Cooking Systems

 


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Stove Cooking Systems

 

 

Cristina Franco's Custom Antarctic Stove

XGK stove, Reactor pot, platform and modifications

 

If your end goal is to actually cook on the trail, campsite or even your bomb shelter, you will want more than just a stove; you'll want an integrated cooking system which is suitable for your particular needs.

 

 


Cooking Systems

 

Stove Cook System

straightchuter.com  my-cook-kit

  1. 9″ x 9″ cotton cloth for general clean up
  2. 6″ x 6″ faux chamois for wiping down tent condensation
  3. Scrunge – cut in half
  4. MSR XGK stove – the heart of the system
  5. Backpackers Pantry Pot Cozy
  6. Seasoned Salt
  7. Tea/pube strainer
  8. MSR windscreen
  9. MSR XGK pump
  10. MSR Spondonical (pot grabber)
  11. Snow Peak titanium Spork
  12. Bamboo pot scraper
  13. REI 3 liter aluminum pot – black
  14. Stove board (wood with aluminum foil)
  15. MSR heat exchanger (for anything over 3 days)
  16. Pot liner (home made – pack cloth)
  17. 33oz/1 liter fuel bottle with cap and stickers covering the word “fuel”
  18. Bic lighters (not shown – don’t fly with them in your kit!)

 

An integrated cooking system is generally made up of a stove, cooking utensil (pot, pan, empty can, etc.) and accessories which expand your cook system's utility and performance.  And in many ways, choosing a proper cooking system is like choosing the proper vehicle for a particular use.  If you are racing across the Baja at high speeds, you need a high octane powered light weight dune buggy or something similar; if you are taking 30 children to school each day, you need a diesel burning bus; if you are solo commuting to work each day and want to save on expenses and find easy parking, you need a scooter or fuel efficient auto which runs on the most economical fuel available; if you are a pimp, you need a pimpmobile which "bumps" (whatever that is).  It is true that a stock SUV can perform many of these tasks, but an SUV won't work as well as something designed for the task at hand. Likewise, your selected cook system should match its intended use. 

 

Multifuel (Petrol) Stove Setup

Can use almost any fuel

Operates in any environment

Maintenance heavy

Heavy but durable

Powerful

Gas Canister Cook System

Requires premium expensive fuel

Poor snow performance

Dream to operate

Very Responsive

Fast

 

Alcohol Burner System

Economical fuel

Surprising cold weather performance

Starts and runs

Light

Slow

 

 

The focus of cook systems often centers around a particular stove, which is understandable as the stove is the heart of any cooking system.  This is very similar to race vehicles and their engines.  Its sexy to have a high performance high output engine in your auto or truck, whether you are racing or not.  So it's the engine that generally gets most of the upgrades and attention.  But whether you are going to race your vehicle or even just commute with it, you will need to to address many other issues, like the braking strength, brake cooling, brake balancing, weight distribution, suspension travel, suspension tuning, transmission gearing, transmission strength, final drive gearing, traction control options, wheel type, wheel size, tires, frame, aerodynamics at different speeds, steering geometry, steering gearing, how the overall vehicle performs at low and high speeds, handling over rough terrain, handling in turns with or without ice/snow/water/dirt, fuel economy, fuel tank size, fuel type/octane, engine cooling, creature comforts, overall styling, marketing, target use designing, safety, color, etc.  If any of these items are unbalanced, your vehicle will not perform or sell as desired...sometime with devastating consequences.

 

Basically, like a vehicle, your cooking system is more than just a stove or engine.  And like a vehicle purpose made for racing on the track or negotiating rough terrain at high speeds or taking the kids to soccer practice or fitting into small parking spaces or maximum fuel economy, your cooking system of choice should match up with your particular event or lifestyle.  So no matter what you have planned, you need a well balanced purpose made system that meets your specific needs with each component working together and supporting those needs. 

 

This might mean:

 

Here are several categories of portable cooking systems:

Hi-Tech Prepared Hiker Systems

Occasional Conventional Hiker

High Efficiency Hiker

Lightweight Hiker

Ultralightweight Hiker

KISS Hiker

Woodland Wanderer

Hunter/Expedition Setups

High Altitude Systems

Car Camper

Musher Cooker

Airplane Hopping Backpacker

International Traveler/Hotel Hopper

Developing World Cooker

ParaMilitary Type

Post Apocalypse Zombie

Bush Master

Restaurant/Catering Cooking

Mariner Cooking

Flameless Hot Food

Cookless Food Consumer

Free Spirited Freeloader

 

 

For more on just the stove types themselves, see How to Choose a Backpacking Stove.

