The Inevitable Gear Lists! Part 4: Hydration and Cook Systems

Welcome back to my gear list series! Give yourself a pat on the back for hanging in there this long. I firmly believe if you’ve made it through the first three, you just might have what it takes to make it to Katahdin.


One of the things you should know about me is that I’m a foodie. Cooking is one of my most cherished creative outlets. It is my hope to avoid a single honey bun or ramen bomb for the entire 2200 miles. So I’ve probably spent more time thinking about this part of my pack than anything else.

HYDRATION: Sawyer Squeeze, Cnoc 2L bag, 2 Smart Water bottles (1L & 24oz sport bottle)

Why I chose it/why I like it: I picked the Squeeze years ago after reading some reviews, and I’ve been really pleased with it. I ditched the bags that come with the filter because they were harder to squeeze and I wanted something with a wide opening to make filling faster, easier, and more adaptable to a variety of situations. If necessary, I have the capacity to carry almost four liters of water. That’s more than enough for the AT, but it allows me to save time in my morning routine. I can collect enough water for dinner and breakfast in one trip. I am already pretty slow to break camp in the morning, so anywhere I can shave a few minutes is a blessing.

COOK SYSTEM: Jetboil Minimo, Sea to Summit long-handled titanium spork, GSI Infinity mug, homemade pot cozy.

Why I chose it/why I like it: my Jetboil gets a lot of miles, on and off the trail. When I go car camping, it goes with me, too, along with the French  press accessory. I really like the stability of the system. Yes, it is heavy, and I have my eyes on the Stash, but it wasn’t in the budget to upgrade this year.

“But Tdee, you have a mug. Isn’t that redundant?”

Yes and no. Could I drink out of my pot, or its attaching bowl? Yes, I could. I have developed a system that employs all my kit at one time. At camp, I boil my water. When it boils, I add some to my mug for hot cocoa, some to my freezer bag meal du jour, and tuck it away to rehydrate. While that is going on, I use part of the rest of the hot water to clean my hands so I can remove my contacts, and the rest I pour on a bandanna to give my feet a rejuvenating sauna bath. When my food is ready, I use the bowl to just hold the freezer bag, no dirty dishes aside from the mug, which only sees hot cocoa and coffee. In the morning, as I’m packing up, I will throw a couple coffee sticks in my mug and hang it on my pack so that when I’m ready for a midday coffee nap, a hack I picked up from a previous thru hiker, I won’t have to stop and dig into my pack. I don’t even have to take my pack off. It’s a couple ounces of convenience and efficiency for me.

FOOD STORAGE: Sea to Summit 20L Evac dry bag, Cloud Gear rock bag, 50ft of reflective line, small carabiner.

Why I chose it/why I like it: My baby hiker self had an REI gift card, which is how much of my Sea to Summit gear came into my life. I had thought about switching to a DCF bag, the difference in weight and water resistance is negligible. However, while I was out on my LASH, my bag stood out in a sea of blue bags in bear boxes and lines. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I did upgrade to the Cloud Gear rock bag from whatever silnylon bag I had before. So far so good. It’s compact and is easier for me to get up in a tree. I can use all the help there I can get!

Before you ask…

My starting base weight is somewhere around 23lbs. Meg is just shy of 32lbs with a four-day food bag and full consumables. Not bad for winter weight! I am aware of places where I could easily cut almost five pounds from my kit if I had the money to replace a few things. Maybe for my next hike!

I do have to give a shout-out to Backcountry Foodie for helping me keep my food weight down by focusing on calorie to weight ratio. Her website is a treasure trove of great nutritional and food strategy education.

That’s it for my gear series! Amicalola, I will see you soon!

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 3

  • Drsolarmolar : Feb 11th

    Agree Backcountry Foodie is a great resource. Been a member there since almost the beginning. It’s a few bucks to become a member, but if you’re spending thousands on gear and a hike, a small investment in learning about better nutrition is worth it. And the recipes are great!

  • Butthole : Feb 11th

    Did ya just cut down a cherry tree do u could take a valley vista photo shoot??? Lolz


What Do You Think?