Author Topic: Cooking on the move  (Read 2104 times)


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Cooking on the move
« on: November 28, 2020, 04:08:35 PM »
I am very interested to learn from other forum members about there cooking setup for long tours.  I realise now that the N+1 rule applies to cooking stoves too. I have acquired 7 over the years.  It was time for a review.

I need to up my game with recipes to steer clear of freeze-dried dependencies and save costs. Apart from the usual staples, who can post a great recipe that has become a favourite?


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Re: Cooking on the move
« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2020, 06:34:22 PM »
I enjoyed reading that, a different outlook to mine, I cook as a last resort when cycling.  I like eating out, or even takeaways, or just basics from a supermarket.
I had a Jetboil before they had any EU distribution, a present from a friend touring in the US, it was much derided as a gimmick on this or other forum, buy those wise campers... I think it's enduring popularity and the number of imitations have proved them wrong.  It eventually wore out last year and resisting the temptation to replace like with like I bought one of the imitations, the Primus Lite+.  Primus have taken it up a notch, smaller and faster, but it's lost a little functionality and would rightly be called a gas kettle. Which is fine with me,  that's all I need.
Although I haven't been away much this year, it's small and light enough to have come on some day rides, which has been handy in present circumstances.


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Re: Cooking on the move
« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2020, 09:22:41 PM »
An extract from one of my favourite armchair cycle touring websites,

Your touring site is way up there too!

Incidentally I’m pleased to report that the burnt out car on NCN41 where it goes under the M49 in Avonmouth was removed (into a neighbouring field where no doubt it’ll become a wildlife haven)  in late 2018 - an email to Bristol City Council cc’d to Sustrans had the desired effect! Sorry it wasn’t able to be removed before you rode through....


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Re: Cooking on the move
« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2020, 11:20:32 PM »
Some nice recipes - I need to up my game. I like a good restaurant too, but I am trying to keep costs down on the longer trips.


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Re: Cooking on the move
« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2020, 11:33:36 AM »
Excellent if only to inform that I too have too many stoves!
Favourite Trangia mini over all the rest including Trangia full sized.

John Saxby

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Re: Cooking on the move
« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2020, 12:49:29 AM »
A few thoughts on cooking on tour, and stoves. (Apologies for being tardy in posting this.  The transition to winter is a busy time.)

My summary comment:  If your tours will take you into terrain where fuel may be hard to find or of uneven quality, and food supplies distant, I’d suggest using a multi-fuel stove. If you’re travelling through areas where hardware stores, garages and (super)markets are more common, I’d opt for a Trangia alcohol stove.

In more detail:  My experience with all this covers about 50 years-plus, spread across Canada, the US, Southern/Central Africa, and bits of Europe & UK.  Modes of travel have included hiking, paddling (mostly canoeing), motorcycling and cycling. My gear and preferences have evolved: My stoves have included canisters, variants on pressure stoves, and most recently, a small Trangia. Windscreens are essential for all of them. The one I use is a heavy-duty foldable alloy foil item, which came with an MSR stove.

My most effective and durable stoves have been two multi-fuel MSR products. The first is a G/K which I bought in 1982 and still use occasionally.  It's a blow-torch, essentially on or off, and will burn anything. (There is a modified-blowtorch setting, but it’s nowhere close to a simmer.) A more sophisticated variant is the Draganfly, which has a simmer function, and again, will burn anything.  Both require a little patience in learning to use the priming/pre-heating system, but otherwise they're simple and bullet-proof.  (I have not used the Whisperlite, but a couple of friends have found them less than satisfactory, with lower performance than the G/K or Draganfly.) I have also found MSR to be a model of customer relations, on the one occasion when I needed technical advice and a fix.

I used the G/K stove for hiking in North America and Central/Southern Africa for about 15 years in the 1980s and 1990s, and it handled a very wide range of fuels and qualities. In Africa, I used paraffin for the most part, and occasionally diesel fuel; in North America, white gas/naptha/Coleman fuel. (NB here: Petrol can contain up to 20% ethanol. This erodes neoprene, so if your stove’s pump has any neoprene seals, they will soon leak. If so, switch to paraffin.) I used the Draganfly for paddling in Canada during the late 1990s, right up until 2018.  I used it on a couple of cycling tours and on motorcycle trips as well, including a couple of transcontinental journeys.

