Instant Gratification: Why I’m Going Stoveless.
Why Would Anyone Go Stoveless?
I have found that there are two kinds of people in the world: those who eat cold food (pizza, burgers, pasta, hotdogs? )straight out of the fridge and those who take the time to put it on a plate and wait 30 seconds for it to warm up.
I believe you should do a self evaluation to determine which person you are when considering the stoveless approach.
Ya see, going stoveless is not about the weight you lose from carrying your stove, fuel and cleaning supplies (if any); it’s about eating as fast as you can, when you’re hungry, cause your hungry, and you can’t wait. When I’m hungry I want food pronto.
My Deciding Moment:
A few weeks ago I found myself on a loop through the Smokies with some friends. As an average group of young adults, we take on the miles. The first day we did 21 miles after beginning around 1pm. This put us getting to the shelter after dark and in the cold (it hit 19 degrees that night).
Since this was during the fire ban, the only heat source we had was our stove. Instinctively you might think that having a hot meal would be so exciting/something to look forward to. For me this was 100% false.
I was warm from walking. I would have rather eat as I was walking up, set up camp, change clothes and jump into my bag before I lost all heat.
When we arrived, we were all very slow to unpack and get settled. When we started boiling water and adding in our food, I quickly realized that the heat was escaping as fast as it had presented itself. By the time I turned off the stove and got to my food, it was cold. Then I had to clean. I soon realized that I had lost all warmth gained from hiking and was now at the shivering point.
It was then that I decided eating “hot meals” was not worth the effort.
The Social Scene:
After reading various blogs, I realized that one reoccurring deciding factor on whether or not to bring a stove is the idea that one might feel left out while others are cooking. To alleviate this potential occurrence, I plan to have other things to do while some are cooking. At 21 years of age, I still enjoy doing mindless activities like making friendship bracelets. I’ll bring some string when I feel like chatting OR if others aren’t around, and I have time to kill, I’ll journal.
My Meal Ideas:
One of the many perks about the trail is that you can eat and eat and still lose weight. I’m a fan of all things food but the below is a compiled list of foods I’m excited to eat in excess.
- Oatmeal packets
- Dense protein bars (my favorite are Cliff Builders and Quest)
- Whatever Lil Debbie I pick for the week
- Cereal bars
- Protein Powder + instant coffee + Nido Powder
- Jelly beans/ Sweedish fish
- PB crackers
- Trail mix (seriously dont know if I’ll ever get tired of it frfr)
- Tuna in Oil (for the extra calories)
- Torillas and PB&J (seriously I think people have forgotten about Stripes)
- Powdered/dehydrated Hummus
- Summer Sausage and Cheese (when cold)
- Raw Ramen (I like the crunch)
- Instant mashed potatoes
- Dehydrated meals *shocker*
Knowing that most dehydrated meals can be hydrated with cold water if left for a duration of time, I plan to prepare things like couscous, pasta sides, etc during an afternoon stop when I’m not too hungry. This way it will be ready for me when I reach camp.
My kitchen will include a spork and an empty PB2 jar. I chose this jar for a couple of reasons:
- Source of containment for hydrating meals
- Cup if I want/need one.
- Having the secure lid will also double as a waterproof container if needed.
- Easy to dump the PB in a plastic bag and eat later/able to replace without having to eat all contents
- Easy to clean
- Slimmer than a regular PB jar so it’s easier to drink from.
Going stoveless is not for everyone. As with any dietary restriction or decision on meals -it’s just a preference.
HMU if you have any bomb, stoveless “Must-try” snacks or meals. You can find me on most things as @jengid95
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i did the Georgia end of the AT. ABOUT 30 YEARS BACK I HAD WAY OVER PACKED ON MY FIRST HIKE WITH 150 LBS PACK LOL I WAS A NEW BE AND IT WAS ROUGH LOL HAVE FUN FRIEND IM Kenneth Calhoun on face book look me up if you want to talk hiking more friend
Thank you for writing this. I am planning to do NOBO this spring and food is my latest focus. Your list of food gives me great home that I may not starve on the trail without a stove.
Totally agree! Me too 🙂
When I start hiking I can see me going no stove. Cold pizza and chinese food rule. Ty for the post and good info.
The only thing I dislike about this stovless movement is that there is always that one at the shelter when it gets super cold that asks, ‘hey would you mind boiling some water for me?’ Yeah bro I do mind. I have enough fuel to make it to resupply. Go start a fire.
I decided to go stoveless on my thru hike attempt in 2015. I was happy with the decision all but a few times. I had started with a jar for rehydrating while hiking but quickly found that using a ziploc worked better for me. I would mix in the ziploc then set the bag inside a titanium mug and put it in an outside pocket of my pack just in case of spills. When it is time to eat just open the bag and roll the top over the edge of the mug and it keeps the bag open and easier to eat out of. After the meal, no cleaning required just seal it up and put it in my trash bag. Why the titanium mug, well sometimes you are just going to want a hot meal. As a lightweight alternative to a stove, you can heat up water at a campfire at a shelter or campsite when opportunity presents itself. Also a great idea to always have a mug capable of holding hot food or drink if you happen upon some trail magic. I brought the lid to the mug but never used it. I still use the same system today but leave the lid behind.
I use the old army method of keeping foil packs of food in warm spots under my cloths. That way its not cold when I eat it. Some foods like curried red beans are just not appealing when ice cold.
Its not so simple.
Just for future reference, stoves are illegal during fire bans…
I would love to go stoveless but I enjoy my hot cup of coffee in the morning. I also don’t eat many carbs ( paleo diet) so not crazy about cold dehydrated yams, etc. My solution to light weight is a titanium esbit stand and titanium small cook pot.
Thank you so much for these insights… I absolutely love cooking and what I got sad about is that dehydrated meals is pretty much anything I can eat if I wanna keep the weight low – and it just tastes always very similar. Considering winter and the cold it makes total sense to me not to bring a stove. I think I’ll go for the PB2 jar as well and then consider getting a stove once it warms up and once it’s actually nice sitting outside. Thank you, really!