Gear: The “Kitchen”
When Laura and I went on our first self-supported tour down the coast of Oregon, we brought two stoves. We took her MSR Whisper Lite stove and I took my little Trangia alcohol stove. During the trip, we used her MSR once and my Trangia for everything else. Stoves are a contentious topic with bike tourists and backpackers. Everyone will swear by the system they use. Some people love their MSR’s, some their JetBoils, others use wood stoves and some just prefer raw uncooked food.
Laura and I are pretty solidly in the alcohol stove camp. For one, they are relatively cheap. Stoves can be purchased for $25-30. They’re small. They are virtually indestructible with no moving parts to break and fuel is fairly common – no need for special canisters since they use denatured alcohol there is a good chance any hardware store you walk into will have it (look in the paint thinner isle).
Here’s a little video that I made for Epicurean Cyclist that shows one in use. As you can see, it is absurdly easy! Nothing to prime. Just drop in a match or use a fire starter and throw some sparks in there!
As for the rest of the “kitchen,” I recently acquired a Tatonka cookset (virtually identical to the Trangia cookset but with a silver finish on the stove) from my friend Chris. It included a stove, a very stable windscreen/base, some stainless steel pots and fry pan. From that set, we tossed out the frying pan (since we’re bringing a paella pan) and one of the pots (we generally only use one pot when cooking). We’re also bringing our aluminum kettle since it’s so convenient to have one piece of cookware dedicated just for heating up water. The bulky but stable windscreen is a lot larger and heavier than the folding piece of heavy duty foil we’ve been using, but we figure it will be worth it since we’re planning to be cooking A LOT on the road.
It also happens to support the paella pan just perfectly!
Another conscious change from the kitchen gear we’ve been using before is the use of stainless steel pots. We have a set of MSR Aluminum pots that are a touch lighter but lately we’ve been concerned about the non-stick coating inside. There’s mixed reports about how inert and safe it is to eat with over heavy use and long periods of time. I suppose it’s a step backwards technology wise, but we’ll have no qualms about tossing the pot over an open flame or worrying about eating some errant non-stick coating! We’d love to give some bare titanium pots a try but they’re a bit out of our budget.
Everything nests together and fits in a little bag that came with the Tatonka except for the paella pan which will just be packed in a front pannier. That’s it for the kitchen cookware. Things may change a little, but I think we’re pretty committed to using this set-up. It’s just a matter of deciding who gets to carry it : )