Since May this year I made the switch to a gluten-free diet, and I’m glad to say that the change has helped me a lot. But I’ve gotten tired of the constant “boil-‘n-bag” meals, so over the past few months, I’ve had to re-think my cook system and the foods I prepare. For the past year, I had been using a DIY ultralight coffee-can pot (see Sintax77’s how-to video) for all of my cooking. While extremely light at 3.7 ounces/105 grams, it is fairly limited at being best suited for quickly boiling water. For day trips, however, this is all I really need, but for extended outings, I want to have more options.
As of late, titanium and ultralight cook-sets are becoming more and more prominent, but I have a preference for stainless steel kit because it generally costs less and tends to cook food more evenly. I don’t bother with aluminum due to the possible health risks.
I decided to purchase an Olicamp kettle (on the left in the photo, next to my DIY coffee-can pot), which consists of a pot and frying pan that doubles as a lid. This particular model holds about one quart in volume, weighs a fairly hefty 13.22 ounces/375 grams, and is constructed out of 18-8 grade stainless steel. I bought it for about $20 from Amazon. Larger sizes (three and four quart volumes) are available, but the one quart capacity is about ideal for my purposes.
Lentil stew on the go :).
The wide shape of the pot allows for excellent heat distribution and minimises scorching, perfect for slow cooking soups, stews, and even baking. This something most cook-sets on the market lack. And because the lid can be used as a frying pan, it is possible to cook two meals or two parts of a meal at once. Also worth noting is that the pot handle locks in place at the 12 o’clock position for convenience. Overall, it’s a very similar design to the Tatonka kettle available in the UK.
Here’s how the Olicamp compares to some of the more popular stainless steel cook-sets.
Olicamp Kettle (w/ frying pan lid) – cost: approx. $20 weight: 13.22 oz/375 grams volume: 32 fl. oz/.95 litres
SnowPeak Kettle Number 1 – cost: $30 weight: 9 oz/255 grams volume: 30.4 fl. oz/.90 litres
Zebra 12 cm billy-can – cost: $25 weight: 19 oz/539 grams volume: 47 fl. oz/1.4 litres
MSR 1.1 Litre Stowaway Pot – cost: $25 weight: 15.5 oz/440 grams volume: 37 fl. oz/1.1 litres
I am very impressed with the Olicamp’s performance throughout the months of testing. It may be a bit on the heavy side, but this is virtually unavoidable with stainless steel. On the whole, the Olicamp kettle is a superb choice for extended trips, offering both flexible cooking options and affordability.
Now, when it comes to the main heat source to cook meals over, I chose a portable wood burning stove. I wanted something more capable than my feeble attempt at a “hobo stove”. There are quite a lot of options out there, but I ended up picking an Emberlit. Lots of people have already thoroughly reviewed this stove, but I would like to briefly share with you my thoughts and opinions about it.
The model I chose is the original one, made out of stainless steel. It weighs about 11 ounces/312 grams and folds neatly flat so that it takes up minimal space in the rucksack. It has a reasonable price-tag of $40.
I am pleased to say that the Emberlit works very efficiently and pairs nicely with my Olicamp kettle. It comes with two cross-pieces so that smaller diameter cups, pots, and pans can be placed on top. Unlike an open fire, this stove doesn’t require constant tending and feeding. It also consumes much less wood, leaving you with minimal mess to clean up. Yes, the Emberlit is rather heavy, and the company does make a titanium version, but I personally couldn’t justify spending more than twice the cost of the standard stainless model. And while it isn’t compatible with DIY alcohol stoves when assembled, you can use the two cross-pieces as a pot stand, the interlocking side walls as a windscreen, and the bottom plate as a priming platform or for a more stable surface.