Escape and Evasion Kit: Bug Out Cooking Gear

B.O.B. Cooking Equipment

Recently I’ve been searching for an alternative for the humble Billy can. Something that is lightweight, smaller and easier to control when pouring, that would suit my Bug Out kit. I believe I’ve come across two great alternatives in the MSR and Snow Peak brands.

  • ��������������������� MSR Titan Kettle
  • ��������������������� Snow Peak Trek Combo

In terms of sizes the Titan holds 0.85 litres, while the Trek Combo holds 1.0 litres (large) and 0.6 litres (small). The main difference in using the two sets, are that the Titan uses a lid, making for a faster boil. The Treks come in a set of two with fry pans instead of lids. So boil time is longer, but the frying pans can be used as plates as well as for frying. Having two pots that fit together, enables you to cook different meal combinations at the same time. While also reducing the amount of space required for storage. Or boiling water for purification needs and cuppa’s at the same time as preparing a meal.

Having the collapsible handles on the sides makes the pots of either brand very user friendly, for storage and pouring. Leather gloves would be a good accessory to remember or a trangia pot holder. The materials used are Titanium in the MSR brand or a choice of Titanium, Aluminum or Oxide treated in the Snow Peak models.

Snow Peak also make several neat (I don�t believe I used the term neat) accessories that fit snuggly into either option. These are an insulated titanium mug and chopstick set.

The Mug also has collapsible handles allowing it to fit inside of either model chosen. Being double walled provides better insulation to keep drinks hot and reducing burnt lip syndrome usually associated with steel cups.

I gave up on (knife/fork/spoon) combinations, as I was always loosing one or another of the modules needed to lock them together. The only heavy duty versions that I found available were ex Russian military models. The fork and spoon were tolerable but the knife seemed only good for spreading butter. I�m still trying to figure out how to use the tin opener.

I found it easier to use a wooden spoon as a combination eating utensil and cooking implement. Then for chunkier food items, use chopsticks. These are a great item to have as they unscrew and fold up into one another. The handles are made from stainless steel and for lack of a better description, the mouth pieces are made from Birch. They collapse from 8 3/4 inches to 4 1/2 inches. Enabling them to be stored inside the pots or to be hung from around the neck in the pouch supplied.

I generally compliment these tools with a Spyderco Featherweight FB-101 worn in a cross draw position that I always seem to end up using as my camp knife. However for the purpose of a BOB set up where it needs to be in storage for extended periods, I�ve swapped this for a small skeletal neck knife. In lower hygienic circumstances skeletal grips are much easier to keep clean reducing the risk of contamination from bacteria.

As to which I would pick of the brands available. If I were trying to include only minimal equipment in an emergency kit and eat straight from the pot, I would choose the MSR Titan kettle. As I wouldn�t mind roughing it for a few days with only one pot and having a lid to boil faster would have advantages at above sea level altitudes.

�However my camping gear and bob gear are fast becoming one and the same.� When I take off for a weekend it�s usually spur of the moment and unplanned, heading in a different direction each time to simulate a possible bug out scenario. This is generally a lot more fun and interesting. I�m finding the more I do this it isn�t so much the speed of packing but comfort that is becoming a critical area.

Most of the packing has already been pre-prepared or can be done within minutes, as all my equipment is ultra lightweight. Setting up camp takes very little time after a routine has been established. I�m finding the more often I do this and the longer I spend out. The little things of adding comfort make a lot of difference to enjoying the experience. Such as using self inflating mattresses instead of foam ground pads. The newer models on the market add very little weight when compared to high density foam.

My deciding factors came down to out of six of the larger camping stores in the city that I live, none of them stocked MSR and only one was willing to place an order for the Titan kettle taking three months to arrive, which made it an internet order. Internet orders are great when buying more than one item at a time, from the same company as the price usually is cheaper than retail and available within ten days. However when purchasing limited quantities, the price of postage can be excessive and add too much to the cost of some things depending on the method of shipping used. Of the same six stores only one stocked Snow Peak. Two of them had never even heard of either brand. (I won�t be returning to those two stores).

I choose the Trek Combo in Aluminum as several people warned me that titanium heated up quicker, burning food if not watched closely. (I have a habit of not watching pots).� Two pots are definitely a comfort item when cooking as I enjoy a hot cup of tea after breakfast.

�Not having a lid only really matters at high elevations. Cooking at sea level I prefer not to use lids as I always seem to boil over food onto the fire otherwise. This gives me a plate or bowl that will fit together with the cooking gear. Incorporating a strap or storage bag holds everything together nicely.

The only other modification is to the wooden spoon. Requiring a long handle to cook with, won�t allow it to fit into the pots. So I�m trying to find a fitter and turner that can cut the spoon in half and fit a stainless male /female thread in the same way the chopsticks work, or a stainless ferrule connecter from fishing rods allowing me to also fit this into the pot setup. I don�t want to use chrome dipped materials as I�m not sure if toxins will leach out during heating.

I gave up on modifying the wooden spoon, due to complexity and cost of the people I approached. I ended up finding a spork on a search of the internet, entirely by accident that suited my requirements of being collapsible. Made by Brunton and constructed in a titanium material with a folding stainless handle. Cost is about $15 US, I didn�t buy direct from the company due to limited freight options. Luckily I checked the postage, as I nearly paid $80 US in shipping costs on top of the product price.

