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Ditching the stove and my new SUL gear list
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Cesar Valdez
(PrimeZombie) - F

Locale: Scandinavia
Ditching the stove and my new SUL gear list on 02/08/2012 14:10:55 MST Print View

After finally setting my mind on getting a Zpacks Zero in Hybrid fabric (just need to save up some dough, but hopefully by next month I will have it) to complete my 2 season (May to September) SUL system, I decided to create a base weight gear list. The GL can be found here:

I welcome feedback on my GL (the weight for the Zero is an estimate, but everything else is accounted for). The locale is southern to central Sweden, southern Norway, and mostly off-trail. Duration is from 1 to 3 nights. Water is plentiful and most often safe to drink without treatment--using common sense, naturally. Not a static list, for example if low chance of rain, I will swap tarp for bivy, and ditch the rain poncho and swap in whatever strikes my fancy: fishing kit, a book, etc.

I also wanted to discuss leaving the stove/pot at home. On occasion I will go out without it, and over the past few years have liked it more and more as an option. The weight savings is a nice plus of course, but for me the best part is how easy it can be. Nothing to clean up really, just eat, and can't get any faster than going with non-cook foods.

So who goes out without stove often/usually/always? What are your favorite non-cook foods, and why? Tips? Tricks? Menus? Recipes?

I for one am a big fan of salami. Great cold, or roasted on a stick over a fire. Then of course nuts should go without saying, I love having a big handful of almonds for breakfast along with some granola bars. If weather is nice, I am fishing, and catch a fish that's also a great addition to my diet. Not as a non-cook food, of course, but sticks and campfires don't weigh anything.

EDIT: I have since changed my gear list above to include a pot just to toy around with different combinations around the 5lb mark.

Edited by PrimeZombie on 02/10/2012 12:25:26 MST.

Bobby Pack
(Piddler) - MLife

Locale: West Virginia
Pepperoni rolls on 02/08/2012 14:27:11 MST Print View

I quit carrying a stove in warmer weather and haven’t missed it. If I want to cook I use a Zia grill and a small fire. If I don’t feel like cooking I grab a bag of pepperoni rolls which are a bread roll with pepperoni and often cheese baked inside.

Kevin Lutz
(mtntrailrunner) - F
Java Addict on 02/08/2012 16:39:11 MST Print View

I really, really enjoy that hot cup of coffee or cocoa in the morning, especially when it's cold. Since enjoyment is my #1 goal, I'm happy to pay the weight penalty. There are lots of other places where I can trim my base weight.

Eric Dysart
(ewdysar) - F

Locale: SoCal
Fair weather only on 02/08/2012 17:36:27 MST Print View

If the weather is fair, it's easy enough to leave the stove at home, but in our area, fires are not allowed. So without a stove, everything must be consumed cold. Like Kevin, I really enjoy a hot meal or drink when I'm out there, so I carry various UL stoves (Caldera Keg, Gigapower, etc.). I have also found that a stove helps me lighten my food, for everything but overnight, the weight savings on 2000 - 2500 calories a day usually covers the 8 to 12 oz weight of the stove and fuel.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Ditching the stove and my new SUL gear list on 02/08/2012 18:07:32 MST Print View

The longest I've gone without a stove was 9 days and that was okay, but my dinners looked a lot like my lunches. Okay, EXACTLY like my lunches. On a thru hike or 2 weeks or if someone else was along to split stove weight, I'd bring a stove but in part that's because I DO treat water and every cup of tea or hot chocolate is a little less water to treat.

Salami is great in non-bear country. Three out of three times a bear got our food (long ago or with clueless clients), it went for the pack with the salami in it.

I like pumpernickel bread because there isn't anything you can do to pumpernickel bread that the bakery didn't already do (smash it, squash it). A really aged Parmesan cheese for the first day or two in cool weather. Ziplocks of sturdy breakfast cereal (in the USA: granola, Grapenuts, Muesili) can be eaten on the trail or anytime. Or mixed with powdered milk and water at breakfast. For the USA: Trader Joe's has some upscale Gorp with dried ginger, fancier nuts, better chocolate, dried berries, etc. But you could google that and make your own upscale Gorp. Peanut butter. Nutella. Crackers. Tabouli is no-cook and needs only cold water but is completely dry when packed. I'll get a box of something like Triscuits or Wheat Thins crackers and repack them all stacked uniformly into a cut-down portion of the original box.