 

 


HiTech Prepared Hiker

A high tech hiker has done his/her required  research regarding four season backcountry traveling and understands the dangers associated with outdoor sports.  It is important that you are prepared for any event, as not being prepared in the outback and away from civilization can prove deadly.  And with today's technology, there is no reason to risk it by skimping on gear.  And since you have a membership to the local outdoors specialty store, you have access to the best gear and gear advice in the world.  As a result, your pack is a little heavier than the economy hikers who pass you on the trail, but you worry not as if there should be a surprise blizzard that night - you will not only survive but will have a hot high calorie meal with cocoa with marshmallows to boost.

 

 

Adjustable Output Multifuel Backpacking Stove

Optimus Nova Mulitfuel Stove

Optimus Nova

 

Nothing performs in the coldest of environments like a multifuel stove.  These more or less provide a jet powered flame which will quickly heat up any meal or melt snow in no time at all.  They do require a bit of stove operation knowhow and regular maintenance, but that's a small price to pay for a roaring hot stove when hunkered down in your winter campsite.  These stove systems will generally burn white gas, kerosene, jet fuel and unleaded automobile fuel, making it very versatile anywhere in the world.  Heat output can be easily adjusted from simmer to blow torch with the stove mounted (as opposed to a valve mounted) valve which allows you to do much more than just melt snow or boil water.

 

MSR DragonFly Backpacking Stove System

MSR Dragonfly

 

Multifuel stoves with an adjustable simmer include the:

MSR Dragonfly

Optimus Nova

Primus Omnifuel

 

Related Links:

Zen Petrol Stoves

Cascade Designs - MSR

Optimus

Primus

 

System Parts:

 

 

WisperLite Universal Multi Fuel Stove

 

Wisperlite Multi Fuel Stove

 

Isobutane canister fuel is a delight to use on the trail as it lights up easily while requiring minimal stove maintenance.  Unfortunately this gas fuel does poorly below freezing temperatures, which is when you need your stove the most.  There are ways of extending the usability of this fuel at subfreezing temperatures, such as inverting the canister which delivers liquid fuel to your stove instead of fuel vapors.  This allows the more volatile gasses in your fuel mix to last longer while limiting heat loss through vaporization of fuel which together significantly extends the usefulness of your canisters in cold weather, especially when canisters with good fuel mixes are used.  The Whisperlite Universal stove system has been engineered so that it can support a gas canister inverted, has a more than adequate generator tube to vaporize the liquid fuel and has proper jetting for butane/propane mixed fuel.  It has also been tested by a reputable company from a country regulated by liability lawyers, so most feel that this system and approach is "safe" for the average consumer.  Other methods of extending the operating range of gas fuels in subfreezing temperatures (such as using a bicycle tire pump to pressurize your canister) are likely beyond what the "average consumer" would consider safe or reasonable.  That said, knowledge of these techniques is also part of being a prepared hiker. 

 

Vapor Pressure vs Temperature of Propane/IsoButane/Butane Mixes

Vapor Pressure vs Temperature of Propane/IsoButane/Butane MixesVapor Pressure vs Temperature of Propane/IsoButane/Butane Mixes Magnified

The boiling point of each of these gases is around the 1 ATM level at sea level

Below their respective boiling points, your stove will fail to start or run

Note that as fuel is released from a canister, its temperature will drop

Graph Link

 

But as a backup in cold weather or when gas fuel isn't available, you can use white gas or kerosene with the Whisperlite Universal cooking system to heat up your food in the dead of winter and even melt snow for drinking water if needed.  The Whisperlite family of stoves is so well designed to run petrol fuels in the cold weather that the WisperLite International is the lightest standard issue stove for the US Antarctic Program and is used as the emergency stove in all of its Survival Bags.

 

The remote gas and petrol fuel storage also allows you to safely use a windscreen around your stove to maximize use of your fuel use without the concern of overheating your fuel tank and creating an undesirable explosion.  A windscreen will also hasten cooking and snow melting.

