Showing posts with label camp cookery. Show all posts
Showing posts with label camp cookery. Show all posts

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Tramping Equipment: What type of tramping stove?

Equipment for back-country cookery: Tramping/Hiking stoves

 There are a variety of ways to heat water and cook food while pursuing your outdoor adventures. The most obvious is the use of an open fire but due to the environmental impact this is now a discredited method. While open fires are not illegal they should only be used to cook food in an emergency.

Camp-fire old as humankind.
Instead there are a myriad variety of stoves specifically manufactured for back country use. I thought it might be useful to look at these various types and explain what I use and why.

  So many types of outdoor cooker...

To start let us look at the types of cookers available. Note that the terms stove and cooker are interchangeable, you call them stoves we call them cookers!

 Iso-butane or gas canister stoves

The most commonly used stoves are those using iso-butane canisters, these are often refereed to as 'gas stoves'.  A gas stove will consist of the gas 'bottle' and a screw on cooker unit which you attach to the bottle.  Please note that the older 'pierced' type of gas cannister is very difficult to find in New Zealand, we all use screw on cookers.

Kovea Titanium Tramping Stove

There are two main types of gas cooker, those that attach to the top of the bottle and those that are free standing. Above is a Kovea Titanium stove, this is typical of the top attached cooker. As you can see it has a perforated burner head, with a mechanism on the side to control the gas flow. There are fold out pot supports above the burner head. The button next to the Kovea branding is the piezo spark actuator.

Using my top fitting Kovea gas canister stove at Packhorse Hut, 2016

Below is the MSR Whisperlite, this is one of the free standing variety of outdoor cookers. These are much more stable as they usually have wider legs/pot supports arms and have a lower centre of gravity. The downside is the extra weight, these are normally 100-200 gms heavier than a top fixing stove.

MSR Windpro free standing gas stove for tramping

Here is a different version of a canister stove, the Jetboil. A Jetboil is an integrated cooking system with stand, cook pot, burner and canister all in one.  You use a Jetboil to heat cannot cook in these. These stoves are good for alpinists and mountaineers as they are fast (melting snow for water) and pack into quite a small package.

They are also expensive and heavy which is why more trampers, anglers and MTB riders don't use them.

The Jetboil outdoor 'cooking system'

Iso-butane gas canisters are pressurised so the canisters must be made of steel to contain the gas. This means the canisters are heavy. An empty 225ml canister weighs 145gms so that is a lot of wasted weight you have to lug around.

Disposing of empty canisters can be problematic. The empty canisters cannot be recycled in New Zealand unless they are punctured- they need a hole in them to allow residual gas to escape. If not completely empty they are liable to explode during the recycling process.

Various sizes of MSR iso-butane gas: 100gms, 225gms and 550gms canisters

Aside from the weight,  gas canisters can also be expensive- they currently cost from $15-$20 for a medium sized canister. They do not perform well in cold conditions, as the gas can freeze if it is very cold.  If using one in a cold alpine environment it needs to be kept warm in a sleeping bag overnight.

Pros:Easy to use, quick set up, fast heating ability, relatively cheap, moderate heat control, widely available, many different models/makes, three sizes of cannister available in New Zealand

Cons:Fuel canisters are heavy, quite expensive, disposal of empty canisters is problematic, top fixing versions are unstable, not good at high altitude or in cold conditions

Multi-fuel stoves

As the name implies a multi-fuel stove can use a variety of different fuels, this ranges from gas canisters, stove specific fuel, kerosene and even gasoline at a pinch. Some makes will only use liquid fuels while others are able to use both liquid fuel and gas.

The MSR Whisperlite multi fuel hiking stove: Both fuel bottle and gas canister shown
You fill the fuel bottle with your fuel of choice, then turn this into a pressurised gas by pumping the pressure handle. The stove is lit with match, lighter or piezo spark actuator.

Multi-fuel stoves are excellent for alpine conditions as the fuel is not affected by altitude or cold. Their ability to use a multitude of fuels also makes them practical: gasoline is available everywhere in the world while gas canisters are sometimes difficult to locate.

