UL cook kit "limits"?

2:43 p.m. on August 31, 2018 (EDT)
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What I carry  in my backpacking cook kit is limited by:

1.cooking needs (boil, fry, cook for several minutes)

2.weight considerations

my basic cook kit

1. STOVE->(A) Brunton CRUX folding butane canister-top stove & windscreen or (B) Ti Caldera Cone W/ESBIT modified BGET tab holder

2. POT->Three cup anodized aluminum pot & lid (perfect sizer solo cooking)

3. CUP->plastic graduated measuring/drinking cup

4. BOWL->cut down small Ziploc fridge bowl (so I can eat from it while cooking or boiling water in the 3 cup pot)

5. long-handled Lexan spoon

6. pot lifter (my pot & skillet have no handles)

7. magnesium rod fire sparker & one BIC lighter

supplemented cook kit  

->6" ceramic coated skillet & tiny Lexan spatula (for eggs and pancakes, sausage) This weighs the same as my pot & lid so I only take it in cold weather camping B/C then is when I want to fry stuff.

Those wondering if I really use my Caldera Cone and ESBIT tabs for cooking should know this is my usual stove. Last November I hiked the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim using this ESBIT stove & the matching 3 cup pot. I called the GC hike the "Geezer Hike" B/C my buddy was 71 and I was 74.

This is my full-on cook kit for backpacking. Basic but more than some take. I will never "cook" from a ti mug for many reasons.  I am a UL backpacker but will never be a SUL backpacker. 

Eric B.

6:09 p.m. on August 31, 2018 (EDT)
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Eric, your titled the thread with a question, but I can't discern in your post what your question is.

6:55 p.m. on August 31, 2018 (EDT)
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Yeah, senior moment again (Old Timers' Disease) 

I meant to ask, "So what is you limit for a cook system?"  By this I mean more in amount of gear rather than weight. You will see mine is a bit seasonal with the inclusion of the skillet and tiny spatula for fall/winter.

Howsomever maybe I'll weigh my entire kit as listed above and post it too. Since I started the d@mn thread I should take more responsibility to fill in the blanks.

Eric B.

1:55 a.m. on September 1, 2018 (EDT)
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I pretty much have the same approach for summer as you, Eric - a small stock pot, a cup (double wall Ti with graduation marks), a small plastic plate, plastic spoon, and over canister stove with wind screen.  Additionally I bring a coffee grounds basket that fits my stock pot

My winter set up is different.  I ski tour the Sierra, often above tree line, which IMO requires an even more UL approach than my summer hikes, especially since these trips are of longer duration and I am usually solo. 

My winter stove is an old white gas MSR Firefly that I have extensively modified.  Essentially it is a high efficiency snow melter/water boiler, tailored to process larger volumes of water while using less fuel than most backpacker stoves, including the MSR XKG series.  I replaced the fuel line that connects the tank to the burner with a flexible, small diameter, plastic, fuel tolerant line that weighs less than the OEM fuel line, and is about 3' long (more safe).  I replaced the stainless steel wire frame legs/pot stand with legs made of titanium.  I also replaced the windscreen with a light gauge aluminum sheet metal fabrication that provides a close fit (heat efficient) to an 8 quart stock pot equipped with a dome shaped lid.  The dome lid allows overfilling the pot with snow.  Except for the gas tank, the entire works nest in the stock pot.  I bring two Ti double wall cups, one to eat from the other for drinking, and a plastic spoon. And of course the coffee brew basket comes along.


8:40 a.m. on September 1, 2018 (EDT)
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Mine is the Caldera Ti Tri sidewinder and inferno insert, a 1 liter titanium pot, alcohol stove for when I can't find fuel or am lazy, a coffee mug (varies depending on season), and a folding titanium spoon. I used to carry more but seldom do now. I'll switch to a gas stove occasionally in winter but the Ti Tri does fine most of the year.

