DIY pot cozy: How to make your own out of Reflectix

by | Aug 23, 2022 | Backcountry camping

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Cooking enough backcountry camping meals will make you realize how much you take certain things for granted—like keeping hot water or food hot after bringing it to a boil. Luckily for us camping enthusiasts, a DIY pot cozy is a quick and inexpensive way to solve that problem.

What is a pot cozy?

A pot cozy is basically an insulated sleeve that you can slip over your pot, mug, or bowl to keep its contents hot. You can buy them pre-made, but there’s no guarantee they’ll fit your particular pot or mug. Plus, DIY-ing your own pot cozy is a fun little project that doesn’t take much time or money.

The secret to making your own DIY pit cozy is to use Reflectix—a space-age insulation material with two outer layers designed to reflect up to 97% of radiant heat. You can find it at most hardware stores, and it’s often used as insulation in homes.

The benefits of using a DIY pot cozy

Pot cozies make excellent additions to your cooking gear, and here’y why:

You’ll save more fuel. Backpackers love their DIY pot cozies because they don’t have to keep their stove running beyond bringing it to a rolling boil. The pot cozy will trap heat in and continue to cook the food, which means less money spent on fuel canisters and less weight to carry around.

Your cooking process will be more efficient. Pot cozies are especially great for cooking dehydrated food. Because dehydrated food needs time to rehydrate, and hot water helps it rehydrate more efficiently than cold soaking it, a pot cozy will speed up the process without requiring tons of fuel.

Your food/beverages will stay hot in cooler weather. If you’re camping in the shoulder seasons or in the winter, your freshly boiled water, brewed coffee, or or cooked food is going to cool down fast if the temperatures are cold and the wind is blowing. But if you slip a pot cozy over it, you’re much more likely to be able to enjoy it while it’s still hot.

You’ll protect your hands from the heat. Another big advantage of using a DIY pot cozy is that it allows you to have hot drinks or food without risk of burning yourself. This is especially useful when you’re camping with kids who might not be as careful around hot cookware.

You can keep water (and other fluids) from freezing in extreme cold. This is probably just a Canadian thing, but we’ll let you in on a secret about pot cozies: They’re great for winter camping in temperatures of -15°C (5°F) when your water bottles are at risk of freezing from the outside in.

Unfortunately, we learned this the hard way. It’s no fun having to pull a heavy sled of gear across a frozen lake, only to find that most of the water in your water bottle has turned to slush. And that’s exactly why we made a couple of DIY cozies to fit our Nalgene bottles.

What you’ll need

Supplies to make a DIY pot cozy.

Ready to get started on making your own DIY pot cozy? Great! Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A large enough piece of Reflectix to make your cozy
  • Reflectix foil or aluminum foil tape
  • Scissors
  • A pen or marker
  • A ruler (or something to draw a straight edge)

We actually just bought a kit for a hot water heater, which came with both the Reflectix and tape. If you can’t find these supplies in your local hardware store, you can order the Reflectix and the tape from Amazon.

Step 1: Trace and cut the bottom of the pot cozy

Tracing a circle around the pot on the Reflectix.

Place your pot flat on one corner of the Reflectix and use your pen or marker to trace right around it.

Then cut it out.

A circle cut out of Reflectix.

Step 2: Measure and cut the side section of the pot cozy

Place your pot on its side on the Reflectix and slowly roll it until the entire circumference is wrapped in Reflectix. Use your pen or marker to mark where the Reflectix meets at both the very top and bottom of the pot.

Wrapping the pot around the Reflectix.

Now you can unroll the pot use your ruler to draw a vertical straight line between both marks, plus a horizontal line from the bottom mark to the edge. This should give you the complete rectangle you need to cut it out.

Cutting the Reflectix out to fit the pot.

Step 3: Secure the side section with tape

Once cut, wrap the rectangular side section around the pot again to confirm that it’s the right size. If it’s too big, you can trim it down. If it’s too small, you’ll probably need to start over with a new piece of Reflectix.

Making sure the Reflectix wraps around the pot at the right length.

Remember—the ends of the side section should just meet when wrapped around the pot. Cut a piece of tape the length of the end of the side section and use it to secure the two ends together.

Securing the ends of the Reflectix with tape when wrapped around the pot.

You should now have what looks like a cylinder. The side section should fit snuggly over the pot, but you should be able to slide it off relatively easily.

