The decision whether to cook for oneself or not is not as easy as it sounds. Some bike tourers don’t cook and survive on ‘ready to eat’ items from a supermarket. To cook = an insane amount of gear you need to carry with you!
Here is a somewhat condensed version:
- A stove
- Stove fuel
- Fuel container
- Dish cloth
- Tea towel
- Water filter
- Water carriers
- Pots & fry pan
- Coffee Plunger
- Kitchen utensils
- Chopping block
- Swiss army knife
- Herbs & spices
- Washing up bowl
- Basic pantry items
- Plates, bowls, mugs & cutlery
Let alone the ACTUAL food that you plan on cooking.
So why would one who is travelling with very limited space even consider such a thing? Well because it’s bloody good fun and very satisfying cooking on a teeny hiking stove! I am not a fan of cooking, in fact I am quite challenged in the kitchen at the best of times, but coupled with a raging cyclists hunger, I don’t mind so much when touring.
So we obviously ‘need’ all these things. What type are we going to get? The mess kit was a no brainer. I left plastic bowls, plates and mugs behind me when I left my childhood years and have no intention of going back there. Growing up with an afternoon cup of tea served in a plastic mug, ugh, never again. So that left stainless steel- way too heavy, aluminium- dents and looks pretty yuk after a while or TITANIUM!!!! Whoohoo, we love this stuff. It’s super tough, lightweight and has a nice look and feel about it.
Our cooking utensils are a mismatch of op-shop items, out-door shops and bits and pieces from home. Over all
I’m pretty happy with it. I’ve tweaked a few things along the way such as the cutting board which is now thicker and smaller than the previous one.
The stove, came on a recommendation of Travelling two’s Bike Touring Survival Guide. Our MSR Whisperlite Internationale is a neat little stove. Granted, it has 2 settings, Off or Blast Furnace, but we are slowly getting the hang of it.
The pots and pans are on version 2.0. Our first kit was a cheap Chinese Teflon coated Aluminium set. After our first 2 week tour one of the handles fell off, but more worrying, was the fact that the Teflon started to peel. We didn’t see the need to ingest Teflon flakes with our meals so have since purchased a MSR Stainless steel 2 pot set and fry pan.
Our S’well thermos is probably one of the most loved items in our kit, as it is pure comfort to make a cuppa first thing in the morning (we fill it up at night) and during our daily lunchtime roadside picnics. It is a small and thin thermos, perfect for a front pannier, but big enough to fill our two Snowpeak double wall mugs. FYI double wall mugs = no burns, just a nice warmth as you cup it in both hands on a cold morning 🙂
A fairly recent purchase has been a Fire Maple aluminium table. It folds flat and is lightweight at 378g but can hold 15kg. The main reason I got it is that when you are cooking and there is no table available then all your food etc has to sit on the ground. I’m not too fussed about the dirt, however, if that ground is very rocky or uneven it can make things rather difficult with items falling over. Even though the table measures only 360mm x 250mm it is big enough to keep all your ingredients close by. I initially had my eye on a Snowpeak table that is very similar but cost about $100 more than the Fire Maple!
Of course getting all this gear clean after cooking up a storm is a piece of cake with our Sea to Summit Kitchen 5 litre sink and nifty Scrubr dish cloth!
One of the million dollar questions you perhaps don’t want to get wrong is “How much water do we need to carry?” Andrew and I both have 2 drink bottles on our bikes which equals about 1 1/2 liters each. I then also carry a large soft drink bottle underneath in my Oversize Bidon cage.
We learned on our very first day of riding that it’s essential that these be filled to the brim at every opportunity. We also have 2 x Sea to Summit 4 liter water carriers. These we fill and strap on top of our rack packs, one each. We found that with everything full (12+ liters) we can spend one night wild camping. This is only sufficient for drinking, cooking and dishes. It excludes a wash down which can be a bit hard especially if the weather is hot. We do have a Katadyn Hiker Pro water filter with us in case of emergency, but of course you still need to find the water in the first place before you can filter it. Much better to plan ahead a little bit and make sure everything is filled up when you can.