Cook Your Backpacking Dinner in Your Pants With Help From the “Crotch Pot”
“Cook your dinner in your pants” definitely sounds like a phrase trying to get clicks on the almighty internet, but Gossamer Gear’s Crotch Pot actually does just that. The Crotch Pot is a fuel-free, ultralight backpacking stove that uses your body heat to warm up your meals. If you prefer low-effort backcountry cooking and are looking for ways to shave some extra grams from your base weight, the Crotch Pot is worth not just giggling over, but giving a try!
Now, the majority of marketing and gear reviews out there on the Crotch Pot have admittedly been from a male perspective. Even our lovely graphic by Mike Clelland that demonstrates how to use the Crotch Pot features a dude with a bulge in his shorts strolling along a trail. However, despite these optics, I am here to declare that the Crotch Pot is more than a gag gift exchanged between bros.
Below, I share my take on the Crotch Pot as a woman hiker, along with tips and tricks for ways to wear it and when to use it.
How I Found My Way to the Crotch Pot
I am not an inventive backcountry chef. When I get to camp, I want my meals to take as little effort as possible and require even less clean-up. My go-to dinners and breakfasts, more times than not, are of the just-add-water variety.
When I heard about the Crotch Pot, I thought it was maybe an April Fool’s joke, but I was also intrigued. I liked the idea of being able to streamline my cooking process even more after a long day of hiking. It seemed so convenient to not even have to hassle with my stove and boiling water. Instead, I could simply sit down and eat when I got to camp.
I decided to give the Crotch Pot a try on a section hike of the Appalachian Trail through Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I chose Hatch Green Chile Mac & Cheese from Backpacker’s Pantry as my inaugural Crotch Pot meal. In the morning, I followed these simple steps:
- Emptied the meal’s contents into a Ziploc bag
- Added the required water
- Sealed it up
- Kneaded it to mix the ingredients
- Placed the Ziploc bag into the Crotch Pot cuben fiber pouch (Note: new models are now made with a coated ultralight Tyvek material)
- Clipped the Crotch Pot into my running shorts
- Began my hike
We had planned a lower mileage hike—about eight miles from Cosby Knob shelter to Pecks Corner shelter. The temperature was also cooler that day. Given these variables, I decided to hike the full day with the Crotch Pot for maximum cook time, especially since I was still a little skeptical of how it would work out. If you’re hiking in hotter weather or for a longer period of time, you can likely wait until the last hour or two of your hike to get your meal positioned.
So, what happened when I got to camp? Well, by the end of the day when my dinner was ready and I didn’t have to do anything but sit down and enjoy, I was a total Crotch Pot believer. I even exclaimed to my companions, “I don’t think I ever want to cook my dinner again!”
Overall, I was realizing the beauty of cold soaking as an option in general. And, the Crotch Pot is one very useful tool for facilitating that, especially if you’re wanting to add a little more warmth to your cold-soaked meal. Dinner was delicious!
Tips, Tricks, & Thoughts on Cooking Dinner With the Crotch Pot
You may understandably still have questions about the Crotch Pot. My goal with the tidbits below is to answer some of those and share my main takeaways from the experience.
1. Looks Aren’t Everything
I’m going to be honest, when I pulled the Ziploc bag out of the Crotch Pot, my meal did not look particularly appetizing. I’m used to seeing my just-add-water meals from the vantage point of looking down into an opaque bag, not noticing it all squished up against the walls of said bag.
While the meal didn’t look all that tasty, it was! As soon as I scooped some onto my spoon, the meal looked normal again and tasted great. If you think the first look of the meal might ruin your appetite coming straight out of the Crotch Pot, you can easily fix this by selecting an opaque Ziploc that mimics typical backcountry meal sacks.
2. Yes, It’s Plenty Sanitary
Your food is well-protected from your actual body. It has both the Ziploc layer and the coated ultralight Tyvek layer between your food and you, plus your clothing layers. With simple clips at the top, it’s also easy to remove if you need to take a bathroom break.
So, yes, it sounds weird, but it actually works pretty seamlessly. Like all backcountry cooking, it relies on you making good choices and using hand sanitizer.
3. Aim for a Comfortable Fit
For smaller just-add-water meals, you can probably fit the bag it comes in directly into the Crotch Pot rather than transferring the contents to a Ziploc. However, the Ziploc makes for a more comfortable fit. I also think your body heat transfers better with the Ziploc since the material is thinner, but I’m not a scientist, so don’t take my word on that.
4. Best for Warm Weather Hikes
You’re not going to get a piping hot meal with the Crotch Pot. At the end of the day, your body just can’t bring water to a boil. What you will get instead is a warm-ish meal.
For that reason, I recommend the Crotch Pot for summer hiking or backpacking trips in warmer climates. A Crotch Pot meal might not be as satisfying in the winter when you’re looking for a hot meal to warm you up.
5. Wearing It With a Dress Is the Best
I’m a big proponent of hiking dresses. They’re comfortable, keep you cooler, make pee breaks simple, and look great. I didn’t want to sacrifice my love of hiking dresses for the Crotch Pot, so I came up with a solution to be able to rock both.
I added some running shorts under my hiking dress as a Crotch Pot holding pouch, if you will, and I found that the dress and shorts combo made Crotch Pot use both discreet and fashionable. You couldn’t even tell I was cooking!
Different Ways to Wear the Crotch Pot
Despite its marketing, there are many ways to use the Crotch Pot that don’t involve the need for a bunch of “below the belt” jokes. If you’d like to give it a try, but aren’t sold on housing it in your pants, here are a range of options:
- Sports bra: This is another area that generates plenty of heat for the Crotch Pot and can keep your meal securely positioned throughout your hike.
- Kangaroo pouch: If you’re wearing a snug layer with a kangaroo-style pocket, you can slide your Crotch Pot in there for cooking and storage.
- Running shorts with a dress, skirt, or kilt: As I mentioned above, I incorporated some running shorts to serve as a way to secure my Crotch Pot while wearing a hiking dress.
- Clipped into pants: This is the original way to wear the Crotch Pot. You use the two small carabiners at the top of the bag to clip the Crotch Pot to belt loops on your hiking pants, tucking the meal into your pelvic area for optimal heating.
- Hanging on your pack: On a hot summer day, the Crotch Pot will probably work just as well clipped to the exterior of your pack where it can heat in the afternoon sun. This is especially true for trails with exposed ridgelines and little tree cover.
Ultimately, you’re the only one who can decide your preferred way to wear the Crotch Pot. Try out different options that feel both comfortable and secure while you’re hiking and that position your meal in a way that benefits from the heat that either you or that mighty sun are producing.
Make Backpacking Meal Prep Easy With the Crotch Pot
If you’re a low-motivation backcountry chef like me, the Crotch Pot can make your just-add-water meals even simpler! Grab yours today to experience an elevated cold soak experience.
Want to be part of the Crotch Pot Recipe Club? Share your favorite Crotch Pot meals with us by tagging Gossamer Gear on social media (@gossamergear) and using the hashtag #takelessdomore. You can also share your tips and tricks for how, where, and when to wear it!
Looking for more outdoor adventure inspiration? Check out some of our other articles on the Light Feet blog:
- How to Take Care of Your Gear Post-Hike (And Get Motivated to Do It)
- 8 Tips & Tricks for Solo Hiking Trips
- Hydration 101: Your Guide to Water While Hiking
- Learn the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace
- Cold Weather Layering for Hikers: The Ultimate How-To Guide