Jamie’s Guide to Cooking on Expeditions

Jamie shares his advice for cooking on multi-day adventures.

"When you are heading out on a camping trip, be it a couple of days or over a month, food is going to be a big focus of your logistical prep.


Obviously, the shorter the trip, the less planning it will take. The below is based on multi-day trips where weight and packability are vital so this guide should help prepare you for anything from a family wild camping weekend to a solo multi-day adventure."


"There are several options available and they all use different fuels including gas, solid fuel, methylated spirit, petrol, diesel, kerosene and aviation fuel. Before you head off on your trip, you should work out which fuel works best for you. I normally opt for gas as it is easy, clean and cheap. I have a Trangia which I can use if I need an alternative, which uses methylated spirit. When making your decision, think which fuel will be the easiest to come by. One of the issues with gas is that you can’t fly with it and depending on your destination, it may be hard to find the right gas canister. I have had this problem in various countries so it’s sometimes best to play it safe."

Crockery and cutlery

"What you're planning to cook determines what you will need in terms of bowls and implements. I use an MSR Windburner, which comes with a measuring bowl on the bottom - perfectly sufficient for preparing noodles, porridge & couscous and means you can forgo a plastic or collapsible bowl.


For eating, I have a Light My Fire Spork. It is well designed, lightweight (titanium) and strong – I can’t tell you how many plastic ones I have broken! If you are going to be eating from dehydrated food packaging, maybe look for something with a longer handle. When I am on longer expeditions and know I will be eating a lot of instant noodles, I normally add a pair of chopsticks!


For my tea and coffee, I use a Lifeventure Titanium Mug. Again, this is lightweight, durable and its foldable handle makes it very packable; I normally clip it onto the outside of my backpack. The X-Cup is an alternative but not ideal in minus temperatures. A good sturdy mug is best!"


"When you are away from civilisation, water will become one of your biggest concerns. I normally like to have about 3.5L per day: 2 litres to drink and then 600-700ml for breakfast and dinner. This allows a hot meal and coffee or tea twice a day. 


The difficulty of finding water depends on where you are. Once you have found it you then have to set about treating it where necessary – there's nothing worse than getting a stomach bug in the wild!


Here are a few top tips for collecting water:


• Where has the water come from? Does it run through towns (industrial waste), past farms (chemicals and fertilizers), from higher grazing areas (animal faeces or dead animals) or where other humans may be (going to loo near a water source)?

• Is the water moving? You want to take water from a moving source, not something that is stagnant.

• When will I next have access to water? This determines how much water you need to clean and collect.

• Do I need water for cleaning myself or cooking equipment?


How should I clean my water?


Having completed a number of multi-day solo expeditions, I soon came up with a pretty set routine. I would have two types of water – drinking water and cooking water. 


For drinking water, I would just fill my bottles if I was confident it was clean, perhaps directly from a spring or high in the mountains. If I was a little suspicious, I would pop in a chlorine tablet. If the water was clearly dirty, I would run it through my Sawyer water filter and then boil it if necessary – I’ve had to take water from a muddy puddle with dead flies on top so I like to think I’m experienced!"


I have a very simple approach to choosing food for my expeditions:


If you want hot food, then you need to be able to simply add boiling water: If you have to boil food for long periods of time, you can use up the gas which ultimately means carrying more which equals more bulk and weight. I would opt for instant noodles, couscous, dehydrated meals or powered potato.


It must absorb the water: If you must carry the water with you, make sure you are consuming it too. If you cook pasta, then you strain away the water.


It must have high calorie content: You need to stay strong and have the energy you need to enjoy being wherever you are. Look at the calories vs the weight and bulk of the item. 


It must have as little packaging as possible: Before you go on your trip, go through all your food and see how much packaging you can get rid of before you depart. It’s the small bits of rubbish that accidentally get left and can be easily avoided!


It must taste good: A no brainer!


Are you getting enough nutrients?: During my Hayduke trek, the lack of vegetables and fruit became really evident. To help maintain some sort of good nutrition, I would take a multivitamin per day and add electrolytes to my water during the day.


Keep cleaning to a minimum: Everything I cook is chosen to make sure there is no need to do lots of washing up after. I normally boil a little extra water and then use that to clean my bowl before drinking that water too. Waste not want not!

Equipment checklist

• Stove - Jetboil Zip Cooking System

• Stove fuel - Primus Power Gas Cartridge 230g

• Bowl or something equivalent

• Spork (and chopsticks) - Sea to Summit Polycarbonate Cutlery 3pc SetSharp foldable knife with corkscrew/bottle opening

• Lighter/matches plus backup - Turboflame Turboflame 2 Lighter

• Sponge for cleaning (I normally take half of a double-faced sponge – the green and yellow ones)

• Water bottle - Nalgene (can be used for hot drinks and also as a hot water bottle if needed)

• Water container - Highlander 23L Jerrican with Tap

• Water filter - LifeStraw LifeStraw Go

• Flask - Lifeventure TiV Vacuum Flask 700ml

• Biodegradable multi-purpose soap - Lifeventure All Purpose Soap (200ml)

• Large Ziplock bag for rubbish!


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