“One Cook Kit To Rule Them All”

Over the last few months I have posted a few times on different cook kits that I have been trying out. Truth is, like many others, I have been trying to find a system that works for me. There is a balance between weight and functionality that must be met, and I think that I have finally found that sweet spot for me.

The cook kit that I’ve put together has everything that I need to simply boil water, have a cup of Joe in a separate cup and to cook my food in a Ziploc container. And the best part is, there is hardly any clean-up after I’m done! As for weight, the entire cook system weighs in at 8.3 oz (235 gm) so it’s not entirely “UL.”

I am actually very happy with this cook kit and knew that I would have to show it off before my trip next weekend. So, this morning I decided to do a little video to show off this cook kit, aptly named:

“One Cook Kit To Rule Them All”

So, here is a break down of each piece:

  • DIY Reflectix Cozy
  • Weight: 0.7 oz/19 gm
  • Materials Used: Reflectix & Aluminum Tape
  • Cost: ~ $27.00 for materials (but now I can make more than I’ll ever need for free!)


  • Cricket Mini Lighter
  • MSRP: (US) $0.89
  • Weight: 0.4 oz/10 gm
  • DIY Mini Atomic Knock-Off
  • Weight: 0.4 oz/10 gm (In Plastic Baggie)
  • Cost: ~ $5.00
  • Materials Used: 2 V8 Cans & a Wing Screw
  • Capacity: ~ 1 oz of fuel
  • DIY Hardware Cloth Pot Stand
  • Weight: 0.4 oz/12 gm
  • Size: 5 Squares High x 19 Squares Around
  • Cost: ~ $ 18.00 for a huge roll of Hardware Cloth (But here again, I can now make more than I’ll need, for free!

  • DIY Windscreen with Paperclip
  • Weight: 0.6 oz/17 gm
  • Dimensions: 3-7/8″ Tall x 16-3/8″ Wide
  • Cost: ~ $ 10.00 for a 12″ x 30″ sheet of 36 Gauge Aluminum Stock (Again, I have enough left to make more for free!
  • Aluminum Foil Primer Pan/ Heat Reflector
  • Weight: 0.1 oz/2 gm
  • Cost: ~ $3.00 for a roll of Aluminum Foil

So, these are all the components of my cook kit. Like I said, it is not exactly “UL”, but it works for me and that is what counts. Although, in my honest opinion, it is not too heavy either. And let’s keep in mind that this is my entire kitchen set-up, not just my stove and cook pot…

A few things that I really like about this system when compared to other systems I have been toying with:

  1. The cook pot offers enough volume for me to boil enough water for me to use to rehydrate my meal, have a nice size hot drink and still a little extra water to clean-up with or add extra to my drink or meal if I need. With my other cook kit I was planning to bring I could only boil up to 16 oz of water (max) at once and I felt like I needed a little more than that. The Backcountry pot gives the little more with a minimum weight penalty (especially with the handles removed and my DIY lid).
  2. The Backcountry cook pot is durable. I have been toying around a lot lately with beer can cook pots, and don’t get me wrong, they are awesome, but in the end, they are not as durable as this one is. As well, since I am using a more durable pot, I do not need the plastic container I had with the other set-up to protect the pot while packed up, so I save some weight there (or actually use it in a different area). Plus, since I am not rehydrating my food in that container, it is less for me to clean-up!
  3. There is no chemical leaching with this cook pot. Ok, this one may be a little iffy with some, but from what I understand, the beer can cook pots do leach out some chemicals, and from what I hear it is not good for you. Saying that, I have never heard of anyone dying from boiling water in an aluminum can. But, considering all the other benefits that  my Backcountry cook pot is offering me, it is hard for me not to lump this one in… So, guy’s & gal’s, take it for what it’s worth.. I am not knocking it, and I am not endorsing it, I’m just sayin’…
  4. I love the way the Ziploc bags fit inside the cozy. I have found that a quart-size Ziploc bag will fit perfectly inside this cozy. Plus, there is enough room for me to add the required amount of water to the meals, close the bag up and put the cozy lid inside the cozy enough to trap all the heat! As well, the cozy gives structure to the Ziploc bags which makes it much easier to eat out of than just trying to hold the Ziploc with one hand and the spoon with the other. This is also a great thing for when I pour the water into the bag. I have on occasion tipped a bag over while pouring water into it, however, this cozy should solve that problem. Also, the other great thing about the cozy is that it protects my hands from being burnt while holding onto a Ziploc bag full of boiling water/hot food!
  5. Speaking of Ziploc’s… since I am using them, that is something less for me to clean! Woohoo on no dirty dishes!
  6. I very much enjoy the fact that I can have my cup of joe at the same time that I am eating my breakfast! I know that the “UL” way is to use the cook pot as the mug too, but that is a little much for me.  For me, this is one of those comforts that I feel that I need to include in my pack and will suffer the weight penalty for it…
  7. The last thing that I want to mention is the “fun factor.” When I head out on the trail, I fully enjoy the actual hike, but I gotta say that I find a lot of fun in using my gear too. In this line of thought, I really enjoy using alcohol stoves. I find that canister stoves are kinda boring, and cooking over open fires are a bit more involved and results in soot-laden gear. So, despite the longer wait time when using alcohol over other methods, and even the heavier fuel weight at the beginning of a trip, I thoroughly enjoy them. As well, at least 80% of this set-up is MYOG. I can feel proud when I pull out gear that I made myself and then have fun while using it too…

