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Eating on the Trail
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Sean Monahan
(Zvolen) - F

Locale: CA Central Valley
Eating on the Trail on 03/28/2013 12:56:43 MDT Print View

As I get back into backpacking I am deciding which gear to get as I thought about a stove I realized I need to first determine what I ‘need’ in a stove and how I will be using it. So my question is what is the preferred way of eating on the trails nowadays, do people just purchase the freeze dried meals in store and cook in a pot? I like the idea of FBC but would like to use the one pot idea instead, is a JetBoil Sol big enough for that or will I need a stove and separate (larger) pot? I just don’t know how most eat on the trail nowadays, in the past when I did any backpacking it was in a group and years ago so we just boiled water and dropped in some spaghetti or had big box store type premade meals like hamburger helper or soups.

I ask because I would like to use my funds wisely and only purchase what I will use, for instance ate to purchase a JetBoil Sol and realize that’s not how I eat, or get a stove and pot and realize its over kill or I never use a pot. I guess a pot can be used for many other things like snow gathering and the like down the road but anyways I am rambling.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Eating on the Trail on 03/28/2013 13:03:32 MDT Print View

Sean, I don't think there is a "preferred" way. It varies by individual. Some go non-cook all the time. Some do minimal cooking by only boiling water for coffee in the morning and a FBC at night. Some get much more gourmet. It really does span the spectrum.

It also depends on if you're needing a stove to melt snow. For example, here's my setup:

I use an alcohol stove for 3-season use. It's a small one so I can use my Snow Peak 600 ti mug as my pot. It boils just enough water for some oatmeal and coffee in the morning, and for a FBC at night. In winter, I use a MSR Windpro inverted canister stove because alcohol stoves don't work well in winter, plus I need the BTU's to melt snow.

Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Eating on the Trail on 03/28/2013 14:27:14 MDT Print View


A nice resource for great backpacking/FBC recipes comes from Sarah Kirkconnell (a member here, too):

Her site isn't the only one, but it is a great place to start.

Also, give some thought to WHEN you are going to eat on the trail. Some people here like to cook an hour or so after leaving camp in the morning and an hour or so before getting to camp at night. This allows you to easily put distance between where you sleep and where you eat, nice for peace of mind in bear country. This won't always be possible, but in that case you would want something quick and simple. Conversely, if you like to get to camp at 4 and spend some leisurely time exploring, you might want something that could make cooking time something pleasurable. Hope that makes sense.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Eating on the Trail on 03/28/2013 14:41:08 MDT Print View

I have a number of set-ups: car camping, cabin camping, regular backpacking, UL backpacking, just me, me and others....yeah, I know...overkill. :-D
In ways a simple canister stove and also an alchy stove can be good to have both. So is having a simple small pot but also a 2 Liter for if you want to do actual cooking or have more than one person.

Trial and error does pay off. Any chance there is anyone local who can let you play with their gear?

Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Eating on the Trail on 03/28/2013 14:43:16 MDT Print View

Told you she posts here! : )

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Eating on the Trail on 03/28/2013 16:13:12 MDT Print View

Not as often as I would like...but I try to stop in! :-)

Alex H
(abhitt) - MLife

Locale: southern appalachians or desert SW
Re: Eating on the Trail on 03/28/2013 17:06:57 MDT Print View

It does depend on how you cook, or what you cook. If all you do is boil water for FBC or freeze dried like Mtn. House then an alcohol or jet boil might be the best. If you do any one pot meals or more extensive cooking then you want a stove that simmers and so a canister either top mount or remote with a short wide pot is what you want. If you cook for more than one person (like we/I always do) then a 2 liter pot is the way to go, most versatile.

Here is a link to my piece on stoves and cooking gear.

Sean Monahan
(Zvolen) - F

Locale: CA Central Valley
Re: Re: Eating on the Trail on 03/28/2013 17:33:48 MDT Print View

I appreciate all of the responses.

My needs will 80-90% will be traditional 3 season backpacking mostly by myself and occasional a partner. I doubt I will need it for much more than what Travis mentioned earlier; oatmeal and a drink in the morning and a FBC meal at night. I too enjoy getting to camp a bit earlier and doing the cooking then but speed is still an issue as I don't want to spend all night cooking.

I have looked into the site, great resource by the way Sarah, and thats where all of these questions arose from. I do not however have someone local who I could borrow or tinker with but I was planning on using a local REI so I guess if all fails I could always return it.

As far as wants I do want to do a bit of one pot cooking but I sorta lump that into FBC, no? I guess my main concern is if a JetBoil will suffice for me, I understand eventually I may need multiple setups but I want to cover the most needs now with funds, if that makes sense or if I should get a canister stove and pot considering it can do the same as a JetBoil but has more versatility.

Excellent, thanks Alex I will check that out considering the WindPro was one of the stoves I was looking at.

Ugh, decisions... scared to make the wrong one.

Jan S
Re: Re: Re: Eating on the Trail on 03/28/2013 17:59:34 MDT Print View

I have a MSR Reactor. For me it's about the most useless piece of gear I ever bought. Looking back I think I should have saved a lot of money and just have bought a lightweight simple stove, a pot and made a simple windshield. Cheaper, more versatile and goes great with a tinfoil hat (which I recommend wearing, you never know what they are up to). And the simple setup is efficient enough for most uses. Did I mention it lets you boil water for freezer bag cooking, simmer pre prepared meals and do actual cooking?

