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To freezer bag or not to freezer bag
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chris arvin
(kychris) - F

Locale: Red River Gorge Area
To freezer bag or not to freezer bag on 09/22/2009 15:24:06 MDT Print View

When I entered into the world of backpacking in 2001 and started my first forays into the backpacking forums, I read about freezer bag cooking. I was immediately enamored by the idea and that's the only way I've ever cooked on the trail.

Recently I'm starting to think about switching over to one pot cooking.

My last couple of trips I've had problems with my bags leaking. Maybe I'm being a little aggressive stirring up my pasta. This leads to any extra liquid food leaking into my food bag when I store the used freezer bag.

This is also part of problem two. It's hard to get all of the food out of the bag like spaghetti sauce. This stinks up my food bag and potentially my backpack.

I'm thinking about just cooking my previous freezer bag meals straight in the pot. Seems like there will be less chance of mess and I'll be able to scrap the pot much better than the bag.

Anyone else have this problem with freezer bag cooking? Any previous freezer bag cookers that have converted to cooking in the pot?

Any advice appreciated.


KY Chris

Laurie Ann March
(Laurie_Ann) - F

Locale: Ontario, Canada
Re: To freezer bag or not to freezer bag on 09/22/2009 16:15:21 MDT Print View

I have had nothing but problems with freezer bags as an eating vessel. I use a wide-mouth Nalgene for rehydrating foods or my pot. I know it seems heavy to use a Nalgene but when you take into account that it is for three of us it isn't that bad.

Now that said, I do rehydrate some things in freezer bags (like toppings for pizza, slaws and trail salads). While I have had issues with leaking bags my other concern is a usage one and I am trying to reduce the amount of plastics that end up sitting in the recycling depot. It's also the reason I don't drink water out of disposable water bottles.

Most of the FBC type meals can easily be converted to use with another container such as a pot or Nalgene.

Joe Kuster
(slacklinejoe) - MLife

Locale: Flatirons
To freezer bag or not to freezer bag on 09/22/2009 16:26:11 MDT Print View

I've had best luck with freezer bags that have a gusseted bottom. I've used OP Sacks like that and found I was able to get more of the sauce from the bottom. They are scent proof was well so if you didn't dribble all over the outside of the bag, funk should not be a problem. The OP sacks kind of double as a mild form of bear/rodent protection as well.

I've only used a few of them, but if you want a cheaper option for gussetted boil-safe bags check out: Packit Gourmet

As a different option, I've also used the round hard sided containers from Ziplock that have a screw top lid. It makes it easier to share out of one container and is easy enough to clean up. The fact that it has measurements on the side is a plus. That and well, they are a lot cheaper and a lot lighter than most of the other options for a hard sided container.

Edited by slacklinejoe on 09/22/2009 16:28:31 MDT.

Dondo .

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: To freezer bag or not to freezer bag on 09/22/2009 16:33:25 MDT Print View

Any previous freezer bag cookers that have converted to cooking in the pot?

Having cooked and eaten from the pot for many years, I wanted to go a extra step in lightening my load and bought a two-cup mug to use for freezer-bag cooking. It worked OK and I had no real problems with it. But aesthetically, eating out of a plastic bag was just not very appealing. So I switched back to my .9L pot. which I find to be just the right size for cooking and eating.

Elliott Wolin
(ewolin) - MLife

Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
RE: To freezer bag or not to freezer bag on 09/22/2009 19:03:46 MDT Print View

See my review of Glad Simple Cooking Microwave bags: gusseted, much sturdier than freezer bags, easier to clean, last a long time, etc. I wouldn't use anything else.

Edited by ewolin on 09/23/2009 16:23:57 MDT.

David Lutz

Locale: Bay Area
"To freezer bag or not to freezer bag" on 09/22/2009 19:10:44 MDT Print View

Where do you find the Glad bags?

I looked at Target and Safeway and found something similar from Ziploc, but not gusseted, the gusset makes a big difference.


Elliott Wolin
(ewolin) - MLife

Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
RE: To freezer bag or not to freezer bag on 09/22/2009 19:13:44 MDT Print View

I think I found them in a Food Lion store, a well-known supermarket chain in Virginia. At the time they didn't seem hard to find. I bought two boxes and haven't looked in a while. I recall Glad had a web site describing them.