They aren't many calories, but freeze-dried fruit and veggies are now in the grocery store and not so expensive. I like the variety and the vitamins/nutrients they provide to the mix.

Even on a no-cook hike, I'd bring a mini-Bic lighter for safety reasons and every 3 days do a small hot fire to burn packaging, etc.

And bring a book (or ebooks) - with the time you save by not cooking, cleaning up, and being able to eat on the trail, you'll have a few extra hours per day.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Ditching the stove and my new SUL gear list on 02/08/2012 18:12:18 MST Print View


There is some balancing here. Generally the lightest weight foods are freeze dried or dehydrated, so you need to add water and most taste better (to me at least) hot.

A lot of ready to eat foods (especially fresh food) has a lot of water content in them, so the weight saved by leaving a stove at home, maybe brought back in the kinds of food you bring.

So it takes some figuring out.

It really gets fun when you hiking in a desert and water is scarce. The back is already heavy, and you don't want to "waste" it on cooking, but many ready to eat foods can be heavier. But I agree Salami (and Beefsticks) are wonderful fare.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
No Stoving on 02/08/2012 18:29:41 MST Print View

I had some problems with boil in a bag meals at high elevations. The boiling point was so low that my food wasn't cooked very well. Besides that I didn't like my meals that much anyway. I decided to skip the stove until I found some hot meals I like better. So far its worked pretty well.
One thing thats nice is not having to fuss with a meal when I'm in camp and tired. Not this is part of my style. I like to hike until right before dark or even after dark occassionally. When I stop I'm hungry, tired and sore and I just want to stuff some food in my mouth and go to sleep. Works for me.

John Vance
(Servingko) - F

Locale: Intermountain West
Stoveless on 02/08/2012 18:58:33 MST Print View

I went for nearly 5 weeks without a stove on the PCT and didn't miss it a bit. When going solo I rarely take a stove on three season trips. My diet at home is mostly no cook as well, so for me it isn't a big deal.

My hiking partner won't go without but we share tent and stove so the weight isn't too bad. Mostly I like the convenience of not having to mess with it and I dry camp more, which opens up more site locations.

Cesar Valdez
(PrimeZombie) - F

Locale: Scandinavia
Re: everyone on 02/09/2012 03:34:04 MST Print View

@Bobby: I have heard good things about light grills like the Zia, but for me, anything that can be grilled can also be cooked on a stick or in a tin foil pouch.

@Kevin: I agree about a hot cup of coffee/tea when it is colder out. Which is why my spring, fall, and winter systems all include a stove. Plus hot meals taste much better when it's cold out too, and warm you up.

@Eric: That sucks about no fires in your area. If I lived in a place with no fires, or when there is a rare fire ban here, I would just take my stove. My SUL stove system is only 130g anyhow (cat can stove, Ti pot, foil lid, foil wind screen, stuff sack), so I could just swap my rain poncho out, or just take 130g and (gasp!) not be SUL. ;)

@David: Good point about a thru-hike. I took would go with a stove not only for cooking, but also if I wanted to treat my water. But as I am a proud father of two (5 month old and 2 year old), thru-hikes are not really an option for me right now, so I get by with overnighters and weekenders. Which is also why I always take an 80g penalty for my cell phone, in case something happens to my family.

And what's with bears and salami? Yikes. Good thing bears here are not like they are in North America. I have yet to see a bear after 6 years here and lots of time in the woods, though I have found bear tracks and scat plenty of times. I also have not heard any stories of bears getting into camper's food here either. I wonder why. I always hang my food bag, mostly due to mice and foxes. Back in October while me and a few friends were having dinner by the campfire, I heard a sound behind my one friend, so I shined a flashlight and scared a fox away. We all agreed the fox must have gotten within a few meters of us, but could find no tracks due to soft moss around.

What is stopping me from taking salami out more often is not bears, it's this:

@Nick the cretin: Yeah, you can off set the weight savings by going with higher water content foods, good point. I try and avoid them when I really want to keep my weight down. But here is a typical warm weather meal menu for an overnighter:

Lunch - potato chips, sandwich, banana, Snickers bar
Dinner - salami, crackers, almonds, chocolate
Breakfast - almonds, granola bars

The most water is in the first meal, which is on purpose. Longer than one day, for lunch I will have say corn chips, Laughing Cow cheese, peanut butter, crackers, dried figs and/or dates.

You should take a trip to Scandinavia if you ever want to take it easy with water weight! Go to Google maps and zoom in on practically anyplace here, and you'll find a lake or creek or pond around. It also rains a fair bit too. I have actually set up a garbage bag outside of my shelter during steady raid to collect water for the morning several times, and have enough to fill my bottle(s) and also to wash myself with.

