You wish you could pack this light.
Introduction: Back-country enthusiast, lifetime rider, mountaineer, hiker, and outdoor retailer, Jayson Faulkner, offers advice to save wayward adventure motorcyclists from being buried under an avalanche… of their own gear! Here’s how to travel light without forgoing comfort be it for a weekend or for months on the road. This week the evil that is cooking.
Unless you’ve come over all Survivor Man and feel like a steady diet of twigs, berries and grubs, once you’re Sleep System is sorted your next need is food and the sacred ability to brew up in the morning. There’s nothing like a steaming cup of coffee on a storm-cleared morning, air fresh with pine and a full day of adventure ahead. Again those fanatical mountaineers have brought us a smorgasbord of options.
Stoves: Burn Baby, Burn! Or Just Simmer
Stoves generally fall into two categories – white gas stoves or butane canister stoves. I strongly recommend the butane canister stoves unless you’re traveling third world countries, where an unpredictable and varied supply of white gas, kerosene or diesel is all you have. For such adventures there are excellent multi-fuel stoves, but for North America and most places around the world the canister stoves are a better choice.
Canister stoves are very lightweight, small and offer excellent flame control so you won’t burn your pancakes! Some of these miniature marvels are so efficient that they can boil a litre of water in 2 minutes, on a whiff of gas so slight that one small 227 g canister can boil 7-8 litres of water (ie, 7-8 meals).
The top of the food chain is the Jetboil stove, which is an integrated system of pot and stove that clicks together forming an incredibly efficient burning unit (with no wind effects or heat leakage). It even has a Piezo lighter (a sparking mechanism built into the stove) so no matches are required to light it.
The Jetboil is great for one pot wonders and coffee – it even has a French press accessory for outstanding brewing, so no more using socks as emergency filters. It has frying pans and such as well but these must match its specific system.
If you like to cook up a feed of pancakes and bacon or multiple courses for dinner then the MSR Superfly’s larger burn head provides better heat spread and can accommodate any size/type of pot or frying pan on it. That’s without compromising size and weight, the Superfly is only 6.3 ozs and about 4in x 4 in.
Utensils and Crockery
If your traveling without the other half, then be all means risk adding utensils and a pot system as stolen from their kitchen, or keep the relationship safe and go for one of the all in one backpacker systems like the GSI Bugaboo Camper.
This integrated unit includes an incredible compact design for the needs of 2 Gourmet riders and includes two plates, two insulated cups, two bowls, a pot and frying pan. Even the lid on the pots is functions as a strainer for pasta meals. All with an incredible weight of only 27.9 oz fits into ONLY 8.2″ x 8.2″ x 5.4” in size – the size of the pot!
TIP: Titanium pots are a good option if you want to shave grams, but they are more expensive and really only good for boiling water as titanium doesn’t transfer heat well so hard to cook or fry with. They are good for impressing other campers though!
So your kitchen and stove are weighing in at only about 35 ozs (with one fuel canister)! And they stuff down to an amazing size…now we have all our sleeping/shelter needs AND cooking needs in only in a 35 litre (2000 cu in) backpack which is equivalent to a quite small duffle or hiking day pack. And less than one KTM Hardbag! Our biggest and bulkiest necessities for survival and comfort.
The Other Bits:
All you have left is your clothing and other equipment that you might need for maintenance on your bike, etc. Truth is pretty much all of this stuff is discretionary…in other words, you can choose to take 10 pairs of underwear or two, you can take 4 sweaters, 4 t shirts or you can take 1 sweater and 2 t-shirts. Or invest in adventure clothing with some of the new fabrics that let you travel a very long time in the same clothes, be warm and/or cool, comfortable and not develop a reek so strong you offend at 50 paces!
One of the new, but old fabrics, is Merino wool, which came out of New Zealand to rewrite the book on adventure travel wear. It doesn’t itch, it is warm when it is cold, cool when it is warm, warm when wet and it dries super fast. Best of all, you can wear the same shirt for 8 or 10 days straight and it won’t smell (seriously). Merino wool is naturally an anti-microbial fabric, killing those stinky bacteria even without washing. So for travel, you look great and can you go for two weeks with 2 t-shirts and one medium weight sweater. Fantastic stuff.
Another clothing item that I will not travel without is my Duvet (Down Jacket). These are a super-light low-bulk insulating piece that you can throw on under your riding clothes if it gets really cold and are very, very warm. Plus after a long day of riding with heavy gear on, you can toss on one of these at the campsite, you barely know you have it on and it will keep you warm until long after the stars come out. Patagonia and Western Mountaineering make the best ones. They use superb Polish or Canadian down and have great gossamer shell fabrics that are tough but pack to nothing.
My Western Mountaineering Hooded Flash jacket weighs only 9 ozs and packs to an incredible 3 in x 6 in. It is almost like have an extra sleeping bag when needed.
The golden rule for mountaineering and for riding when it comes to gear is the same. Buy the best you can afford and if you ever hear yourself say “I should take this just in case”…don’t. Chances are you won’t use it and will just carry it around for no reason.
Next article we will discuss what to put this stuff into as well as some other lightweight gear that makes your trip to the back and beyond just that much better.