Desert Kit List: Cooking

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Cooking Equipment for races such as the Marathon des Sables

It is not compulsory to take a stove in MDS and some people opt to eat their food cold. If you are fast enough you can use the afternoon sun to warm your water and/or your food. A hot meal or cup of hot tea or coffee can be a great morale booster so don’t underestimate the value of this and you can get a very lightweight cooking solution.

MDS issue Hexamine blocks for purchase prior to the race and collection in camp before the race. These are 20 x 4g packs. Normally around 2 blocks will heat a cup or small pot of water but you might need 3-4 for a larger pot. You can buy the blocks and test at home to see what you think you need. Bear in mind that it is normally more fuel efficient to boil one larger pot once than a smaller pot twice so if you think you will want a large hot meal and a cup of tea, then select the size of your pot accordingly.

As a guide, we recommend a 450ml cup for cooking if you think that you will only want a meal or a hot drink and not both. If you would like both at the same time, then it might be better to consider a larger pot.

Titanium is the lightest but is more expensive. Stainless steel offers great value for money but is heavier.

We don’t recommend that you eat from the pot, but that you only use it for heating water. This is for hygiene reasons. Your water is rationed so if you have to wash your pot it comes out from your drinking water. Instead, you can either eat directly from the freeze-dried meal bags as they are made for this. Just remove the little pouch inside the bag that is there to keep the food fresh. Alternatively, in MDS you get given 1.5-litre bottles for water. If you use your knife to cut the top off a bottle it makes for a perfect, disposable bowl for your food. The top you can use as a cup. Do check how water is provisioned on other races as it may differ. Some races deliver water in big tanks and you need to have your own cup and bowl.

See our full range of cookware here.

Some popular cook-ware for MDS and similar races:

Cookware Material Capacity Weight Comment
Esbit folding titanium stove Titanium N/A 11g The lightest and most popular choice.
Esbit Fold Flat Stove Stainless Steel N/A 74g This packs completely flat and has built-in windshield
Esbit Cookset (stove + pot) Stainless Steel 585ml 220g Stove, windshield and pot all in one and at a great price!
Esbit Titanium Pot with Lid Titanium 750ml 118g The larger capacity is great if you want a meal and tea. Works well with the folding titanium stove.
MSR Kettle with Lid Titanium 850ml 118g Larger capacity and a slightly bigger base for efficient heating. A great choice for those like their cuppa after dinner.
Lifeventure Titanium Mug Titanium 450ml 55g Add a bit of foil for a lid and combine with the folding titanium stove for the lightest combo!
Lifeventure Long-Handled Spoon Titanium N/A 20g Long Handled spoon which is great to keep good hygiene as it keeps fingers out of your food. Also very easy to keep clean. One of our favourites!
MSR Folding Spoon/Spork/Fork Plastic N/A 9.5g This is super light and folds to half it’s length.


Common Questions:

How and where can I order the fuel for MDS?

MDS will issue an e-mail to all registered participants before the race with instructions on how to purchase the fuel. You will be able to collect it in bivouac before the race starts.

Can I take a gas stove to MDS?

No, gas stoves are not allowed.

Can I eat my food cold?

Many freeze-dried meals rehydrate really well in cold water. The best thing is to try some dishes you think you might like and see how it goes. For the most part, the water will be lukewarm anyway. Note that different brands and different types of dishes may rehydrate differently in cold water.

How much food should I take?

This is very individual. Read Elisabet’s blog on Food for Multi-stage racing here.

Is there wood around so that I don’t need to take fuel?

It is possible to find wood around the campsites but depending on the location it may be scarce. Bear in mind that when you finish the day’s stage you may be tired and wanting to focus on other things such as looking after your feet, resting, sending an e-mail etc.

Can I heat my food in the sun?

Yes, you can but only if you finish early enough in the day. The sun will set around 7:30 pm and it will be chilly before then. If you plan to take a long time to do the race it is best to not rely on the sun to heat your meals.



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