Friday, November 2, 2018

Post Hike Thoughts and Review: Part IV

The ongoing gear review continues with a post on stoves. As Waepnedmann noted in a recent comment, all the cooking can be done on an open fire. That's the starting point. It was my starting point too. When the Senior Patrol Leader gave me two strike anywhere matches, the task was to build a fire, feed it, and get a bed of coals, cook a meal, clean up, and then put the fire out completely. It was a requirement for 2nd Class.

Rules have changed. There are plenty of places where open fires are prohibited or banned due to fire conditions when things are dry and windy. Gathering wood around well used campsites can require hiking some distance to find anything. There's a time factor, too. Getting the fire going to the point of being able to cook and dealing with the fire afterward might add an hour to cooking prep.

Last week, I didn't see anyone cook on a wood fire. There's a lot of modern choices. Pump pressurized white gas was popular for a long time. Now canister stoves, using disposable gas cylinders as a base, have become a popular option. They look something like this:

A recent option is what is known as a beer can stove. It can be pretty simple, or it can involve JB Weld, drilling holes, with a grommet and wire screen. Being a fan of simple, I have tried several of these before settling on a design. I suppose someone is selling a professionally made one.

I made my own, following these instructions. It works great, creates a ring of flames that will boil 2 cups of water in about 5 minutes.

The fuel is marine alcohol that I buy in a hardware store. I carry it in a clearly marked plastic bottle. I used about 20 oz. of fuel in 5 days, boiling water and cooking 2 meals a day in 30 degree weather.

This stove, in some variation or another, is what almost all the hikers I saw were using. The stove is free, can be made in about 15 minutes, and weighs about half of an aluminum soda can. A minimalist solution.


Unknown said...

I was in a very active scout troop, worked in a backpacking camp one summer of my college years, and until I married I spent nearly every free weekend canoe-camping or hiking with groups of friends.

But my wife dislikes camping or being outdoors with mosquitos.

I've kept all the stuff, but kind of think that I'd be a silly site on the trail now -- a walking time-warp from that moment before the turn-of-the-century when my employment income met up with my aspirations of what equipment I'd like.

So this is my camping stove:

I guess I was a bit of a luddite even in 1990.

Tim Covington said...

I recently got back into backpacking. After comparing different stove types, I settled on the canister stove you have pictured. But, the home made alcohol stoves was a close second. I like the ability to turn off the stove when I'm done. With the alcohol stoves, I have to wait for the fuel to run out.

Rick C said...

The linked video shows how to put the stove out without waiting for it to burn off all the fuel.

Old NFO said...

Much easier now with the aluminum cans! They were hard as hell to make with steel cans back in the 60s!

Coyote Hubbard III said...

Only drawback is you have to have alcohol to run this. In a long game as in a grid down / SHTF situation availability will suffer for fuel.

Not knocking this stove, its simple, works, and cheap...

But a backup that can be used with local and natural fuels is still needed IMHO.

waepnedmann said...

The great-grandson went on a fifty-miler a couple years ago.
The troop's equipment standard for stoves was a pressurized canister type similar to the one you use.
He ran out of fuel before running out of miles.
I was disturbed when he related that the other scouts were reluctant to share their fuel with him during the remainder of the trip.
Poor planning on his part, his attitude and attitude on the others scouts parts were not good sign regarding the leadership or his character.

I showed him my Emberlit titanium stove.
I have a Solo alcohol stove that I put inside it (basically using the Emberlit as a pot support).
I made a folding shelf out of some sheet aluminum to raise the alcohol stove up enough so that the stove is close enough to the pot to work well.
The Emberlit comes apart and the pieces stack and store in about a 3/8 thick envelope. IIRC it weighs about six ounces.
It is designed to burn small (very small) branches, twigs, and forest litter, so if you run out of alcohol you can resort to available local wood fuels.
You can set it on a 12" X 12" piece of plumber's wool and leave no trace on the ground.
I can boil two cups of water in about four minutes using a fire with dry oak twigs and about four and a half minutes using alcohol.
The testing altitude was about 500 feet, so YMMV.
If you are using wood from conifers a little liquid dish soap on the bottom of the pot before use makes cleaning the bottom of the pot easier.
He "played" with it a lot during his visit. His mom got him one for his next birthday. He is an official "Happy Camper". I hope he adjusts his attitude.
(Skip to bottom regarding attitude)

I decided to go with the Solo instead of making one from an aluminum can because I liked the ability to cap the stove with the alcohol in it. I have a tendency to complicate things, so the home-made alcohol stove would have been a good and maybe better choice. It would be lighter and there is a deep satisfaction in making and using your own gear.

Attitude (a parable for or times):
Two mountain men were traveling together through the mountains.
They broke camp after breakfast, loaded their pack horses, saddled up, and hit the trail.
After several hours of traveling the rider in the lead reined up, turned in his saddle, and asked his companion at the rear of the pack train if he had seen his possibles bag.
The other rider replied that yes he had seen it and that it had fallen of his companion's saddle not long after leaving their campsite of the night before.
The lead rider, wordlessly, turned headed back down the trail to retrieve his possibles bag.