Cooking at Altitude

Altitude/Boiling PointAt higher altitues, the air pressure is lower, allowing water to boil at lower temperatures. Depending on the elevation you will be backpacking at, you should consider cooking time to plan how much fuel you should take along with you.

Beginning 2,500 to 3,000 feet above sea level, altitude starts to affect all cooking in three ways:

1. The higher the elevation, the lower the boiling point of water (see table and illustration). When water boils at lower temperatures, it takes longer for foods to cook in or over water.

2. The higher the elevation, the faster moisture evaporates.

3. The higher the elevation, the faster leavening gases (air, carbon dioxide, and water vapor) expand.

For foods that cook in 20 minutes or less at sea leavel, add 1 minute of cooking time for each 1,000 feet (310 meters) of elevation. For items taking more than 20 mintues to cook, add 2 minutes for each 1,000 feet of elevation. Because of this, you need to plan to spend more time burning fuel.

Elevation Boiling Point of Water Cooking Time
Sea Level 212° F (100° C) 10 minutes
5,000 feet (1,524 meters) 203° F (95° C) 15 minutes
7,500 feet (2,286 meters) 198° F (95° C) 18 minutes
10,000 feet (3,048 meters) 194° F (90° C) 20 minutes
15,000 feet (4,572 meters) 185° F (85° C) 25 minutes

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4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by powderpuff on November 27, 2008 at 11:25 am

    I knew that boiling point decreases and the cooking time increases as the elevation increases, but I didn’t know this much. Great information and thanks for the table! I can’t believe that there is a 18 degree difference between the boiling point at sea level and at 10,000 feet! I’m curious why the post says “Beginning 2,500 to 3,000 feet above sea level…” So at 1,000 feet you can’t really tell a difference in the air pressure?


  2. Posted by hiker4life on December 23, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    Ya I live at about 4,000 feet and I can tell a difference in boiling points than when I’m camping at sea level in Hawaii. I’ve pretty sure, to answer your question powderpuff, that there is a difference, but it’s just so minimal.


  3. Posted by pooperscoopermybutt! on January 27, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    Didn’t know this, but it’s good for everyone to know. Thanks. Great post.


  4. […] I noticed that they have some mountains there. Plus, I remember from camping in the Rockies that cooking at altitude takes longer, consuming additional fuel, which becomes more scarce the higher you […]


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