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Great food on the trail starts with the best ultralight backpacking cookware for your cooking system. Let’s take a look at what you need to get started.
When it comes to food, being out on the trail is sure to create an appetite. Backpacking is strenuous exercise and burns calories like crazy.
The standard rule of thumb suggests most backpackers need at least a pound to a pound and a half of food per day just to maintain their existing body weight.
For this reason, ultralight backpacking cookware is a necessity for fixing meals and maintaining strength and energy reserves on the trail.
WHY Do You Need ULTRALIGHT Backpacking COOKWARE
So why do you need ultralight cookware when backpacking? The answer applies to all ages, but especially to older adults and seniors.
You carry a lot of things in your backpack. Anything that reduces the base weight of your backpack goes a long way toward increasing your backpacking comfort and enjoyment. The less weight you have to carry, the further and faster you can hike without tiring.
Cookware is a part of your backpacking cooking system.
You wouldn’t think that saving an ounce or two in weight would make much difference. But what if you could save an ounce or two on every item in your backpack? What would that do?
RELATED ARTICLE: Backpacking Kitchen Essentials For Beginners
One pound of weight equals 16 ounces. Reducing the weight of several items in your backpack can easily add up to a one pound weight reduction.
Backpacking pots and pans are generally made of aluminum or titanium. Unlike cookware used in the home, stainless steel, copper, and cast iron are too large and heavy for backpacking. Those items are better suited for car camping.
As to weight and strength, titanium is much better than aluminum cookware.
First of all, titanium weighs less than aluminum. However, even weighing less it does not bend or dent as easily as aluminum.
In addition, titanium does not impart unsavory tastes to your food. And finally, titanium is better at transferring heat from your backpacking stove to the water or food in the pot. This by default uses less cooking fuel.
RECOMMENDED ULTRALIGHT BACKPACKING COOKWARE
At a minimum, a cooking pot is required to boil water for freeze-dried meals and hot beverages.
It is helpful if the pot includes a lid because water heats faster when a lid covers the pot. In addition to a cooking pot, backpackers often carry a frying pan.
This is a luxury item. However, fishermen don’t consider it a luxury. It is needed for frying up freshly caught fish from the streams and lakes in the area. In addition, it can be used for cooking pancakes and scrambling eggs in the morning for breakfast.
Jetboil Cooking System
A Jetboil type cooking system integrates the pot and stove as a complete unit.
Jetboil advertises that their cooking system uses half as much fuel to boil water as other stoves.
The Jetboil Stash only weighs 8 ounces for the entire system. It includes the stove, 0.8-liter pot with lid, and a fuel canister support. A 100-gram fuel canister, fuel canister support, and stove can be stored inside the pot making a compact unit that takes up less room in your pack.
The cooking pot has an integrated FluxRing heat exchanger on the bottom of the pot.
A half-liter of water boils in 2 ½ minutes which is quicker than most backpacking stoves. Therefore, along with the FluxRing technology, Jetboil minimizes the amount of fuel burned.
Since weight reduction is a primary concern of every backpacker, especially senior backpackers, having to carry less fuel is a definite advantage.
A separate frying pan is available for those needing a frying pan in addition to the cooking pot. Adding this accessory completes the system, albeit at an increase in weight.
The Jetboil frying pan adds 10.6 ounces to the total cooking system weight. That is more than most ultralight backpackers choose to carry.
Toaks Cookware with Soto Windmaster Stove
Although Jetboil has a loyal following among backpackers, the Geez is partial to a free-standing stove and titanium cookware for a number of reasons.
Toaks makes several titanium cookware entries that are truly ultralight. This provides senior adult backpackers and others with both a cooking pot and a frying pan. The pot and frying pan combo is the best ultralight backpacking cookware alternative for a number of reasons.
First of all, this cookware weighs in at a mere 5.6 ounces. Unlike Jetboil, this is the total weight for both the cooking pot and the frying pan.
Coupled with an ultralight stove Soto Windmaster Stove, you add just over a half-pound to the base weight of your backpack.
In addition to being ultralight, the Toaks frying pan has multiple uses. On the one hand, it functions as the lid for the cooking pot.
It also can be used as a frying pan for cooking freshly caught fish, pancakes, or perhaps scrambled eggs in the morning. And finally, the frying pan can serve double duty as a dinner plate, eliminating one additional item from your backpack,
The Toaks 1100 ml cooking pot is 300 ml larger than the Jetboil Stash. For solo backpackers, this isn’t a problem. But when fixing meals for two, the extra 300 ml comes in handy.
The pot is large enough to fit an 8 oz fuel canister as well as the cooking stove inside. With the included mesh sack, everything can be placed inside. This makes it as convenient to carry in your backpack as a Jetboil.
One of the major selling points of the Jetboil cooking system is fuel usage. Jetboil claims their unit boils a half-liter of water in 2 minutes 30 seconds and uses half the fuel as other stoves.
The Soto Windmaster stove that I use with my Toaks cookware boils the same amount of water in 2 minutes 30 seconds.
The efficiency of each stove in boiling water is close to the same.
However, Jetboil’s FluxRing technology is much better at transferring the heat generated by the stove’s burner to the water in the pot. Therefore less fuel is burned in boiling a half liter of water.
According to each stove’s specifications, the Soto stove uses 40% more propane/isobutane fuel than the Jetboil stove to boil the same amount of water.
Therefore you must carry almost twice as much fuel. An extra 3.53 oz of fuel and the canister weighs almost 7 (6.92) ounces. Weight is one of the considerations you must think about before deciding on ultralight cookware.
Another consideration is what type of backpacking food is taken on your adventure.
The Jetboil Stash does not have a fuel regulator for maintaining a consistent flame. This doesn’t matter if all you need to do is boil water for freeze-dried meals and beverages.
However, a fuel regulator helps maintain the cooking temperature when simmering or cooking backpacking foods.
In addition, the Soto Windmaster is much better at maintaining burner flame in windy conditions. Most importantly, excessive wind is known to blow out the burner on the Jetboil Stash whereas the Windmaster stays lit.
A final consideration is regarding the Toaks titanium cookware. It includes a frying pan which is both the lid for the pot and the frying pan.
This comes in extremely handy when frying up freshly caught fish or as a second cooking vessel for side dishes. Because the frying pan serves double duty as the pot lid, and a dish to eat out of, you don’t add any additional weight to your cookware system.
Geezer Tip: Make a pot cozy using Reflectix and aluminum tape to retain heat after the pot is removed from the stove.
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