 

Primus Fuel Pump

Primus Fuel Pump

 

Of note, when using petrol fuel in with this stove system, the MSR plastic pump is considered the weak point of this stove system.  And since this stove is set up to run on "universal" Lindal threaded gas canisters, you can easily hook up the Whisperlite gas canister adapter to a Primus Omnifuel ErgoPump.  The Primus metal pumps are more durable than the MSR plastic fuel pumps and better engineered.  The only disadvantage of the Primus pump is a small weight penalty and the possibility of limited replacement parts, depending on where you are in the world.

 

Note: MSR has 3 different WhisperLite stoves:

WhisperLite - smaller generator tube.  Meant to burn white gas only

WhisperLite International - larger generator tube.  Designed for white gas, unleaded gas and kerosene

WhisperLite Universal - Redesigned generator tube with canister adapter.  Designed for white gas, unleaded gas, kerosene and liquefied butane fuel mixes

 

Related Links:

Zen Canister Stoves - information on fuels and use at high elevations and subfreezing temperatures

Cascade Designs - MSR Company site

forums.equipped.org  231941  MSR WLU running with an Omnifuel pump

adventuresinstoving.blogspot  msr-whisperlite-universal  Whisperlite Universal connected to Primus Omnifuel pump

 

System Parts:

 

 

Optimus Svea

Optimus Svea

Optimus Svea

 

The Optimus Svea isn't a new high-technology stove.  It has actually been around for quite some time and is really simple in design.  But this design has withstood the test of time and is a great stove for those looking for a dependable petrol stove with minimal moving parts.  Instead of a pump to pressurize the fuel tank, the generator tube uses a wick to draw fuel into it.  After fuel is vaporized, thermal feedback from the stove keeps the stove pressurized.  Having less moving parts means less things can fail.

 

For those who want a pump, Optimus offers a separate external pump which can be used with a special filler cap.  A tire valve can also be added to your filler cap if you wish to use a mini bicycle pump to pressurize this stove.

 

System Parts:

 

 

MSR XGK Expedition Stove

MSR XGK Expedition Stove

MSR XGK Expedition Stove

 

This is the standard of Expedition Stoves and is overkill for most outdoorsmen.  Designed by Larry Penberthy, it utilizes a large generator tube and a target burner to maximize burning of petrol fuels.  Different jet sizes allow you to run different fuels and allow for more ideal air/fuel mixtures depending on which fuel you plan on running.  It reliably runs at full blast with most petrol fuels (white gas, automotive gas, kerosene, JP8) and overdesigned to continue operating in the worse of environments.  The XGK and its predecessors have been used on both poles and on the highest mountains of the world in various configurations. 

 

As a backpacking stove, it is heavy but still packable.  It also lacks the controllability of fuel flow which means that simmering and fancy cooking is limited.  That said, this stove system is ideal for melting snow under extreme conditions as this system can be used in insanely cold environments without the concern of  your fuel failing due to the cold.

 

MSR XGK Expedition Stove Platform with Pot Support

12" Expedition Base and Pot Support System

 

For extreme environments, you will need a stove platform or a hanger system.  A platform will allow for a flat and level surface where there otherwise may not be one and keeps the stove from sinking into the snow.  A hanging system does something similar while also saving floor real-estate.  It is important to note that care must be taken when using a XGK in a tent as the initial flare ups are dangerous.  You should preheat/prime the XGK outside of a tent or enclosed area. 

 

MSR Pump Cracked and Broken

MSR Pump Modificiation

Problem/Weak Spot

Potential Preventative Fix

 

The Achilles heal of the XGK is the the light weight fiberglass-reinforced polymer pump.  It lacks the robustness of metal pumps and has more O-rings to fail.  If your life depends on your stove, then you should pack a second pump.  You may also wish to reinforce its weak spot as shown above.  On the upside, the MSR pumps are lighter than metal pumps and are said to melt and vent when over heated as opposed to containing pressures and exploding after pressure overwhelms the fuel bottle.  Plastic pumps are also more economical to manufacture than metal ones which may not be foremost on your mind in Antarctica but helps since you may wish to have an extra one tucked away.

 

If you are embarking on a true expedition and are concerned about the longevity and robustness of the MSR pump, you can make custom changes to allow for use of a different pump with an inline flow valve.  You can even add an tire valve to your fuel bottle and use a bicycle pump to pressurize your system.

 

MSR XGK-EX Stove 

MSR XGK-EX (Newer design)

 

There is a shaker jet version of the XGK which "self cleans" the jet.  It sounds like a good idea, but many feel that this design hinders performance as well as in-use maintenance.  For this reason, many explorers will remove the the shaker jet and weighted shaker and replaced it with an old shakerless jet.