Unfortunately, these stoves tend to be heavy, 300-800 gms as opposed to a gas canister stove at 70-250 gms. They can also be a cast iron bitch to light as the burner unit is prone to soot blockages and fuel impurities. You must use good quality fuel and carry a cleaning kit and use both for optimum performance.

A MSR multi-fuel cooker service kit

I have to say though, there is nothing like the sound of a multi fuel stove blasting away on a cold a lot of us older trampers it is the sound of tramping itself.

Pros: Able to utilise many different fuels, much hotter flame, better flame/heat control, work well at altitude and in cold conditions, sound awesome when fired up

Cons: Much heavier, more difficult to operate, fuel must be pre warmed and pressurised before use, can be hard to light, more prone to stove blockages

  Methylated - Spirit stoves

  Methyl alcohol or 'spirit stoves' have been around for a long time but have recently been undergoing a resurgence in popularity. Prior to the 1940's this type of stove used jellied fuel and was utilised in the Great War trenches: Luigi, Ivan, Tommy, Mustafah and Fritz all had them.

Reproduction of a World War One "Tommy cooker'

Alcohol stoves can be commercially produced or home-made and have a burner unit with a series of holes in the top and sides. They normally have a stand to hold your pot above the flame and sometimes a wind-shield. Once lit the heating flame will come out of the holes providing the means to cook/ heat water.

A Trangia brand outdoor alcohol stove in action

As you can see in the photo below they are quite effective but the do have a number of limitations. The heat put out by methylated spirits is low, so cooking times are much longer. Once lit the flame cannot really be controlled so these stoves are not ideal for simmering.

They are also easily extinguished by wind, you really need a wind shield if using a spirit cooker.

Home-made outdoor alcohol stoves made from aluminium cans

These stoves will use both methylated spirits and de-natured alcohol, which is the American name for a similar product. "Meth's" comes in 1 litre bottles in New Zealand and cost from $6-$10 NZ dollars. Methylated spirits can be found in most service stations, hardware stores and supermarkets.

 De natured alcohol is usually only found in the larger outdoor equipment shops. It costs approximately $10-$20 NZ dollars per 1 litre bottle.

Just use meths' bro....

Methylated Spirits aka Denatured Alcohol
Pros: Fuel is cheap and widely available, stoves tend to be quite light, fuel can be used for starting a fire (carefully...don't throw meth's on an existing fire), fuel weight is lower as no heavy gas canister to carry

Cons: Highly inflammable...the vapour only needs a spark to ignite. Not safe for use in huts, easily extinguished by the wind, often need a wind shield and stand for use negating weight savings, care needed when refilling, fuel only comes in 1 litre volumes so there is potential fuel wastage.

Solid fuel tablets- Esbit Stoves

  Solid fuel stoves have been a mainstay of worldwide military forces for most of the later part of the 20th century. There are many firms producing both stoves and fuel including Sea to Summit, Coleman, MSR, Coghlans and cheap 'no brand' versions from China.

The most renown brand of solid fuel stoves are made by the German company Esbit, so in Europe these cookers are called 'Esbit stoves'.

Classic Esbit stove from Germany
 The solid fuel tablets for an Esbit type stove are generally made of a compound called hexamide. Hexamide is highly flammable and hence relatively easy to light. It is basically a solid form of hydro carbon covered in wax to stop it evaporating. One if its downsides are the fumes it exudes: these are both poisonous and foul smelling. 

Classic Esbit fuel cubes- one cube = 12 minutes of burn time

The beauty of solid fuel is that you need no stove...when I was in the military we just used a couple of rocks or sticks to prop our mess tins above the burning fuel cubes.

Oh my god... the smell of a 'hexie' tablet cooking some 'Spag and Snarlers' 'Corned Beef Hash' or 'Meat and Vegetables' is something every ex service person will remember fondly...morning time means hexie time!

Esbit stove, fuel tablets and cookpot, from Esbit website

An Esbit stove is bullet proof: it has no moving parts, requires no servicing and can be stored forever. That's why the military used them for so long.

Esbit type stove in use, from Australian Hiker

Pros:No parts to break, can be stored till the end of time, need no cooker, slow steady heat, relatively light, can be lit when wet, fuel makes excellent fire starter so dual purpose, cheap (a stove and fuel is usually less that $10 NZ dollars.