11:54 a.m. on September 1, 2018 (EDT)
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I don't know if I ever would have shelled out for an MSR Windburner out of my own pocket, but ever since the Review Corps got me one to review it's been the choice on most of my trips. I have the 1L pot for solo trips, the 1.8L for when there's two of us, and I recently picked up the ceramic fry pan for when we want to get fancy. The burner and a mid-size canister fit inside the 1.8 L pot, along with a canister stand and lighter. With the small pot I can do the same with a small canister. For a while there I would bring both pots, one for water an one for cooking, with the smaller pot + burner and accessories nested in the bigger, but we've found we can get by with just the one if we keep it simple and wash up before an after dinner beverage.

The Windburner pots come with bowls that protect the heat exchanger on the bottom, the big one for me, and if we leave the small pot behind I can invert the small one over the burner so that we have a pretty complete kit in a smallish package. I know there are lighter options but I kind of stumbled into this one and find it highly functional, not least when the wind starts to blow.

I/we use GSI insulated mugs, the newer one with volume markings. A spoon apiece. I guess if we went with titanium folders we could fit them in the pot, but I don't like the short handles and small volume, and regret ever shelling out for them. My long-handled GSI lexan spoon won't fit in the pots, so it goes elsewhere. That's pretty much the minimum these days. I have posted reviews of most of these components over the last 5 years or so.

Sometimes I carry a folding MSR cook spoon and, if we are using the fry pan, a folding MSR spatula. We have a bunch of other utensils, including a little MSR chef's knife and a mini whisk, in a luxury kit that gets left behind most of the time. For bigger groups, basecamp, or upscale cooking we have an old MSR Windpro, stainless pot kit and, if we need it, a big, old 4L teflon aluminum pot that I picked up at a garage sale.

I gave the old Pocket Rocket to one daughter and the old Whisperlite International to the other. I have a Whitebox alky stove but haven't put together a kit around it, i.e. a Ti solo pot. I've used it bit but I find the canister stove easier, safer, and more efficient. 

When we're using huts here in Norway, we leave it all behind -- pretty much all huts have full cooking facilities and stocks of food, although we usually bring our own food. It's a different mode of travel, but a hut can be a mighty welcome sight on a cold, rainy day or an even colder, and very long, winter night. 

12:10 p.m. on September 1, 2018 (EDT)
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I've been working on a post for my site on the topic of varying the mess kit to fit the trip so I happen to have some visual aids at hand :p

This is the bare minimum kit: Kettle, stove and spork. Fuel canister rides inside kettle with the other items. Hot meals are hydrated using hat or other clothing for insulation.

These are the upgrade options that can be included as fits the trip: The ECWS liner mitt is for squeezing dinner bags to mix and insulating while hydrating/eating. The Innate insulated TS mug. A tiny frying pan that I cut the handle off of and replaced with a bit of wood. Handle comes off for packing. My baking kit includes a silicone muffin mold and a tiny cookie cutter that the mold rests on in the kettle. Finally there is the GSI coffee basket, but I have to admit I haven't seen that for a couple of months now, so either the gear room ate it or I left it behind somewhere.

I have a sturdy bag with a handle that holds all of this plus an extra fuel  canister while also keeping the kettle spout from cutting other stuff in my pack. Being able to grab the kit and take it with you easily is nice when you are eating away from camp to avoid attracting bears or at camps like the AMC runs where cooking and eating are concentrated in a spot that can be far from your site.

12:22 p.m. on September 1, 2018 (EDT)
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Cooking style is a huge factor in answering this. For me it's water-boil only, I prefer both the weight savings and convenience of dehydrated meals (no prep, no clean-up, fit more in a bear canister, etc etc). Oh, and I love great functional gear that doesn't cost an arm and a leg (though I will spend an arm and a leg when needed).

For these reasons I use the Trail Designs Keg-F system. Great functionality and only costs about $70. The pot is a Foster's beer can with ridges added to the walls for strength. Caldera Cone is the pot stand and windscreen. Zelph's Starlyte alcohol stove works great and is very fuel efficient. Silicone band on the pot to pick it up without burning my fingers. The system comes with a plastic caddy that protects the can from being crushed and can be used as serving-ware for the food (two pieces so a bowl and mug or two bowls). I added a DIY basesheet and pot lid and cozy system made of Reflectix. LightLoad towel for spills and more finger protection from burns against the pot. Weighs 8 oz (spoon and lighter bring it to just under 9 oz). Everything but the spoon packs inside the caddy.

