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Reviews > Cook Gear > Cooking Accessories > Big Sky Insulite Food Cozy > Test Report by Kathryn Doiron

Big Sky Insulite Food Cozy


Test series by Kathryn Doiron
Initial Report: Aug 20, 2009

Field Report: Oct 30, 2009

Long Term Report: Jan 2, 2010


Image of Big Sky cozy



Personal Information:
Name: Kathryn Doiron
Age: 33
Gender: Female
Height: 5' 8" (1.7 m)
Weight: 150 lb (68 kg)
Email: kdoiron 'at' gmail 'dot' com
Location: Washington DC, USA

Brief Background: I started backpacking and hiking seriously almost four years ago. Most of my miles have been logged in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. I have recently finished 1200+ miles (2000+ km) of the Appalachian Trail. My style is to be as light as possible while not spending a fortune. My pack weight tends to hover around 25 lbs (11 kg) with two days of food and 0.5 L of water. I have recently started getting into winter hiking, snowshoeing and kayaking.


Product Information:


Manufacturer: Big Sky International
Website: http://bigskyinternational.com/
MSRP: $11.95 USD
Weight: (stated) 1.5 oz (43 g)
Weight: (actual) 1.3 oz (37 g)
Size: (stated) 10 in. x 10 in. (25 cm x 25 cm)
Size: (actual) 9.25 in. x 10 in. (23.5 cm x 25 cm)



Initial Report:
August 20th, 2009

The Big Sky Insulite Pouch Cozy is a thermal cozy made with an aluminized material with sewn seams. The cozy can keep hot foods hot, and cold foods cold. The cozy is shaped like an envelope. The flap is held in place with a thin line of hook and loop closure. The cozy has a flared bottom, like a gusset, allowing the cozy to stand up and accommodate a wider load. For storage, the cozy can be rolled down and held closed with two thin elastic straps sewn to the back of the pouch. There is also a loop with a clip sewn to the side seam allowing the cozy to be clipped to something.

The Big Sky cozy wrapped up tight

My initial impressions of the cozy were how small it was. Once I unrolled the cozy from the elastic straps I was impressed by the lightness to size ratio. The cozy is generously sized while being light. I feel I can easily accommodate my freezer bag cooking and likely still have room left over. I was a little concerned that the hook and look top closure would be difficult to open as I assumed the flap was held down by a wide strip, instead, the hook and loop enclosure is a narrow strip that is easy to open while still holding the top lid in place.

Detail of the clip and top closure
Detail of the side clip as well as the thin strip of hook and loop for the top closure

On my initial use of the bag, I brought a freezer bag meal made in a quart sized bag (1 L). The meal didn't take up more than the bottom quarter of the freezer bag. On starting to prepare the meal, I opened up the freezer bag and rolled the top down over the outside of the cozy. This particular sized bag was the right size to fit within the cozy. I poured my meal into the freezer bag followed by the required amount of boiling water. I then sealed up the bag and sealed up the cozy, pressing out some of the extra air. After about 15 minutes of "cook" time my meal was ready to eat. This first quick meal prep showed me that the cozy was easy to use and I am looking forward to preparing more meals in the cozy.

Cozy with a large freezer bag inside
The Big Sky cozy with a freezer bag inside waiting for boiling water to be added

My test plan over the next couple of months will be to use the cozy on all my outdoor activities including car camping and backpacking trips. My trips will include backpacking in the George Washington National Forest and the Shenandoah National Park, plus dayhikes as well as occasionally kayak camping.



Field Report:
October 30th 2009

I have mostly used the cozy for keeping my lunches cool. I did have a chance to use the cozy for a meal that required re-hydration and will be doing more hot meals now that the weather is finally cooling off.