Reginald Donaldson
(worth) - MLife

Locale: Wind River Range
0.9 L pot on 09/22/2009 20:07:35 MDT Print View

I too prefer cooking in the pot. Almost all of my meals are FBC or freeze dried added to the pot when the water is at or near a boil. I think it blends the flavors together better. I use a cozy for those meals that need longer cook times.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
RE: To freezer bag or not to freezer bag on 09/22/2009 20:38:55 MDT Print View

A couple tips from me (The FBC Queen):

Don't use sporks or forks.

Sharp pasta WILL cause issues in bags - they can cause pinholes to develop when you carry meals. This also occurs with Food Vac bags as well. (In most cases when I use pasta I use rounded shapes)

Sauces: Not hard, you roll down the bag.

Putting your bag into a dedicated cozy supports the bag as well.

Now having said that - when I develop FBC recipes (and do on a near daily basis) the recipes are designed for ease of use. None of them require a bag (to correct an incorrect comment by another poster). The bag is there for ease of use and simplicity. You can take ANY FBC recipe and convert to either insulated mug or one pot methods. On our website we in most cases show all three methods and how to do each way.

One advantage to using FBC style recipes one pot way is you will still have minimal cleanup - this is due to only needed to boil water, dump in dry items, stir and cover off the heat. This reduces the cleanup that long cooking can cause from cooked on food.

As for bags? Pleated bottoms work best if you can get them. As noted, Steamer bags work well, as do the gusseted bottom bags sold by PIG.

If you have any FBC questions, do drop me a line here or via PM.

John Davis
(billybooster) - F

Locale: So Cal
bags, tupperware, sporks and all on 09/22/2009 21:02:59 MDT Print View

I started with a Snow peak two pot kit and plastic bowl. I would try and remake food in an open bowl. not so good. I eventually progressed to ziploc bags supported in reflective bubble wrap. it was 'ok' but the spork wasnt long enough, i couldnt see if there was enough/too much water and eventually gave up.

My apostrophe (read- epiphone) was to use the pot i boiuled water in to make the food. so i made a cozy for it (0.6l evergreen tall). i burnt some food to the bottom of the Ti pot, hard to clean didn't like.

Eventually I went to tinny's way - his website is - and he uses/sells/recommends the ziploc screw top pots. I personally use two of these connected with two lids and I carry a spare lid. I have two pots - for two peeps. It is a touch heavier than the most UL solution. Two 2-cup pots, lids, lighter, 2 7oz polystyrene cups (coffee am), stove, stand, wind-guard, cloth and cozys, 10 oz.

It cleans easier, no wet smelly bags to carry, food can be in a thinner/lighter bag to start and small handled cutlery works perfectly - inc sporks, metal, plastic, ivory or ebony :)

Also all the items above fit into the two 'screwed together' 2 cup ziploc pots. Self contained kit. Instructions available if not understood.....

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Utensils on 09/22/2009 21:06:46 MDT Print View

If I can recommend one and only one utensil it would be the GSI ReHydrate long handled spoon - which weighs .5 of an ounce and retails for less than $2. They reach to the bottom of freezer bags, deep pots, containers and yes, even freeze dried bags.
I can say that we have sold thousands of them due to how well they work!

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: Utensils / FBC or not on 09/22/2009 22:44:54 MDT Print View

I just got a GSI Rehydrate spoon and it works well. In all honesty, I'd still prefer the iced tea spoon I was using (just a 1/4" shorter I believe) for it's smaller spoon portion (bowl?) and it doesn't flex at all. It's twice the weight though.

Anyway I've never had any trouble with cleaning out a bag, nor do I see why they'd be smelly unless you're not zipping them up after use (or getting stuff all over the outside). I always add water while the bag is outside the cozy and take my bags out of the cozy while eating so no issue with not seeing the contents.

I've had a few leaks (now know not to pack ramen blocks really tight), but I always carry a few extra bags just in case.

Edited by topshot on 09/22/2009 22:46:05 MDT.

