably in bottle cages or strapped to your fork.

Also this cool collapsible bottle from Cnoc Outdoors is kind of nice:

https://cnocoutdoors.com/collections/drinkware/products/vesica-1l-collapsible-bottle?variant=32264902377561

One nice thing about the Cnoc containers is that you can get them with 28mm or 42mm threads on the caps, which are compatible with popular water filters.  So you can use them to rig a pretty nifty gravity feed system in camp or can squeeze filter into or out of those containers.  If you look around on Amazon you can also get a hydration tube system that connects to 28mm or 42mm threads as well.

I also have a water filter that I hardly use, and while I carried it on several bikepacking adventures last year, I never felt the need to use it on any of them.  I've also been backpacking for a long time and have liberally drank untreated surface water for all that time with no ill effects.  On the other hand I have gotten wicked sick from untreated water in Russia, Nepal, and Africa.  So it does depend on where you are quite a bit.

Offline hikerjer

Re: My cooking gear
« Reply #14 on: January 09, 2024, 10:51:17 pm »

Is that scrapper similar to what they use on cast iron pots and pans?
[/quote]

I can't say for sure since I've only used them on my GSI aluminum pots and fry pan where they work great.  I don't see why it wouldn't work on cast iron.  They are far superior to a scrub pad in that they don't collect food residue and are easily cleaned. Honestly, it's amazing how something so simple can work so well.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2024, 12:28:35 am by hikerjer »