Cons: Low heat output, noxious fumes, cannot be used indoors, not readily available except in outdoor stores, easily extinguished by wind

Portable wood stoves

One of the newer forms of stove in use are those that use wood as their fuel...much as our ancestors have done for the last 40 000 years. These are commonly aluminium or titanium and burn paper, sticks, leaves and small wood chips. 

There are many commercial versions but these can also be made by the outdoor hobbyist at home.
 These are most often used by survivalists, long trail hikers and in areas where other stove types are banned. I see very few people using them in New Zealand- it is wet here so little dry wood and there are often fire bans in place over summer.

Typical lightweight outdoor wood stove in action

 The beauty of these stoves is that fuel for them is all around you, all the time. They can burn paper, card, wood, coal, dry grasses, dry leaves....basically anything that burns and is dry.

Pros: No need to carry fuel, relatively lightweight, inexpensive if home-made, can be used in most outdoor situations, fold down versions take up little space, environmental impact slight

Cons: They require dry wood,  can get very sooty on the outside, fire risk- cannot be used if there is a fire ban, cannot be used in huts, bulky unless fold down design, commercial versions are expensive

Flameless Ration Heaters or FRH's

Flameless Ration Heaters (or FRH's) are a by-product of military style Meals Ready To Eat (MRE's). MRE's first came into use with the US Army in the late 1980's to replace heavy canned rations. 

US military FRH from a Meals Ready to Eat (MRE)

An MRE (jokingly called, with usual soldierly humour: Meals Rarely Eaten) is a thermo stabilised retort pouch of food, with the addition of various drink powders, snacks, side dishes and accessories.

Flameless Ration Heater: the chemical heater pad in a FRH

 They are a one meal item i.e. you would need to eat three a day to get your recommended calories. The FRH they contain uses a thermo-chemical reaction to warm the main meals and any hot drinks. Most of the military forces of the world are now using these.

A US military MRE: Beef Pasta with Tomato Sauce

FRH's were specific to military circles until about 10 years ago when a number of outdoor companies started to produce them for hikers and campers. Back Country Cuisine are the only indigenous manufacturer of FRH's. You have to be careful with an FRH, these can get really hot to the touch- don't leave them on an unprotected tent floor!


A Back Country Cuisine Flameless Ration Heater

In New Zealand the commercial food ranges these FRH's can be used with are Kaweka Meals (also used by the NZ Defence Forces), Sun Rice meals and the MTR range of Indian meals. All of these come in thermo stabilised pouches. Freeze dried meals can also be heated if the contents are rehydrated with cold water first. 

Pros: Very lightweight (less than 20gms each), easy to use, you require no stove/fuel or pot if not heating water, can be used in a well ventilated tent, not affected by cold/wet/windy conditions

Cons:Horrible environmental impact, very slow heating, expensive, limited uses- only good with thermo stabilised retort pouches, hard to source in New Zealand, need salt and a cup of clean water to work

 No heat/no cook tramping 

One way to deal with cooking while tramping is to simply go without. I have meet a number of people practising no cook (or stoveless) tramping. Instead of your traditional hot meal they only utilise cold foods that require no cooking.

Typical 'no cook' foods might include: cold meats, canned fish, cheese, jerky, wraps/tortillas/bread/crackers, various spreads, energy bars, cereals, dried fruit or it could be dehydrated meals reconstituted with cold water.

Basically the sort of stuff you eat for lunch!

Some no-cook menu items: cereals, scroggin, energy bars, tuna, salami, drink powders, dried fruit etc.
I've tried this on an multi night tramp and decided it is not for me.  I like a hot drink in the morning with breakfast and soup and a hot meal at night. In extremis I would go stove-less but not out of choice. That's just my personal opinion by the need to decide what works for you.

I meet a guy on the St James a couple of years ago who had scroggin, whiskey and 24 peanut butter sandwiches for food- he had six sarnies per day- two per meal. would keep you going, but....

Do you fancy this at every meal for four days....