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
RE: To freezer bag or not to freezer bag on 09/23/2009 00:54:33 MDT Print View

Another tip I recall from "The FBC Queen" is to use name brand freezer bags, I think Glad or Ziplock. I ate most of my meals on the PCT last year out of freezer bags, well over 100 dinners that way, with never a problem. Standard Ziplock brand quart freezer bags, using a cozy bought from Sarbar, and of course always with a spoon.

With a little effort you can get darn near every bit of food and liquid out of the freezer bag at the end of the meal. Then put any loose food packaging trash inside, roll or otherwise flatten it, and seal up the ziplock and it doesn't smell or cause any mess or anything.

It's not for everyone, but I bring neither bowl nor cup when backpacking and don't miss them; the FBC approach is a key to that, whether using a prepared-at-home meal, transferring Mountain House or the like to lighter packaging, or throwing together ingredients available on the spot (lipton, ramen, dried potatos, stove top, instant rice, whatever).

chris arvin
(kychris) - F

Locale: Red River Gorge Area
Thanks on 09/23/2009 05:39:11 MDT Print View

Thanks for all of the great comments and advice!

I do use the GSI spoon and it works great but I'm lusting for the backpacking light Titanium long handled spoon. I really like how it has a deeper cup.

My current system is a .6L evernew pot with the Caldera Cone. I use Ziploc quart freezer bags and place them in the new container that comes with the Caldera Cone. I use Rotini pasta.

Thanks for the tip on the microwave bags. I'll look for those.

I think I'll still try cooking in the pot at least to see which one I like better but now I know that I probably just need to be more diligent about getting all of the food out of the freezer bag at the end of my meal.

KY Chris

Coin Page
(Page0018) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern USA
Freezer bag inside pot. on 09/23/2009 07:14:15 MDT Print View

After pouring the boiling water into the freezer bag, I place the freezer bag into the 1L pot I just used to heat the water. Cover and wrap with some clothing, and wait. This supports the freezer bag, and if it leaks, no harm. Pot handles make it easy to hold.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Thanks on 09/23/2009 07:37:41 MDT Print View

Those Ti spoons are nice. You can also find a HAA version by Sea To Summit now in REI. They have a pretty deep bowl.

As long as you don't mind metal, they are nice (I don't like metal myself but that is due to having braces - it feels weird when metal clanks on the Ti!)

On the ice tea spoons - those show up at Dollar Trees often in big packs for $1. We give them out as gifts often at shows. Not for use in cooking in pots, but for FBC they rock. And definitely stiff!

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: Re: Iced tea spoon on 09/23/2009 07:48:06 MDT Print View

> On the iced tea spoons - those show up at Dollar Trees often in big packs for $1. We give them out as gifts often at shows. Not for use in cooking in pots, but for FBC they rock.

I agree! Didn't know you could buy packs of them at Dollar Tree. Maybe I'll just stick with that. I can drill some small holes in the handle to bring the weight down. That way the wife won't kill me even though I don't recall us ever using our's for anything. :)

Laurie Ann March
(Laurie_Ann) - F

Locale: Ontario, Canada
freezer bag alternative on 09/24/2009 08:21:46 MDT Print View

If you are going to be using bags to rehydrate, then I highly recommend the aLOKSAKS from While they are a little pricier than freezer bags they pay for themselves quickly because of their reusability. They also have an odor-proof product called an OPSAK. Anyway, I've had great luck using them when I need to rehydrate in a bag.

note - edited to format url

Edited by Laurie_Ann on 09/24/2009 08:23:59 MDT.

Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Re: To freezer bag or not to freezer bag on 09/24/2009 08:54:38 MDT Print View

I've reverted back to a pot as well. Except for when I go no cook and just cold rehydrate a meal or two in bags.

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: Re: Re: Iced tea spoon on 09/24/2009 09:20:46 MDT Print View

I may have found the perfect spoon for me last night. My wife and I stopped by Baskin Robbins and their long spoons appear they will do very nicely. They are actually about 1/4" longer than our iced tea spoons and the bowl part is about the same size. They do flex some but not as much as the GSI Rehydrate spoon. They seem sturdier than what I recall from DQ spoons, but that may just be my perception. The only question is will they break in cold weather?