Open main menu

ATT: Trailspace members I want to hear from you about your mess kit and what kind of foods you make in them

Trailspace has campsite campers, backpacking campers, Truck and RV campers, long trail hikers that camp off the trails and at designated areas and mountaineering individuals that camp at different elevations.

One thing we all have in common is that we have a mess kit  and that we bring some sort of food.

What I want to know is  what is your mess kit and what sort of food do you eat /prepare. and what is your fuel source.

I have met people that bring a kettle and swear by it

Some are bringing a pot/pan combo

There are those that have a multi pot and pan setup

People that go in groups i have seen with all of the above

Also what I want Reponses to is what kind of food are you bringing.

Reason why this is not only relevant but important

If we are making a review of a camping stove or mess kit or cooking pot or pan or kettle or what have you, what type of food you are cooking is very relevant

If you are bringing a bag of Knorr pasta for example and in your review you said that the size of the pot is perfect for making pasta it can be misleading.  Knorr requires an exact amount of water to be added. A box of Roni would be twice the water used  and Ronzoni pasta would require 4 - 5 times the water . 

If the review was of a stove then the cooking time for all above would be different times  and more fuel consumption.

I can only speak for myself on what i use and bring and cook but to better understand the larger community of wilderness adventurers i was hoping for some input from you all

I have also noticed that those of us that do a lot of cooking at home tend to be more elaborate when cooking in the outdoors.

So what kind of stove do you use and what fuel source does it require. For mess kits- information like weight, dimensions ,capacity and material and brand name .  And if you don't mind what is your mess kit either lacking or what you would change about it if you could.  Last but not least, what sort of food do you bring? Knorr, MT House, regular pasta. Is your protein fresh, dehydrated, freeze dried? is it a one pot dish or multiple items cooking separately

I camp to enjoy the good life.  I consider eating tasty meals essential to my enjoyment.   After decades of tinkering and experimenting these are my cooking solutions:

My 3 season kit:
A 4 cup aluminum stock pot always gets packed. It is the sole vessel  if I am soloing and going light.  Otherwise I add a 6 cup stock pot and aluminum non stick fry pan with a foil cover to the kit.  Usually I hike with company - up to four people define our division of cooking teams.  Two canister stoves always get packed. A remote canister stove that simmers and cooks well, and an over-canister water boiler stove as the back up.

My snow kit:
A highly modified system, optimized to melt snow.  The stove is a 1980s era MSR Firefly white gas stove (a close relative, performance wise, to the MSR XKG series stoves, except the Firefly is also a good simmer stove).  I have striped the Firefly of its heavy steel wire tripod/pot stand and replaced it with an aluminum chassis holding Ti wire tripod/pot stand.  I replaced the short, fuel line with a 4' length of small diameter tech plastic tube that is lighter, yet fuel and pressure compliant.  (I like separating my liquid fuel tank from proximity to the stove.)  The stove rests on top of a 3/16" thick  square plywood base.  I replaced the balky wind screen that came with the stove, for an aluminum wind screen that fits very snug to the stock pot, and takes up little space in its stowed configuration.  The cookware is a 3qt stock pot from Stansport - very cheap and even lighter!  It dents just looking at it, but otherwise still holds up.  I replaced the steel wire bail with a Ti wire bail.  I customized a lid based on a mess kit bowl, resulting in a cover that is dome shaped, allowing me to "overfill" the stock pot with snow.   It is a fantastic system to get a lot of water in short order, after a long day of skiing and climbing, while consuming the minimal amount of fuel.  The entire kit nests inside the stock pot.  The stove uses the MSR pump and a Sig aluminum cylinder to carry fuel.  I bring a back up pump and a Firefly maintenance kit.  (I horded a  dozen of the maintenance kits back when they first discontinued the Firefly.) 

Hand tools:
I always bring a Swiss Army knife, but may bring a 6" French knife, a spatula, a long stemmed spoon for serving from the pot and boil bags, a UL cheese
grater and a full size, light,  flexible, plastic cutting board. 