 

Related Links:

Cascade Designs - MSR

US Patent 3,900,281 - model 9 stove

US Patent 5,513,624 - Shaker Jet

summitpost.org  483666  Hanging XGK

spiritburner.com  17072  Pump Comparison

spiritburner.com  22757  discussion on Bulin pump

Bulin  BL100-T3 - Chinese clone

spiritburner.com  20893  Pressure release screw

flickr.com  christinafranco  web.archive  red-hot-dreams  spiritburner.com  11956  explorersweb  18115  Franken-XGK with reactor pot and bottle mods

hannahmckeand.com  photo_101  adventurehannah.com  spiritburner.com  20893

straightchuter.com  expeditions-stove-set-up

usap.gov  FieldManual-Chapt14Stoves.pdf  US Antarctic Program

spiritburner.com  26577  Pump talk

spiritburner.com  25492  History

spiritburner.com  24405  Shaker Jet Talk

Hanging XGK

 

System Parts:

 

 


Occasional/Conventional Hiker or Camper

You like the outdoors and go on hikes, backpacking trips and car camp on occasion.  It's loads of fun, but your life doesn't revolve around the outdoors and you have no desire of roughing it too much if unnecessary.  Quality gear is also nice to have.  You have many wonderful stove system options.

 

 

Jetboil/Primus ETA Gas Systems

Primus ETA Solo

Primus ETA Solo

 

The Jetboil and Primus Eta Solo Cooking Systems are simple all in one systems and are great if all you are looking for is a system which boils water.  Their pots mount to their respective stoves, which mount atop a fuel canister creating a single solid unit which is more stable than it looks.  Both stove and canister will separated and fit in pot for easy storage. 

 

A ringed corrugated heat exchanger is attached to the bottom of the pot to maximize heat transfer to the pot.  This "Fluxring" both hastens cook times and increases fuel efficiency.

 

The stove has a built in windscreen to protect it from the wind.  This protect the delicate gas flame from blowout and insulates heat from the stove around the bottom of the pot and heat exchanger.

 

These are well designed systems for those needing a stove to mostly boil water.

 

Related Links:

JetBoil

Primus - Swedish Site;  Primus - US Site

 

System Parts:

 

 

Trangia UL Alcohol Stove System

Trangia Cook System

Trangia System

 

The Swedish Trangia cook system are one of the most intelligent systems available.  They work in most habitable environments and make maximum use of fuel heat by containing it around the bottom and sides of the pots that come with the system.  The system breaks down and can be packaged in a nice compact unit.

 

This system uses alcohol for fuel which has many benefits.  It is generally non-explosive and when spilled, will quickly evaporate without damage to most gear and without the residual odor associated with petrol fuels.  The upper half of the pot support system traps hot air from the stove around the sides of the pot to maximize efficiency.  The lower half the the pot support system keeps the alcohol burner off any potentially frozen ground, snow or ice which makes this system usable even in Sweden.

 

System Parts:

 

 

Lightweight Gas Canister System

 

The Monatauk Gnat Titanium Stove and GoSystem Fly/Ti weigh in at around 50 grams, which is pretty light for a really usable stove.

 

 

Use the Gnat or Fly with a 100 gm canister of gas (~216gm total), and you have a very useful stove with adjustable heat output at less than 270gm (9.4oz) including enough fuel for a week's worth of breakfast and dinner.

 

Related Links:

Monatauk

Monatauk-europe

 

System Parts:

 

 

Canister Stove System - User assembled

Optimus Crux Gas Stove   Optimus Crux Canister Stove Packed

Optimus Crux

 

A Canister Stove mounted over a canister is popular stove setup.  These are easy to use and heat output is very adjustable and generally more than adequate.  They tend to be a little prone to blowouts in the wind so some knowhow is necessary to use them properly.  A windscreen can also prove both very useful and dangerous, depending on how you use one.  See our Canister Stoves Page for more these stoves, fuel and advance use.

 

MSR Pocket Rocket Canister Stove

MSR Pocket Rocket

 

Realistically, there is little difference between the various gas canister stoves for the average hiker.  But if you do your homework, you will note differences in how stoves can be packed, various weight differences and carbon monoxide output, which is more of a concern for climbers but still nice to know.

