RideEatCamp

Our cook kit for bicycle touring

Europe, Gear

Over the years I’ve made changes to most pieces of equipment we use for bicycle touring. From toothpaste to tent stakes, everything is open for scrutiny. Nothing is safe from the wary eye of the gear nerd. If there’s a way to further optimize and refine the pack list, I’m game to experiment.

Our simple cook kit complete with new windscreen cone but our old alcohol stove.
Our simple cook kit complete with new windscreen cone but our old alcohol stove.

Our cook kit however has managed to evade replacement since our 2007 trip to New Zealand. What gives? There’s got to be plenty of ways to take food prep from drab to fab. What about a bigger knife? Or how about toting a custom spice supply?

Maybe it’s just us, but when we’re riding several hours every day, day after day, the last thing on our minds when we roll into camp is how we’re going to prepare a four-course meal. The only thing we worry about is how quickly we can get food into our mouths. Meals with a few ingredients that cook quickly, or don’t need cooking, take priority.

With our simple needs a simple cook kit is all that’s needed. Here’s what we brought to New Zealand:

You see that list? No sporks! Sporks are terrible. So are plastic utensils. We broke or melted several during the trip. Then we came upon a good metal spoon—in fact the best metal spoon on the planet. A pair of them stash in the pot, weigh little, and do a fabulous job scooping and scraping.

This is the same kit we’ll be using when we depart for Europe in May, except I’ve finally found room for improvement. While functional, the wind screen and pot stand have never been above average. The pot stand isn’t stable and the wind screen doesn’t live up to its name. Our original stove singed a picnic table in Iceland because the flame kept getting bullied by the breeze bellowing through the poor excuse for our windscreen. The stand and screen have stayed employed however because they never complain. But at their age they’re hearing the trumpet calls from the great recycling bin in the sky. It’s time for the young and the shiny to take their place.

While it looks like a windscreen, it sure doesn't act like one.
While it looks like a windscreen, it sure doesn’t act like one.

So today, with old man Internet providing me insight, I made a new pot stand and windscreen cone a la the Trail Designs Sidewinder. The cone took two attempts to get right and cost me about $15 in material. I have enough material for three more cones. Three bucks a cone is a fine price for an upgrade. I’d have to pony up far more for the commercial version, which while made from titanium, includes a bunch of other stuff I don’t want.

The new windscreen cone also supports the pot about an inch above the alcohol stove. This setup should be an excellent upgrade.
The new windscreen cone also supports the pot about an inch above the alcohol stove. This setup should be an excellent upgrade.

I also decided to replace my homemade cat food can stove with something that doesn’t look like a stove made from cat food cans. The Zelph Starlyte is neat and compact and efficient. And since it’s slimmer than the cat can stove, I was able to make my new cone short enough so that it can fit rolled up inside the pot. Even though I’ll lose some gear nerd street cred for using a commercial stove, I’ll always think fondly of the meals I prepared over the cat can’s unruly flame.

With the changes made to the cook kit, you’d think that I’d finally covered everything. But alas dear readers, you’re mistaken. Next time I’m going to talk tools. Like painting the Golden Gate Bridge, my work is never done.