DIY: How To Make An Ultralight Backpacking Pot Cozy
A pot cozy is an essential part of the ultralight backpacker’s kitchen. This simple DIY project can help you to conserve cooking fuel, simplify and automate your trail cooking (and cleaning) and provide a convenient carrying case for your cook pot and accessories.
Ultralight Backpacking Pot Cozy DIY Instructions
- Cook pot or mug*
- Auto Sun Shade made from Reflectix (looks like metallic bubble wrap)
- Duct tape
- Permanent Marker
*In this demo I’m using a “Walmart” Grease Pot, an ultralight, inexpensive alternative to titanium cook pots. It weighs just 4 ounces, holds approx 1.2 liters and costs only $7-$10. It is available from Walmart, Kmart, Target and Amazon.com
Part 1 – Making The Pot Cozy Sidewall
1. Measure the distance from the bottom of the pot to the top lip.
2. Cut a strip of sunshade material that is the height of your measurement and as wide as the circumference of your pot plus a little extra.
3. Wrap the strip around the pot and trim the overlap so that the two ends but up against each other. The fit should be snug, but not tight.
4. Wrap a strip of duct tape around the two ends to connect them, forming a cylinder.
Tip: I use one of the existing seamed edges of the sunshade for the top opening. This makes it easier for the pot to slide in and out without snagging and prevents wear and tear. An alternative method is to protect the top edge with a strip of duct tape.
Part 2 – Making The Pot Cozy Base
1. With your pot inside the cozy cylinder, place it on the sunshade and trace a circle.
2. Cut the circle out. This will be the base of your pot cozy.
3. Leaving the pot inside the cozy, turn it upside down and attach the base to the side using small strips of tape, starting at opposite sides.
4. Continue attaching the base with small strips of duct tape all around the edge. Overlap each strip slightly to create an airtight seal.
Tips: Once the base is securely attached using small strips of duct tape you can wrap a single long strip around the exposed edges to prevent the tape from coming up. Your cook pot should now be able to easily slide in and out of your pot cozy.
Part 3 – Making The Pot Cozy Lid
1. Cut a strip from the sun shade that is 1.5″ tall and as wide as the circumference of the cozy with the pot inside, plus a little extra. Wrap it around the cozy and trim the overlap.
2. Tape the two ends with duct tape, forming a cylinder. This will be the side of your lid.
3. With the side of the lid in place turn the pot and cozy upside down and trace and cut another circle to make the top of the lid.
4. Attach the top of the lid to the side using small strips of duct tape like the base.
Tip: As with the base, you can use a long strip of duct tape around the cozy lid to prevent the tape edges from coming up during heavy use. Your lid should fit snugly enough around your pot and cozy that it doesn’t come off by itself, but not so tight it’s hard to put on.
Congratulations, you made a pot cozy!
Depending on the size of your pot your pot cozy should weight between 1.5 – 3 ounces and should last for thousands of miles.
A pot cozy will help you conserve fuel (and thus weight) and will provide a handy method of storing your cook pot and other cooking accessories (like lighters, alcohol stoves, camp towls, etc.) inside of your pack.
You can also use your pot cozy to comfortably hold a pot full of steaming hot food and eat your dinner without burning your hands.
How to use your pot cozy for cooking
There are two ways you can use your pot cozy when cooking meals on the trail:
Cooking Method #1 – Boil water in your cook pot, add dried food to the water, allow to simmer for a minute or two (if necessary), then remove the pot from the stove and place it inside your pot cozy for 15 minutes. Your food will continue to “cook” while you set up camp (or wait impatiently). When you are done you will have a hot meal waiting.
Cooking Method #2 – This is known as “freezer bag cooking”. Boil water in your cook pot, pour boiling water into a freezer ziploc baggy with dried food, seal the baggy and put it back inside your empty pot (removed from heat), and finally place the pot (with baggy and food inside) into your pot cozy and let it set for 15 minutes.
You can eat your food directly from the baggy (kept inside the pot cozy so you don’t burn yourself) and you won’t have to clean your pot afterward. This method works better with some foods than others (good for soft foods like mashed potatoes, pasta, cous cous… not so good for tough grains that require extended simmering or lots of time to rehydrate, like rice).