Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Lightweight Insulated Mess Kit

I spent most of yesterday afternoon working on a presentation for lightweight backpacking.  One of the segments is about packing and gear errors that Scouts tend to make.  Recently a young man decided to transfer to our Troop.  His mom was so happy to hear that we were going backpacking the very next week. She said he had just gotten a new mess kit and couldn't wait to try it out.

Over the years I have seen a lot of mess kits.  They usually range from the official BSA model with a frying pan, cook pot, plastic cup and dish.  There is also a knife , spoon and fork set to go with it.  I've also seen my share of the heavy metal military surplus kits.  Come on.  Enough is enough.  What does it take to eat a meal prepared in the patrol's pot?  Nothing but a bowl and a spoon.  After a few trips I can usually talk the boys into an old margarine tub and a plastic spork from KFC.

A few years back as we prepared to go to Philmont, I decided to make each crew member an insulated mess kit.  I made a quart and pint size bowl and the pint ended up being the one the boys liked the best.  Two of my assistant leaders are still using ones I made.

So here is what you will need:

1- Rubbermaid Tagalong Screw Top Container
Some foil bubble wrap
Foil type duct tape
5 minute epoxy

Cut a piece of the bubble wrap 4"x13.5".  Mark one of the long sides into eight equal segments.  Counting from the bottom corner, number the marks 0-9.  At each end make a mark 1 7/8" from the bottom.  Also make a mark at 1 7/8" above marks 2, 4, 6 and 8.  Connect the marks to form a series of triangle like in the picture below.

Cut out the triangles and fold the cozy together.  Using the container as a form may be helpful.  Use 1" strips of tape along the length of the cuts to hold the foil together.  Cut a circle of insulation to fit the cap.

Using a sharpie and a 1/4 cup measure, add water to the container and mark the outside of the container for measuring.

Mix the epoxy and spread on the outside of the container on the bottom and under the rim.  Slide the insulation in place.  Smear epoxy on the cap and apply the circle of insulation.  Give each a slight twist to spread the epoxy.

The results is a neat little insulated mess kit that with a cut off spoon (to fit inside) that weighs less than 2 ounces.  Clean up is a breeze.  Add a little hot water, place spoon inside, replace cap and shake.  Cleans up like the dishwasher back home.  One word of caution, be careful when you open the container after washing.  The hot water expands any air in the container so there will be some pressure inside.