Bug Out Cookware
We all need to eat, right? During stressful times it becomes more important than most realize: food not only provides sustenance but increases your Positive Mental Attitude (which is essential for survival) especially warm, cooked meals.
The first thing to consider when planning food for your emergency supplies is the fact that you may not be cooking on a stove-top the way you are used to.
So one of the most fundamental items you need to have in your short-term and long-term emergency kits is cookware!
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Here are a few options we like for backwoods adventures or for deep bug out planning:
Typical Price: $40
These small foldable and packable stainless steel stoves are a great backup to have. You have multiple fuel options: sticks, Trangia or Esbit spirit burners (alcohol stove), and even solid fuels such as Esbit or tea candles.
Typical Price: $109 + $18 fuel
The Jetboil Flash is a powerful compact stove system made from lightweight titanium. It boils water in a mere 100 seconds. Weight minus fuel: 13.9 ounces (393 grams.) Requires propane/isobutane 4-season fuel canisters, and there are 3 sizes available. The 100 gram size will give you 24 boils.
Eat right from the cup by boiling water and dumping freeze dried food in, or boil water to use elsewhere.
Cooking Outside the Kitchen
Cooking over a campfire may be your only option - so you need to have gear that can stand up to a large area of heat.
Read our tutorial about campfire cooking it if you want some pointers.
General rule of thumb, no plastic should be exposed to open flames - so much of the stuff you probably have in your kitchen may not work with an open fire.
Inexpensive pots and pans will have plastic handles, and you cannot use metal utensils on Teflon (unless you want to ruin the pans and eat Teflon - yummy) so those options are out.
Not to mention campfires will ruin the outside of your pots and pans, and therefore possibly your marriage (sorry hunny!)
Over The Fire
You'll need some way to hold stuff over the fire as typically laying items right on top of coals = burned food.
You'll need a grill of some sort. There are small packable ones, and larger ones for larger camp setups.
Typical Price: $20
This camping grill grate is made of high quality 304 stainless steel durable, is safe and easy to clean.
A Redcamp grill allows you for grilling veggies to all kinds of meats. It's ideal for grilling burgers, steaks, seafood, vegetable, fish, chicken, meat, shrimp, sausage and other delicate foods in a small footprint.
Typical Price: $38
Use the camping grill for cooking over an open fire with existing outdoor cookwares to make delicious outdoor feasts, hot coffee, stacks of pancakes, fried eggs and crispy bacon.
You can also heat up a meal or grill food in a pan, boil water over the campfire on top of this freestanding backpack camping grate.
We have one of these stainless steel grills that we keep in the car all the time that is super easy to setup and great to cook directly on.
You want to find durable cookware that can take a beating. That leaves us with basically the following options: stainless steel, aluminum, cast iron, or titanium. Each have their own quirks:
- Stainless Steel: Easy to use, hard to clean outside, good for moderate heat
- Aluminum: Lightweight, heats quickly, not good for high temps
- Cast Iron: Heavy but very durable, can withstand direct contact with fire
- Titanium: Very light, tends to scorch foods, expensive.
Look into the different options out there - there are literally thousands! We've spent a lot of time cooking over camp fires and have landed on two that we use the most: stainless steel and cast iron.
Lets start with the stainless steel items, since these are the ones which we use for our bug out cookware. We use three pieces in each bag: (1) MSR 775 ml Pot, (1) GSI Stainless Cup/Pot, and (1) GSI Stainless Plate.
You can see them in the photo above cooking oatmeal and coffee from one of my solo adventures. Additionally a Guyot or Kleen Kanteen stainless steel water bottle comes along with us also.
Typical Price: $18
775 ml size is our favorite size, and the one in the photos.
- Versatile: Great for storing gear or supplies when you're not cooking
- Secure: Hinged, easy-lift handle flips over the fitted lid to lock it in place.
The great thing about this little pot (the 775 ml is the size we use) is that you can cook in it and eat off it too. Oatmeal is my breakfast of choice when I'm out and about and my favorite way to make it is over a campfire.
I bring along dried fruit, coconut, walnuts, honey, and chocolate powder for the oatmeal - none of that needs to be refrigerated and lasts for weeks in and out of the pack.
It's also the right size for boiling water for a Mountain House freeze-dried meal.
The other item that comes along with us whenever we are outdoors is our GSI Stainless Steel Cup.
It's the right size to make instant coffee in the morning (just mind you don't burn your lips, it can get hot) or tea, or for a quick lunch of rice or Ramen noodles.
Typical Price: $13
Adaptable as a cup or a pot, the Outdoors Stainless Bottle is all in one! Cook ramen and eat from the pot, then make hot chocolate afterwards.
Weighing at only 4. 9 ounces and measuring 4. 2 x 4. 2 x 3. 5 inches, this cup is perfect for any ultra-lightweight adventure.
Typical Price: $34
The most versatile stainless bottles on the market! The wide mouth opening is great for easy cleaning or filing with ice. It has a standard Nalgene thread pattern and 63 mm opening, which make them compatible with most water filters.
The only wide mouth stainless bottles with stainless steel threads.
You can boil water in these and nestle them nicely into the GSI Cup
It also fits snugly into our H2O Pouches and inside the Guyot Designed Nalgene Bottles we use for water.
The GSI will also fit nicely onto a 40 oz Klean Kanteen Bottle.
NOTE: Be mindful of using your working knife for food purposes. There is a possibility of bacteriological contamination. Keep one knife dedicated to food prep.
Typical Price: $10
The SE Survivor Series 4-in-1 Stainless Steel Utensil Set (Spoon, Fork, Knife, Bottle Opener) includes 3 detachable units, so each utensil can be used separately.
They can also be nestled together for compact storage and organization. Whether you are camping, hiking, hunting, picnicking, traveling, or in an emergency/survival situation, this pocket sized set will be of great assistance whenever you need it.
Features of this product include: 4-in-1 Functions: - Spoon - Fork - Knife - Bottle opener (built into knife unit)
To detach units: Slide utensil, aligning buttons to the handle holes, and lift to separate from the spoon.
Now cast iron pots and pans are not coming with you in a bug out cookware kit. They are just too darn heavy.
However they can come with you for longer-term or camping outings - and if you are bugging out with a vehicle it's not a bad idea to consider having some cast iron around.
Why? Well it's indestructible for one.
Two: you can cook directly on hot coals if need be.
Three: once they are seasoned they become non-stick and can be mostly cleaned without water.
Cast iron has been around for a long time and it's extremely versatile. It not only helps cook your food, but gives you a workout while doing so (did I mention its heavy?)
Cast iron is available from nearly every outdoors shop, grandma's kitchen, or online from Amazon.
We also really like the gear from Camp Chef.
Consider it for your plan B. Or at least for use if the power goes out and you need to start cooking on the grill or open fire.
It takes time to season them so start using them now and build up that nice patina so nothing will stick to them - by the way, they are easiest to clean while still hot, so don't let dirty pans sit around.
Here's a great article about the myths of cast iron, and how to properly maintain it.
Now I'm off to eat - all this writing about cooking made me hungry!