@Luke: What are your favorite foods? Have you ditched the stove completely? If not, how often and what seasons do you take the stove? I agree that boil in bag meals can be not-so-great. When I do take my stove, I have found that there are some good dried soups that can be used as hardy sauces for pasta or stew, I eat a lot of that.

@John: Wow, 5 weeks and no stove, cool. Could you elaborate on that trip for us please? I'm surprised you didn't miss it at all, guess that might show that you have a pretty good no-stove system. Or that you are a hardcore minimalist when it comes to food. I once met a guy that hated cooking so much, he told me he drank diet shakes for breakfast and lunch, and then ate whatever they gave him at work (he worked as a waiter in a fancy Italian restaurant) for dinner.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: everyone on 02/09/2012 09:01:02 MST Print View


One thing I am trying to do is improve my diet and stay away from junk foods, which are the easiest to bring along for non-cooking. That is going to be a little bit of a challenge since I have been on a Paleo diet for a while.

I would love to get to your part of the world. But I don't think one can even visit all of the Sierras in a lifetime :) I can get to the southern Sierras in about 5 hours and do hike there every year, but I really prefer deserts. And since I live in one, I can get to many places in very little time -- no unproductive time traveling.

My Caldera Cone set-up is so light, that it is just too difficult to give it up versus the the convenience and variety a stove can provide. Stove and fuel for 3 days is only around 5 oz.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Gearlist on 02/09/2012 14:12:44 MST Print View

That hybrid fabric Zero is going to be awesome. Post up some pics when you get it.

Going cook-less seems to be quite a polarizing strategy. Some don't mind at all, while others would hate it. I personally wouldn't mind at all for trips where the focus is covering a lot of ground.

Cesar Valdez
(PrimeZombie) - F

Locale: Scandinavia
Re: Nick and Dan on 02/09/2012 15:31:56 MST Print View

@Nick: I was born in LA, actually, and there are times I miss it of course. One day I do plan on doing the entire PCT. Around 140g for your stove is excellent. I was about to remark that I had you beat at 130g, but then I realized you said stove AND fuel. I am guessing you use Esbit tabs? Might also guess Gram Cracker as your burner?

And yes, non-cook can favor rather junky foods, but at least you are working them off.

@Dan: I will post pics, but it might be a while. I am very excited about the pack too, thanks for tipping me off that it can be done with the hybrid fabric. I just hope it is tough and can do the job right. I emailed Joe about a custom pocket and he said it could be done. I want a slightly larger back pocket (also in hybrid) with a zipper rather than two side pockets. I can just put my water bottle in there along with a few other things like my FAK for easy access. I don't mind stopping for a quick water break, and have found that most packs are tricky to reach your water bottle from side pockets anyhow.

Like I said in the other thread, this pack is going to be the last gap to be filled in my gear systems, so it will feel good to be "done", at least for a while, and just focus on getting out and putting the gear to use.

I don't get why going stoveless is so polarizing. It's not like you have to do it all the time. It's a good alternative to shave weight and make this easier. What changes things is if you are a thru-hiker or doing some other long hike, but that's another story, and also not the majority of backpackers. Most of us have school, jobs, family, etc. I cook enough at home, too (I do about 80% of the cooking in my house), so sometimes it is nice to take a break from it--and the perfect time to do this is when I am taking a break from everything out in the woods.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Foods on 02/09/2012 16:37:48 MST Print View

The foods I eat are as follows
-Gorp (some it gets old if you eat too much)
-Dried Fruit (Mostly crasins, this stuff is expensives doesnt' have a lot of calories and so full of surger I question the nutritional value)
-Summer Sausage
-Fruit Grain Bars
-Peanut Butter and Nutella (I spread these on grenola bars)
-Grenola Bars

Did I mention that I like Chocalate too? I used to feel bad about the amount of fatty junk food I ate but than I read Andy Skurka's book and he likes chocalate to so I guess now I have an excuse.

It may not look like a super healthy diet but it worked relatively well for 3 weeks. I felt fine as long as I had enough to eat each day. I did do one somewhat creative thing for my Colorado Trail trip. I bought bulk pringles at Sam's Club in verious flavors. Than I crushed the different flavors up in bowls. Than I mixed the crushed up pringles with different things. I mixed some up with spicey Chex Mix. I mixed some up with diced up nuts for a kind of spicy trail mix.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Nick and Dan on 02/09/2012 17:28:44 MST Print View

Yes it is Esbit.

