What’s In The Kitchen? Our Current Bike Touring Cook Kit

A whittled down kitchen that is perfect for third world cooking and the ideal size and weight for a minimal setup…

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When vagabonding on two wheels, especially in the third world, it is interesting to uncover what splendid budget dishes can be prepared with the variety odd sundries available on the road. The typical requirements are that the meal is cheap, easy to carry and that one may find at least some of the bulkier ingredients while riding through a small village towards the end of the day. In Central America it was always some derivative of pasta with pouch sauce, a veg or two, and possibly some eggs thrown in for protein. In each country in southern Africa it has varied slightly, but is usually a rice curry dish or a tomato pasta dish. There are ripe tomatoes everywhere this time of year, so they are always a main ingredient. All of the dishes we prepare have one thing in common; they are all cooked with one pot (with a secondary vessel used for holding the cooked starch until the other portion is prepared). Of course there are other things that we prepare… desserts, salads, and a myriad of stews. But, again, 1 pot, 1 burner.

Our kit is simple, light and designed to be easy to carry in a pannierless setup. We had previously carried a Whisperlite and full mess kit with plates, forks, spoons, bowls, etc. Although this was slightly better suited for preparing more complex creations, it was a little too much. As I am finally pulling together a full pack list, I thought I’d share what’s in our kitchen:

The Fire

Trangia spirit burner
Vargo Titanium wood stove (used as pot stand and wind blocker for the Trangia)

Bike Touring Kitchen - Vargo Titanium Hexagon

The Vargo hexagon stove works perfectly as a combination pot stand and windscreen for a spirit burner stove such as the Trangia. My main rationale in purchasing the Vargo was to be able to use it with wood in a pinch. However, we haven’t ran out of fuel so far in Africa, so I haven’t had a chance to test it’s wood burning capabilities. Methylated spirits fuel is everywhere here.

GSI Pinnacle Backpacker - Bike Touring Kitchen

The pot, bag and nested bowls from the Pinnacle Backpacker by GSI Outdoors. These fit perfectly in a Sea To Summit 5L dry bag, which also fits perfectly on an oversized fork mount cage such as the Salsa Anything Cage.

Pots and Dishes

2L pot from GSI Pinnacle Backpacker kit
2 nested bowls from GSI Pinnacle Backpacker kit
Sealed bag from GSI Pinnacle Backpacker kit
Snow Peak Titanium Spork (Gin carries the second)
Snow Peak Titanium Mug (Gin carries the second)
Universal aluminum pot handle (from REI)
Random small stainless steel plate purchased just recently (not shown)

Bike Touring Kitchen - Domke

My whole kitchen, except the pots, bowls and plate fit neatly into this Domke waxed canvas accessory bag which slides nicely into my frame bag. I always find it important to have things in softer bags to avoid abrading.

Carrying and Extras

Domke waxed-canvas accessory bag
Shard of chamois to wrap the Trangia
MSR coffee drip filter
MSR salt/pepper 2 sided container
Wash rag
Detergent in a plastic bag
Pocket knife (for cutting, lion defense or whatever)

Bike Touring Kitchen - Titanium Spork

My pride and joy… I thought I lost it a few weeks back and was temporarily frantic.

Bike Touring Kitchen - Snow Peak Titanium Mug

Another piece to never leave home without. These things are fairly invincible and versatile as well.

Bike Touring Kitchen - Sea to Summit

The toughest dry bag out there. This one acts as a food bag and holds the pots and nested bowls from the Pinnacle Backpacker.

Bike Touring Kitchen

Another one-pot wonder. All over Southern Africa they cook primarily with charcoal; it’s fairly common to find a small charcoal cooker and a large cast iron pot. Here we are starting a stew that ended up feeding us and some of the staff at a backpacker in Senga, Bay Malawi.
  • SF_Rich

    i definitely like your guys setup. what are some of your staple meals.

  • Thanks. It’s very hard to find meat here, but they have bags a dried soy chunks. So we usually saute those with onion, then stew in tomatoes and other veggies. From there, with proper spices, it either turns italian over pasta or to a curry over rice…

  • amberwaves

    Hi there, would you convince me to go with a trangia instead of making my own alcohol stove? Or have you found diy stoves just or almost just as convenient and successful?

  • Hi. Well, it depends on what you’re cooking. If you are just boiling water, the can stove works great. But the thing I like about the Trangia is the simmer ring. It not only allows you to slow simmer something, it saves fuel.

  • amberwaves

    Thanks for your prompt reply, Logan. Sorry for my delay! I’ve made a simmer ring for my can stove from the top of another soda can. Do you think that would do the trick, or do you think the Trangia is still a lot more efficent?

  • amberwaves

    One more question: Do you stay away from Titanium? I’m attracted to its strength and light weight, but I hear it’s best for boiling water only, and I would definitely want to do some cooking in it. I’m looking at Vargo’s double boiler system that seems to help that problem though.

  • Well, I have never used a simmer ring for a can stove, so it would be hard to compare. Let me know how it works for you…

  • I took a Vargo Bot titanium pot out on a five day bikepack (just got back). I loved it… perfect size; Cleaned up easily; doubles as a bottle…

  • Michael Viglianco

    So, after using several what do you prefer now? Im looking at getting something for alcohol. That is available in SA right?

  • Alcohol is everywhere in africa. It comes tinted purple or blue. Get the trangia. You can simmer with the ring. Also, I like the Vargo titanium stove as a backup and it doubles as a windscreen/stand. If you don’t have a pot yet, I love the Bot.

  • Michael Viglianco

    Is there only one type of Trangia burner? Their site is confusing.

  • Not sure… there are also a few other manufacturers that make the exact spirit burner on Amazon. Trangia tries to sell their cook kits, so you are better off on amazon…

  • Jon Danger Evans

    I have a beer can stove that works just as well as the my Trangia. The one thing I love more about the Trangia is the ability to store a couple meals worth of fuel in the burner with the cap and rubber o-ring.

  • Adam Dreas

    Did you store alcohol in a container outside of the trangia? Or did it last long enough between refilling points?

  • You can store alcohol in any plastic bottle…

  • crazydave789

    in the infantry we put lanyards on everything, the spork would be tied off in easy reach to steal some food off anyone close by. not so easy in bike gear though loops of dyneema and a mini karibiner to keep them together can save heartache

    for the weight I’d also carry a light my fire spork or two and find chopsticks quite handy, multi use and light. though you burn your lips on alloy ones. I also like foldacups weigh nothing and give you an extra bowl for a quick fountain drink, two course meal or forage pot.

    my current debate is big pot, small pot or both. I have some SIGG traveller pans that are steel lined alu very light, durable and clever, I tend to pack one on bushcraft/camping trips for big water boils, washing and collecting rainwater along with a crusader cookset that is a one pint steel mug with a burner unit and water bottle. changing to cycle bottles though I’m veering towards the stanley cookset for its neatness or reusing some camping gaz randonee pans 30+ years old superlight and still going strong, though a tad small.

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