Step 4: Tape the side section and bottom together

Cut several pieces of tape—about three inches long—and place them along the edge of the table you’re working on. These pieces will be used to attach the bottom to the cylinder you created in the last step.

Pieces of tape to use to secure the Reflectix together.

Place the bottom section over one of the open sides of the cylinder. It’s okay if it’s not a perfect tip—that’s what the tape is for!

Fitting the bottom piece of the Reflectix on the pot.

Take a piece of tape and place it vertically over the seam where the bottom and side section meet.

Attaching the bottom piece of the Reflectix using tape.

Then repeat with the other pieces of tape until the bottom is firmly attached to the cylinder with no openings.

 You should now have a lower section of the cozy that you can comfortably pull off the pot.

Pulling the bottom part of the cozy off the pot.

Step 5: Line the exposed edge with tape

In this step, we’re going to focus on taping along edge at the top end of your cozy so that it doesn’t catch on the upper lid portion (which you’ll be working on in the next step).

You can use a similar technique as you did when you attached the bottom section, but a faster and easier thing to do is to cut a long section of tape (7 to 10 inches long or so) and attach it horizontally to the outside edge of the cozy—so half of it is on the Reflectix and half is hanging off.

Next, snip a few vertical cuts every two inches or so along the portion that’s hanging off and fold those over the edge toward the inside of the cozy.

Lining the top edge of the pot cozy with tape.

Repeat this with additional pieces of tape until you have a nice clean edge around the entire circumference of the cozy.

Step 6: Repeat steps 1 to 5 for the lid

Go ahead and repeat the entire process again, this time for the lid.

Making the upper lid portion of the pot cozy.

When you get to step two, just remember to focus on wrapping the Reflectix around the upper portion of the pot with the lower part of the cozy on—as well as the lid.

The upper part of the cozy is going to fit over the lower part of the cozy, so you want it to be every so slightly bigger.

Fitting the upper lid portion over the lower part of the pot cozy.

Step 7: Optionally cut a slit for the lid handle

If the lid of your pot has a handle in the top middle of it, you can optionally cut a small slit for the handle to fit through it. This can be a bit tricky.

Cutting a small slit for the pot handle to fit through the cozy lid.

You can eyeball it, but we recommend using your ruler or a tape measure to measure the length of the handle and mark that distance with a pen or marker on the side section of the cozy. Then, use a sharp knife to cut a slit perpendicular to that mark—being very careful not to cut too big.

You’ll want the slit to be just large enough for the handle to fit snugly through it when the cozy is on the pot. If you made the slit too big, that’s okay—you can easily make it smaller by applying pieces of tape around it. We recommend doing this anyway to prevent tearing the slit larger than it needs to be when you’re trying to fit the handle through it.

Your DIY pot cozy is now complete! All you have to do now is put it on your pot and you’re ready for your next trip.

A finished DIY pot cozy.

DIY Pot Cozy FAQs

How much does a DIY pot cozy weigh?

That depends on the size of your pot, but for most standard 1- to 2-litre pots, you can expect your cozy to weigh around 25 to 50 grams. They’re perfect for ultralight camping because they weight so little!

How long will a DIY pot cozy last before I need to make a new one?

Again, this depends on how often you use it and how well you take care of it. With proper care, your cozy should last for several years. Just be sure to clean it if you spill food on it and avoid crushing it when packing it away.

You should ideally keep it around your pot when it storage to help it retain its shape. If you notice any small tears, you can repair it by adding a few pieces of tape.

Can I make a DIY pot cozy with other material?

Reflectix is the material of choice for most campers, but you can try other material like Mylar or bubble wrap. Just keep in mind that they may not insulate as well as Reflectix.

What else can I make cozies for?

As mentioned earlier, we made cozies for our Nalgene bottles to keep our water from freezing while we’re winter camping in extremely cold temperatures, but you can also make cozies for your food containers, cups, mugs, and pans if you like!

We hope you found this tutorial helpful and that you enjoy your new DIY pot cozy. Be sure to let us know how it worked out for you in the comments below!

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Elise & Ross

We’re Elise and Ross, avid backcountry campers and outdoor adventurers! We started Gone Camping Again as a way to share our knowledge and experience about wilderness living and travel. Our hope is that we inspire you to get outside and enjoy all that nature has to offer!

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