�I found a company in New Zealand that is a dealer for Brunton at $39 NZ where I received exceptional service which I�m finding from several New Zealand stores I�ve been doing business with lately or Amazon is also another good choice to deal through depending on location.

Sea to Summit bring out a similar product but with or with out the fork end for $19AUD. When going ultra light weight I use the spork but when using in conjunction with the chopsticks I tend to stick with the standard spoon version as I tend to stick myself in the tongue when not concentrating.

While researching homemade coffee can cookers I had another good find with a Little Bug cook stove. The advantages of coffee can style cook stoves are they act like a chimney increasing heat to shorten the boil time and reducing the amount of fuel required. In a tactical situation this can also reduce the heat signature and amount of smoke.

�I was planning to make my own version from a large coffee tin but found the bottoms eventually burn out and I wanted something that would last a decent length of time and fold up for easy storage while traveling. The Little Bug is made from stainless steel and definitely made to last. It�s available in two different sizes 9 inches high by 8 inches diameter or the junior model which I purchased in a 6 inch high by 5.5 inch diameter. They can be used with either an alcohol fuel burner, the same as a trangia or with firewood. I like the idea behind a dual fuel feature for fire ban areas and national parks. This also allows it to be used inside tent awnings, on bench tops in buildings and vehicles.

There are several different designs for coffee style cookers on the internet each with their own advantages and disadvantages. In the way they funnel the smoke or feed the fuel into the cooker. The Little Bug allows you to feed fuel straight into the top of the fire without removing the pot as it is held above the firebox. This provides the chimney feature so holes aren�t required in the back of the main structure.

Not having a base allows the frame to be pushed into the soil slightly to provide better balance if on uneven ground and aids in clean up of the ashes which can be scattered. I choose the smaller version for inclusion in my bug out bag however if using for extended periods for camping trips, I would probably prefer to purchase the next size up to use with larger pots or for use inside a small tipi.

I have long been a fan of Trangia stoves, who make a very nice accessory called a Multi Disc. This can be used as a colander (strainer), a lid to prevent a pot cooling too fast, chopping board and serving tray. These come in two sizes; I use the larger model for my Sigg Trangia and the smaller size just suits the Snow Peak pots in diameter for use as a cutting board. Not really a necessity but I�ve seen too many people come back from camping trips doing more running than hiking if you know what I mean, from low hygienic conditions.

Which comes to the next product on my list, soap not usually mentioned in bug out cookware but essential in the washing of dishes and cutlery to remove bacteria. Sea to Summit make pocket soap leaves in a container about the size of a match box. These are non scented and come in a box of 50. The advantages are no sticky mess after using one cake and no possible leaks as with liquid detergents and can last up to 100 washes.

Something I don�t like doing in the field is washing cookware in a stream not only to prevent pollution but also possible contamination. Sea to Summit also makes the little sink which solves this problem. Its collapsible, comes in three sizes 5, 10, and 20 litres. The 5 litre model fits nicely into my set up and can also be used as a bucket, a hard to find or make piece of equipment in the scrub.

While researching light weight cook gear on back packer sites I�ve discovered that I�m becoming a gadget junkie. Light My Fire which is usually associated with good quality ferrocium rods has started to sell accessories that are interesting enough to check out although not a necessity for bob cook sets. While ordering a small fire steel to keep as a back up in my cook ware I came across a purpose designed meal kit consisting of bowl/plate, spork, cup, strainer/cutting board, multi purpose storage container.

My main interest lay in the bowl/plate combo as I usually eat straight out of the pots when traveling light. Not really a necessity but my bob and camping gear are gradually becoming the same. So as long as any gadgets stay light weight, multi purpose and easily packed I don�t mind small additions that add to comfort while testing different set up combinations.

Cook Set Contents

���� Snow Peak Trek Combo Pots

���� Little Bug Stove (junior)

���� Snow Peak 600 double walled Mug

���� Snow Peak Chopsticks

���� Sea to Summit Titanium Spoon

������������ Spyderco� Featherweight FB-101 or skeletal neck knife

���� P-38 Can Openers x 2

������������ Wooden Cooking Spoon

���� MSR or GSI folding spatula

������������ Trangia Multi Disc (cutting board and drainer)

������������ Collapsible wash bowl

������������ Biodegradable Detergent leaves

���� Fire Steel Sml

 

Links

MSR Cook Ware

http://www.msrcorp.com/cookware/

Snow Peak Cook Ware

http://www.snowpeak.com/gears/gear.htm

Gear shop NZ (Brunton Sporks)

http://www.gearshop.co.nz/cart_products149-1.html

Little Bug Stoves

http://www.littlbug.com/

Backpacker Stove link page

http://zenstoves.net/LinksCommercial.htm#CommercialStoves

GSI Cook Ware

http://www.gsioutdoors.com/

Trangia Cook Ware

http://www.trangia.se/english/2916.start.html

Sea to Summit

http://www.seatosummit.com.au/home.php

Light My Fire

http://www.light-my-fire.se/engines/page___390.aspx

Backpacker Gear Test Reviews

http://www.backpackgeartest.org/