Backpacking Without a Stove

Ditching your backpacking stove is a great way to reduce the weight of your hiking pack. Of course, your meal options become significantly more limited without a stove. Here are the pros and cons of backpacking without a stove, as well as a few ideas for stoveless backpacking meals.

Pros of backpacking without a stove

Lighten the load

One of the biggest advantages to backpacking without a stove is that it lightens up your pack. Backpacking stoves and fuel canisters aren’t ridiculously heavy, but every ounce counts on the trail. Once you add in the weight of a cookpot you really see the weight savings add up.

Save space

The other big benefit of stoveless backpacking is that you save space. So if you’re having trouble fitting all of your backpacking gear in your pack, consider leaving the stove, cookpot, and fuel canisters.

Speed and convenience

No stove means no cooking, and no cooking means that you don’t have to wait for your food, and your meals will be much more convenient. You also won’t have as much – if any – clean up with stoveless backpacking meals.

Cons of backpacking without a stove

Less satisfying

There’s something incredibly comforting about eating a hot meal after a long day on the trail. Get ready for a menu of cold and mushy or hard and crunchy.

No reliable means of cooking

Some backpackers assume they can heat their food with a small cooking fire instead of a stove. This doesn’t always go according to plan, however. A hard rain and a cloudy day can soak all available firewood, making a campfire out of the question.

Stoveless backpacking meals

You can actually eat most dehydrated meals and instant foods cold. You just have to let them soak longer than they would normally soak in boiling water (about twice as long). You can, however, let your food soak while you hike, which means you have a meal ready for you as soon as you’re done with  your hike for the day!

Crackers, chips, etc. make eating cold meals more palatable.

Tuna packets, ramen noodles, food bars, nuts, granola, trail, mix jerky, and any of your favorite ready-to-eat snacks are great options for stoveless backpacking.

MREs aren’t ideal for long multi-day backpacking trips, but they’re great for an overnight trip. They’re filling and they come with a heating element so you can have a hot meal without a stove. The biggest disadvantage is that they come with lots of packaging.

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