Friday, May 29, 2015

Cooking in the Wilderness Part 1: DIY Cup and Pot Cozies

My husband and I dated more on the trails than we did in restaurants or movie theaters, and we are trying our hardest to pass our love of nature down to our four kids.  We take them hiking or backpacking on pretty much every free weekend with tolerable weather. 

Friends often ask what our "secret" is to getting our kids to go along with our adventures. How do we get them to not whine the whole time? Do the kids carry their own stuff?  And probably the most asked, "What do you bring to eat??"

Hundreds of articles, blogs, books and discussion boards are dedicated to troubleshooting feeding your family--while under the comforts of your own roof.  Take away the comfort and the roof, and the task may seem downright impossible.

For us, the learning curve has definitely been steep. Hopefully I can take some of the elevation gain out of your learning curve by sharing our knowledge.  On our last couple of backpacking trips, we actually looked forward to each and every meal we brought to eat. Real food IS possible on the trail or at the campground. Man cannot live by granola bars alone.  

I am going to share some of our discoveries in my blog post series: "Cooking in the Wilderness."  
  1. First, (in this post) I will share a DIY project for making what should be the 11th Essential when packing for a camping trip:  CUP AND POT COZIES. 
  2. Second (in a soon-to-come post), I'll share what we have learned making and using HOMEMADE ALCOHOL STOVES.
  3. In a third post, I'll share tips and recipes for PLANNING MEALS FOR CAMPING AND BACKPACKING with your family.

Cup / Pot Cozy Tutorial 
Most trail food that you will cook will be in a pot. Why? Because most of it will need to be boiled or re-hydrated to become edible.  I'll cover more about this in my meal planning post, but trust me on this. Hot cocoa, oatmeal, soup, rice, pasta----all of these require a POT of boiling water to make.  But so often it is windy and cool and by the time we all get our meal into a cup or passed around to us to take a bite out of, it has already cooled down (yes, we sometimes eat out of the same pot--you'd do it too to avoid cleaning dishes when it's 40 degrees outside!).  

However, NO LONGER are cold camping entrees a problem for us! We made pot cozies from rolled foil insulation, so as soon as our food is ready, we put the lid on it and place it in its custom pot cozy! Hot meals do the body, the spirit, and the psyche good in the wilderness. 

We went a step further and made each of us a cup cozy. When we aren't all eating out of the same pot, we each have our own cup (made from a re-purposed steel vegetable can, sharp edges removed), and each cup has its own cozy!  It is AMAZING how long our food stays hot now! No need to eat quickly. It stays so warm, it actually slows us down--a good problem to have! 

You will need: 
Permanent Marker
Good Scissors
Metal Pot or Cup

1. Mark the height of the cup, minus 1/4 inch, on a straight edge of the bubble foil insulation.

2. Roll the insulation around the cup and mark the circumference, plus 1/4 inch, with the marker.

3. Connect the marks with straight lines and cut out the rectangle.

4. Measure and cut a piece of foil tape the same length as your bubble foil rectangle.

5. Foil tape has a paper backing that must be removed to expose the sticky side. Overlap the bubble foil onto half of the width of the foil tape and carefully peel away the paper as you stick the tape to the bubble foil.

6. Fold the tape over the bubble foil and smooth out.

7. Measure and cut a piece of foil tape by folding it around the width of the bubble foil rectangle.

8. Carefully place the width of the rectangle over half the piece of tape, leaving half the width exposed.

9. Wrap the bubble wrap around end to end to form a cylinder and stick it to the exposed tape. Wrap the rest of the tape around to the inside of the cylinder to close the open seam. 

10. Place the cup into the cylinder.

11. On a new piece of bubble foil, trace a circle around the circumference of the cozy with the cup inside. 

12. Cut out the circle.

13. Place the circle on the bottom of the cup inside the bubble foil cylinder.

14. Measure and cut foil tape around the bottom of the cylinder.  Carefully peel away the paper as you stick half the width of the tape to the base of the cylinder. The other half of the width will be exposed and sticking up (with the cup upside down). 

15. Cut slits every inch or so around the exposed tape, creating little tabs.

16. Fold the tabs down over the bottom of the cozy. 

And you are done! You have a completed cup/pot cozy. 

Here is one of our pot cozies.  The method to make a cozy for a pot is exactly the same, except you need to measure and cut out notches for the handles of the pot. 

See how the pot rests nicely in its cozy with the handles free to move? 

Finally, an action shot taken in the actual wilds of Washington. :)


  1. Very cool! Seeing how you do all these things inspires me to want to take my family into the wilderness to camp, as well! So fun!

  2. You are a true outdoorsperson. I like your resourcefulness, how you transform simple cans into useful campfire utensil. I think this is a good project for me and my family. Thanks for sharing such a great tutorial. I also found some useful backpacking stoves and backpacking tips here:

  3. This is great! Definitely going to try. Thank you for sharing!moonshine still