Eric Dysart
(ewdysar) - F

Locale: SoCal
menu choices on 02/10/2012 12:14:45 MST Print View

"The longest I've gone without a stove was 9 days and that was okay, but my dinners looked a lot like my lunches. Okay, EXACTLY like my lunches."

When I was doing moutaineering about 10 years ago, I had a guide that appeared to live almost exclusively on power bars (he also slept in the back of his Toyota pickup when he wasn't on the mountain or at his girlfriend's place). The only thing other than powerbars that I saw him eat in 5 days was stuff that we gave him and the after trip dinner in a local restaurant. I can't believe that this kind of diet is sustainable or even enjoyable, but everyone gets to make their own choices.

I find that I'll take my Caldera or Gigapower on day hikes with my wife if the weather is cool, just to make the experience better for her. She really appreciates a hot lunch or beverage, I think that she comes out more often since she's figured out that this can be a regular part of the trip.


Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: menu choices on 02/10/2012 12:43:05 MST Print View

Isn't hot tea required at least 3 times a day if you come from the UK, Wales, or Ireland? Or maybe it is booze. I can't remember.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Re: menu choices on 02/10/2012 12:46:27 MST Print View

Nick: They SAY it is tea, but really. . . .

You've heard of "Irish coffee", right? And when they serve "cider" it ain't apple juice with more chunks in it.

. .
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: (...)
[...] on 02/10/2012 17:28:49 MST Print View


Edited by RogerDodger on 06/05/2015 11:16:04 MDT.

Chase Norton
(Micronorton) - F
my list on 02/10/2012 17:47:00 MST Print View

So when I first got into UL hiking I focused on recipes to try and achieve dinner nirvana. After more and more trips out I have come to realize that it is much less about trying to create planned out detailed recipes and more about taking every day items and mixing/matching. This revelation led to the following list of easy to find items in my local supermarket that can be combined to create good breakfast/lunch/dinners. Most all of these can be eaten stoveless.

Instant Mashy Ps
Mozz stick
Ramen Noodles
Tuna Packets
Chicken Packets
Salami Packets
Spam Packets
Mayo/Spicy Mustard/Oil/Chili flakes/SweetnSour/Vinaigrette/ketsup/soy sauce/Ranch/ packets
Dehydrated soups at bulk isle
Look for lemon packets or consider lemon juice
Salt/hot sauce/pepper/curry/gram malsa/chinese five spice/ground cumin/sugar/dried onion flakes I like Indian spices as they are normally very powerful.
Savory adder
Carnation Instant Breakfast
Cliff Bars
Candy Bars
parmesan cheese
Sun dried Tomatos
Dry Milk
Starbucks via
Pizza Sauce Packet
Bacon Bits
Suddenly pasta salad
marinated artichoke hearts
Consider peanuts in a ramen chicken dish
Hash Browns ( Add mashys for casserole)
Mac and Cheese
Dry Pesto (or hydrated if limited water)
Fried French Onions
Dried Mushrooms and Fungus
Peanut Butter
Dry alfredo mix
Biscuit mix
Dried Fruits
Asian Rice Spices
smoked mussels
Check if capers can be dried or used. Strong intense flavor
Toasted Sesame Seeds
Coconut flakes

Eric Dysart
(ewdysar) - F

Locale: SoCal
many no-stove foods are not SUL on 02/10/2012 17:55:31 MST Print View

Since the OP was going stoveless as part of going SUL, some of the suggestions for no-stove food doesn't really fit. For example, a 2.6oz foil pack of tuna yields only 80 calories wich is less than 31 calories per ounce. I aim for 125 cal/oz and usually average more than 100 cal/oz for all the food I take. Freeze dried and dehydrated foods factor heavily into my food plan to hit those weights. That's why I consider that bringing my stove actually lightens my pack as I hit the trailhead compared to bringing mostly fresh foods; e.g. fruit, frozen, baked goods, etc. And my packs aren't big enough to bring foods that take up a lot of space. My cold meals end up built primarily of nuts, dried meat, dried fruit and bars/chocolate/candy. I can survive on that for a week, but I prefer the variety that boiling water can provide.

edit: regular Spam packets work out to just over 80 cal/oz and that it easy enough to average in with other dense foods. Of course, I prefer my spam fried...

Edited by ewdysar on 02/10/2012 18:01:13 MST.