How Much Cooking Fuel Do I Need on a Backpacking Trip?
Updated: Jul 28, 2020
Let's see if we can make this easy.
Lots of things effect how much fuel you'll need from the outside temperature, to your meal plan, how many hot beverages you'll want along the way, and even the altitude at which you're cooking each meal. So, how could you possibly know without having done the exact trail before with the same meal plan?
For each of the meals we make, we've tested the fuel required, and list in in our recipe book. When we test our backpacking meal recipes, we use the ultralight Soto Amicus stove and titanium backpacking pots. These are also the stove and pots we rent in our All-Inclusive Backpacking Vacation customers.
The Soto Amicus backpacking stove runs on isobutane gas canisters which can be purchased at most outdoor retailers and a lot of big box stores. The canisters are sold in 8oz and 16oz sizes, so let's see if we can translate meals and people and days and weather and altitude into ounces. Below is a small chart that should be a good starting point.
The warm weather fuel use guide is based on one hot breakfast, one hot dinner and one hot drink per day cooked at around 50F to 80F outside temp. The cold weather fuel use guide is based on one hot breakfast, one hot dinner and two hot drinks per day cooked at around 20F to 50F outside temp. You'll want to carry additional fuel if you're melting snow for your water. And to maximize fuel use in cold weather, place the canister inside your coat with you and warm it up before use. At RightOnTrek, we first create meals that taste great and provide the macronutrients you need to be downright comfortable in the backcountry. But it doesn't stop there. We try to make each meal as light as possible, and use as little fuel as possible so you don't have to pack as many fuel canisters. Creating meals with this in mind also means that the total time it takes to prepare delicious backpacking meals is super short compared to most other options, which lets you fuel up faster when its time to stop and camp.
Looking for an easy way to check how much fuel you have left?
Float your canister in water. The less fuel you have, the more buoyant it is and the higher it floats. With a little practice you'll be able to tell just how many burns you have left by checking how high the canister floats.