 

Snow Peak GigaPower Gas Canister Stove

Snow Peak GigaPower

 

Note that your stove should always be removed from the canister during storage and transport.  Stoves which use piercable non-resealable canisters should be avoided as the stove can not be removed safely until the canister is completely empty.  These stoves have been know to leak gas while stored in backpacks and ignite.  This causes injury to many each year.

 

Piezo igniters are available on many stoves and allow you to light the stove with a push of a button.  These are really nice but tend to fail.  You should always have an alternate means of lighting any stove and should always carry a fire starter when away from civilization.

 

Related Links:

Cascade Designs - MSR

Optimus

Primus

Snow Peak  US Version

 

System Parts:

 

 

Solid Fuel Cooking System

Hexamine Pocket Stove

The Pocket Stove (56gm)

 

Commercial solid fuel stoves that burn hexamine (ESBIT) or META are simple enough to use and pack.  Some can be very light weight, while others are heavier and durable enough to survive use by junior scouts.  Solid fuel tends to burn slow so this isn't a good choice for the inpatient outdoorsman.  Hexamine also give off a fishy odor when it burns and ages.

 

ESBIT Stove   Traditional ESBIT Stove

ESBIT Stove Examples

 

What's great about solid fuel is that it is simple.  It doesn't require any special priming or maintenance like with white gas stoves.  And when packing fuel, you just count out the number of tablets you need which is easier than measuring out the exact amount of liquid fuel and better than guessing if a gas canister has enough fuel left in it for a trip.

 

Related Links:

Zen Solid Fuel Stoves

ESBIT

 

System Parts:

 

 


High Efficiency Hiker

Conserving fuel means that you don't have to pack as much.  This means that adding the weight of certain items, such as a taller windscreen or heat transfer devices will more than make up for their added weight, bulk and complexity for longer hikes by conserving fuel.

 

Cook System Starting Weights

Weights and efficiency numbers based on manufacture's specs (likely "optimized and idealized")

A 4 oz pot was used for calculation of final weight of systems other than the Reactor and Cooksack

Spreadsheet 

 

Truth be told, depending on the the length of your trip, the lightest weight system may be a less efficient one.  In the graphs above, you can see that the plotted weights of the highly efficient MSR Reactor is still high compared to the plotted weights of the Simmerlite.  This is in part due to the high base weight of the Reactor system and in part due to the weight of the canisters the fuel is stored in. 

 

What the graph above doesn't show is how each system works under less than lab conditions, such as at high altitude, or subfreezing temperatures or with wind.  These will all negatively impact the performance of any stove, but "high efficiency" cook systems are generally impacted to a lesser degree.

 

 

MSR Reactor

MSR Reactor Gas Canister Stove

MSR Reactor

 

It may not look like much, but this high tech, high end stove has several advanced features built into one fancy stove system.  It uses infrared heat to transfer heat directly to heat exchanges hidden under an integrated windscreen built into the pot.  This allows for maximum transfer of heat and great protection from the wind and elements. 

 

MSR Reactor Gas Cansister Stove Packed Away

MSR Reactor packed away

 

This is currently one of the most efficient systems around which allows it to save overall weight on long trips or where you are cooking for several people.  The entire system packs away its own pot.

 

Related Links:

Cascade Designs - MSR

 

System Parts:

 

 

 

Jetboil Helios Gas System

JetBoil Helios Canister Cooking System

 

Gas is the easiest fuel to use on the trail.  Turn a knob, light your gas and adjust as needed.  There a few drawbacks to using gas stoves, but this system has illuminated some of them by using a remote inverted gas canister.  This allows you to conserve fuel and heat by using a windshield around your stove without the concern of over heating your gas canister as it is outside your windscreen.  The inverted canister allows you to maximize mixed gas fuel and extend the usability of these fuels in subfreezing temperatures.  See our Canister Stoves Page for more on this.

 

JetBoil Helios System - Packed

JetBoil Helios system packed in pot

 

Jetboil uses a "Flux Ring" which is basically a continuous corrugated radiator fin tack welded to the bottom of your pot in a ring formation.  This heat exchanger aids in heat transfer from the flames to the pot.

 

This system weighs in at 28 oz (793 g) and the manufacture reports 24 single liter boils per 8oz (230g) canister.  It is bulky compared to other canister systems, but you can see why.