Pros: Lightweight (no stove/pot/fuel/cutlery), cheaper option as not buying fuel, stove or cook-pot, easy to sustain yourself for short periods this way

Cons: 24 peanut butter sandwiches......who wants to eat that for 4 days in a row! Will not sustain you properly for more than a couple of weeks, could be unsafe if tramping in adverse weather conditions (hot drinks save hypo-thermic trampers as they used to say...), packaging...there would be a lot of it!


My personal choice of tramping stove

I've used all of these various cooker types before but my primary cook stove is a Kovea Backpacker gas cannister stove. I have been using this stove since 1993 with great success and it is still going strong.

The Kovea Backpacker stove...this is the 2016 version

I usually couple this stove with a medium size MSR gas cannister, this combination allows me to boil water for both breakfast and dinner for 4-6 days. This stove cools fast and has a larger diameter burner head which I find advantageous when heating speed is of the essence.

My Kovea Backpacker stove in use at Nina Hut in 2016

 Why gas....? I just find it more convenient to use a cannister stove. You can have it out and going in less than 1 minute. A good breakfast is a fast breakfast if you know what I mean...! Any other type of cooker involves too much buggering around to get it operational.

Fixing dinner with my Kovea tramping stove at Mid Robinson Hut, 2015

If you are going to be using a cannister stove you need a Crunchit. A Crunchit is basically a big can opener which allows you to safely puncture cannisters to vent residual gas. The 'empties' can then be recycled. I leave mine at home and take to my empties after the trip.

The Jetboil Crunchit recycling tool
I also carry two Esbit cubes with me on every trip as an emergency backup. As I said earlier these can be used without a stove and because they only weigh 5 gms each are a useful survival tool. It is not without precedent to run out of gas for your cooker on the last day of a longer trip, so...two meals worth of hot water.

My Esbit cubes: firestarter and emergency cook tool

I have not had cause to use them for about 2 years now.

A gallery of other tramping stoves I own...

I have an Esbit methylated spirits cooker which I will be using when I do some of my longer Te Araroa Trail sections because it is ideal for that kind of tramping. The fuel is cheaper and more readily available in out of the way places.

My Esbit cooker looks like this...

 I inherited a Kovea Hiker stove from one of my brothers who moved to the US, it is an older design but still works well. She is a bit hefty for tramping but folds up into a nifty hard plastic container.I would use this stove if car camping or as a base camp stove.

Kovea Hiker stove, mine does not have a piezo
I also have an Outer Limits Huntsman stove, which I brought when I got back into tramping in 2010. I really like this stove but I just have a sentimental attachment to my Kovea Backpacker so this one doesn't get used very often. 

An Outer Limits Huntsman stand alone stove

I hope that gives you some ideas to consider when choosing a new tramping stove.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

My Tramping Gear: A look at my cooking gear

Tramping cooking gear...what I use

I thought I would do a post about the cooking gear I'm currently using. I could be an total outdoor tech head and call this a "cooking system" except "system" implies some planning while this gear simply coalesced over time.

Having a brew at Davies Shelter on the Queen Charlotte Track 2016

How your tramping style impacts on your gear

It is a waste of time talking about cook gear without a brief discussion of tramping styles.

Not lite weight....a more traditional set of gear for tramping

 Obviously, the style of tramping you follow is going to dictate the type of cooking equipment you are carrying. We can break these down into two main styles: traditionalist and lightweight

If you are a traditionalist you may carry some real food, a white spirit stove, larger pot(s) and possibly even a skillet. If you are an ultra lighter you will have a meths stove, one spoon/spork and a small titanium pot (if that, many have started to cold cook i.e. NO hot meals or hot drinks when on trail!)

East Hawdon Hut, old cook pot and aluminium cup in use

Obviously, you should only carry what is absolutely essential to get the job done, nothing more. 

My style is constantly evolving, at present I am half way towards ultralight, gradually changing kit as I go. I'm also pragmatic about this, sometimes adding a small amount of extra weight makes cooking easier or more pleasant. I'm not one of  the "cut off the handles just to save weight" types.

I don't carry a plate or bowl, instead I eat from my cook pot or straight from the bag. 

Me tucking into a BCC Tomato Chicken Alfredo straight from the bag!

I still occasionally cook in my pot but the majority of my cooking is heating water to add to dehydrated and freeze dried meals. That and copious amounts of tea of course....