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Re: Re: Eating on the Trail on 03/28/2013 21:54:35 MDT Print View

The Windpro is a great stove. It isn't the fastest for boiling water, but is stable, safe and easy to use.

My one issue with Jetboil is that you become limited. Yes, you can use other pots on the stove...but...the adapter is clunky and not stable. It also isn't a great stove for simmering. And...I am not a huge fan of tall and narrow pots. The JB is hard to clean IMO.

I like a stable stove and a wide/shallow pot. My 2 cents ;-)

Sean Monahan
(Zvolen) - F

Locale: CA Central Valley
Snow Peak? on 03/29/2013 14:31:15 MDT Print View

After some careful consideration I think I at least narrowed my decision down. I am no longer looking into the JetBoil system while I love the ease of use, packability and quickness of the system it’s a specialized system for boiling water and while it does a wonderful job at that you pay for that specialization in price and versatility among others.

So I found and so far like the Snow Peak Starter Kit ( considering I need an entire system I figured this was a good place to start and the weight is less than that of the JetBoil and gives me more options. Anybody have any thoughts or experience with the system, what about the stove? Will the Snow Peak Ti Trek 700 be large enough for my solo needs? Also I am not completely against trying the Caldera Cone system in the future, I first want to get some nights under my belt, does anyone know if the Ti Trek 700 will work with that system as well?

As always thanks for the input.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Snow Peak? on 03/29/2013 20:11:19 MDT Print View

The Giga is a very solid and reliable stove.

Just remember that if you plan on actual cooking, Ti blows for it. Hard anodized aluminium is far better. Ti boils water great, but food can burn badly.

Kevin Schneringer
(Slammer) - MLife

Locale: Oklahoma Flat Lands
Eating n the trail on 03/29/2013 21:51:35 MDT Print View

You won't go wrong with the SP700 starter kit and you can grow into alcohol or esbit stoves with that same pot/mug set up.
At lest you didn't join the group of people storing Jetboils in their ger closet.

Get in touch with Freezer bag cooking and you can eat like a king and Stay away from the Freeze dried foods that are so pricey!

Ask lots more questions on BPL there are tons of great ideas from the seasoned Guy/gals and they'll help you save some $$.

Dena Kelley

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
"Eating on the Trail" on 04/01/2013 12:36:34 MDT Print View

I prefer a hot meal and hot drinks in the morning and at night. Cold food at lunch is fine. I use a 700mL Ti cup and a Pocket Rocket, freezer bags and a Ti spork. It's sufficient for my needs. My stove and canister fit inside the cup for storage, so it's compact.

A friend of mine uses a Jetboil which seems overkill but must admit it's way quieter than my PR and more efficient. It's bulky and heavy, but she's happy and that's all that matters.

Another friend of mine carries GORP. And whiskey. And nothing else. And she's happy with that.

Another friend of mine uses an alcohol stove and I always feel a little bad because I'm eating before her water is even boiled but she's happy and likes the light weight and the simple, failure free construction.

It really is individual choice.

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Re: "Eating on the Trail" on 04/01/2013 12:58:16 MDT Print View

GORP and whiskey. Hardcore.

Alex H
(abhitt) - MLife

Locale: southern appalachians or desert SW
GORP and whiskey on 04/01/2013 15:48:32 MDT Print View

If I wasn't already happily married...

Paul Mason
(dextersp1) - F
Freezer bags on 04/01/2013 19:55:41 MDT Print View

Do some research on freezer bag cooking and Reflextic cozy.

Erik Basil

Locale: Atzlan
Canister Stove on 04/02/2013 07:46:58 MDT Print View

Sean, that Snow Peak kit is a nice one that will do you well. Based on your location, I can give you another reason you "like" the canister stove options out there: you can use them everywhere. Many places in California do not permit either harvesting of downed wood, nor "open flame stoves" such as the really cool, wood-burning stoves out there. You can use a Caldera Cone or a Bush Buddy etc.., but you'd be limited to using an alcohol or hexamine stove underneath it.

If you determine to get a canister stove, do check out the recent article on Canister Stoves and the discussion of new models, easily found in the Editor's Roundtable section of the forums! You may find some cool ideas.

Daniel Fish

Locale: PDX
... on 04/02/2013 10:42:54 MDT Print View


Edited by on 06/23/2013 10:40:22 MDT.

Nelson Sherry

Locale: Mid-Willamette Valley
Re: No Love for the jetboil? on 04/02/2013 15:32:54 MDT Print View

I've played with all kinds of stoves over the years. I frequently take two stoves to try out some new system or technique. And, it frustrates the hell out of me, but I keep going back to the jet boil because it's fast, easy and fuel efficient, and, I seem to always be tired, or in a hurry, or wanting to let someone else cook, and that darn jet boil ends up meeting those needs better than any alternatives I've found. It's fast, stable, simple, and yes, with accessory pot options quite flexible.

Edited by nsherry61 on 04/02/2013 15:35:11 MDT.