The requirements for cooking in these different modes and settings vary widely:  On a weeklong canoe trip in the bush, for example, you have to carry all your food, including an emergency supply, along with fuel for X person-days, etc., etc.  Food is thus the heaviest item in your pack—but of course, you’re carrying it only on portages.  For this type of trip, I’ve found the Draganfly to be the best bet for balancing efficiency, reliability, bulk and weight.

For cycling, I’ve used canister stoves (MSR) as well as my Draganfly, and in the last several years, my Trangia mini. The Trangia is very light and compact, and works best for my cycle-touring requirements. For cycle touring, I do a mix of cooking for myself and eating at cafés. I usually carry enough food for 2-3 days, replenishing at supermarkets as needed. Fresh fruit and veg can get heavy, but I treasure them—I usually have a couple of apples, tangerines, and/or tomatoes in my food bag. Hence, I use the Trangia mainly for boiling water; the Draganfly is better for more elaborate meals, but I tend to make those when I’m paddling.  (Graham Smith, who sometimes posts here as “Vintage Tourer”, has some spectacular photos of meals cooked on a Trangia – see his posts in CycleBlaze) 

On tour, I like hot breakfasts – usually variations on porridge with dried fruit, strong black tea and condensed milk.  For a mid-day meal, I look for a café; if none is available, I make a meal from soup and noodles, with tortillas, tomatoes/cheese/ham/etc., as well as hardboiled eggs.  For supper, a café or restaurant, or a one-pot meal.  See a sample recipe for that below. I usually carry a freeze-dried meal as backup as well.  Olive oil is an essential, along with crushed chillies. I carry and use dried garlic and onion flakes, but if I know I’m going to be cooking supper, I usually try to find a fresh onion & garlic.

Snack food includes fresh fruit/veg and home-made energy bars (recipe attached); home-made jerky/biltong; dried fruit and veg; and nuts. In demanding conditions—e.g., long days in hilly/mountainous country--snacks include fresh fruit when available, and tortillas with cheese/tomato/ham.

A note on critters:  Any discussion of cooking on tour has to take account of wildlife. My comments here deal only with my experience in North America.

Bears:  Parks in Canada and the U.S. often have bear lockers.  I used to hang my foodbag from a tree branch when canoeing, hiking or cycling in bear country.  Then, after reading Cliff Jacobson on canoeing, I followed his advice and did the simple thing:  Bears are smart. They know that humans, when camping, hang their food in trees. So, they come into the camp and look for food hung from trees.  The solution: put your foodbag under a log or a rock a hundred metres or so from your camp.  I’ve been doing this for several years now, and haven’t seen a bear near my camp.  (Truth be told, I’ve seen only two black bears while camping in Eastern Canada since the 1960s.)

Raccoons:  These critters are what the touring cyclist has to watch for.  They are smart, and have very sharp teeth and claws.  Given half a chance, they will destroy panniers to get at your food.  I usually camp in public parks or privately-owned campgrounds.  In both, I ask about raccoons, and if there’s any chance that they’ll be in the campgrounds at night, I put my foodbag into the washrooms, or on top of any latrine.

On tour (as well as when hiking and paddling), I use Opsak/Loksak odour-proof and waterproof bags.  I’ve used these for the last decade, and have had no problems at all when using them.

The last notes are: Keep a scrupulously clean camp, and keep no food or scented cosmetics, etc., in your tent, not even toothpaste. All that stuff goes into an odour-proof bag, and into your foodbag, which goes into the washroom/atop the latrine/under that log or rock, well away from your camp.


(See attached:  Lorraine Nygaard’s energy bars, with JS’ notes highlighted in yellow.  Lorraine used to post on crazyguy.)

One-pot cous-cous fandango

Below are the essentials, which can of course be changed to taste.

