Introduction: The Holy Grail for Backpackers.
Ever tried any one of these containers while backpacking? Well, toss 'em, because once you've read this instructable, you'll have one container that does it all.
Step 1: In Search of the Grail
In my quest to find the perfect solution for back country cooking, hydration and libation, I’ve tried all sorts of mugs, bottles and special containers. You can see the assortment in the Introduction. From plastic cocktail shakers, to Sierra cups, each has a particular flaw. So I’m here to tell you that nothing beats this home-grown solution for size, weight, packability and endurance. It is exactly what it needs to be – no more and no less
Step 2: Easy Peasy
- This is a simple instructable only requiring a plastic jar (a one pound peanut
butter jar is ideal, but any food-grade plastic jar around the same size would work)
- An old toothbrush
- Masking tape (Not the blue tape used for paint masking)
- Razor blade or small sharp scissors
- A permanent Marker (like a Sharpie, black or red works best)
- A one cup liquid measuring cup.
Step 3: Scrub a Dub Dub
Take your plastic jar and thoroughly wash it out with hot soapy water. Make sure to do the same thing with the lid and be sure to remove any remnants of food especially around the threads. This is where an old toothbrush is the ideal tool to do the job. Rinse all the soapiness out of the jar and thoroughly dry it. I recommend a wipe with a kitchen towel and then let it sit outside in the warm sun to completely dry it out.
Step 4: Measuring Up
Cut a strip of masking tape that is longer than the length of the jar and then place it carefully so that it runs the length of the jar and is as straight as you can get it by eye. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it should look perpendicular to the bottom, and it should not have any air bubbles trapped underneath the tape. Now carefully trim the top and the bottom of the masking tape so it just covers the curve at the bottom and the top of the jar.
The next part is really simple, but you want to be precise. Make sure that that you have a level surface to work on. Fill the measuring cup with ¼ cup of water and carefully pour it into your jar. Let the water settle and, while holding the jar steady put one clean round dot exactly where the water level crosses the masking tape. Repeat this step adding another 1/4 cup, but now place two dots. Keep repeating the process, making sure that when you reach the one cup level make a line across the tape. Continue in ¼ cup increments until you’ve reached the upper limit of the jar – probably around 1 and ½ cups of liquid. It should look like the picture above. Dry it out and it’s ready for use
Step 5: Daily Dozen
Since this simple mug can handle everything from A to Z, I call it the ZMug. There are easily a dozen things that the ZMug can do and at only 1.4 ounces of weight you'll hardly know it's there.
1. Best coffee mug ever. Not only does it hold a lot of coffee, with the lid screwed on, it's spillproof. It will still warm your hands on a cool morning, but unlike metal cups it won't burn your lips.
2. Beer Mug. Need I say more?
3. Got a bunch of dehydrated veggies that you're going to need for lunch? In they go with water to cover and screw the lid on. By time you're ready for lunch, veggies just need a quick warm-up.
4. Need a quick salad dressing? Oil, vinegar, spices. Put on the lid, shake it up and pour.
5. Cooking something that needs an exact amount of liquid (cakes, bread, brownies, soup packets, etc.) the ZMug is your friend.
6. Cocktail shaker: Gin or Vodka, a handful of clean snow, a dash of vermouth, shake (or stir) and pour out a round of fresh ice-cold martinis. The volume marks help you make sure everyone gets their share.
7. Use it as your soup cup - one less thing to carry and the shape (low surface area), and insulation of the plastic keeps it warmer longer.
8. Found a cool bug you want to capture? The ZMug can help.
9. Need a weight to toss a cord over a branch. ZMug+Dirt+Paracord = instant cord toss rig.
10. With a flat top, a little aluminum foil makes it an excellent sun reflector for signaling.
11. Got something that needs to stay cold, put it in the ZMug, tether it to a cord and dangle it in the stream. Or if you're near a snowbank, just dig a hole and put the ZMug in it with just the top showing.
12. Fill it with water, seal it, dry it off and it makes a handy rolling pin for some pizza dough.
13 And for a full "baker's dozen" of uses, anything that is potentially crumbly - like crackers or cookies that you want to carry on a day hike: ZMug to the rescue. It's virtually crush-proof, especially if you use a paper towel or cloth as cushioning so the stuff doesn't rattle around too much.
Once you make your own Zmug - which takes about 10 minutes, you'll find no end of uses. As a final note: clean up couldn't be easier. For most stuff a little warm water, a vigorous shake and then leave it open to dry in the sun. For something more aggressive, or somewhat greasy, put a paper towel inside and with a sturdy stick or utensil rotate it around the bottom, then keep rotating as you slowly bring the utensil up to the lip of the mug. Be sure to pay attention to the underside of the lip as well. Once you extract the paper towel and utensil, you'll have a clean ZMug ready to go.
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