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Friday, July 17, 2009

Do-it-Yourself Ultralight Pot Coozie: Hey, it works for your beer…

Whether you’re the kind of camper who brings a folding chair, a bottle of wine, and a ribeye to the campsite or a ounce-counting, Ray-Way ultralighter, everyone appreciates an addition to their base-load that serves several purposes, saves weight, time, and effort without sacrificing comfort, and best of all costs nearly nothing.

What’s a Coozie?
A pot coozie is an insulated cylinder with a base and a lid cut to fit your cookware. It serves 3 basic purposes:
1. A place to store your cookware: Protects your cookware against damage from impact during falls and muffles rattling of pots/pans within your pack (you’re never going to spot Sasquatch if he can hear you coming from a mile away).
2. Cooks your food without fuel: Maintains your meal at cooking temperature so that pasta rice and other meals that require boiling or simmering can continue to cook after the stove is shut off.
3. Allows you to keep food/drink warm if you’re not going to eat or drink it all at once (cold coffee s no fun in December).

So how is wrapping up your cookpot going to save you time, weight and money?

Whether you’re using Fuel Canisters, Liquid fuel, denatured alcohol or (God forbid) Esbit tabs, fuel has 3 basic properties: it has weight, costs money and you generally don’t want to run out of it during a trip. A coozie costs nearly nothing to make and allows you to save up to 2/3 of your normal fuel consumption cooking dinners. Weight is a no-brainer as all fuels have weight to them and you’ll be able to leave a bunch of it at home. And you’ll save time in camp because you’ll be able boil your water and then set your pot inside the coozie to cook and go do other things rather than constantly stirring and adjusting the flame control on your stove to prevent boil-over or burning.

So what do you need to make your very own?

-A Closed cell foam pad. The best bet is the standard blue foam pad sold in the camping section of your local mega-mart. These are usually in the neighborhood of $10 and you’ll get a lot more than one Coozie’s worth out of it (in fact you’ll still have enough for a ¾ length sleeping pad when you’re done).
-Duct tape.
-Scissors or box-cutter.
-A measuring tape.

The first step is to make the lid and base of the coozie. These will be circles of equal size, one of which will be attached to the cylinder of the coozie (base), the other stays separate (lid). Mark and cut the lid and base by placing you pot or lid down on the foam and tracing ½” wider than the widest part of your cookset (lid, or pot rim).
Next you’ll need to mark out a rectangle of foam. To find the length, measure the circumference of the base you’ve cut and mark off that length on a straight edge of the blue foam. To find the width, place your pot with the lid on atop the base cutout and measure the height of the pot, lid, and base foam and add one inch. Cut this rectangle out and tape the sides into a cylinder by running a piece of duct tape up the outside of the joint, back down the inside, and around again with ½ of the duct tape on each side of the seam. Next wrap the entire
Now attach the base to the cylinder by making an “X” across the base (outside) with overlap onto the outside of the cylinder. Next wrap the circumference of the lower rim of the cylinder, securing each of the four ends of the “X” and folding over to seal the seam with the base.

That’s it! The only trick is that what we’ve been referring to as the “lid” is actually the base. Place your pot on the unattached circle of foam and slide the body of the coozie over the pot (with folded or removed handle(s)). (see top picture) The reason for this is that this way you can use gravity to pull the pot out of the bottom of the coozie rather than having to lift the pot out of the top of the coozie. This way its much easier to use and doesn’t require cutting a slot for the pot handle(s) which does not work out so well (trust me, I’ve tried it).
A bonus is that the “lid” doubles as an ultralight foam seat for around camp.

Happy hiking!

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