So anyway, this is the set-up that I have settled on for now. I will be taking this set-up with me for a 4-day hike next weekend so I will really be able to see how much I actually like it. Of course there is only so much one can tell from simply using a system at home (for weeks on end…) Anyway, if you have any questions or comment’s please post them below.

Thanks for stopping by!

~Stick~

Disclaimer: This idea struck me while reading through a post on the blog Hike, Bike, Dale! I was looking through some pictures he had posted on: Florida Trail – Oh the joys of Sugar sand when I came across a picture of a Ziploc sitting inside a cozy. This was all it took… So, thanks Supa Chef for the inspiration! And everyone else, be sure to check out his blog. It is full of great info as well as videos from his AT hike.

About Stick

My blog is essentially a record of my hiking career. Through it, I, and others, can see how I have evolved from a heavy weight backpacker, to a smarter, more efficient, lightweight backpacker. Through the use of video, still photos, and of course writing, one can see my progression, as well as check out some of the places I hike, and not to mention some cool, lightweight gear options. For me, my blog is a journal, but for others, I hope that it is an interactive learning tool to aid them in their own progression towards lightweight backpacking.
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26 Responses to “One Cook Kit To Rule Them All”

  1. Pingback: One Cook Kit To Rule Them All | Video 1080p

  2. Bobby Z says:

    Nice Job. Thats exactly what I’m looking for. I have two thumbs and couldn’t couldn’t come close to how well you made that kit. I’d be intereted if you’re selling one.

    I find your blog very helpful.

    Like

  3. ShortSteph says:

    Stick, thanks for showing your cook kit. After reading your blog, I dumped my 10 oz 1L Primus pot and got a 1.2L Imusa mug that only weighs 3.4 oz.
    Now I’m looking for a stuff sack. I want to get more cuben fiber items, but it can be pricey. I was thinking of buying a Borah Gear cuben fiber stuff sack because it was only $4.50, but I’m hesitant. Have you tried their gear? How does it compare to Zpacks sacks?
    Thanks!

    Like

    • Stick says:

      ShortSteph,

      I don’t have any experience with any of the cuben stuff sacks from Borah Gear, however, I do have a Borah bivy (which came with a sil stuff sack) and I can say that it is really nice. No loose or crooked stitches. Considering this, I wouldn’t have any concern myself about the actual quality of his items. The only thing here though is that he only has 2 sizes on his site, so it depends on what size you need.

      Something else that you may be interested in is the DIY kits available from Yama Mountain Gear. The kit contains all the materials you need to make up to 7 different stuff sacks, of different sizes. The kit is $28, but for those wanting to try out cuben for the first time, and at a reasonably inexpensive price, this would be a great way to try it out. Check it out here.

      http://www.yamamountaingear.com/gear-room/kits/cuben-fiber-stuff-sacks

      And also, congrats on cutting some weight out of your cook pot!

      Hope this helps some!

      ~Stick~

      Like

  4. Sandor says:

    Where could i find the instructions to make that DIY Mini Atomic Knock-Off?

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Sandor,

      I just made mine up after looking at the Mini Atomic. It is basically the bottoms of two 8 oz cans shoved together and then drill the jet holes and the filler hole on the top.

      ~Stick~

      Like

  5. aaron Schecter says:

    Hey I love the video and the creativeness…. I was literally about to get the MSR whisperlite tommorow ( payday ) and I ran across this video on youtube. I am not a UL backpacker but, I do like the compact size of your alcohol stove and the burn time is actually pretty good considering I can get denatured alc. for under $3 for 16oz. I have one question though as I copied your design on the stove I have learned you need to heat the can with DA in it I assume to flash the liquid to a gas. I accomplished this by holding a torch lighter to the bottom half of the can. I also tried the put a little on the top i saw you do in the vid but it leaked into the can through the wing screw. Is there a easier method to heat the can up that doesn’t take 5 minutes and wasting a whole torch lighters worth of butane ? Thanks and keep up the great work -Aaron

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Aaron,

      A priming pan may be of some assistance to you. I just use a piece of foil, which is easy to do.

