Problem Julie and Mike Cafferata, 40, from Salem, Oregon, were getting their three kids out backpacking, but faced a mutiny over their bland menu. Plus, their packs were too heavy with group gear.
Solution We outfitted the Cafferata family with a kitchen kit that makes camp cooking and cleanup easy—while saving weight and bulk—and recipes that are tasty yet trail-friendly. Here’s what they had to say.
Harmony House Dehydrated Foods
From bell peppers to beans, these dried ingredients changed the way we eat and pack. Using mostly BACKPACKER-created recipes, we dined on fajitas with salsa and spicy, curried noodles. Kits start at $50, ingredients at $3. harmonyhousefoods.com
We prefer liquid-fuel stoves over the hassle of procuring canisters (a gallon of white gas lasts a long time), and we love how quiet and light the Primus is compared to our regular model, which weighs twice as much and is so loud we can’t have a conversation while cooking dinner. Bonus: It simmers well. $107; 6.2 oz. (mfr.); primuscamping.com
Katadyn Base Camp
Pumping water for five is exhausting, so this was a game changer. We scooped two-plus liters, hung the roll-top nylon bag from a limb, and let the water trickle through the glass-fiber and carbon filter while we set up camp. A new cartridge filters two liters in just two minutes, but it’s not cleanable by backflushing or scrubbing, and its life is relatively short. After about 50 liters of clear lake water, flow slowed to a dribble (extra cartridges: $40 each). $70; 11 oz.; katadyn.com
Evernew ECA 429, 425, 424
These nesting, nonstick titanium pots (5.7-, 2.5-, and 1.8-liter) gave us tons of flexibilty and massive cooking capacity at crazy-low weights. Each of these pots has an integrated handle, so you don’t need a separate gripper, and each handle style works well for the capacity. The thin titanium pot walls and the coatings are still going strong after a full season of hard use. Ouch: spendy. $160/$91/$76; 1 lb. 4 oz./11 oz./9 oz.; evernewamerica.com
Eat, drink, mix, and rehydrate food with GSI Outdoors Fairshare. It holds 28 fluid ounces. $10; 7.8 oz.; gsioutdoors.com
GSI Outdoors Deluxe Kitchen Set
Everything we possibly need to feed our family of five packs neatly into this zippered case. Our favorite tools: the cheese grater and folding serving spoon. We plucked key items depending on the menu, and packed the whole thing for car camps. $33; 1 lb. 9 oz.; gsioutdoors.com
Sea to Summit’s Alphalite is light, strong, and perfectly utilitarian. Any gear that’s featherweight and kidproof belongs in our kit. $7; .3 oz.; seatosummit.com