Section Hiker’s Gear Closet: Stoves, Pots, and Backpacking Food Stuff

Gear Closet Stoves and Pots

Here are the backpacking stoves, cooking pots, and “kitchen” accessories, including bear bags and bear canisters, that I use year-round on a regular basis. Many of these items are old friends that have withstood the test of time and I’ve been using for years and years. Why the variety? I backpack year-round and like to bring gear that satisfies my needs best. These needs change with the season, objectives, locales, and my companions. That said, consider these my “top” gear picks…the stuff that I recommend to friends without reservation.

Evernew Titanium Pasta Pot

Evernew Titanium Pasta Pot
I’ve been using The Evernew Titanium Pasta Pot since 2010 and mine is blackened by fire and a bit bashed up. Weighing 3.9 ounces, it holds 0.9 liters of water, which is perfect for making the one-pot meals I like to eat. It has a silicone-coated, fold-out handle (long since burned off) and strainer holes in the lid (good for pasta) that help prevent boil overs. The inside has measurements scored in ounces and milliliters. I can fit a mid-size isobutane canister and a stove inside when I use one, which is a big convenience, but most of the time I just use it with an Esbit stove, which I can also fit inside with all my fire-ignition tools.  Read my review. 

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Amazon| Campsaver

Evernew Titanium 1.3 Liter Pot

Evernew Titanium Non-Stick Pot
The Evernew Titanium 1.3 liter pot is an uncoated cook pot that I use for winter backpacking when I need to melt snow for drinking water. It weighs 4 oz and has a volume of 1.3 Liters, with a wide bottom that helps diffuse the heat of a high-powered liquid fuel stove although you still have to be very careful to make sure there is a layer of water under the snow that you put in to avoid melting the bottom or scorching the pot. In addition to folding insulated handles and a pour spout, it has liquid measurements in ounces and milliliters scored in the pot interior. Very basic, lightweight, and compact. Read my review.

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Amazon | Campsaver

QiWiz Titanium Dual Burner (Esbit/Alcohol) Stove System

QiWiz Dual Fuel Stove

QiWiz, pronounced Chee-wiz, is a one-man cottage gear maker who specializes in titanium stoves and tools. I’m a big fan of his dual burner (Esbit/Alcohol) stove system which includes a 750 ml titanium pot (110g), a dual fuel stove (18g), titanium windscreen (15g), and stainless steel mesh pot stand (10g), although I use a different pot. I also use the titanium windscreen with other stoves, since it’s so convenient to pack in a cooking pot. Read my QiWiz Titanium Dual Fuel Stove System Review

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QiWiz FireFly Wood Stove

QiWiz Firefly Wood Stove
The QiWiz FireFly Wood Stove is a 2.8-ounce titanium wood stove made from interlocking pieces of titanium that fold flat when not in use, making it convenient to carry in a backpack. It has an integrated pot stand and mesh floor, as well as a side port that lets you feed in larger pieces of wood to keep it going. You can also purchase a very thin titanium ground guard to place under the stove to avoid scorching the ground. The Firefly is a great little stove that burns very efficiently and adds to one’s camping ambiance. You can also use it as a pot stand/wind-shield for an alcohol or Esbit stove when it rains. See my QiWiz Firefly Wood Stove Review

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Soto Amicus Cookset Combo

Soto Amicus Cookset Combo
The Soto Amicus Cookset Combo and is the perfect setup if you like to have a hot drink to go with your breakfast or dinner. The set weighs a total of 11.2 oz and includes a pair of anodized aluminum pots (500 ml and 1000 ml), and the Soto Amicus stove, which is a very reliable and powerful 11,000 BTU isobutane stove. A mid-sized isobutane canister and the stove fit inside the pots, so the cookset packs up small. On longer trips, I like eating hardy one-pot meals for breakfast and dinner that are fast and simple to prepare. While having a second cook pot is a real luxury, it’s really nice to be able to drink a big cup of tea or a coffee while you’re waiting for your breakfast and dinner to finish simmering. This kit also makes a good car camping stove. The entire set is also relatively inexpensive.