This is the basic mix, but whenever possible, I like to add some fresh veg, such as a tomato, or half an apple. A handful of raisins makes a nice addition as well. I like fresh onion, but finding a small one can be difficult. I eat meat, and add the chorizo mainly for taste. (We have a very good local product available in Ottawa.)  Another type of dried sausage would work, as well as other sources of protein. On recent tours, I’ve added 1/3 cup of green lentils. I place these in a small screw-top plastic container in the morning, cover them with water, and add them to the mix below at suppertime.


•   ~ 2/3 cup quick cous-cous (whatever variety you like)
•   1 1/3 cup water (for the cous-cous)
•   1/3 cup dehydrated veg flakes; or more or less to taste
•   chorizo sausage, ~ 5–7 cm.  Or: other protein, such as biltong/dried beef, Textured Veg         Protein, or lentils.
•   fresh veg or raisins, if you have them
•   bouillon cube (half a pkg of soup mix would work as well.)
•   seasoning to taste (I use a mix of chilli flakes, curry powder, and thyme & oregano)
•   garlic, fresh or dried, to taste
•   1-2 tbsp olive oil, or to taste


•   cup (for measuring)
•   cup or dish (to hold veg flakes while rehydrating)
•   knife for dicing chorizo &/or garlic/onion/fresh veg
•   spoon for stirring the mixture, and for eating it.

The drill:

Prep:  takes maybe 3 – 5 minutes

•   When making late afternoon tea, place dehydrated veg flakes in dish/cup, and cover with boiling water (to speed rehydration—allow 15-20 mins minimum). Cover dish, set aside and keep handy. After making your tea, set the teabag aside.
•   Cut up your chorizo/other protein, plus the bouillon cube and garlic, fresh onion if you have it, and set aside, keeping it all handy.
•   Measure your cous-cous and keep it handy, along with your olive oil bottle and your supply of seasoning.

Cooking:  takes ~5 minutes, plus another 5 minutes waiting.

•   If you have a fresh onion or garlic, sauté for a couple of minutes over a medium flame, then put into the dish where your veg flakes are rehydrating.
•   Boil your water for cous-cous, remove from flame, dump everything into it: cous-cous, rehydrated veg flakes, any fresh veg, chorizo or other protein, bouillon cube, seasoning, garlic, olive oil.
•   Stir, return to flame asap, return to boil, remove from flame and turn off stove. Sir once again & cover for 5 minutes, stirring after 2-3 mins if needed to mix the ingredients.

•   Use the teabag to clean your pot after eating.

Hope that's helpful, and not "too much"!

« Last Edit: December 04, 2020, 12:51:51 AM by John Saxby »


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Re: Cooking on the move
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2020, 12:34:13 PM »
What a lovely insight, where your experience shines through. Thank you - an enjoyable read.

Like you, I am drawn back to the Trangia Mini because it is just so simple and effective, consisting of a few parts which cannot be lost, broken, or worn out.  I am a motorcyclist too, and plan to do a few tours, so I was looking for a bit more ummph from my stoves and was not concerned about additional weight.   Hence the Whisperlight. I can use kerosene (paraffin) to clean the motorcycle (or bicycle) chains or take gas fuel from the tank, so making the fuel multi-use too.  Hopefully, I have a range of stoves for lightweight backpacking from 2-30 days; cycle touring short and long trips and a motorcycle set up.

Gas canisters have sold out in many stores here in the UK and they are expensive compared to alcohol, paraffin and vehicle gas. 

I wish we had a few more critters in the UK, Europe.  No need to bear cans, but always good to secure food in bothies and at camp as there are mice everywhere.  I spent a pleasant evening watching an owl gorge on them as they explore the scraps around a dying campfire.

I must post my recipes too.  Your couscous technique is a classic.

John Saxby

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Re: Cooking on the move
« Reply #7 on: December 04, 2020, 02:38:06 PM »
Glad that's helpful, and thanks for your kind words.  Of course there's more detail on most of these things, so don't hesitate to send me a PM if you need to follow up.

One source for adventure motorcycling gear which you might find useful/interesting is Aerostich in Minnesota:  Some of their stuff is well suited to cycle-touring as well.  I bought a very good cookware set (anodized aluminum) from them, for example, and they're a good source for things like carabiner-style bungees.

Cheers,  John