Now that you have shelter and sleep sorted you need to set up your kitchen. A basic backpacking kitchen is pretty simple. You need to be able to boil water, filter water, have something to eat from and with, and some very basic supplies to clean up.

This is my basic cook system. However, to start off with I’d recommend a JetBoil These are super simple for boiling water. Most of them have an automatic piezo lighter, but always worth taking a backup BIC lighter just in case. There are a few different varieties of JetBoil – the Zip is the simplest and targeted at boiling water rather than cooking. Great for making drinks and rehydrating food. You’ll need a fuel canister – but a single fuel canister will last a while – certainly enough for your first couple of trips.

You’ll need something like a spork, I’d recommend a long-handled one. This helps when eating from dehydrated food containers. And a cup. The cup will be for hot drinks and also possibly for eating breakfast out of. GSI makes a good mug for this.

Water is a critical element of your kitchen. It’s unlikely you can or want to carry all the water you need, even for a single overnight trip. Water is heavy – each liter adding 2.2lbs. Water on trail needs treating or filtering to kill or remove bacteria. There are basically three options – chemicals to treat the water, filters, or sterilizing the water with UV. This is one area it’s always good to have a backup. My recommendation would be either a Katadyn BeFree or Sawyer Squeeze. Whichever you decide make sure that you practice using it before you go out on trail and that you are clear where the filtered and non-filtered water goes. Certainly bad if you mix these up. As a backup, I’d recommend some chemical treatment like Aquatabs. These are backups so you only need a few of them.

You’ll need something to carry water. There are quite some combinations of filter and water containers that you can pick – sometimes you’ll need to carry more water – and sometimes it’s plentiful. Nalgene bottles have long been the favorite, some folks prefer bladders, however, lots of folks just carry 1L Smartwater bottles. You can pick these up at the local supermarket. They are super light, strong, and fit directly onto the Sawyer Squeeze filters.

Finally, it’s worth having a small clean-up kit. Sometimes you won’t need this as you’ll just be boiling water and eating from a bag – but if you cook and eat breakfast – they might be useful. A small section of scouring pad and a little gauze filter is all you need. The scouring pad allows you to clean your cup/pot and the gauze will act as a filter so you can filter out food particles and bury them rather than just spread them on the ground.

And that’s your basic backpacking kitchen!


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