Menu considerations:
On short trips I like to cook fresh foods.  If I have a fire, think rack of lamb, baby back ribs, roast duck, Peruvian style roasted chicken,  chicken street tacos, baked potatoes, roasted asparagus, stuffed tomatoes or bell peppers, etc. 


Smoked baby back ribs



Peruvian style roasted chicken.



Above and below:  Lamb rack with a fresh rosemary and garlic crust, on a wooden shiver.


Aluminum foil turkey roaster.  Basting juices collect along the front side of the roasting "pan".

Breakfast may be a simple snack like pop tarts and coffee to get on trail quickly, with hot brunch cooked en route, later in the morning, or we may indulge in fresh eggs to order, any style, with bacon or sausage, pancakes with berries, butter and maple syrup.  A friend comments I make the best pancakes he ever had - but frankly they are Betty Crocker just-add-water instant cakes, with rehydrated blueberries added.  Breakfast and sometimes lunch will be based on left overs from the roasted dinners.  Sometimes I'll bring frozen homemade items, like marinara sauce, chili con carne con frijoles, or a tasty curry.   Sometimes I'll do a stir fry consisting of fresh items.  On extended trips I cook freeze dried and other dehydrated products, but these are always enhanced with some fresh items (e.g. serrano chilies, garlic, bell pepper, basil pesto, etc) dried berries, onions, sun dried tomatoes, package gravy mixes, etc.  And while the breakfast skillets from a pouch state they are good from the pouch, I find adding more stuff and frying them with butter on the skillet greatly improves the flavor, often superior to what you can get from the diner in the village near the trailhead.   I also bring a spice kit, the inventory of which varies according to what the meal plan stipulates, along with olive oil and butter.  Lastly, I brew coffee in the 4 cup stock pot, with a brew basket that fits perfectly, yielding two large cups of Joe comparable to French press, but with out the hassle.  You want cream in that?  I got mini moos.

Sometimes I resort to certain hacks.  I will pack fragile items like fresh raspberries in paper towels and stow them in my stock pots, or pack my pack such that a protected space is created between solid items so a loaf of bread will not get squished.  My favorite hack is my back country cooler, a bear canister wrapped in 1" of blue foam pad.


Wilderness ice box.  This set up will  keep meats and other perishables cold for three days.  If items are deep frozen prior to the trip they'll keep up to 5 days.


3 season group trips Windburner system thats remote cnaister and i take a 2.5 ml pot and skillet. I also take a snow peak 900 ml tiatunium pot. I can cook fresh which i prefer on these trips ranging from Stir fry and also pasta dishes and soups stews the skys the limit. with all three.IF there is no burn ban I prefer a spple or berry crisp and  I always take tin foil to cook something like bread or a baked apple...Lots of farms in my area ..I been known to cook a steak or fresh food out of town on my first night on trail regardles short or long salads are some of the easiest thing I pack out in any trip.. If its a long hike many miles I go with just a pocket rocket stove with dehydrated  meals as well as fresh vetables and salads.. I pack spices I keep a GSI mini salt and peper shacker with me as well as have an assortment of condiments to add to one pot meals...I found pringles cans are great to pack out tomatoes and onions and avocado.. mini peppers...I also have a windburner 1 liter system that i can use to cook coffee most times will not lie its good dehydrated coffee also tea I perfer sometimes and also Dehydrated apple cider is in my pack. Something to cheer the young hikers up....Breads I pita Flatbread, nun from a resturant and yes muffins get hiked out and fresh bagels...Weight my food bag is usually heavier than most. .I like food and i earned it from hiking..

Heres an example of a cook in pot meal  Chicken pouch with some oilive addded to the pot garlic and shallot and artichoke hearts some dehrated potatoes i have instint mash potatoes ,...salt peper to taste spices whatever you perfer and this is in stages.

sautee the garlic and shallots in olive oil about 2 mins add artichokes and chicken spices and water cook them for about 2 mins or almost boiling add instant pots cook till done. I add hot scause i always have saracha. with me

May 28, 2022
Quick Reply

Please sign in to reply