A trusted mug, pot, or spoon can be favorite pieces of gear in a backpacker’s kit. Despite discoloration from flames, dents, dings, and permanently burned-in food, a good piece of cookware is often retirement-proof. In the realms of ultralight, a good item should be able to serve a few roles. Can it be used for eating food and your morning magic motion potion? Can it serve as a container for your stove and utensils when not in use? And how will this kitchen be carried? The selection of these essential bits can be easy to obsess over because at the end of a long day, few things in your pack will bring you as much joy.
MIKE ST. PIERRE
HYPERLITE MOUNTAIN GEAR // CO-FOUNDER + CEO
Spoon: A Long-Handle Titanium Spoon or Spork is the only way to go. Lexan spoons will break, and the small handle titanium spoons or sporks are too short to scoop into a dehydrated meal package, resulting in dirty, messy fingers. Anything else is just too heavy.
Storage: Pods work great for storing food in your pack. On big trips of a week or more, I’ll carry four pods for food. One for breakfast, one for lunch, one for dinners, and one for snacks. This makes it really easy and convenient when mealtime comes. Grab the appropriate pod, find the meal you feel like eating and dig in.
Mug: I use our unconventional but highly effective “mug” the REpack. I repackage all of my dehydrated food in freezer bags to save weight, space, and reduce the packaging garbage I don’t need or want to take with me. I put the freezer bag in the REpack, pour in hot water, close the clasp, and let everything rehydrate. This handy little pouch traps heat, so when it comes time to chow down, my meal is still warm and tasty. I also use it to store other kitchen essentials and or my canister stove if that’s what I’m bringing for my trip. Head over to our blog to learn more.
Fire Kit: All I need here is a mini Bic lighter. I usually carry two.
BETHANY "FIDGIT" HUGHES
THRU HIKER // WORLD TRAVELER // HER-ODYSSEY.ORG
Here’s a bonus tip on cook kits, I created a pot cozy from pipe insulation. This reduces the amount of fuel I use because I can pull the pot off the stove, stick it in its cozy and it keeps cooking for as long as I can hold off from scarfing it down. And on the nights that I can't hold off for long, the cozy keeps me from burning myself on the still-hot pot.
THRU HIKER // PHOTOGRAPHER // @WHERETHEHELLISMATT
It’s brilliant, it’s simple, and I love it so much. The Vargo BOT series marries the idea of a water bottle with a pot, making it an ideal cold soak jar. Made of lightweight and incredibly durable titanium, it weighs less than a Nalgene and lasts longer than plastic cold soak jars, all at an insane price. I ended up not carrying a stove on the Greater Yellowstone Traverse and opted for cold soakable foods, but often ate warm dinners. If we had a fire going, which we usually did, I would put the BOT on some coals and enjoy a warm meal 30 minutes later. The screw on top can be flipped upside down to make a top without melting the rubber seal that is on the threaded side. Two handles fold out to allow you to grab if the container is hot. My 700 mL version is no longer available, but the 1 L comes in at 5.2 ounces. 4/5 Rating due to its difficult to clean lid.
KRYSTIAN "SNAP" REPOLONA
THRU HIKER // PHOTOGRAPHER // @HIKES.CAMERA.ADVENTURE
I am a huge fan of the Sea to Summit Alpha Light Long Spork. It’s your basic lightweight titanium spork with extra length for those times you need the extra reach in those freeze-dried meal packages.
NICK "CLICK" REICHARD
THRU HIKER // PHOTOGRAPHER // @NICHOLASREICHARD
I have tried to use all sorts of utensils along the various trails I’ve hiked but I always come back to my favorite which is a long-handled spoon. There are a few different ones on the market but my favorite by far is the Toaks Titanium Long handle Spoon with Polished Bowl. Mainly because food sticks to it less and the glossy finish feels better on the mouth compared to the feel of unfinished titanium. I’m also not a huge fan of the spork version of any utensil in the backcountry because it is harder to keep clean. The long spoon may weigh just slightly more than the short version, but when eating out of dehydrated food bags or someone else's bowl, your dirty hands are just a little further away from touching any of the food.
BIKEPACKER // PACKRAFTER // @JESSI_GOES
In addition to the cookware that comes with my stove (a single-serve “pot” for melting water), I also carry a Sea to Summit X-Mug Collapsible Mug and Alphalight Spoon. That is all. I drink Kuju single-serve pour-over coffee because good coffee is a necessity, not a luxury. Everything else I eat straight from the pouch - a couple packets of Quaker maple and brown sugar oatmeal for breakfast, trail snacks all day, Mountain House meals for dinner. I never have to do dishes which makes me very happy.
LIZ "HANDSTAND" KIDDER
THRU HIKER // WORLD TRAVELER // @LIZKIDDER
Since I didn’t carry a stove on the Appalachian Trail I ended up buying a Vargo BOT 700ml Mug — it has a watertight screw-top lid so I could cold-soak things with it, OR, I could use it as a pot to cook on a fire. It’s titanium/lightweight, the perfect size, has measurement guidelines, and it has a foldaway handle! I’d usually store my rock bag/line inside of it during the day, or my jar of Nutella so I saved on space. I also had a titanium spork – necessary for Nutella consumption.