JMT Trip Planning: Cook Kits

This may be a bit premature, but ever since I decided that I was going to thru hike the JMT in the summer of 2018 I haven’t been able to take my mind off of it! Since then I have been scouring the web for information… blogs, forums, videos, FaceBook Groups and Yahoo Groups… I have been stalking them all! This is a big deal for me, and I want to make sure I go into it the most prepared I can be.

One of the first things I did was to create a spreadsheet, and one of those (many) tabs on the spreadsheet are of course, a gear list. Thankfully, I already have pretty much all of the gear that I am planning to carry with me on the trip next year, and even better, I am already familiar with it too! I have used most of it for a few years now, so I know what I can expect out of it, and how it works for me. Sure, there are a couple of things that I will change-up a bit (like a larger capacity battery charger), but for the most part, I plan to keep everything about the same as it already is!

Saying that, I have somewhat made a full circle with my cook kits… As I would imagine, like most any other backpacking newbie, I started out with a canister stove. That evolved into alcohol stoves, Esbit set-ups, and wood burners… But now here I am again, full-circle with a canister stove as my “choice” stove, yet again. And as it just so happened, I spoke with a buddy about cook kits quite a bit last night, which made me want to create this post.

While I am now back to using a canister stove, it is not the first canister stove I started out with in 2009. I started with an Optimus Crux stove, and since then have used a Snow Peak LiteMax stove and a couple of JetBoil set-ups. As of Christmas of last year (2016) I am now using the Soto Windmaster. In my (albeit, limited) experiences so far, I have found the Windmaster stove easily outperforms the other typical canister stoves I have used in the past, and while it is not quite as “fuel-efficient” as my Jetboil’s (in optimal conditions), I find that it actually performs better if there is even the slightest of winds involved. In fact, I have enjoyed this stove so much, I bought the exact same stove twice, one for me and one for my son! (After all, why shouldn’t he have the “best” too?!)


So, here is a breakdown of the cook kit that both, my son & I, plan to use on the JMT next summer (if it will ever hurry up and get here…):

The total weight of the above items comes to 7.2 oz (when weighing them together on my scale – 7.3 oz when adding the separate weights). By the time I add in the 1.68 oz MLD mug with cozy and Hot Lips, the total weight comes to 8.88 oz. Sure, this is not the lightest set up around, but when it comes to function vs weight, I am very happy with it!

Everything nest’s inside the cook pot well (assuming I am using the smaller fuel canisters), and due to its volume and shape (short and wide), I find it easy to cook in, eat out of, and clean afterwards. While basic, there are volume markings on the pot which allows me to eyeball a rough measurement, and a pour spout on the pot to make it easier to pour boiling water into my drinking mug.

As I mentioned above, I feel that the Windmaster stove works well, even when used in some windy conditions, and I find that it supports this particular pot well, even when cooking. The flame control on the stove works about as well as the other canister stoves I have used (excluding the Jetboil’s), but being that the burner head is more protected, it seems to offer better results for simmering/cooking. As well, at 2.4 oz, for me it is a very reasonably light weight option. The only negative would be that the pot support comes as a separate piece, however, so far, I am fine with this.

As for the smaller components, the spoon is comfortable to use, and since I am using a short pot, I can use a shorter spoon, which is also lighter weight. The pack towel is much more durable, and in my opinion, it absorbs water better than other towels I have used in the past (such as the LightLoad towel). Of course, it dries very easily, and fast too. And to wrap it all up, the cuben fiber stuff sacks are a great option simply because they are strong, and very lightweight.

As for price, these items are not exactly the least expensive, nor are they the most expensive. The good thing is that pretty much all of these items can be found on sale at various places many times of the year (however, I gotta plug ZPacks here… note that if you buy the Evernew cook pots from them they include the matching cuben fiber stuff sack long with the manufacturers supplied stuff sack. Score!)