A look at my cooking gear

Because of my tramping style I need very little cooking gear. Here is a list of my cook equipment including everything needed to prepare my typical menu items:

Cook pot, hard anodised aluminium      1     120gms
Cook pot cup/lid                                     1       80gms
or: Toaks Ti 1300ml pot with lid            1       90gms
Kovea Hiker stove, steel + bag               1     140gms
or: Firemaple FMS-116 Ti                      1     48gms/76gms with case
MSR 300gm gas canister                        1     227gms
Titanium Fork                                         1      18gms
Titanium spoon                                       1       21gms
Victoronix knife (including the 'biner)   1       89gms
Bic lighter                                               1       30gms
Chux cloth                                              1       12gms
Nylon stuff sack                                     1       75gms
Total weight                                                  822gms or 620gms

If you take away the fuel canister that is around 600/420gms which is pretty good weight wise.

I have all my cooking kit together in a nylon stow bag, if I stop and want to brew up I have everything readily available in the one place. This includes my tea bags and sugar substitute (more on that later), it is so much easier looking for the one blue bag than searching for gear in 2-3 different places. 

My tramping cook gear packed for my next tramp...a nice neat package!

Tramping cook equipment laid out for viewing

I use the Chux cloth as a tea towel to dry my pot etc., I have one with the cook kit and add another to every second days worth of food. This system works well and allows me to leave cleaning cloths at huts if they need them.

I usually have a 2x2cm square of scrubbing pad in a small plastic bag inside the kit for cleaning my cook gear. My bio degradable soap is carried separately in an outside pocket of my pack.

Cook gear: A Chux cloth and lighter but no pot scrubber!

Some nylon non scratch pot scrubbers...
Sea to Summit super wash: biodegradable camp soap

I carry a spoon, knife and fork; many people make due with just a spoon or a spork (spoon and fork combined) but over time I have found it is more practical to carry light titanium versions of all three. My pen knife (classic Victorinox camper) is the only knife I carry because the only thing I ever need to cut is salami, cheese and vegetables.

There is a small carabiner to keep them clipped together. 

If I need a huge knife for carving a club, hut or rescue vessel then something has gone seriously wrong and its too late already!

Cook gear: knife, fork and spoon (KFS)

One of my cook stoves is a Kovea Backpacker model which I mainly hold onto out of sentimental attachment. It is heavy at 140gms (including the bag) but I brought it in 1993 and have been using it ever since with no problems. Rest assured, I'm not that much of a sentimentalist: if it didn't perform I would replace it, as I have done with a lot of my tramping kit.

My Kovea backpacker model camp stove and carry case

I also like the wide burner head (a lot of the newer lightweight stoves have very small burners) and long pot support arms it has. It seems a lot more stable than some of the super lightweight stoves I have seen in use.

This is "olde school styles" i.e. no piezo starter, you have to use a match or lighter to fire it up, this is no disadvantage in my opinion. This stove has seen some real use, still works like new!

Kovea is solid gear, at least the old stuff is.

A Kovea Backpacker stove in operation...

In early 2018 I brought myself a new lighter titanium stove, it is a Chinese brand called Fire Maple, the code for it is the FMS-116T. It has survived a couple of outings now and I am works really well. It only weighs 48gms (76 gms in the supplied carry case). It is super efficient and has a wide burner head and cost me $50 from the online retailer Gearshop.

This is my main stove now.

My new Firemaple FMS-116Ti stove

In the photo below, my cook pot has the MSR gas canister inside, as well as my brew kit of tea bags, lighter and Splenda sugar replacement. Not shown are the supply of water purification tablets I carry in the kit so I can make potable water without needing to hunt through my pack.

My cooking pot and ancillary gear packed ready for the carry bag
The pot above is a Element brand1 liter hard anodized aluminium one with folding handles, the lid/cup is made of the same material. I have recently brought a Toaks Titanium cook pot as I continue to lighten my gear. This is a 1.3 liter pot and weighs a mere 90gms including the lid. The Toaks pot is much lighter and given I mostly just boil water it fills its role well.

My newer Toaks Ti 1.3 liter cook pot and carry bag
I tend not to carry the supplied bag as it just adds to the weight, instead I wrap the pot in an old bread bag as these are light, waterproof, disposable (as a trash bag) and easily replaced.

