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Ice Raven - Sub Zero Adventure
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Cold Weather Sustenance Requirements.

Almost everyone has a different list of requirements for their cooking equipment based upon their own tastes, preferences and how much effort they want to put into their food.

I can only speak from personal experience and the fact that I like cooking and enjoy good food.

Lets look at my requirements for a good cooking set.

Snowball Soup - Ice Raven - Sub Zero Adventure - Copyright Gary Waidson, All rights reserved.

Snowball Soup.

First and foremost you need water and either melting snow and ice or in most parts of the world, boiling water from streams and lakes is likely to be a main requirement for your cook set.

Get a pot big enough to provide at least half of your daily requirement in one go. You don’t want to be constantly filling the pot and firing up your stove if that is what you are using. If you didn’t read the information on the first Sustenance page, go back and read it now.


There are a huge number of foods that can be prepared either by boiling or stewing. It is probably the most obvious use for a camp cooking pot.

It’s useful if your pot has a lid that will make it more efficient and a “bail” type handle is useful because it means it can be hung over a fire if needed.


Something a lot of people don’t think about but if you are buying fresh or frozen food to take out with you then you need a way to defrost it. Not too difficult in some cases because some items can be dropped straight into a stew and defrosted as it cooks.

But what about something like bread? My solution is often a second, nesting pot, that I can sit on top of my melting water, “Bain Marie” like, with the bread or whatever inside. Put a lid on and the warmth of the water will gently defrost the contents of the pot.

Quite a few other uses for a Bain Marie as well if you are into cooking.

Frying Pan with Lid - Ice Raven - Sub Zero Adventure - Copyright Gary Waidson, All rights reserved.


It’s fair to say that you can fry in the bottom of a billy can but it’s awkward to say the least. A dedicated frying pan is well worth the extra weight for most people.

Try to get something that has a reasonably thick base that will spread the heat because the temperature differential between the heated centre and the edges of the pan exposed to cold air can easily lead to scorched food in the middle and uncooked stuff at the edges. Not good where meat is concerned. If the lid of your billy can also fits your frying pan that is a very useful bonus as that will stop the surface of the food not in contact with the pan from cooling quickly in the cold air. A biscuit tin lid may make a good substitute or even a piece of aluminium and a bit of work with a hammer will do. (punch a hole and make a string handle so that you can lift it.)


Might seem a surprising one this but if you add a pierced plate or or grill sheet its possible to steam or even steam bake in a billy with a lid and some water in the bottom.

You will need something to keep the grill plate raised above the water but at a pinch, three pebbles can do that for you.


A tricky thing to get right with a stove normally but a wood or charcoal burning stove can be used for grilling food just like a fire can.     Most liquid fuels tend to taint the food though.


Another thing that a lid is useful for is storage. It is all too easy to misplace small items such as cutlery in a snowy environment.

You might leave something in a spot where you know it is only to discover that it is covered with fresh snow in the morning. 

Collecting bit and pieces in your cooking pot and putting the lid on is a good way to keep everything together.

A cooking pot can also be used to keep water unfrozen overnight by burying it in the snow, which is an excellent insulator.


I’m sure I have forgotten some of the possibilities but these are the ones I use most often.

My target for this equipment is usually less that 5kg. which may seem a lot but given the importance of food and water consumption under these conditions it represents less than 10% of my equipment total.

Food will be added locally of course but by that time the load is on a toboggan so that weight is relatively negligible.

You can see some of the kit I use on the next page.

Sub Zero Crew - Bushcraft UK

Unless noted otherwise, all photography, artwork and content on this site is copyrighted. © Gary Waidson 2020 All rights reserved

The Ice Raven Project promotes sustainable and low impact bushcraft and wilderness skills in Arctic and winter conditions. This includes the use of  tents, tarps  and snow shelters where possible. Fires are only used where safe and where use and collection of firewood will not damage the natural environment. We often travel to locations by public transport and then use snowshoes, sleds, toboggans and pulks to transport our equipment into the wilderness.