A great lightweight cooking system should quickly and efficiently boil water, set up easily, and pack up into the system’s largest pot. Lately, because I’m preparing for a seven-day two-person canoe trip, I’ve been looking for cooking gear that meets this criteria. I’ve looked into lightweight commercial cooking gear, like the Caldera Cone and the Jetboil (which I love for solo travel), but everything I’ve looked at seems lacking in some aspect. For example, the Cone doesn’t pack into a pot, and once you add all the accessories to make a Jetboil convenient for two, it ends up weighing significantly more than other options. I also wanted something that used a sustainable fuel, like alcohol. So, I dug out my old soda and beer can stoves to test them again. I was impressed.
Lightweight Cook Kit
For this trip, we settled on using the 34-fl.oz. pot and lid from Snow Peak’s Titanium Multi Compact Cookset, a Penny Ultralight Alcohol Stove, and Light My Fire Sporks. For water purification, we’ll use a Katadyn Hiker Water Filter. To carry water, Platypus 1-Liter Water Bottles, and because it’s cold at night now, we’ll drink hot beverages out of GSI Infinity Insulated Mugs. One person will eat out of the pot and the other out of REI’s Polypropylene Bowl, an Orikaso Fold Flat Bowl, or the pot’s lid–yet to be decided. Together these items weigh 2 lb. 5 oz. Or about 1 lb. 2.5 oz. per person.
Cooking Gear Weight
- 5.8 oz. – Snow Peak 34-fl.oz. Titanium Pot and lid
- 2.2 oz. – Penny Stove (0.5 oz. windscreen, 0.9 oz. pot stand, 0.5 oz. stove, 0.3 oz. base and simmer ring)
- 0.4 oz. – Light My Fire Sporks (0.2 oz. each)
- 0.8 oz. – Fuel container (12 oz. soda bottle)
- 9.2 oz. – Total without fuel
Water and Drinking Gear Weight
- 14.3 oz. – Katadyn Hiker (with stuff sack, platypus adapter, and pro element – New models are lighter)
- 1.6 oz – Platypus Water Bottles (0.8 oz. each)
- 6.4 oz. – GSI Infinity Insulated Mugs (3.2 oz. each)
- 22.3 oz. – Total
- 2.5 oz. – REI’s Polypropylene Bowl
- 1.1 oz. – Orikaso Fold Flat Bowl
- 0.1 oz. – Mini Bic Lighter
- 4.0 oz. – Pacific Outdoor Equipment Bear Bag Throw Line
- 1.4 oz. – Sea to Summit UltraSil Dry Sack for food storage
- 5.5 oz. – Total
- 12 oz. – Denatured Alcohol (.75 ounces to boil water – 16 total boils)
- 9.2 oz. – Cooking Gear
- 22.3 oz. – Water
- 5.5 oz. – Other
- 37 oz. – Total without fuel
I like this system because the stove system packs up small and fits within the pot, it weighs only 1 lb. 2.5 oz. per person and it gives us everything we need without having too many parts. The center of the cooking system is the Penny Stove. The Penny Stove is one of the easiest stoves that I’ve made, and all the accessories are just as easy to make. Out of the many stoves that I’ve built, it boils water quicker and, because the priming plate is built into the stove, with less hassle.
The designer’s website claims 3:59 minutes boil time for 16 ounces of water on 2/3 oz. of fuel. On my version, I got 4:30 minutes boil time on 0.75 oz. of fuel. Total burn time was 5:30 minutes. I’m going to make a second one to see if I can approach the reported boil times on less fuel. My stove system ended up heavier than the designers by 0.2 oz. Maybe the second one will be lighter. Also, I’m using aluminum flashing for my windscreen, which is 0.3 oz. heavier than an aluminum cake pan windscreen I also made. I like the heavier one better, because it stays in place.
The pot is large enough for cooking for two and the lid works well for cooking fry bread (although with an alcohol stove this would be difficult). The cups are the perfect size for hot drinks and they provide just enough insulation to keep the drink warm until we finish sipping. The Katadyn Hiker pumps water quickly. We store it in Platys, because they’re light and durable. The throw line and dry bag work well together for hanging a bear bag.
Making It Lighter
This kit could definately be lighter. The biggest offender is the water filter. We could save 11.3 oz. by using Mcnett Aquamira Water Treatment instead of the filter. If we switched out our GSI mugs for the red cups shown in the above picture, we’d save 4.4 oz. My stove is 0.2 oz. heavy, so a rebuild could solve that problem. We could use the lighter windscreen for 0.3 oz. of saving. There are bear bagging systems that weigh 3 oz. on the market. If I switched and paid an arm and leg for one, I’d save 2.4 oz. We could easily cut 18.6 oz. out of our lightweight cooking gear. This is just over half the weight of the system. If we did, our system would weigh 1 lb. 2.4 oz. We’d each carry 9.2 oz. Is it worth it? If we were planning big mileage or heading into a remote area we would change out the gear (except for the bear bagging gear) and save the weight. I always think it’s best to evaluate gear before heading out and always take suggestions.