Is taking a Thermos on a bicycle tour a bit old-school? Possibly, but it makes sense, particularly when cycling in colder climates.
Should you take a Thermos flask on a bikepacking trip?
During my recent bicycle tour around Iceland, having a Thermos was a game-changer for me.
From being able to make a cup of coffee in my tent in the morning, to keeping noodles warm to eat during the day when cycling, a Thermos flask was one of the most useful items of gear I took on my Iceland cycle trip.
Not convinced? In my opinion, it is one of the most essential items that any cyclist should bring with them on their journey. Here are five reasons why you should consider packing a Thermos on your next bicycle touring trip :
1. Keeps liquids hot for a long time:
“Really?” I hear you say. ” I never knew that”. Ok, hear me out.
If you're camping in colder climates on bike touring trips, hot water becomes an essential resource. You'll need it for drinks as well as cooking.
So, doesn't it make sense to keep some hot water in a Thermos?
During my 6 week bike tour in Iceland, I appreciated being able to fill the flask with hot water the previous night. That way, I could make a coffee from the comfort of my sleeping bag the following morning.
Originally, I had also planned to have plenty of hot drinks through the day, but as I struck lucky with the weather, this wasn't always necessary.
While I preferred to keep hot water in the flask, you also have the option of keeping tea, coffee, or even soup.
Pro tip: When I was staying at campsites, I always made sure to use the camp kitchen to make hot water to keep in the Thermos. This way I save cooking fuel as well.
Related: Bicycle Touring Cooking Gear
2. Saves money:
Saving fuel brings us on to saving money!
If you're cycle touring on a budget, a thermos can help you save a lot of money.
Instead of buying drinks at cafes or convenience stores, you can make your beverages and carry them in the thermos throughout the day. Or, as mentioned, just make them with the hot water.
Don't underestimate the cost savings of cutting down on a coffee shop bought drink when travelling. The money you save will soon add up, especially if you are on a longer tour.
Related: How to cut costs on a bike tour
3. Keeps food warm:
I took a wider necked food Thermos flask with me on the Iceland bikepacking tour. Although slightly heavier than a regular Thermos due to its size, it meant I could also use it to keep food in.
So, if I wanted to heat a soup or stew up before leaving a campsite, I could pour it into the flask and then have it for lunch later in the day.
Noodles were a particularly good food to keep warm in the Thermos.
Related: Best foods for bike touring
4. Can be used for cooking:
No, I'm not suggesting you put the Thermos in the campfire!
With a little creativity though, a thermos can be used as a cooking tool.
If you're camping, boiling water in the thermos can be an easy way to prepare soups, stews, or even instant noodles. Just add seasonings and your ingredients, and after a few minutes, you'll have a warm, hearty meal.
Noodles are by far the easiest thing to ‘cook' in the Thermos, although they can be a bit soggy by the time it comes to eat them. Soups with finely chopped veggies are a step up.
This method of cooking will save you campstove fuel, as the veggies will slow cook in the hot water while sealed with the Thermos.
Do you get an exquisitely cooked gourmet meal? Not quite, but it's certainly a great way to save money and time.
Overall, a Thermos just adds a little convenience into your routines when bicycle touring.
When you're on the road, anything that saves time and effort can be a huge plus.
With a thermos, you can keep your drink close to you in the bottle holder on your bike. (Actually, I use a Brooks feedbag for this and it fits perfectly).
You also have access to hot water without needing to fire up your camping stove. All you need to do is remember to make filling up your Thermos with boiling water part of your routine, and you'll have the convenience of hot water on demand!
It may be a small thing, but when you're tired and hungry after a long day cycling, having a cup of hot coffee or soup waiting for you can make a huge difference.
A thermos is a versatile item, and you're sure to enjoy all the benefits it offers on your next cycling adventure.
It's a relatively lightweight item, (although weight weenies will probably want to give it a miss!) that can help you keep your drinks at the perfect temperature, save money, doubles up as cookware, and help you save time and effort.
Why not give it a go on your next bicycle tour and let me know if taking a Thermos flask is something you'll continue doing?