Let’s take a look at this easy DIY project that will help to keep vittles warm even when the weather is cold. For anyone wanting to enjoy a hot meal in the woods, warming up the food is step one, of course. Keeping that food warm until the time comes to enjoy it is another equally necessary step. Whether re-hydrating prepared meals or cooking beans or oatmeal, a cozy can be easily made to insulate your food from the elements.
For these projects, the insulating material is going to be duct-work insulation. A common name for the material is reflectix. Those sun screens for car windshields are made out of the same stuff, and can be used if you have an extra lying around. This material is basically a thin bubble wrap with emergency blankets stuck on both sides. We are also going to need metallic tape or duct tape. The only tools needed are a pair of scissors or razor knife, something to measure with, a sharpie, and a cup of coffee (or beverage of your choice).
First, let’s make a cozy for those freeze dried meals that are cooked in the bag. I have a few brands on hand and found that a cozy about 9 inches wide will work for all of them. Cut a rectangle of reflectix that is about 9 inches by 23 ½ or 24 inches. The top 3 inches will be the flap to close the bag. The next 8 ½ inches will be the back of the bag. Reserve about a 3 inch section to make an expandable bottom. The last 8 ½ inches will be the front of the bag. I drew lines on my reflectix to help on this next step. Line up the marks for the bottom of the bag and form the accordion bottom. Place small pieces of tape to hold the folds in place. Next place strips of tape down the sides of the cozy to form the pouch. Last, trim the corners of the flap at 45 degree angles to make it easy to tuck inside the pouch and seal up the cozy. The finished cozy weighs next to nothing and doesn’t occupy space in your pack if an uncooked meal is carried in the cozy.
We are also going to make a pot cozy. These are super simple. Cut a strip of reflectix as wide as the pot is tall. Some people like to leave the lip of the pot exposed, some do not. This also depends on how the lid sits on the pot. Take the strip of reflectix and wrap it around the pot. Mark the strip to length and cut. A tighter fit won’t fall off of the pot so easily, but I don’t like the fit to be too loose. Make cut outs for any pot handles and tape the ends together. Place the pot with the material wrapped around on a flat sheet of reflectix. Mark out the circle and cut. Take strips of reflectix and start tacking the bottom onto the sides. Continue this process until the bottom is secure.
The only real issues to watch out for here have to do with material stretch. The first pot cozy I made ended up a bit short. I cut the side wall to fit, but when the bottom was attached the sides were drawn down a bit and ended up short. The same goes for the meal cozy. By the time the material folds onto itself and is taped in place, the container may end up a bit smaller than intended. As light as this stuff is, go ahead and leave yourself a little extra. These materials are also cheap, so if the first prototype doesn’t work out, go ahead and try again.
I made 4 cozies in less than 1 ½ hours, so they are quick to make. There are lots of DIY articles and videos out on the web so check out a few to customize your cozies as you like.