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Reviews > Cook Gear > Cooking Accessories > Big Sky Insulite Food Cozy > Test Report by Derek Hansen

Big Sky International - Insulite Food Cozy

Test Series by Derek Hansen

Big Sky International - Insulite Food Cozy

Showing the cozy unfolded and full

TESTER INFORMATION

Me
NameDerek Hansen
Age33
GenderMale
Height5' 10" (1.78 m)
Weight165 lb (75 kg)
Email Address derek·dot·hansen·at·mac (without cheese)·dot·com
City, State, CountryFlagstaff, Arizona, USA

BACKPACKING BACKGROUND

I am a lightweight backpacker with a typical overnight pack weight of 15 lb (7 kg) and a multi-day weight of 20 lb (9 kg). I use an alcohol stove when I cook, and often use a homemade cozy to help slow cook my food to save fuel consumption. My normal backpacking style is to carry a simple hammock and a multi-functional tarp, often a poncho used for multiple purposes.


PRODUCT INFORMATION

Manufacturer Big Sky International (Jackson, Wyoming, USA)
Year of Manufacture 2009
Manufacturer’s Website bigskyproducts.com
MSRP US$11.95
Listed Weight (tag) 1.3 oz (38 g) -- (the website lists the weight as 43 g, or 1.5 oz).
Measured Weight 1.35 oz (38.3 g)
Listed Features Insulated, reflective material to retain temperature; Durable non-woven fabric.
Listed Dimensions 10 × 10 in (25 × 25 cm)
Measured Dimensions 10 × 9.5 in (25.4 × 24.1 cm)
Folded Size: 10 × 3 in (25.4 × 7.6 cm)


INITIAL REPORT

18 Aug 2009

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

Cozy with a 1 L Nalgene bottle inside

The Big Sky International Insulite Food Cozy (hereafter just pouch or cozy), is a pouch made of insulated, reflective, durable, non-woven fabric. The cozy has a pouch cover or lid that closes with hook-and-loop fasteners that runs the length of the lid. Near the top of the cozy is a small plastic loop, which is sewn into the material.

Showing the gusseted bottom

The bottom of the cozy is gusseted, which creates a more stable base when the pouch is filled. Near the gusseted bottom are two small, black elastic loops. When the cozy is folded in thirds, these elastic loops can wrap around the material to keep the pouch folded and compressed.

Showing the back of the cozy

There are two Big Sky tags sewn into the material: one on the fold-down lid and one on the side, near the top.

WEBSITE

Big Sky International’s website is fairly easy to navigate. I was able to easily find the cozy under “Cookware,” but there is little extra information about the product available online.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The cozy is very light and yet feels very durable. I like how small it can compress and the elastic bands are a nice touch for packing. There are no air pockets to pop or crush, since the cozy is using Insulite insulation and not air duct insulation. The gusseted bottom is also very nice and will certainly come in handy. The hook-and-loop closure works very well, especially considering that the hooks do not cling to the silver-metallic fabric.

The cozy easily fits a standard 1 L Nalgene bottle and the hook-and-loop lid fastens easily. With the gusseted bottom, the cozy was able to easily sit upright. The product is very well-made with nice straight seams. The fabric is not hemmed, which may be because the material does not fray like other fabrics.

Cozy with two 1 L Nalgene bottles inside

After doing this quick inspection, I thought I’d give the cozy a quick test in my home. I boiled 4 L of water and filled two Nalgene bottles. It was a tight fit, but the cozy did hold both Nalgene bottles. I noticed the fabric stretched a little, which allowed the Nalgenes to fit a little better. In fact, when I first put the two Nalgene bottles in the cozy, only the corners of the lid would fasten to the hook-and-loop closure, but after a few minutes with the heat and steam moisture, I was able to get the lid to almost completely fasten.

Showing the cozy with two 1 L Nalgenes with the top closed

I filled the Nalgenes with boiling water at 10 PM, put them both in the cozy, and left them on my kitchen counter all night. I checked the water temperature at 7:30 AM the next morning and both bottles were at 100.4 F (38 C)! The temperature in my home at 10 PM was about 75 F (24 C), and cooled to around 60 F (16 C) by morning. Nothing terribly scientific, but the cozy did a pretty good job of retaining the heat for nine hours.


FIELD REPORT

10 Nov 2009

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

September 25–26 ~ Sycamore Canyon, Kaibab National Forest. Out with the Boy Scouts at the Fall Camporee. A total of 5 miles (8 km) hiking. The low temperature was 35 F (2 C) and the high was 75 F (24 C). Elevation was 6600 ft (2012 m).

October 9–10 ~ Walnut Canyon, Coconino National Forest. Fast-packed 6 miles (13 km) into the Walnut Canyon area where the overnight low was 27 F (-3 C) and the daytime high was 65 F (18 C). Elevation was 6800 ft (2073 m).

October 31 ~ Campbell Mesa, Coconino National Forest. Hiked 5 mi (8 km) while geocaching and scouting for good stealth camping on the mesa. I started early in the morning and had breakfast out on the trail. Temperature began at 20 F (-7 C) and rose to 60 F (16 C) by 11 AM.

November 6–9 ~ Sinclair Wash and Rio de Flag areas, Coconino National Forest. Spent the weekend with my kids and went on all kinds of hiking, geocaching, and cooking meals with the cozy.