      Just cut out a piece of foil big enough to come out just past the windscreen. Place the stove in the center of the foil. Fill the stove with the desired amount of fuel. Then, drip a few drops of fuel all around the edges of the stove and even a few on the top of the stove. Then light the fuel that is outside the stove. If done right, flames should erupt all around the stove, and even on top of the stove. This will begin to heat the stove quite fast, which in turn begins to vaporize the fuel inside. Once this happens, the jets on the stove will begin to ignite, and from there it should take off.

      Be sure to protect the stove from wind though. Alcohol stoves are very susceptible to wind. Wind can make it hard to light as well as steal the heat away once it is lit. As well, with a penny stove (which is basically what I have in this post, except I use a wing nut rather than a penny) always be sure to have the center fill hole covered before lighting. If not, the stove can explode.

      As well, please be very careful when using alcohol. In day light, the flames are invisible to the eye. It will look like nothing is happening but the fact is, it can very well be light and going strong.

      Also, NEVER try to add more fuel to an alcohol stove until you are 100% sure that the stove is not lit, or even hot to the touch…

      If you continue to have problems with your stove, I recommend to buy a commercially available stove. These are tried and true stoves, so they are as safe as they can be. Get used to using these and then try to make your own. If you wanted to try this route, I highly suggest the White Box Stoves. These are easier to fill, easier to light and are more durable than the stove that I am using in this video. As well, Bill is a very stand-up guy and is great to deal with.

      I hope that this helps and good luck with your decision!

      ~Stick~

      Like

  6. Jake Willits says:

    Stick, I know you’re on your hike right now. I hope you’re having a ton of fun. I want to build a kit like yours. It’s just a matter of time. I was just thinking though; if you just eat instant oatmeal directly from the bags, you don’t have to wait for a cup to drink from. I never knew you could pour boiling water into the paper oatmeal bags, but you CAN! It’s just an option. Great video!

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Jake,

      When I carry the instant oatmeal packs I do the same thing, however, on this trip I wanted to try some DIY instant oatmeal. I am not a fan of drinking out of the pot either though. I like to boil just a little extra water just in case I need a little extra. With a cup I can have my coffee and still have the extra water I boiled for clean up, brushing teeth, adding extra to meals/coffee or sharing with someone else that may need a little extra water… I think that this is where I am getting to the lightest weight possible while still having all of my luxuries. But to be honest, with a 17 lb total pack weight (with all consumables ~ and even those 1 lb microspikes that I didn’t need…) I am fine with the extra weight so that I can be comfortable while at camp too! 🙂

      ~Stick~

      Like

  7. Pat Combee says:

    Stick, you been watching too many of Water Monkey’s videos :), Pretty funny start up! I like.
    I remember an article from Backpacking light from a couple of years ago that denatured alcohol weighs about .85 ounces per liquid ounce, so your findings regarding your fuel weight seem about right. I think I like fiddling with my gear almost as much as I like actually using it in the field.
    I have several cook kits that I use for different hikes. The lightest is an MSR Ti cup (minus the handles, but with a homemade lid made from the bottom of a 5 oz catfood can) using a homemade gram cracker stove, a pot support made from the top part of a Heinie can (punching the holes was a study in how many to have enough O2 for a good burn), a plastic spoon, miniBic lighter and using Esbit fuel tabs. It weighs 5 3/4 ounces including 3 esbit tabs. This is my super light kit for overnighters, when I want to do some miles, but don’t need fancy, just some hot water for a drink.
    Looking forward to your trip report.

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Pat,

      I had come across that info (on the actual fuel weight) some time ago on a thread over on Backpacker but then I guess it just slipped my mind.

      I am like you on having the multiple set-ups. I have a pretty light weight set up with a heine can and esbit too. Classic. 🙂

      ~Stick~

      Like

  8. Robert Carver says:

    I use a quite similar set up. I have the Backcountry 700ml pot. With a 475ml Mountain Laurel Designs ti mug, end2end gram weenie pro stove, Bic lighter, piece of a bandanna to use as a pot grab, wind screen and primer pan made from sheet titanium from Titanium Goat. Everything fits inside the pot and weighs 7.7 oz. I use a rubber band to hold the lid on the pot.

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Robert,

      Oooh…I kept wanting one of those mugs when Ron was selling them for pretty cheap…

      I almost ordered some of the Ti sheet from Ti Goat to make my own windscreen. I still may do so one day… What size sheet did you order and how big did you make the wind screen?

      ~Stick~

      Like

    • Robert Carver says:

      I believe the windscreen is 3.5″ x 22″. I’ll have to check it when I get home from work today. It along with everything else actually fits inside the MLD mug. I’m like you in the fact that I like to have a seperate mug for my hot drink.

      Like

    • Robert Carver says:

      Stick, my windscreen is 3″ x 17″. I purchased a 22″ x 24″ sheet from Titanium Goat.

