No-Stove Backpacking With the Hydro Flask

Camp stoves are overrated.

They’re finicky, take time, burn fossil fuels (well, most of them, anyway), and are heavy. But, even for the simplest of backpacking meals, hot water is a necessity. So, what if, instead of carrying all this extra equipment to boil water on-location, you could just heat your water up at home, take it with you, and, then, add and serve later?

If no-stove backpacking seems ridiculous, it’s for good reason. First off, stoves now-a-days are efficient, fast, and lightweight. Secondly, in situations where you have a nearby stream or another body of water, it’s far easier to just bring along a stove and find, carry in, and heat up your water on-site for dinner.

But, it’s also a curious plan. Is it possible to boil your cooking water at home in the morning, store it in your pack during your hike, pull it out in the evening, and still have it hot enough to cook your Good To-Go meal?

Credit: Ryan Wichelns
Credit: Ryan Wichelns

The Test

I already have a collection of Hydro Flasks that I love. So, even though I’ve never tried using using them in such a long-term and high-stakes situation, I decided they would give me the best shot at success.

Before heading out on a quick overnight to a spot on the Adirondacks’ Northville-Lake Placid Trail, I boiled enough water to fill both 32 oz. Wide Mouth and 20 oz. Standard Mouth bottles, as well as a non-double-walled steel bottle and my trusty Adirondack Nalgene, all for the sake of comparison. Then, I hit the trail!

As the most obvious thing right off the bat, the Nalgene and stainless steel bottle were hot to the touch—almost too hot to pick up with my bare hands. Comparatively, the Hydro Flasks felt like nothing had changed.

Credit: Ryan Wichelns
Credit: Ryan Wichelns

But, after a full day of hiking, with camp set up and my stomach calling out to me, I was only a little surprised to see steam come soaring out of both Hydro Flasks when I took off their insulated lids. This made rehydrating my dinner a snap, and I was chowing down quicker than I ever have! Needless to say, the other two bottles didn’t make the cut. By dinnertime, the water was only slightly above an ambient temperature.

While boiling dinner water at home is definitely an option for some backpacking situations, storing water in a Hydro Flask might be more useful while cooking at night. With the stove already running, heat enough water for the next morning’s breakfast cereal or oatmeal, and hold onto it overnight just to save time in the morning. But, however you choose to take advantage of it, a Hydro Flask’s insulating prowess will get you a long way toward a delicious backcountry meal.

Credit: Ryan Wichelns
Credit: Ryan Wichelns