It a began as a kid in scouts cooking potatoes, carrots and ground beef in an aluminum foil pouch in the coals of a wood fire. Those meals were always oversold. The reality was burned crusty outsides of the food and mostly undercooked potatoes and carrots. The thin foil really didn’t work that well at distrusting even heat in the coals of a wood fire. By high school us backpacking kids had bought army surplus stuff to complement our old Boy Scout camping kit. We had discovered Sterno, tipsy little grills and trying to in small damp tents. Then came real backpacking stoves. The first was a Svea 123 stove now solid by Optimus. Very simple kit. But, not a stove you want to light in a tent. It was fairly simple, once you learned the tricks to priming it without flooding the surrounding area it worked well. I got a Gerry bottled fuel stove later that was lighter and cleaner and easier to light. But, the Gerry stove required a proprietary fuel bottle that eventually went away in the market place. As I used up the last bottles I began a search for the next stove.
The MSR stove, with an REI teapot and cup. The teapot has a wide top so I can warm a can or bag meal in water then use the water to wash or make tea.
My current stove replaced my Gerry back in 2004 when I bought my BMW GS Adventure and got back to motorcycle camping on a more regular and remote basis. The new stove was a MSR Whisper Lite.
This is all the cookware and meal tools I carry beyond a pocket knife.
Over the years I’ve found this is all I need for the food I prepare.
That food has evolved to instant oatmeal; Scottish oats and maybe raisins if I remember to bring them, instant coffee from Starbucks, because the tiny packets pack well. Both coffee and porridge leave nothing by dry packaging to carry. For an evening meal I’ll heat a pouch of lentils and rice vegetarian mix or a can of chili or dried noodle soups. These can be found easily anywhere I travel. We have even used similar meals while traveling in Europe and staying in VRBO type places. Made for cheap eats and easy clean up.
I usually try for a more veggie based meal at mid-day or at least a salad. That way things stay sort of balanced.
Sometimes that means stopping at a roadside farm stand which can be wonderful. Anything from fresh to dried fruits and nuts to some great veggies. A tomato, small zucchini and maybe some radishes can really make a great meal.
I’ve found it easier to opportunity forage in this way rather than buying a few days food and carrying that. Though I do buy a box of instant oatmeal packets and a box of instant coffee packets before I leave on a trip and if need be during a trip when I find a big grocery. The Starbucks coffee I use is sold in grocers I’ve visited into the mid-west.
At my mid-day meal stop I’ll try to replenish my water supplies, to have enough for the evening, the mornings breakfast and clean up and get me to the next mid-day stop. More often traveling the southwest US I need to stop multiple times a day and replenish my hydration bladder anyway, giving my multiple opportunities to find food and water.
I’ve seen Ramon soups in little gas stations. Not all of them but a few. Any town with a. grocer is going to have stuff I can use.
I don’t carry frying pans or cutting boards I don’t plan on gourmet meals of multiple courses. I don’t need that and don’t crave it either. My focus is simple and efficient. There always has been the emergency Cliff bar or in the old days granola bars for those times when I just couldn’t find what I wanted or skipped it on purpose. Once sitting watching the sunset over a mountain lake while sipping herbal tea and nibbling at a cliff bar.
For me this set up has been perfect. I’ve never been in need of more than I carry with this. The little stove stores in a bag with its wind blocks and repair and gasoline conversion kit. I keep it all in a larger bag along with my stores of instant porridge and coffee. I like the MSR stove because it with the teapot are relatively low profile and wide based compared to other stoves like that old Svea 123 or the newer Jet Boil. Even my old Gerry gas stove was a taller and narrower footprint. The MSR feels more stable.
This rudimentary kit probably doesn’t appeal to everyone I’m sure of that. I’ve seen quite the elaborate setups from climbers at base camps to adventure vans and full time Class A RV’ers down to traveling motorcyclists and cyclists with more diverse kit. None of it is more right or wrong than any other. Yes, there are times I’ve considered carrying a fry pan and adding ym fly fishing gear, but that brings along a whole set of other things to solve and I’d just rather keep it simple. After all my focus on a motorcycle trip is traveling by motorcycle, not cooking.