Here are few tips for the next time you’re on the trail and in the kitchen.

1. Look at the position of these Dragonfly stoves. The fuel canisters are upright. The leader on this trip called me during the trip to complain that “the stoves don’t work.” I walked him through the steps of using the stove and he couldn’t get them to work. I was baffled until I saw these pictures. It didn’t occur to me that they would be used in this position.

Don’t do this – lay the fuel bottles down lengthwise so that they’ll pressurize properly. I’m also concerned about the stoves & pots being up off the ground on small uneven pedestals. These are too easy to spill when stirring or when someone walks by and brushes against them. Ouch!

2. This tarp is a recipe for disaster, especially if it fills with rainwater at night or while the group is at work and there isn’t anyone available to empty the water. It isn’t that hard to put up an effective tarp that sheds water.

Don’t do this – take the time to locate the kitchen in an area where you can properly hang a tarp. There are little plastic “do-hickeys” that you can buy to add a temporary grommet to the top, middle – anywhere – on the tarp where some lift is needed. Throw a line over a branch and tie it to the grommet and do away with center poles that aren’t grounded. In windy or rainy weather, angle the tarp with the low edge facing the wind. The wind will be forced over the kitchen instead of through it, and water can run off the tarp instead of collecting in a pool.

3. Don’t do this! This is a health code violation. People cannot lick or use their fingers in the pots on a group trip, I don’t care how good that cheesecake filling is! Bring a small scraper and scrape those dregs into a dish. The only things that should be in the pots besides the food is a spoon or sponge. We all have germs in our mouths, and we don’t know how effective the dishwashers are going to be. It’s best to reduce the bacterial load at the source. Have one person serve the food to reduce the number of germs on the serving spoons. Don’t let anyone put their dishes over the food pots, or place their hands in them.

Got any tips to share? Let us know.