Close up view of the Toaks 1300ml Ti pot

My Toaks Ti cook pot in use on the Abel Tasman Inland Track, March 2018

Both of these pots have a measuring scale up the side in cups and 200ml graduations.

The bread bag is what I use for rubbish collection, I usually hang it from one of my rear facing pack straps while I am walking. One bag will usually last me for a 3 day tramp.

I also carry 3-4 small freezer bags for storage purposes; like keeping my KFS off the grotty hut benches etc.

Cook pot and the gear held inside it
The cup/lid/frypan/plate of this kit will hold about 450ml of liquid, it fills all four stated roles as required.

Ancillary Gear

Flame-less Ration Heaters

The other heating method I sometimes use is one of the Back Country flame-less ration heaters, these produce heat through thermo-chemical action to warm your food.

Originally these heaters were developed for the US military in the late 1980's to heat their MRE meals. An MRE is a single meal with an entrée in a therm-stabilised retort pouch, a Flameless Ration Heater (FRH), various snacks and an accessory pack.

A US military grade Meals Ready to Eat (MRE)

Contents of a US MRE pack: Chicken, vegetables and noodles MRE

The FRH's are excellent for the defence services as they do away with the need for fires, cookers or other obvious cooking methods.

The salts in a FRH are activated by water, you chuck your retort pouch in with them and viola... one heated meal. No mess, no fuss but horribly disastrous to the environment.

These are good with anything in a metallised or thick plastic retort pouch, such as the Back Country range, Kaweka meals and the MTR Indian curries.

Some of the MTR Indian mains I sometimes carry...Panner Butter Masala and Jeeri Rice

Just handle the pouch carefully when heated as they are goddamn hot!

Esbit cubes

Esbit produce solid fuel tablets made from hexamide, I usually carry a couple as an emergency heating options or as a fire lighter. These burn long and at a medium heat so they are best used for heating water for dehydrated meals.  Two tabs weigh a minuscule 30 gms!

Esbit brand solid fuel tablets

You can also buy special stoves to use these tablets on but I usually just find two flat rocks, light the tab and perch my cook pot over the flame. Works a real treat!

An Esbit solid fuel cooker...this is the famous Tommy Cooker

Water Bottles

I have long ago given up on using heavy metal or rigid plastic bottles for carrying water in. Instead I use empty juice or water bottles which I refill, and then discard after a couple of months or when they start to degrade.

I no longer carry heavy Nalgene style water bottles

It is well worth considering this alternate:  recycled bottles are cheaper, lighter, easier to replace and the recycling is good for the environment.

My criteria for potential bottle sources are:

Must be less than 100gms empty
Easy to replace
Wide mouth on bottle, 1+ litre capacity
Made of a food grade or non BPA plastic
Easy to remove any labels for ease of cleaning

What I have been using for the last three years are Fresh Up juice bottles, these tick all my boxes and I even like the juice they contain when new. These weigh 70gms empty compared to 175 for a medium sized Nalgene bottle.

Fresh-Up Juice bottle = instant water bottle

Set up for use is easy, strip off the label, wash them and fill them with water. Simple!

Juice bottle re-purposed and ready for the field

My Brew Kit

When I am out tramping I drink tea for a hot drink. I prefer Dilmah Earl Grey but anything is acceptable if I am running short of supplies. I usually have a brew with breakfast, occasionally one at lunch and 1-2 at the end of the day.

Delicious Dilmah Tea: and its ethically grown as well...

Teabags of course...too much hassle to use leaf tea, lots of mess, cleaning problems etc. With a teabag you chuck it in your cup, add sugar and water and Bob's your Uncle...

Tucking into a brew at East Hawdon Hut, 2014

I used to carry sugar for tea but it is very heavy, so I switched to a sugar substitute. Splenda is the tastiest sugar substitute I have found, it doesn't have that bitter after-taste others have.There are 200 tablets per pack, the total weight is a minuscule 12 gms! 

One tablet = 1 teaspoon of sugar

I am aware of the controversy about these sugar substitutes but given that I only use it for 20-30 days a year or less I figure I'm probably o.k.

