The Backpacker's Kitchen
When you’re backpacking, weight is your number-one concern. Before you pack for your trip, lay out all of your equipment, including kitchen equipment, to see if you can trim anything. If you can make do with one pot instead of two, then do it! By the same token, you’ll want to choose foods that are lightweight (and dried, ideally). Below is a list of absolute necessities in the backpacking cook kit.
- A lightweight backpacking stove
- Fuel bottle and an extra fuel bottle
- Cook pot and lid
- Small frying pan, if needed
- Wind screen (made of foil)
- Lighter and matches
- Cleaning equipment (biodegradable soap and a small scrubby)
- Cooking utensil, such as a long-handled spoon
- Water bottles
- Water treatment equipment (iodine, chlorine, etc.)
- A bear bag, if you’re headed into bear or raccoon country
- Rope for your bear bag
- Dining Equipment: a bowl/cup, spoon
- Sharp, Swiss-army type knife
- Spice Kit – use Ziploc bags or film containers to store salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, thyme, cumin, and other herbs and spices
Depending on your location and the weather, you may decide to use your stove for every meal, or you may only get it out for dinner and evening cocoa. Either way, be sure to bring a combination of hearty, filling food and those little special treats that will feel like luxuries after a day of hiking.
To keep your pack light, plan on rehydrating most of your food. Oatmeal, pasta, rice, couscous, dried refried beans, and quinoa are all lightweight. You can buy dried fruits, vegetables, and protein mixtures at most grocery stores. Soup mixes are also terrific to eat as soup or to use as seasoning for your pasta dinner. Bread tends to get crushed in backpacks, but tortillas travel well. Try making individual pizzas on a tortilla in your frying pan (lay your ingredients on half the tortilla in the pan, let the cheese melt, then fold the tortilla over like an omelet). Have fun, and don’t forget the dessert!