Trail Tips: Creating your backpacking kitchen

Because everyone deserves a hot meal at the end of the day (Part 3)

“A woman’s place is in the kitchen. A man’s place is in the kitchen. Everyone’s place is in the kitchen – kitchen has food.”

Everyone sets up their kitchen differently, depending on heating method (or lack thereof), fuel needs, cookware, and accessories. Here’s a look into my backpacking kitchen.

Items:
Dry bag, Pot, Lid, Spork, Stove, Fuel, Bandana, Lighter

Storage:
I keep everything in a Sea to Summit dry bag. It’s handy to get to camp at the end of the day, quickly do your setup and water chores, and then just grab your food/bear bag (I use an 18-liter Granite Gear dry sack) and kitchen bag and start supper. Having it all in one place is convenient, and it’s easy to tell if something has gone missing. (EVERYTHING SHOULD HAVE A HOME, PEOPLE.) It’s compact, so I often just throw the entire kitchen bag into my bear bag at night instead of separating out the spork, pot, lid, and bandana with delicious food smells.

Cookware and cutlery: see review here

Stove and fuel: see review here

I keep a bandana in my kitchen because it acts as a potholder, dish towel, placemat, and napkin. It can get pretty gross after a few days, so I give it a good washing after a weekend trip or rinse it in a stream and pin it to my pack to dry during longer hikes. It’s nothing fancy – just a $1 bandana that’s extra soft from lots of use. It lives in the pot, and my fuel sits on top of the bandana, the lid on top of the pot, and everything fits nicely into the kitchen bag.

My lighter used to live in a hipbelt pocket, but I didn’t use it throughout the day since I don’t smoke – I only needed it when I was cooking. It lives in the kitchen bag now. Tips on lighters: choose bright/neon colors – it’s easier to find if you drop it on the ground. It’s also a great place to store your duct tape (bright colors are great there, too).

That’s it – my entire backpacking kitchen. Total weight, assuming full fuel canister, is about 17-18 oz (a bit more than 1 lb.). That just means I can carry more food. 🙂

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