A nesting backpacking kitchen

Kitchen packedI have a friend whose backpacking kitchen is only a single small Titanium mug and a folding Esbit stove.  He pretty much always cooks the same one pot meal.  By the end of a trip he is pretty tired of it, but his set weighs little and he doesn’t spend a lot of time cooking.  Sometimes this is a good answer, and sometimes you want more.  As I have accumulated kitchen stuff, the goal of having it all (or most of it) in a light weight, compact package has been an itch.  This post presents the current state of that quest.

So here is my 16 piece compact, complete kitchen, all packed up sitting beside two gas canisters for scale.  It is versatile, light, compact, complete, and rugged.  With it I can boil, simmer, bake, mix, hydrate, cozy, measure, prepare multi course meals, serve and clean up.  All together, without fuel, it weighs 22 oz., and is about the volume of two 8 oz. fuel canisters.  But of course you only need to bring the parts you are planning to use with that trip’s menu.  Further, by swapping out the stove and windscreen combination, it has multi-fuel capability.  So what’s in it?KitchenItems Continue reading

Backcountry bread and pancakes with a Kovea Spider Stove

The Kovea Spider remote canister stove looks like a pretty neat concept.  It is compact and lightweight at 6.1 oz.  The remote canister setup works with a cone style wind screen.  Invert the canister for a cold weather liquid feed mode, enabled by the stove’s preheater tube.  Use two medium size binder clip handles support the inverted canister – a trick gleaned from the Internet.  With the legs folded for storage, it is compact enough to fit inside my titanium pots.

The stove is not widely available in the US, although Jon Fong at Flat Cat Gear carries it and sells integrated cooking systems for it.  My stove was made for the domestic home market and came with  Korean language instructions.  No big deal, it works just like a canister stove.  But it shines in its ability to integrate with ultra light cooking gear, pulling off tricks likes making pancakes and bread!  I had tried both these cooking chores with alcohol stoves getting somewhat mixed results. The Kovea Spider adds just the right final touch to make it all work.

Backcountry dry baking is a craft I learned from Jon Fong’s website and his YouTube videos.  I have used it with alcohol and Esbit cooking in the past, most successfully for biscuits as discussed in my old post: Dry baking.  But for good pancakes and bread, you need some additional help. Continue reading

Popcorn!

PopcornI was reading an old back country cookbook recently and came across the concept of making popcorn in the woods.  For some reason, the idea had never occurred to me, but a quick check of the cyber sphere revealed many YouTube posts of the process.  O.K then, I had to try it with my setup.  As you can seem, it works, but more about that later.

Some posts ago I blogged about the “Price of Nothing”.  Look it up in the Archives if you’re interested, but it was about the money spent to save a little weight.  The spirit of this post is the opposite – how little extra weight can you carry to enjoy something new or additional in the outdoors.  Popcorn is classic “comfort light” at just 2.7 oz. for the trip and 1.1 oz. per serving.  Here’s how. Continue reading

End of season review

New snow - RainierMt. Rainier is now wearing a new coat of snow and the high country is making the transition to winter.  Days are short, the rain is arriving and it is time to look ahead to ski season.  This is  a good time to reflect on this year’s outings.  What worked well?  What didn’t?

Comfort light delivered for me this season.  Good, light weight equipment continues to open opportunities.  My wife and I are backpacking again, without me as the mule.  I am able to do grab and go trips to support climbs requiring a base camp.  Bake a load of Logan bread.  Take a quick shopping trip and I am off.  With less gear, packing is quicker.  In the past even overnight trips seemed to have packing drama. Continue reading

Please don’t feed the bears

Black bearKeeping critters out of your food will make both you and the critters happier.  It’s not just bears that shouldn’t be fed, but mice, racoons, birds, squirrels, fox and possibly even mountain goats.  It’s been over 40 years since I lost anything to bears and I intend to keep it that way.

I see bears a lot when hiking in both Olympic and Rainier National Parks.  The encounters are typically non-threatening and we go our separate ways, but it is pretty clear that they are around.  I have actually had more problems with mice than bears.  Mice have chewed holes in a tent zipper and a “rodent proof” food bag.  So I try to keep a clean camp and carefully hang my food or store it in a bear canister. Continue reading

Clean water

Clean waterWe really did drink right out of streams, decades ago.  When the general practice of purifying drinking water started, we used iodine tablets or boiling.  The arrival of pumped filters was revolutionary.   Now many more choices of water purification are available, at much lighter trail weights.

As I focused on reducing my load, I switched from a pumped filter to Aqua Mira.  This is a two part chlorine dioxide water purification system.  You add the prescribed number of drops from vial A and vial B to a mixing cup.  You wait 5 minutes for the mixture to turn yellow and then add it to your water.  In 30 minutes the water is safe to drink, unless the water is really cold.  It is effective and low cost.  Two full bottles, with mixing cup weigh 3 oz. and cost under $15.  It will last for a season or more – 30 gallons.  You can save even more weight by buying two very small dropper bottles to carry instead the full sized ones.  I used this system for a season, but didn’t like the counting of drops, especially when treating 3 quart batches and then sitting around for 5 minutes for the mixture to activate.

I found an equivalent product in tablet form, now sold as MSR Aquatabs.  One very small tablet will purify up to 2 quarts of clean water.  Continue reading

Logan bread

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What’s not to like about Logan bread?  It’s quick to make, tastes great, keeps well, contains only good stuff, and packs without crumbling or squishing.  Pair it with Babybel cheese and Old Wisconsin summer sausage bits for a great trail lunch.

Logan bread recipes are everywhere.  The one I use is adapted from an old copy of Kayak Cookery by Linda Daniels.  I probably saw my first version in Boys Life a very long time ago.  This one makes a single loaf in a 1 lb. aluminum baking tin (5-9/16″ x 3-1/4″ x 2″ deep)  Double the recipe to make 2 loaves.  Making a larger loaf in a 2 lb. tin, just doubles the cooking time and produces something that is harder to pack. Continue reading