Cold Soaking: A Day in the Life

Cold soaking is the culinary art of backpacking without a stove (see also, stoveless).  While most hikers choose to carry a device with which they can cook a meal with (mainly just to heat up hot water), some choose to forgo this luxury.  This saves weight/space in my pack, simplifying meals and resupplies in town. 

My bowl is a 24 ounce peanut butter jar.  Accompanied with a long spoon, this universal bowl is all a stoveless hiker needs in his or her kitchen. 


The first meal of the day.  The most important meal of the day.  Two bags of oatmeal and a sprinkle of whatever else may be in my food bag; chocolate chips, dried fruit, granola, a third bag of oats.  I’ll prepare this the night before so in the morning all I have to do is add water and start walking.  A hot tea or cuppa joe can be enjoyed at the local coffee shop in town.  Walking has never failed in warming me up or waking me up and I will continue to rely on this technique to start my days. 

Quaker Oats, appropriate for a pilgrimage.


Bars.  Bars.  Chips.  Bars.  Lunch is usually a collection of snacks for me.  I’ve been known to throw a bar in a wrap with miscellaneous toppings.  A Pop-Tart is commonly consumed around this time.  Favorite flavors in no particular order: cookies n’ cream, blueberry, s’mores, wild berry, brown sugar.  Handful of dried fruit, Triscuits, corn chips, chocolate chips, protein bar.  It’s all more or less picked at.

A little bit of everything. Fritos are a good topping, too, and add a different dimension


The top reason most hikers choose to carry a stove; to enjoy a well-earned, hot meal at the end of a long day full of ups and downs.  Meh.  At the end of the day, I just want food and nourishment, who cares if it’s hot.  Spoiler; it’s not.  For the last month, I have been all aboard the couscous train but am no stranger to the ramen bomb (ramen and instant potato flakes — extremely cheap, high in calories, pile o’ mush). 

Just add water to this strange cereal of a pasta and watch as the crunchy little nuggets grow to twice their size, softening in the process.  Or put the bowl back in your pack and hike on.  Dinner will be ready whenever you decide to drop the bag and set up camp for the night.  One tortilla is always used to make a burrito, adding sauces and spices accordingly.  Like Grandma Gatewood always said, “Everything tastes better in a wrap!”

Food so nice they named it twice.


A deep selection of snacks is important for any thru-hiker.  Be prepared. 

ABS.  Always Be Saucin.  Check gas stations and grocery store delis for packets. 

Pack out fruit and vegetables for the first couple of days out of town. 

Make sure to eat a real, hot meal in when in town.  If not two. 

One of the last ramen bombs I was able to enjoy. Avocado and sweet and sour sauce helped


“We don’t go into the wilderness to exhibit our skills at gourmet cooking.  We go into the wilderness to get away from the kind of people who think gourmet cooking is important.”

— Edward Abbey


Currently sitting at the only open restaurant in Encampment, WY, enjoying one of those warm town meals for breakfast.  Next stop, Rawlins.  Thanks for reading!

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