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MSR Whisperlite Liquid Fuel Stove

MSR Whisperlite

The MSR Whisperlite
is my deep winter camping stove, the one I use when I have to melt large quantities of snow to make drinking water and need to use a high power fuel like white gas. The Whisperlite includes the burner, which has an integrated primer cup, pot stand, fuel line, and a plastic fuel pump. MSR fuel bottles are available in a variety of sizes and sold separately. The 11.4-ounce Whisperlite is a very reliable stove and one that you can clean or repair by yourself. It takes a little practice to prime and ignites without burning your eyelashes off, but I wouldn’t winter camp without it. Read our MSR Whisperlite Stove Review.

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Amazon | Moosejaw |

MSR Whisperlite Fuel Bottle

20 ounce MSR Fuel Bottle
I use a 20 ounce MSR fuel bottle that weighs 6.3 ounces empty with my Whisperlite stove. You can also purchase 11 and 30 ounce bottles. While MSR bottles are compatible across MSR liquid fuel stoves, I don’t know of any other non-MSR stoves that you can use them with. The MSR bottles have a locking cap to prevent fuel spills. I’ve wrapped my bottle with duct tape to help prevent a cold injury when touching it. The temperature of liquid fuel can drop below freezing and cause frostbite if the cold radiating through the metal bottle touches your skin directly.

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Amazon | MSR

Light My Fire – Fire Steel

12000 Strike Light My Fire
The Light My Fire sparking fire steel is a stove and fire ignition source that always works and that I never have to resupply it after a trip. Matches get wet. Butane lighters jam or run out of fuel, but a fire steel always throws sparks. Light My Fire has two models and I use the chunkier one designed for military use because it’s more durable and rated for 12,000 uses. I carry vaseline covered cotton balls as a firestarter for lighting Esbit cubes or my wood stove.

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GSI Outdoors Table Spoon

GSI Outdoors Table Spoon
I use a big GSI Outdoors Table Spoon ($0.90) to eat all of my backpacking meals because it’s hard to misplace. It weighs 0.8 oz and is heat-proof and BPA-free, of course. It also costs less than a buck at REI and is probably the least expensive thing in the store! (This same spoon costs $14.99 on Amazon when sold by GSI instead.)

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OPSAK Odor Barrier Bags

OPSak Odor-proof bags
The manufacturer claims that OPSAK plastic bags are odor-proof ($10.50/2). While I can’t verify that scientifically, I’ve been using these bags for the past 10 years to hold all my food and line my bear bag or bear canister with. At 1.3 ounces each, these big Ziploc bags are quite durable and help prevent a mess when one of my food bags rips open or a bar of chocolate melts.

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REI | Amazon

Ursack Bear-Proof Bag

Ursack Major
Ursacks are lightweight soft-sided, bear-proof bear bags made with Spectra fabric. I’ve been using them since 2008 to store my food overnight on backpacking trips and they’re infinitely easier to use than hanging a bear bag overhead in a tree. I can fit 5-7 days of food into my Ursack Major (7.6 oz). They passed the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) test and were placed on its bear-resistant products list on July 31, 2014, but some national parks still prohibit their use. That’s not a problem in New England where I do most of my hiking and I know quite a few other hikers who use them. I’ve been evangelizing their use for close to a decade since most backpackers have difficulty hanging regular bear bags well.  I was thrilled when REI started selling them a few years ago.  Read our Ursack Bear Bag Review.

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REI | Amazon

Bare Boxer Contender Bear Canister

The Bare Boxer is a small 2-3 day hard-sided bear canister good for short trips where a bear canister is required. It has three locks in the lid and weighs 26.3 ounces. I only use it for short trips when I head into bear country, where a canister is required. It’s the lightest weight hard bear canister available, perfect for a long weekend. Read our Bear Boxer Review.

