Cooking/Water Storage & Purification

This category contains items directly related to cooking, eating, purifying water, treating water, and storing water. As with all things backpacking, there are endless options. Here are some very good suggestions that have worked out wonderfully for me and a lot of other thru hikers. 


I don’t cook very much, but I always want the option to be able to boil water, whether on a fire, a stove, or otherwise. This ultralight pot weighs less than three ounces without the lid and has covered my water boiling needs for thousands of miles. I use it as a cup or a pot, but rarely eat out of it. If you like to cook elaborate meals, then you’ll probably want to opt for a larger cook pot. This one holds a little over two cups of water and suits my needs just fine.

Here is another cooking pot option that holds twice as much as the one above. Still very light, but you can boil more water and cook more food in this one without worrying about over flow, etc.

These convenient Ziploc Twist Tupperware containers are excellent to  eat out of, as well as re-hydrate meals with hot or cold water. Some ultralight hikers will carry only one of these containers instead of a stove or a cook pot. You can re-hydrate just about anything in them with cold water (this is called “cold soaking”), so long as you’re willing to wait the extra time. Most hikers will begin the cold soak process about 30 minutes before they plan to stop for the day; this way their food is ready to be eaten by the time they stop or set up camp.

Alcohol Stove (Trangia Spirit Burner)

An alcohol stove is probably the lightest stove option out there; however they can be painfully slow to boil water sometimes. Most people make their own alcohol stoves, but this is a very well liked mass produced model. The alcohol stove eliminates the need to carry heavy gas canisters. Instead, you can carry how ever much or little rubbing alcohol or “Heet,” in whatever container you wish. Nowadays they make such light gas stoves, the weight and *wait of an alcohol stove carries almost no advantage. It’s all down to preference now.

If you’re looking for speed and efficiency when it comes to cooking; then look no further. This whole stove/cooking pot kit is one of the most popular among new and veteran thru hikers alike; especially the ones who love to cook. If you’re into conserving your fuel, then this stove set up is the most efficient. You won’t lose much heat to the wind or other factors due to the smart design of this setup.

I used this for my PCT thru hike, and I believe it is one of the lightest gas stove top options on the market right now (just over 2 ounces). Super light and compact, you won’t even know you’re carrying it. This stove simply threads onto your fuel canister as pictured.

There are a lot of companies making sporks out there, but this one is affordable, super light, and gets the job done. What more is there to say about Sporks?


A regular spoon does hold a small advantage over a spork. While you can’t impale your food with a spoon like you can a spork; you can certainly scrape the contents of your bowl much more efficiently with a regular spoon. This is the biggest reason I switched from spork to spoon.

Without a doubt, this is the most popular filter amongst thru hikers. Simple, light, efficient, and straightforward. This is the smaller version of the original Sawyer. I’ve used these filters for thousands of miles. The beauty of this particular brand of filter is that they screw right onto the top of most water bottles (preferably smart-water bottles), allowing you to “squeeze” your water through the filter and into another container; or drink directly from them. If you want a quicker flow, then I recommend going with the regular sized Sawyer filter.

This filter performs the same way as the mini, however it’s capable of filtering more water, faster. It’s a little heavier, but if you’re an impatient person, then the quicker filtering may be worth the tiny bit of extra weight.


Platypus Gravity Filter

If squeezing your water through a filter seems like too much work, then let a gravity filter do the work for you; just set it and forget it. Fill the water bladder up, then hang it from a tree, a rock, a foot bridge, or your arm while gravity pulls the water through the filter and deposits it into whatever receptacle you want. These types of filters are very popular as well. You can set them and “forget them,” letting your water filter itself while you take care of other important tasks. Obviously this set up is a little heavier than other filtering or purification options, but to some people it’s more than worth it.

Water Purification Tablets

Purification Tablets/Chemicals are old school. For people who don’t trust filters, you can simply kill the germs instead. This is an incredibly light option, however you have to wait to drink your water, and it might have a funny taste (not if you flavor it though!).



Aquamira Water Purification

This is yet another alternative to the tablets and the filters. You can treat greater volumes of water more easily with Aquamira than you an with the tablets, however there is still a wait time, and the potential for your water to taste funny.


You don’t see a whole lot of SteriPENs’ on the trails, but they are a really cool water treatment option. The light emitted by the SteriPEN will kill any germs or micro organisms within your water. It wont filter them out, but it will render them harmless. Your water might have a little bit of texture due to not being filtered, however it will be safe. This is one high tech (but heavier!) way to treat your water.

I don’t hike without a 2L Platypus Bladder; it’s my emergency water container. This bladder is convenient because it weighs next to nothing, and when you’re not using it you can roll it up and stuff it anywhere in your pack. When I encounter an unexpected dry stretch, it’s nice to have the option to carry an extra two liters of water. I can also thread a sawyer squeeze right onto the nozzle to filter or drink from.

The Smart Water “water bottle” is far and away the most popular water storage container amongst long distance hikers. It’s simple, it’s sleek, it fits in any side pockets snugly, and comes in half liter, one liter, and liter and a half capacities. You can also thread your sawyer filter onto the end and filter the water into another bottle, or drink from it directly. These bottles are simply great. Most gas stations have them, but on the off chance you don’t have any near you; Amazon will ship them in any quantity.



  1. Looking forward to following you and Catfox on another thru hike. I also followed Dixie on the AT and on the PCT. We are dying to know how and when you two met? Please!!!!!!!

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