Cooking Equipment for Mountaineering
The human body requires a huge quantity of food to cope with the strenuous effects of mountaineering. On a tough climbing expedition, you can burn 4,000-5,000 calories a day. Considering the average daily requirement is 1,500-2,500 calories, this is a huge deficiency to make up.
All the food and cooking equipment for mountaineering needs to be carried with you in your hiking backpack. Meals should be planned in advance and carefully orchestrated to ensure you have a good mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Ideally, you want to have lots of energy-dense snacks throughout the day and a means of cooking meals and hot drinks too.
Camping stoves are an essential piece of cooking equipment for mountaineering. They are faster, cleaner, and more convenient than trying to cook off a campfire. However, stoves do have their limitations and it’s worth knowing that before you get stuck on the mountain. First, you need to select a stove based on fuel type. Gas canisters are the most common fuel but alternative fuels such as alcohol or hexamine are used by some mountaineers.
Gas canisters are the best cooking equipment for mountaineering. Isobutane, propane, and butane are the most common gases used. If you are going winter camping in the UK, make sure the gas is effective to negative temperatures as normal canisters will function poorly below zero.
Buy a stove that is insulated and allows for rapid boiling of water or snow. A wind guard is particularly valuable as this will help protect your flame from the sapping wind. JetBoil is a popular brand that balances fuel efficiency with boiling speed and weight. Make sure you plan out your camping meals and carry enough gas for the duration of your trip (hence why fuel efficiency is important).
The next piece of cooking equipment for mountaineering is a stove pot. If you’re lucky, this may already be included in a self-contained unit attached to your stove. This is convenient, but it limits your cooking mostly to boiling water and rehydrating food. A cooking pot with a lid and handle gives you more flexibility. If you have a small pan that stacks into this pot, all the better.
Bowls and plates are convenient but not essential. You can just eat from the stove to reduce clutter and weight in your pack. A mug is a nice addition as you can make a hot drink and a warm meal simultaneously. A spoon or spork can be used to stir, cook, and eat your food. If you have the budget, try to buy titanium cooking utensils as they are lightweight and strong. As a cheaper alternative, use aluminium cooking equipment for mountaineering.
Water is the true life giver in the mountains. Staying hydrated staves off altitude sickness and keeps you focused. Water is also used to rehydrate most meals and a hot drink at the end of a cold day can be a huge moral boost. Often, simply boiling water is adequate to clean it. However, this isn’t always practical as it uses up precious fuel.
Instead, one of the best pieces of cooking equipment for mountaineering is a water filter. There are lots of different types of filters. Some are personal straws that can be screwed onto a bottle. Others are hand pumps which allow for higher filtration rates. After all, if you’re forced to use cooking water from a dubious source, it’s better to be safe than sorry!
When you’re mountaineering, you don’t have the luxury of using a sink full of hot water to clean your dishes. You must make other arrangements to ensure your utensils are clean and there is no risk of food contamination. Firstly, bring hand sanitiser. This is a great way to keep your hands clean during cooking and after you have gone to the toilet!
Next, bring a small plastic scrub pad or sponge with some liquid soap on it. You can scrub the dishes in cold water or snow to clean them quickly. Paper towels can be used to wipe away the dirtiest parts of the utensils. A fabric towel can then be used for drying. Carry all your cleaning equipment in a plastic bag and store spare bags for collecting trash.
A spark or flame to light your stove is an extremely important piece of cooking equipment for mountaineering. Some stoves have an ignition switch built in but it’s always good to have a backup. Lighters are a good option, but they can run out of fuel and are difficult to light in windy conditions. Windproof matches are another trusted ignition method. As a failsafe, buy a magnesium spark rod which can be used in any condition, wet or windy.
Weight is an important factor when packing a rucksack. However, there are a few luxury items of cooking equipment for mountaineering that you can include in your kit. A windscreen is an aluminium wind protector that can greatly improve the speed and efficiency that your stove operates at. Then there’s a coffee press which can sometimes be integrated with your stove to prep you with a fresh cup of joe!
Selecting the right cooking equipment for mountaineering is only half the battle. The next step is to consider what food you need to consume and how you are going to cook it. You must carry food that doesn’t spoil and make dishes that are easy to prepare in difficult mountain conditions.
Remember that carbohydrates are long-lasting fuel for your body. They are your primary source of energy. Next, you need protein to keep you satisfied. Lastly, fats are dense and high in calories. They digest slowly to keep you satiated. Utilise all these food groups into a set of snacks and meals for when you go mountaineering. Then pack them into your bag with all your cooking equipment for mountaineering and you’ll be ready for whatever the hills have to throw at you!