What Even Is Cold Soaking?

Cold soaking is a no-cook food preparation method where dehydrated foods are soaked in cold water until they are rehydrated. Cold soaking your food is far from glamorous, but it is convenient. 

Instead of relying on the heat of your stove, you can rehydrate a variety of foods in unheated water for 20 to 30 minutes, resulting in a cold-but-edible meal. A traditional meal may take 5 to 10 minutes to cook, but backpackers should expect a cold-soak meal to take at least 30 minutes to rehydrate. This means you have to prepare your food earlier than you would if you were using a stove.

Depending on what foods you choose, going stoveless can be lighter-weight, more cost-effective and take up less space in your bags. During extreme fire bans, some places even implement a no campstove policy, in which case cold-soaking can be a very safe solution. 

Ultralight Hikers are always looking for ways to save precious grams and cut pack weight. Even after springing for a frameless pack, a trekking-pole shelter, and a super-packable quilt, though, you may find yourself still above your ideal weight. Consider this, then. By ditching your stove and fuel and cold soaking your meals you can still get all the nutrition you need on the trail.


  • Leave your stove at home and reduce pack weight
  • No worry about how much gas you have
  • Less time spent cooking
  • Safety in fire ban areas
  • Less fragrant than cooking your food helping with animal activity
  • Easier clean up


  • Eating cold meals
  • No hot food or drinks
  • Think ahead and pre planning
  • Not everything can or should be cold soaked 

Best Cold Soaking Container

  • Has the capacity to hold the contents of any meal you plan on making.
  • Lightweight
  • Reusable
  • Has a watertight resealable lid or slider (CNOC Buc)

Peanut Butter Jar
CNOC Buc Food Bag

peanut butter jar for cold soaking hiking food

cnoc buc 650ml recusable food bag

Cleaning The Container

Cleaning a cold soak container is far more convenient than cleaning out a crusty pot.

Here’s how I like to clean my cold soak container:

  • Pour some water into my container.
  • Put the cap or slider back on.
  • Give it a good shakedown.
  • Drink the contents.

Zero calories wasted !!!

Cold Soak Food Ideas 


  • Dried oats or quinoa flakes mixed with protein powder or coconut milk powder, cinnamon, dried fruits or dehydrated fruits, dried coconut, cacao nibs, maca powder, matcha powder, hemp seeds, flax meal, chia seeds, and any other nuts/seeds you like.
  • Muesli can be mixed with protein powder, coconut milk powder, or even water and soaked in advance to make it softer.
  • Breakfast smoothies with protein powders
  • Chia seed pudding

Lunch / Dinner

  • Couscous.
  • Rice Noodles
  • Oats
  • Quinoa Flakes
  • Instant Mashed Potatoes
  • Ramen / 2 Minute Noodles
  • Soup

Cold Soak Tips

  • I find most meals hydrate properly in about 20-60 minutes. Unlike cooking, it’s pretty tough to over hydrate your meal.
  • I like to start my cold soak meal at least 1 hour before I plan on eating.•
  • Choosing a container with a watertight lid enables you to hike while your meal hydrates in your backpack.
  • Setting your meal out in the sun will speed up the hydrating process.
  • Periodically give your container a good shake as your meal hydrates. This will ensure that your meal hydrates evenly.eating more real food and waking up to a superpower cold-soaked breakfast. 


stop using singe use plastics 


David Adamson
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