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Cold Soaking- Going stoveless on the trail?

I've just discovered the idea of cold soaking from Darwin Onthetrail.

You basically take your typical backpackers freeze dried pantry meal, add the food to a cup of water, and let the water re hydrate the meal.  Has anyone ever tried this?  One of my favorite things about backpacking is enjoying a WARM Mountain House meal after the long day's hike.  I also thoroughly enjoy my instant coffee in the morning as I'm packing up camp.  Wondering if anyone here has tried this and recommends it....only advantage I can think of is the weight that you can shed by not having your cooking system.


Stuff/Gear I Mention in this Video **R2R2R Grand Canyon Hike with Neemor - Video -
12 Replies

Ilik my coffee in the morning as well.  If you go with alcohol burners, or an open campfire, the weight of your cooking systeem can be trivial, all out of proportion to its benefits.

It is worthwhile having various items that can be eaten without cooking, however.

Really looking forward to the replies on this.  I saw the same video (there are a few other youtubers that are doing the cold soaking thing too) and had the same thoughts and concerns.  I typically take Ramen or Knor's Pasta sides for supper and have oatmeal as part of my breakfast and coffee, well, it's coffee, I don't even think it's legal to hike without a hot cup of joe first :). 


I agree...I'm very interested in seeing the response in this Conversation.  I later watched a video from Darwin saying that the cold soaking method is something he will be ditching in 2020.  After 4 months cold soaking on the AT, I can understand the desire to have a warm meal!


Ya, I know of him but I've known about "cold-soaking" for some time. For distance hikers, like Darwin" cold soaking can be a sensible option, for weight and speed/ease. HOWEVER, I'm a wilderness hiker (he hates that I make that distinction!)

Distance hikers typically go into town to "resupply"... and get pizza... beer... a movie... a HOTEL ROOM.... Wilderness hikers like myself may not see another person for up to a week (even then, there may only be a head nod or hand wave). So, a Hot meal is a welcome reward after a hard day's hike!!

Still, I have cold-soaked rice/pasta but ONLY if I have a hot stew, curry or sauce to pour over the top.

Freezer-bag cooking may be worth your time looking into instead.




Can you explain more about freezer-bag cooking?  I like your distinction of "wilderness hiking" vs. distance hiking.


@tadoerner Thanks.

Ya, Darwin also hates that I liken distance-hiking more akin to "touring" (while he may be interested in other related activities, Darwin's opinion is that, "We are ALL just hikers...", before bursting into a chorus of "Kumbya").

Don't get me wrong, Darwin is quite the accomplished [distance] hiker, but the FACT remains that there are distinct differences between day-hiking, distance-hiking, wilderness-hiking, and bushwhacking/bushbeating. Each has its own unique approach to hiking and gear requirements.

"Freezer bag cooking" is the compromise between cold-soaking and stove cooking. Its biggest advantage is there are no dishes to clean. Just put your meal into a plastic freezer bag (make it as complicated as you want). When the time comes, heat your water and pour into the bag, place the bag into an insulated cozy, then set aside an wait for the food to hydrate.

Just Google it for instructions and recipe ideas.

@tadoerner This is a great topic!

I'm super curious to hear from people who like doing this; most of the appeal of a freeze dried meal for me at the end of the day is that it's hot! That being said, I'm not experienced hiking through really hot a humid terrain either, so I can definitely see the appeal of food that doesn't make things warmer sometimes. Thanks for starting this conversation!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

I am totally with you @REI-JohnJ  - certain things in life are, to me, supposed to be hot: coffee, bacon, and end of day trail meals.

I certainly understand the attraction of "utility eating" - not necessarily enjoying what you're eating but eating to consume your calories and nutrition. If I was hungry enough, I would absolutely eat a cold soaked meal but since I'd be carrying my fuel and stove to make coffee anyway, I may as well heat more water for my meal.

“Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life.” (John Muir)

I'm with those that think that some things are just supposed to be hot.... coffee, oatmeal, soup, etc. I do the freezer bag thing, but put a little effort into it at home. I use freeze-dried meats and some freeze dried veggies (because I have yet to find a dehydrated meat that rehydrates decently, along with corn), and make up my own recipes. Most dinners contain rice or pasta. I always do a cold lunch, but prefer a warm breakfast and supper. I've never been a fan of cold coffee or pasta!!