In addition, I used the cozy during several day hikes and at work to keep lunches cool.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

Cozy at Camporee

The cozy has been working admirably during all my testing so far. While out with the Boy Scouts, I had great success rehydrating my dinner in the cozy in my cooking pot. After cooking and re-hydrating my meal, I noticed the scouts weren’t quite ready for dinner, so I tucked my 3-cup (.7 L) pot inside the cozy to keep warm while I helped finish some camp chores. It was close to an hour later when we all sat down to dinner, but when I pulled my pot out, it was still too hot to eat! It was very cold outside, and yet the cozy did a remarkable job in keeping my dinner hot.

Rehydrating and keeping water hot

While backpacking around Walnut Canyon, I used the cozy to help rehydrate my breakfast and to keep my water hot for hot chocolate. I placed my zip-top freezer bag on top of my 3-cup (.7 L) pot, all of which went inside the cozy. When my breakfast was ready, I still had piping-hot water for cocoa.

As for keeping things cool, during one trip I packed lunch meat, cheese, and fresh vegetables inside the cozy. To feel safe, I also put four ice cubes in a zip-top bag in the cozy as well. After about four hours when I sat down for lunch, all but one ice cube had completely melted, but the food was still quite cool. The outside temperature was 70 F (21 C).

Cozy as water bladder insulation

During most all of my day hikes, I began using the cozy as insulation against my back. I was trying out using a hydration system in a lightweight pack, which put the water bladder against my back. The frigid water was keeping my back too cold, so I put the cozy between the water bladder and the pack, which helped insulate me from the cold water. It worked beautifully!

Cozy as hot pad

I’ve also used the cozy as a pot holder while I eat. This has really worked perfectly to keep my hands from burning.

FIELD USE SUMMARY

The cozy has worked wonderfully in a myriad of uses so far. I like the “package” design, which has allowed me to use the insulation in many ways, instead of being permanently shaped around a pot or mug. The cozy has allowed me to use less fuel during cooking by allowing the "simmering" to take place in the cozy.

I like that the cozy packs so small, but I am also happy that I can use it as insulation while hiking, making it useful all along the trail.

The only negative thing I’ve noticed so far is one of the elastic loops is tearing away from the cozy. I will need to be careful going forward so it won’t come completely off the material.

CONTINUED USE

I feel very confident in using the cozy and will continue to use it to rehydrate meals and keep food both hot and cold. One thing I’ve thought of doing with the cozy is to keep water bottles from freezing overnight. I haven’t tried this yet, but with temperatures dropping, I want to see if this will work.


LONG TERM REPORT

12 Jan 2010

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

November 10–11 ~ Walnut Creek, Coconino National Forest. Went on a rare mid-week backpacking trip with my daughter, taking advantage of Veterans Day. We hiked a total of 2 miles (3.2 km) with 300 ft (91 m) of elevation change hiking in and out of Sandy's Canyon and the Le Petit Verdon, a popular rock climbing area. The low temperature was 28 F (-2 C) and the high was 65 F (18 C). We camped at an elevation of 6800 ft (2072 m).

January 9 ~ Campbell Mesa, Coconino National Forest. My older sons and I took off in the morning to explore the mesa and enjoyed lunch on the trail. Elevation was 6800 ft (2072 m) and the outside temperature was 40 F (4 C).

In addition, I used the cozy during four other day hikes where it was used to insulate my back from my water bladder.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The Big Sky Insulite Food Cozy continues to perform well. During my camping trip in November, I used the cozy as I cooked our breakfast in the morning, and to keep water hot for cleanup. I noticed the boiling water we kept in the cozy while we finished breakfast was moderately warm when we used it for cleanup.

Water bottle in cozy

I also took the opportunity to put my water bladder inside the cozy overnight. This was a 2L Platypus bladder with a drinking hose. The overnight temperature was below freezing, but my water bottle was perfectly fine in the morning! I was very grateful, because that was our only water for breakfast!

In January, I took my older sons on a day's adventure out on Campbell Mesa where we hiked a few miles and explored the snowy landscape. We stopped for a break when my kids starting complaining about being hungry. For this trip, I brought along some US military rations, or MREs (Meals Ready to Eat). It’s been a little while since I enjoyed these, but my sons were excited to try them out. This MRE came with a chemical heater pack, so I planned to try this and see if it would work to heat up a few MRE meals (I packed my stove and pot, just in case this didn’t work).

Cooking an MRE inside the cozy

I put the chemical heater pack with the MRE packets inside the cozy. Before long, we noticed steam coming out of the heater pack and the outside of the cozy was very warm. Waiting was torture as we were all very hungry. We waited about 15 minutes before we broke open the packets to eat them. Where the packets were touching the chemicals, the area was very hot, and outside that area, the packets were warm. I massaged the packets to distribute the heat as best as I could and then we ate. We were all very satisfied that this experiment worked, although I ended up eating a lot of MRE leftovers (turns out, my sons didn’t particularly like them).

FINAL SUMMARY

PRO—I love this cozy. It's small and easy to pack. It has great volume and held everything I chose to put in, including my pots on occasion. The cozy has helped during rehydrating meals, keeping food piping hot, and keeping perishables cool.

CON—One of the two elastics has torn, but hasn't completely fallen off yet.


I would like to thank Big Sky International and BackpackGearTest.org for providing me with the opportunity to test this product.



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Read more gear reviews by Derek Hansen

Reviews > Cook Gear > Cooking Accessories > Big Sky Insulite Food Cozy > Test Report by Derek Hansen



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