I've been using a homemade pot cosy as a core part of my camping cook system for more than a year now. It’s something which I really love but which very few people seem to use or even be aware of, so I thought I'd write a little guide. Simply put, a pot cosy is a cover for your pot made of an insulating material which works to keep its contents hot long after you have taken it off the heat. The practical use of this is that you can boil water, add your food (eg. rice/pasta), turn off your stove and then put your pot into the cosy – the food will continue to cook and you need do nothing more than take it out once it’s done. This method dramatically reduces the amount of fuel you need to use as you only ever need enough to bring your water to a boil. You’d be amazed at how little fuel you need!
Pot cosies can be used to cook virtually anything, and it makes particularly good stews or soups. Think of it as a low-tech backcountry slow cooker. A cosy also makes for a great case for your pot, keeping the rest of your gear clean from any soot or grime that might be stuck to the bottom. Even better, it allows you to hold your pot directly on your hands or legs without burning yourself, making for more comfortable and convenient eating.
Cooking with a pot cosy also has the added advantage of making cleaning up afterwards significantly easier. Anyone who has ever cooked with camping pots made of lightweight materials such as titanium will know that it can be extremely easy to have food burn and stick to the pot. Diligent stirring is often necessary to prevent this – a pot cosy eliminates any such hassles from cooking as once in the cosy it will never burn and you can completely ignore it until it’s done. Cooking time does increase slightly – pasta for example usually takes around 15-20 minutes in the cosy rather than 10 if you kept it boiling. I never notice the extra time though as there’s always something I can be doing in the interval. Without having to keep an eye on my pot I actually find the time goes faster anyway. If all you eat are dehydrated meals that simply require boiling water then a pot cosy probably won’t be much use to you. If, however you are ever likely to cook any proper meals (even something as simple as pasta or rice) then a cosy is going to be well worth having. The fuel savings will more than offset the minimal additional weight of the cosy and it will make cooking simpler and easier. A pot cosy really is an extremely useful piece of kit to have! HOW TO MAKE A POT COSY A cosy is very cheap and easy to make at home. You'll just need some insulating material (essentially bubble wrap with foil around it), some duct tape, and scissors. Getting the fit right might take a couple of attempts but the materials come in large enough quantities that you can easily afford a few mistakes. Rather than write my own guide I’ll simply direct you to an excellent Youtube video (see below), which shows you step by step how to do it. Various insulating materials will work just fine; I went with a roll of loft insulation (SEE HERE). I’d suggest wrapping your cosy with a decent amount of duct tape on the outside in order to increase durability – mine has survived a year of hard daily use and still looks almost good as new!
Pot cosies have been around for a long time – in the second world war for example when fuel had to be rationed carefully, the British used wooden boxes filled with hay to let food slowly cook throughout the day. Modern day pot cosies are signicantly more efficent (not to mention lightweight) and make a fantastic addition to any cooking kit, whether it be for hiking, biking or even use at home. Give it a go!