“I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate.” (Julia Child)

There is a welcome trend in camping equipment towards the ultralight.

This has been driven mainly from America by long distance trekkers who began to question the conventional wisdom of needing heavy duty equipment for each-and-every camping trip and started developing their own kit instead.  Some take this to astonishing levels and travel for days with packs weighing under 5kg;  obsessive about reducing weight to the point of cutting labels off clothing to save an extra few milligrams of weight.

The other aspect of this ultralight movement has been a DIY approach: from alcohol burners made from soda cans, to pots and pans made from nesting beer cans, home-dehydrated foods and tarps sewn together from old tent flysheets.

I am very grateful to all who have led the way in this area as a heavy pack can ruin an otherwise pleasant jungle trek and, for me at least, it was a needed change of mindset from the one I was brought up with in the UK.

Ultralight camping equipment in now commercially available and often of very good quality.  However it can be very expensive – the MSR titanium kettle I’ve just bought was 40 pounds (I mistakenly say 25 pounds in the video) which is a lot to pay for a container to boil water in.  Luckily there are DIY alternatives and many how-to-make videos on Youtube.  But the bottom line is you either pay someone else (a lot!) to make it for you, or save money (but not time) and learn to make it for yourself.

At the far end of the spectrum are the survivalists (or local tribes people) who don’t take in much equipment at all (other than a parang) and make what they need, when they need it.  This is great if you can do it but does take more time, more effort, the necessary resoures (e.g. bamboo)  and practised skill sets.

In this video I look at my own cook sets and how they’ve evolved over time and then show how to cook using bamboo.  I chose a jungle favourite: sardines and bamboo rice as both are readily available products in village stores.  I use a tin of sardines in the video but, of course, a sachet of sardines would be better (less weight and no tin to carry out) – but in the villages you won’t find such items and would need to bring them along from the city.

The rice I cooked here in the video was slightly undercooked (after about 20 mins) and 30-35 mins cooking time is better, but I was impatient and running out of time.