So, that is basically it. I have been using the pot for a couple of years now, with different set-ups, and I have long since been a fan of this particular cook pot. As for the stove, I have only used it a couple of times since getting it for Christmas last year (my wife is so awesome!) but find that, for me, it is a joy to use, and it just works! So, for now, this is the cook kit set-up that I plan to take with me on the JMT next year… and my son too!

Be sure to keep a look out for follow-up videos on other pieces of gear that I plan to carry with me on this hike. Eventually, likely towards the end of the year, I plan to do a video of all the gear that my son will be carrying too (I am still getting some of the gear for him…)


Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any of the companies listed above. I am not getting paid in any way, from any one, to present this post. This is a reflection of my thoughts, and plans for what is to come!

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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7 Responses to JMT Trip Planning: Cook Kits

  1. Pingback: JMT Summer 2018 Permits & Plans | Stick's Blog

  2. Pingback: JMT Planning… Random Gear Selections… | Stick's Blog

  3. Pingback: JMT Trip Planning: Sleep System’s | Stick's Blog

  4. Ben Crocker says:

    Long spoon = good, at least to me. I just keep it in my food bag since it won’t fit in the pot.
    It seems you should include the weight of your canister into the weight of your cook kit, at least if you want to be able to compare it to other types of cook kits.


    • Stick says:


      When I carry my long handle spoon it usually rides in the front pack pocket or in my food bag. It could easily fit in my Bearikade Weekender too though, but for cook in the pot meals, a long handle spoon is overkill. At least for me.

      As for including the weight of my fuel canister, that is a consumable. I know it’s nit-picking, but the fuel weight is not a constant, whereas all the pieces I listed in my cook kit are constant. The weight of fuel will always change, from day to day, and even from can to can. There are several different sizes to choose from, as well as different brands, and even then, brand new cans of the same brand and same size can still have some variance in weights. Because of this, fuel is not something people include when weighing their “cook kit” and it actually makes comparing cook kit weights more difficult.

      For example, if I am going on a 3 day hike, I would likely carry a 100g canister. If I were going on a 10 day hike I would likely carry a 230 g canister, however, both hikes could still warrant different amounts of fuel (such as if I were cooking 3 meals a day, for 2 people over 3 full days, a 100g canister may not make it for all 3 days… On the other hand, if I were not planing to cook but just a few times over a 10 day hike, I could possibly get away with a smaller, 100g canister.) The stove, cook pot, spoon, mug, etc… will always be the same weight and will not change though, no matter how much fuel I carried, but the amount of fuel would.

      As for comparing different systems, as far as wood, Esbit/solid fuel, alcohol, white gas, or canister, that is tough too… There are just too many variable’s to fairly compare these systems against each other. And there is absolutely no way that 2 different people, going on different trips, can honestly compare these systems. Elevation, personal preference, water temperature, cooking times, volumes, count of people… it’s just too much to take into consideration. For this reason, the best way to weigh things out is by pieces that do not change weights. Cook pot, spoon, mug, stove, these things can be compared…

      But in the end, it’s not the weight that makes the most difference, it’s function and personal preference. Some folks don’t mid carrying a huge kitchen set-up because they prefer to actually cook while on the trail, while someone else can get by with a beer can pot and found rocks for a makeshift pot stand to heat water and pour over dried ramen… or even forget the cook kit and eat cold food.

      Hope this helps!



  5. Dale Stuart says:

    I posted you when you first mentioned the JMT hike. I have done it a few times and absolutely love hiking there. Weather can be a major concern. Too early – potential lots of snow, too late and potential hot. dry, afternoon thunder storms, High country can be very cold at night (20’s)
    In 2011 a 180% snow season I had a couple miles of snow each side of the passes, with 3-4 wet river crossing a day and that was July 28 start date. The High Sierra camp between Happy Isles and Tuolumne didn’t open till the 2nd week of August. In 2012 it was the opposite, no snow and only 2 wet river crossings the whole trail.
    Finally be warned – you will get hooked on the Sierras, I did…


    • Stick says:


      No doubt I will be hooked… heck, I haven’t even been there and now that the possibility of me actually hiking them is real, I am already hooked! LOL… 🙂



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