What’s in My Pack? The Kitchen Edition

To carry a stove or go stoveless? I don’t see why you should have to commit to one or the other. There have been times when a warm meal was great comfort at the end of the day and other times when I was too tired to cook. My stove setup is light enough that it’s worth it for me to carry even if I don’t use it some nights. I’m going to start out carrying my full trail kitchen but will probably bounce it ahead when I’m feeling lazy about cooking. 

Talenti jar

1.8 oz*

The main purpose of this jar for me is to make a calorie-dense protein/dessert shake after dinner. The wide mouth of the jar is easier to pour powders into than a Smartwater bottle and also makes for easier cleanup. The size is perfect for storage of the ingredients of the shake. The second thing I can do with this jar is experiment with cold-soaking, which I’ve never tried before. 

This gear piece came with a bonus snack.

Toaks titanium pot

4 oz

Just a standard titanium pot.


0.8 oz

Tip: get a clear lighter so you know how much fuel you have left. If all you’re using it for is lighting your stove once or twice a day, a standard sized lighter will last for.ev.er.

Esbit tablets

0.7 oz each

These things smell like a combination of fish and crap but they’re a really excellent, and relatively underused, fuel source. I’m able to get water boiled for one to two dinners out of each tablet depending on wind conditions. Once it’s used up there’s nothing left to pack out, unlike canister fuel. It’s easy to light and there’s no risk of fuel leakage in your pack. As long as you light it on nonflammable surfaces, the fire danger is minimal — the flame burns clean, there are no sparks, and no risk of explosion. To extinguish the flame, just blow it out like a big birthday candle; it will be cool enough to handle in less than 30 seconds. Tablets that are mostly burned up can be placed on top of new ones so no fuel is wasted. The biggest con is that not many people use Esbit so finding fuel in hiker boxes and stores is a rare occurrence. If this is your fuel of choice, you will probably have to mail them to yourself.

Esbit folding stove with mostly used fuel tablet. New tablets in foreground.

Esbit folding stove

0.5 oz

This light and compact stove holds one of the above mentioned tablets and holds a backpacking pot right above the flame. It’s sturdy as long as you place it on a relatively even surface.

Esbit folding stove folded up and stored in the windscreen. So compact.

Antigravity Gear freezer bag cozy

1.4 oz

The freezer bag method of cooking works best for me. It reduces fuel consumption and makes for easy cleanup with less water usage. Bring your water to a boil, pour it in a freezer bag, and wait until it cooks or rehydrates your meal. This freezer bag cozy has a heat-reflective lining that keeps the meal piping hot while it cooks. Important: there’s a difference between sandwich bags and freezer bags — sandwich bags will melt if you pour boiling water in them. Here’s a helpful article on freezer bag cooking; this site also has tons of great recipes. http://www.trailcooking.com/trail-cooking-101/freezer-bag-cooking-101/ The biggest drawback to freezer bag cooking is the wait time, which can be up to 20 minutes. I use the time that food is rehydrating/cooking to set up my tent and get my sleeping bag lofting. The tree hugger in me feels guilty about wasting so many plastic bags (I use few to none IRL) but I just remind myself that I’m not driving a car or using electricity for five months so I’ve done my penance. Also, I reuse zipper bags as much as possible — dirty ones that have cooked dinner get reused as trash bags for used toilet paper and clean bags that were used to store trail mix and other dry foods get reused until they get holes.


0.5 oz

I just use aluminum foil. It’s light and sturdy but needs to be replaced every month or so.

Loksak Opsak 

1.3 oz

This odor-locking bag is a lightweight way to keep food and toiletries from enticing critters to gnaw through your pack. The bag holds about five days of food in addition to toiletries and trail kitchen. The tall shape is perfect for storing in any pack. The zipper eventually stops sealing so I’ll probably go through a few of these over 2,600 miles, but they’re relatively cheap.


Magellan Titanium Spork

0.5 oz

I like this spork but wish I could have found it with a longer handle.

Gerber Paraframe Mini

1.4 oz

It just has one blade, which can be used for multiple things. I’ll probably mostly use it for cutting open avocados and slicing dried sausage.

Peep my LighterPack here and keep an eye out for the rest of my gear posts.

*All weight has been rounded to the nearest tenth of an ounce.

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Comments 4

  • jim : Apr 6th

    Thanks for posting these mini-breakdowns of your gear. You’ve turned me onto a couple of items I had not known about. I was curious, since you use Esbit, have you ever tried just small twigs/wood as a fuel? I’ve used Esbit but not from a light-backing form of stove, so I’m going to have to check this out. Again, thanks for sharing! Looking forward to reading about your hike!

    • Sarah Camacho : Apr 6th

      Hi Jim. I used to own an Emberlit Fireant woodburning stove. I liked it because it folded down flat and for the free fuel aspect of it. However, trying to light twigs was a real pain and it left lots of residue on my pot. Also, it’s more of a fire hazard which I will have to be careful about on the west coast. Only I can prevent forest fires. 😉 I think woodburning stoves are more common on the AT. It’s not a bad option! Thanks for following along.

  • Leo (YERMO) Adam : Apr 8th

    Right you are about the fires. AND especially in the San Gabriels –Section D, ALL fires from any source may NOT be ALLOWED. Was that way last year and so far, our rainfall here has been even worse than 2017. BTW I started trying cold soaking Ramen a few months ago. Now only way I like it! I tighten it up w/ Raisins or Fritoes / Totopos ; or other goodies . Dee-LISH. Something to consider? BTW Fritos are 160 cal per oz. Very calorie dense? Que no?

    • Camacho : Apr 8th

      Leo, yeah I’m excited about experimenting with cold soaking. In the desert, a hot meal may not always be appetizing. 160 calories per ounce is excellent! The ingredients in Fritos are also great: corn, corn oil, and salt. No weird stuff like other chips.


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