This is for 3-season solo. I can't really separate weight considerations from amount of gear as you are asking, Eric. That is a distinction that may work well in your mind but for me they are inextricably tied together -- amount of gear for me is always going to be the minimum that achieves needed functionality without being "stupid light." There are disadvantages or drawbacks to eating only dehydrated meals, but for me I can live with those and that's a trade-off that works well for me. Also, in considering amount of gear and weight with a cook kit I also consider the food as well as part of the equation -- so opting for more gear in order to do some real cooking also means more weight and volume for the food itself.

4:23 p.m. on September 1, 2018 (EDT)
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whomeworry- (a.k.a. Alfred E Neuman;o) Please post a photo of your modded MSR Firefly. I like the fuel line substitution. As the Brit sports car designer McLaren said when asked how he would improve his cars, "Add lightness."

JR.- Yeah, weight is on my mind (see OP & below) but I was looking mainly to see what seasonal gear people carried and why.


3 SEASON-> All the above listed plus a fleece freezer bag/FD bag cozy-> 13.7 oz 

WINTER-> substitute 1.5 L. JB pot (for melting snow & cooking), add skillet, spatula, plywood disc stove support, Ti tent stakes and Inferno gassifier wood burning kit (3 metal pieces) to Sidewinder Caldera Cone. Total weight-> 28.8 oz.

My ESBIT fuel is 2 tabs/day carried in a "re-purposed" coffee bag to keep the smell contained. BTW, This coffee bag fuel container really works.

(forest finger-sized twigs is my ti Caldra Cone fuel) FYI, The ti tent stakes are pot supports for the stove in wood burning mode.

**If I substitute my MSR Whisperlite Universal stove (using the white gas option) that's an added 14.9 oz. including empty short fuel bottle W/ MSR pump. BUT I must carry the white gas so that adds about another 8 oz. 

Subtract 4.7 oz for the ti Cone stove and the total white gas stove & kit is->40 oz. +- for the estimated fuel weight. Now you see why I prefer my gassifier wood stove.

The plywood stove support is an 8" 1/4" thick disc with 3 rotating screen clamps to hold the Whisperlite legs in place  It's painted with aluminum exhaust paint in case burning white gas gets on it. (!!) This disc keeps my stoves from melting unevenly down into the snow. This is not an "option" but a must-have piece of my winter cook kit.

Naturally my winter cook kit is heavier, like most winter gear. Deal with it.

Eric B.

P.S. check my math pls.

11:23 a.m. on September 2, 2018 (EDT)
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I use a MSR Pocket Rocket 2 stove, large canister of MSR fuel, a 1 qt Stowaway cook pot also by MSR. I have a nylon Spork and carry at least one Bic lighter and a nylon scubby. 

7:05 p.m. on September 10, 2018 (EDT)
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If I had to, I could go with just a stove, canister, pot, and spork, but that would kind of suck.

Soto Amicus
250 g gas canister
GSI Outdoors Halulite 1.1 L Boiler
Snow Peak SCT-004 titanium spork

That would entail using the pot for nothing but boiling water, and eating freeze-dried food by pouring boiling water into the bag and eating from the bag.

Heck, if I really had to, I could go without a cooking system, entirely, and just eat RTE cookie bars, fruit bars, and meat bars, or whatever. Some combination of Epic meat bars, Lärabar Nut and Seed bars, etc, would get me by. If you figure a pound of food a day, than I could probably carry 10+ bars per day, although, that would be fairly expensive, probably about $15-20/day, if purchased in bulk.

I'm not an ultralight fastpacker. Enjoying Nature is not a competition, for me. I'm not out back of beyond to "wrack up mileage" or "bag peaks". I'm there to commune with the origins of humanity. I'm there to find perspective of where I fit into the world.

7:14 p.m. on September 10, 2018 (EDT)
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What do I *prefer* to carry? 

Two sets of everything, so I can share:

plastic Japanese rice bowl with lid
plastic Japanese soup cup with lid
titanium fork, spoon, knife, fork, chopsticks

two pots with lids, one for cooking, one for boiling (or one pot, one frypan)
two stoves
two gas canisters
two silicone cooking utensils
cutting/prep board

But, I can't carry that kind of weight.

March 30, 2020
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