How do you cook food on a hike?

Jetboil minimo vs jetboil flash

To cook food on a hike, you need a camping stove, fuel, and a ready-to-eat meal that requires water and a long-handled spoon. Place the water into your cooking stove and heat, then add to your ready-to-eat meal and seal. Once the cooking time has passed, use a long-handled spoon to eat from the pouch.

I enjoy getting out into the outdoors regularly, and as a Chef, I love to cook good food while hiking and camping. In this article, I will go into more detail on how to cook food while hiking. I will give you information on what I use while hiking and give you tips and advice to cook better food while hiking.

How To Cook on a Hike?

Cooking while on a hike should be as simple and quick as possible. When hiking, you don’t want to carry a lot of extra weight, but it’s great if you can carry enough to cook a quick meal while you stop off and enjoy your surroundings.

When cooking on a hike, you have many options for cooking equipment and foods you can bring. You mostly want to concentrate on cutting weight while still having nutritious and tasty food.

Whenever possible, I always try to bring fresh food that I can cook in one pot. Ready-to-eat meals are perfectly fine; I just prefer cooking my own food. This advantage is that you know what is in your food, and you can tailor the recipe to your tastes.

The first thing to consider when hiking is what stove you will use to cook your food. In the following section, I will discuss different options.

how do you cook food on a hike
Jetboil Perfect for Hiking

Camping Stoves

When hiking, keeping weight down is very important, so you will want to go with a camping stove that is a one-pot system. You want a one-pot system where you can nest all the components into each other, saving space.

I choose a one-pot system because the food I tend to cook on a hike works perfectly for one-pot cooking. Using one pot also means I don’t have to bring a bowl or plate, as I tend to eat the food from the pot.

The two cooking systems I would recommend for hiking are Gas Stove and Spirit Stove.

Read my article on the Jetboil Minimo vs the Jetboil Flash. Two fantastic camping stoves for hiking.

Gas Stove for Hiking

A one-pot cooking system with gas and burner is perfect for getting your food cooked quick and easy. A gas stove for hiking is going to be the fasted method of heating your food and also the most efficient.

With some gas stoves for hiking, you can control the level of heat the burner produces, which is great for simmering and boiling. You want to aim for this, giving you more control when cooking your hiking food.

If you are going to go ready to eat-meal route, then a gas stove for hiking is an ideal way to get that water boiled as fast as possible.

Some gas stoves I would recommend for hiking is the classic Jetboil Stove or the MSR Pocket Rocket Stove Kit.

Spirit Stove for Hiking

The benefit of using a spirit stove is that it cuts down on the weight you have to carry. It doesn’t necessarily mean you save space, as the pot you carry will tend to be the same or similar size as a gas stove pot.

To cook with a spirit burner, you will need a burner, fuel (alcohol normally), a pot stand and a windbreaker.

Cooking with a spirit burner, you gain the option of carrying less weight. Still, you lose the advantage of being able to control the heat produced.

trangia fuel spirit burner

With most spirit burners, you can’t simmer unless you use a Trangia Spirit Burner with a simmer ring. It takes a little longer to boil water, and you normally have to remove any remaining fuel after use before packing it away.

Spirit burners have their place and are a really fun way of heating your meals while hiking. They are perfect if all you want to do is bring water to a boil and you are not pushed for time.

A big advantage is that they are quiet compared to gas burners.

What Food To Bring Hiking

When hiking, you are burning up many calories and stopping off to cook a quick meal is a great way to refuel the end leg of your trek.

You want to pack foods that are quick to cook to save on fuel and time. If you want to bring pasta or rice with you, a top tip is to cook it at home and reheat it in your cooking pot.

You want a good source of carbs to replenish your energy stores. Add some protein and dried veg, and you have a great meal.

An example of a meal I would normally tend to bring would be quick stir-fried rice. I would bring precooked rice, frozen peas, diced cooked ham, prawn and cooked egg. I would mix some dark soya sauce with the rice while cold, pop my precooked meats and egg into my cooking pot, and then add my rice. I add a little bit of water to create some steam, and I place a lid and allow it to reheat.

It’s a great quick meal and is ready in no time.

Packing Your Hiking Food

When packing your hiking food, you want to precook food when possible. If you want to save all the hassle of precooking, get yourself a ready-to-eat meal. These meals require adding boiling water and come in plenty of flavours.

Pack your ingredients into resealable bags that you can take home and reuse. Using dry ingredients is a great way to pack your meals with flavour. Ingredients like Sundried Tomatoes, Dried seaweed or Dehydrated vegetables rehydrate well in a hiking cook pot.

Be adventurous and try different meals. Also, bring small quantities of spices or hot sauce to add a splash of flavour.

Water For Cooking

When hiking, water is your main priority. You will need plenty of water to drink while hiking, and if you cook, you will also require extra water. This is why I prefer to cook fresh because the water I use to cook my food goes into me.

If you are using ready meals that require adding water to the packet, that’s great. I wouldn’t recommend hiking meals where you place the packet into the hot water to heat it and then throw away the water; such a waste.

The one good thing about ready-to-eat meals is that you have less clean up; just remember to bring your rubbish home.

If you are cooking in a pot with fresh ingredients, make sure you use just water to clean all the sticky bits from the pot, then drink it, so you don’t waste it. Trust me; it will taste delicious.

Once you get home, give your cooking pot a good clean and prepare for your next hike.

Essential Hiking Cooking Equipment

The items you need to take with you when hiking and which I would consider essential are:

  • Hiking Cooking Stove
  • Stove Fuel
  • Long Handles Spoon for Stirring and Eating.
  • Water & Food
  • Spices & Sauces

This would be my list of recommendations for how to cook food while hiking. Cooking should be enjoyable, so keep it as simple as possible, especially when hiking.

Try out simple recipes and create flavours you love and enjoy while out on the hike.

Never look down your nose at ramen noodles. They are a great foundation for a fantastic meal; just make sure to add plenty of protein and veg and spice it up.

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