Splenda sugar tastes o.k.

I have also used sweetened condensed milk as a tea makes for a really sweet, milky but moorish brew. Buy it in the shelf stable plastic tube as they are lighter and can be securely closed after use.

Delicious Nestles condensed milk....yum!

I will also occasionally take Latte coffee sachets from Jarrah/Nescafe and also hot chocolate sachets when the weather is cooler.

Isobutane Canisters

I regularly both the small and medium sized isobutane gas canisters, a small one (110gms) will last for 1-2 nights depending on use while the medium version (227gms) will see me for 3-5 days. I only carry the larger canisters (450gms) on extended week long trips.

I usually boil water 3-4 times per day for tea, drinks and meals.

Three sizes of MSR gas canister

My favourite gas brand is Kovea, but the MSR version is also good and far more widespread. All of my gas stoves will accept screw on type gas canisters. 

227ml MSR Isobutane gas bottle
Most of the loose cook kit fits inside the cook pot; this is good as it is a smaller packed space as well as protecting it from knocks. The stove in its pouch goes into the bottom of the bag with the chux cloth, KFS and scrub pad, then the pot ensemble goes on top. A nice neat package.

The cook pot with gear stored inside: gas canister, lighter and brew kit

Stove Wind-shields

One thing which I occasionally carry is a wind-shield to protect my cooker flame from wind gusts.  A wind gust can extinguish your cooker or at a minimum make it much less efficient.

I have two different wind-shields, the first is a commercially produced version made by Macpac. This is a fold out screen with connectors so that it can be shaped into a circle. The main problem with this is the weight (110gms) so has been relegated to base camp cooking duty.
Macpac brand cooker wind-shield

My other wind shield is home made from an heavy foil roasting tray. This version weighs hardly anything (37gms) and if damaged can be easily and cheaply replaced. There are a set of instructions on Lotsafreshair's website about how to make one of these at home. 

A foil wind shield from
 If I'm in a hut or camping in thick bush I don't usually bother with a wind shield or I will make an expedient one from rocks or chunks of wood. I would carry a wind shield if camping out on tops or a ridge as wind is more of a problem there. 

Miscellaneous Gear

 The other thing I carry is a support for my stove gas canister. These cooker over gas canister stoves are notoriously unstable, mainly due to the small diameter of the gas bottle at its base. What a pot support does is increase the diameter on the ground, making it much more stable. 

Gas bottle support, Macpac brand

My version is from Macpac, it will accept all three sizes of canister & weighs 20gms, again it is carried if I expect to be camping out.

Other cook gear I use...

My previous cook set in use Lake Christabel Hut 2014
I used to carry a lightweight stainless steel pot and a separate metal cup but exchanged these for my current set up last year. Stainless is great for clean up but it is a lot heavier.The stainless pot weighs in at 227gms (no lid), the cup weighs 90gms so that is 317gms as opposed to my current 210 gms.

I also have a fry pan made from the same material (they were a set) which weighs only 97gms. 

I still use both if part of a larger tramping group or for base camping as you need your own cup etc. and the pot (at 1.2 litres in volume) is much better for cooking real food in.

Brewing up on the bed of the Blue Grey River 2014
Just one other item I'd like to mention, if you use isobutane gas canisters then like me you will end up with a lot of hard to dispose of empties. Normally these cannot be recycled due to the chance of residual gas causing an explosion so you need to get one of these:

The Jetboil Crunchit

This is a Jetboil Crunchit!

A Crunchit is basically a big can opener, use it to pierce empty gas canisters. The canister can then be placed in your usual metal recycling bin. They cost $16 NZD and will be one of the most useful pieces of gear you will ever buy. Mine stays at home so that after a trip I can recycle the metal responsibly. 

Find them online, at any Macpac/Kathmandu/Bivouac Outdoor/Hunting and Fishing store in New Zealand and at most other good outdoor retailers.

 The cook gear in use...

Here are some assorted photos of the current cook kit in action....

Brewing up at Rod Donald Hut, March 2016

Cooker and cook pot in use, Packhorse Hut 2016
Cook gear boiling water at Mid Robinson Hut, 2015

So there you have it, a short introduction to my cooking gear!