Thursday, 6 October 2011

Camping Stove Options - What To Use And When

If you are going to spend more than a couple of hours out on the trail, you are at some point, going to want to sit down, rest your legs and get a brew on. Or maybe even cook yourself a warm meal...

And if you want a warm meal or hot drink you are more than likely going to need a means of heating up that food or drink.

Now depending on your circumstances, you are going to have a number of options available to you. Some of the hardened bushcrafters will use nothing more than a bit of tinder, some kindling and a means of producing an ember, whether it be from a firesteel and some charcloth or a bowdrill set.

These are great skills to have and I advise that if you are serious about bushcrafting to get these skills, at some point, under your belt. But if you are just out with friends or even on your own, you are going to want to brew up without any hassle or fuss.

And so for this, you will need a stove. But which stove is the best ?

Well there isnt an answer for this, as all circumstances are different. And in bushcraft you adapt your kit to the situation you are either faced with or are planning to be in.

Lets have a look at the different types of stoves you may want to consider :

  • Gas
  • Meths/Alcohol
  • Wood
  • Full Cookset
  • Lightweight
  • Disposable
  • Compact
As you can see there are many different methods of producing heat, but what you chose depends on where you are going, how much you want to carry and what fuel source you have available.

For instance, it would be more or less pointless to take a wood burning hobo stove into acrtic conditions, due to the lack of fuel available. And it would equally be as pointless to take a double ring gas burning stove, with fold out table and a huge fuel bottle, if you were only going out for a couple of hours, with only a teabag and some powdered milk.

Today, I am just going to cover a few stove options that I use, in my kit, whenever I go out on the trail. You will no doubt have your own favourites and no two peoples kits are the same. You should take note of what other people have to say, but at the end of the day, your kit should suit YOU !

Personally, I don't really like gas burning stoves. I just feel there are more moving parts to let me down and then of course there is the fuel you have to carry.

One of my prefered methods of cooking out in the woods, is the Swedish Army Trangia stove and mess kit (See video demo below). This provides everything I need to brew up, make a hot meal or simply to purify water. I have all the pots and pans that I need, plus a reliable means of heating up my food or water. Fuel is easy to carry and the whole kit is compact and reasonably lightweight (depending on whether you go for the alloy or stainless steel set).

If you are just needing to brew up, this stove is probably a bit of overkill. But for general cooking it's ideal, it's reliable and cheap to buy. It is also very versatile, as you can heat up food, then boil water for a brew or washing up and still keep your food warm, whilst your other water is boiling.

It comes with a windshield, meths/alcohol burner, small pan, large pan (billy) and a bottle for storing your fuel. They come in alloy or stainless steel, as I mentioned earlier. The stainless steel version although more versatile (as you can place the pans straight into a fire) is heavier in weight.

The set comes with lots of little nifty features, like the "D" rings on the small pot handle that allows you to insert a stick to create a longer pot handle and also stops you from burning your hands when the handle gets hot. Anybody involved with camping or hiking, will be familiar with the Trangia name and the fact that these cook kits were issued to the military, gives you some idea as to how good they actually are. Speak to anybody involved with bushcraft and they will no doubt be aware of this stove or actually own one (or two)...

You can watch a video review (see below) of the Swedish Army Trangia, that I put together a while ago, which will take you through some of the features and what I thought of it when I used it for the first time...

If you are just looking to brew up, when out on the trail, you may just need a simple meths/alcohol stove and a small billy can or steel cup. You can quite easily put together a cheap, small and lightweight brew set, using items you would find around your house... Tin cans, drinks (pop cans) etc. (See An Example Of That HERE)

Or if you have money to spend, there are any number of small stove sets you can purchase e.g Trangia Triangle, BCB Crusader Cook Set etc. The Trangia Triangle is one of my personal favourites, as it is lightweight, robust and packs away very small.

If you already have other Trangia products, like the kettle etc. then this stove works great in conjuction.

Both the Swedish Army Trangia burner (which is slightly larger than the standard trangia burner) and the standard Trangia burner, fit snuggly inside the Trangia Triangle, giving you an easy to use, versatile cook set.

There are of course the Hobo style stoves, you can cheaply produce using old tin cans, which allow you to utilise the fuel that you find out on the trail, such as birch bark, twigs, pine cones etc. These stoves require firelighting skills, which can be easily learned and applied. But you do get a form of satisfaction from producing your own heat source using natural materials and also boosts moral, when a real wood burning glow is produced.

So, as you can see there are a number of options available to you, but what you decide upon is all down to your circumstances and the situation you are putting yourself in...

I hope this has given you a bit of an insight and hopefully sparked some kind of interest into producing your own cooking sets/stoves etc.

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