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Garcia Backpacker’s Cache Bear Canister

Backpacker's Cache
The Garcia Backpacker’s Cache Bear Canister ($74) is my larger bear canister. It weighs 43.5 ounces and can fit a week’s worth of food and smellables. It’s not the lightest large bear canister available, but the Adirondack bears haven’t figured out how to open this bear canister out yet, which is where I use mine. It makes a pretty good camp seat too!

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REI | Amazon

That’s the extent of my backpacking stoves, pots, kitchen accessories, and bear protection gear. Let me know if you have any questions. I’m happy to help.

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  1. As always, your posts are helpful. I’ve been wanting a fire starter other than my lighter so I grabbed the FireSteel. Thanks!


  2. I have absolutely fallen in love with the Soto Amicus Cookset Combo. As you note, it’s so easy to heat water for a warm drink, eat out of the pot (not that I mind eating out of a freezer bag), and also heat water for cleanup. The slight weight penalty is worth it to me. And an eight ounce canister fits in easily for a longer trip, with the added bonus of it being compact and easily packed.

    • I bought the Amicus cookset to use on camping trips, but find myself using it more and more for personal cooking around the house. About the only thing it doesn’t do well is eggs: anodized aluminum is way too sticky for a good fried egg.

  3. Rob aka OlTrailDog

    The MSR Whisperlite is an enduring relic from an era gone by…well, not quite yet. I have one these that I’ve had for years and it still is a gem and as of yet hasn’t gone the way of the Svea or Optimus 111T, both stalwart stoves in their day.

    One of my methods for meeting food storage requirements in the Teton Wilderness was to pack two Garcia kegs in soft sided panniers on a mule, along with other gear. For my own personal use, and often for work as a wilderness manager, I resort to either hanging attractants via the proverbial “safety triangle” or using a Ursack S29. I still chose to hang the S29 because I really am not keen to conducting a bear resistant experiment during the night time.

  4. Seems I have very similar stoves, pots and a Garcia bear canister.

    -> MSR Whisperlite Universal 3 fuel stove (iso-butane, gasoline, kerosene)
    -> Trail Designs titanium Sidewinder W/ Inferno “gassifier” wood burning insert (extremely hot burning)

    My pot is a 3 cup Open Country Anodised aluminum that fits the TD Sidewinder stove for max efficiency. Inside it are a small plastic ZipLoc bowl and plastic measuring/drinking cup. (NO ti pots/mugs for me)

    As light and clever as the titanium QiWiz stove is it cannot match the efficiency of the TD Sidewinder or larger Tri-Ti stoves which are both Caldera Cone stoves. This efficiency is most important when using ESBIT or alcohol.
    I’ve twice used my ESBIT stove for Grand Canyon trips as well as numerous other backpacking trips.

    My kitchen gear is a distillation of years of backpack COOKING, not just boiling water for FD packages.Sometimes in cool/cold seasons when I can take meat I take a tiny skillet and tiny spatula for sausage. omelette, etc.

  5. Hi Phillip,
    I’m an avid follower of your website and newsletter. I’m in Canada and have a question about camping safely in bear country. I’ve read much of your information about storing food in bear country but not much about safe cooking practices. What advice would you give in the following situation?

    I’ve set up my hammock and tarp and its dinner time, and now the heavy rain starts. I’ve read its not advisable to cook near your sleep area in bear country. Apparently even cooking odours can stick to your tarp and hammock which will obviously attract bears. So what to do? Would setting up a 2nd tarp away from the sleep area be an option? Although the cooking smells would still stick to that tarp. What have you done in this situation?

    • It really depends on the nature of the bear threat. We don’t have big bears on the east coast. I’d either eat cold, cook in the rain (the stove won;’t get wet with a pot on top of it), or cook in my tent.

      If you’re in brown bear or grizzly country, I’d make sure you always have something cold you can eat.

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