      Like

    • Stick says:

      Thanks Robert. So you can still do some other projects with the remaining Ti. I hear it is quite thin, thin enough to easily use a pair of scissors. Did you find this to be the case? Also, I am curious, does it bend like the aluminum windscreens or does it stay rigid (although I understand it is thin enough to be quite flexible).

      Like

  9. Stick… what is so crazy to me… is that I thought I had really gotten a near perfect cook kit on my trip along the AT. But what really took me back, is how SIMILAR that is to mine! Great, whether you got idea from me or someone else… at least I now know that I am not that far from where are the cool kids are hanging out in geek gear land. Did I ever even do any vids showing my cooking system on the AT? If not, I might do that when I get home. I am in Dallas all week for work.

    I will watch the video tonight. I am at work, so no vids over the networks.

    Cheers and thanks for the video and report information.

    Wallace – Supa Chef

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Wallace,

      I actually got the idea from a picture I saw on your blog the other day in the Florida Trail post. I saw the cozy sitting there with a Ziploc bag sitting in it or on it. I dunno. But when I saw it it hit me and I jumped up and started on a new cozy… I was a bit skeptical if it would work or not but it does perfectly.

      I probably need to go back in my post and add that in…

      Anyway, as far as I remember there was never a specific entry on your cooking gear. I do remember before you left you had a video in which you were using the sidewinder I think and were baking with a S2S bowl that nested inside the cook pot. I thought that was really cool too by the way, but hated to add the weight… I still to date want a sidewinder for my 0.9L Evernew pot though…

      Anyway, one day we are going to have to go for a hike together…

      Thanks for stopping by and checking it out!

      ~Stick~

      Like

  10. Jester says:

    Nice job and I see you’re really liking the Reflectix material; I saw it in one of your previous DIYs. So I don’t have to lug a cozy around, I normally just reuse a Mountain House bag. They are already very light, retain heat well and stand-up pretty good on their own (don’t usually have a tipping problem). If I reseal my meals in them, I have nothing to clean. When I want to lighten the load: I reuse one by pouring in some left over hot water, seal it, shake it and dump-it (in an appropriate LNT spot – naturally).

    I’m with John great job on the video, hilarious.

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Jester,

      I have used a fair share of those MH bags! And I agree, they work quite well to rehydrate the meals in, and I liked to use them as garbage bags too. However, this time I have ordered my food from Hawk Vittles rather than going with the MH. He makes all of his food fresh and then simply dehydrates it, and then seals it in a bag. However, I don’t like the shape of the bags that they are in (tall & slender) so I will be repackaging them in a Ziploc bag since they work so well with my new cozy! However, I am hoping that I will stop being lazy and eventually start dehydrating my own food and then packaging them myself…

      Anyway, glad you liked the video! And thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      ~Stick~

      Like

  11. There will never been one cook kit to rule them all :-p

    For 8.3 ounces you could be out there with a JetBoil Sol Ti that is significantly more fuel efficient for the style of hiking that you do. And, 9 of those items you are caring now basically becomes one item :-p

    Anyway, Jetboil fan comments put aside… nice article Stick. Very much enjoyed the video. I needed that this afternoon!

    Like

    • Stick says:

      John,

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting! As usual, I appreciate your comments. Also, glad that you enjoyed the video too…

      I agree that there will never be one to rule them all…but I am really happy with this one. More so than I have been with any of my others, which also includes my Jetboil Sol Ti. I actually had to knock the dust off of the Jetboil the other day to give to my buddy as a loaner for our trip next weekend… 🙂

      I also agree that the Jetboil is way more fuel efficient. Although, I will come home with less fuel weight or fuel container weight using my set-up than I would with the Jetboil.

      As far as 9 of them becoming one, that is one of the things that I don’t like. Like I said in my post, I like to be able to drink my coffee while eating my oatmeal, and then not have to worry about cleaning the cook pot. I like a variety, and my set-up gives me a wider variety than the Jetboil for the same weight.

      I should have added into the list of things that I like about my set-up the fact that this set-up is simply fun for me to use. I don’t enjoy using the Jetboil near as much as I do my alky stoves. Plus the fact that I made about 80% of this set-up makes it that much cooler for me. While I do enjoy being on the trail, and being a part of God’s creation, I gotta admit that I still enjoy playing with all of my gear while out there too, so the fun factor is pretty important to me too. (I think I will go back and add this in the post…)

      So, once I factor in all of these things with the fact that the Jetboil will not save me any weight over my set-up, then I find my set-up to be better, and actually “Rule Them All”.

      🙂

      Thanks again,

      ~Stick~

      Like

    • Andy Amick says:

      Stick, I think you said it right about making 80% of the kit. That is certainly part of the fun especially when it works as good or better than a commercial item.

      Like

    • Stick says:

      I completely agree Andy. DIY is rewarding…especially when it works out! 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by.

      ~Stick~

      Like

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