Trips:

My first time using the cozy was on a car camping trip while I was rehydrating some food. I found that a large freezer bag fit inside the cozy nicely and rolling the bag around the top edges made it easy to pour boiling water inside. The first thing I noticed was that the meal was still extremely hot after sitting for 15 minutes. Hot enough that I burned my tongue. The next was that while the cozy is a bit tall, it can be rolled down and my meal was comfortably eaten from the cozy. Using the cozy in this manner protected my hands from the hotness of the meal.

The next trip out was actually 4 days of use with me putting my lunch inside to keep it cool. I put my lunch in around 7:00 in the morning. While the meal was not fridge cold, it was still cool. Since it was a fresh salsa, cool was perfect, where room temperature isn't so much. The cozy was large enough to keep a small container of salsa, a piece of fruit and small container with a coconut square cool and still have a little room leftover. The small amount of padding also kept the fruit from getting bruised while stored.

Another trip saw similar use over 3 days with the cozy being used to keep my lunch cool and protected. This particular trip was a kayaking trip out on the ocean with some pretty rough surf conditions. I was rolling around and being tossed about and the cozy kept my lunch protected pretty well and kept it cool.

My next use saw me using this cozy to prepare a warm lunch on a cold day hike, about 50 F (10 C). I hiked in with my hiking buddy about 2 mi (3.2 km) staring at 7000 ft (2133 ft) and gaining about 1000 ft (305 m). We stopped on the side of the trail and boiled up water for lunch. The meal pack had an expandable bottom that worked well with the expandable bottom of the cozy. This particular meal pack was a smaller pack and fit loosely inside the cozy. In spite of that the meal was still cooked and hot after sitting for 10 minutes.

Cozy with a smaller rehydrate meal pack inside
The Big Sky cozy with a smaller rehydrate meal pack inside ready to eat

Impressions and Comments:
On the cool end of things I find that the cozy works fine. I think if I put in a cold pack this would definitely be much better. The temperature regulation seems to work well in the short term but over time the efficiency decreases. Mostly I see myself using this to rehydrate meals and the short term use is perfect for that intended use. The cold foods were more unusual for me but worth trying the cozy out with to see how well it would work.

Wrap-up
Pros so far: easy to use, packs small, and stands up alone. Cons so far: none yet.



Long Term Report:
January 2nd, 2010

I have used the food cozy on several more trips as outlined below.

The first trip out was an overnight trip to the Shenandoah NP in Virginia. I used the cozy to cook my evening meal. The cozy so far has worked well with a variety of dehydrated meals. I have used the cozy with Mountain House, MaryJanes, and Lipton Noodle/Rice meals in a freezer bag. The bag did a great job of keeping the meal hot while it cooked as well as keeping my fingers from burning on the outside of the bag while I was eating.

The next trip out was an overnight trip down to Zion NP with freezing temperatures. Having the cozy to insulate the hot food from cooling too quickly was very nice. Food cooked in about 12-15 minutes as per the package directions on the meal. The cozy made it more comfortable on the hands when holding the hot food for eating.

Enjoying a meal from the cozy

The last trip out was another backpacking trip. Again, the temperatures were down around the freezing point on a trip in the Salt Lake area. I was again eating a rehydratable meal in the cozy. The cozy was used twice to cook two different meals.

Impressions and Comments:
I have really enjoyed using this cozy. It is very compact and works very well. I find it fits well in my food bag and I can leave it there. It has more than handled the abuse from my bag. It has done a great job of keeping my meals hot while I wait for them to cook as well as keeping my fingers from burning. In spite of all the use this bag has seen, the bag in still in great condition.

Pros:

    - compact
    - keeps foods hot
    - gusseted bottom for freestanding

Cons:
I can't think of anything that didn't work for me


This concludes my report series on the Big Sky Insulite Food Cozy. Thank you for following this report series, I hope you have found the information contained within helpful. I wish to thank BackpackGearTest.org and Big Sky International for allowing me to test this item.


Read more reviews of Big Sky International gear
Read more gear reviews by Kathryn Doiron

Reviews > Cook Gear > Cooking Accessories > Big Sky Insulite Food Cozy > Test Report by Kathryn Doiron



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