 

Related Links:

JetBoil

 

System Parts:

 

 

Caldera Cone System

 

Caldera Cone Cook System

Caldera Cone by Trail Designs

 

The Caldera Cone by Trail Designs is a simple system with a pot, cone shaped windscreen/potstand and simple two walled chimney alcohol stove with priming pan.  The stove design is light weight and simple and should be dependable enough to run at most hiking temperatures.  When this stove is combined with a matching conical windscreen and pot, hot gasses from the stove will be funneled against the sides of the pot so as to maximize heat from the stove.  This system is particularly useful for tall narrow pots which will benefit from a wider base from the conical potstand and from heat being directed up the pot's tall sidewalls.

 

Rand Lindsly of Trail Designs says:

 

"A stove system is probably best defined by a stove + pot + stand + windscreen that are ALL SLAVED TO WORK WITH EACH OTHER. I make that all-caps distinction because there are stoves that are sold with windscreens or pot stands or pots as bundles, but they are really just that, bundles of disassociated parts where the individual components could be used elsewhere. Stove SYSTEMS really don't lend themselves to being broken up.

 

Specifically, examples of what I've seen are the Jetboil family of products, the MSR Reactor, and the Primus ETA Solo system. Also in this family is the Caldera Cone system (and Ti-Tri). To this group of systems, everything is usually purchased as a combined kit, and the pieces don't really lend themselves easily to be used with other gear. To our stuff.....a Caldera cone is made to fit one pot and one pot only, it comes with a stove that is designed to work inside the higher heat/lower oxygen inside the cone, and the stove really doesn't have a market outside it's use in the cone. It really is a "system"....not a pot stand....not really just a "windscreen".....it kinda all works together."

 

On the Trail Designs website, they state that "Depending on water temperature, altitude, wind, etc, you will get a 2 cup boil with anywhere between 15 to 25 ml of fuel."  This equate to around 12gm (0.42oz) - 20gm (0.69oz) for 473mL (2cups) of water boiled.

 

In regards to weight and efficiency, the Caldera Cone system is fueled by alcohol or hexamine, both of which have a low energy to weight ratio compared to gas or petrol fuels.  The cone shaped windscreen maximizes the efficiency of these fuels, but alcohol is only half as efficient as gas or petrol at best.  But since the Caldera Cone system is so light, shorter trips and conservative cooking allows the overall average weight of the Caldera system with fuel to be lighter than most canister or petrol system.

 

Caldera System parts weights:

  oz gm
Alcohol Stove 0.56 16
Gram Cracker ESBIT stand 0.11 3
Caldera Cone Windscreen 0.92+ (generally around 1.23) 26+ (generally around 35)

 

Weights and efficiency numbers based on manufacture's specs (likely "optimized and idealized")

A 4 oz pot was used for calculation of final weight of systems other than the Cooksack

Spreadsheet 

 

In the graphs above, you can see how the Caldera system does well in regards to weight compared to gas and petrol stoves on shorter trips.

 

ESBIT solid fuel can also be used with the Caldera system which yields a slightly more efficient system in regards to weight of fuel needed to heat water compared an alcohol stove being used with the Caldera.  Rand Lindsly reports that it generally takes around 2/3's of a 14 gram ESBIT tablet to bring 2 cups of water to a boil.

 

Alcohol/ESBIT Smiley Comparison:

  Alcohol ESBIT Notes
Cost of fuel Alcohol purchased by quart or gallon.
Availability of fuel Alcohol much easier to find than ESBIT
Ease of packing Alcohol needs a bottle, ESBIT prepackaged in blister packs
Ease of exact measuring of fuel A syringe or measuring cup is needed to measure exact amounts of fuel with liquid fuel.  You can mark a fill line in your stove and get pretty close.

ESBIT can not be cut up easily.  It's really easy to just use a whole tab ESBIT and not worry about saving 4 grams for fuel per use.

Reclaiming unused fuel Easier and safer to pack solid ESBIT in a ziplock bag than refilling a bottle with unburned and rapidly evaporating liquid
Smell ESBIT smells like fish when burned
Browning of pot Alcohol leaves no noticeable residue.  ESBIT coats bottom of pot
Spill hazard Alcohol is a liquid.  Spills result in lost fuel and possible fire hazard
Weight of fuel around 16 vs. 10 grams for 2 cups of water boiled (~475mL)
Weight of burner 16 vs. 3 grams
Ease of lighting Alcohol wins
Cook times Alcohol somewhat faster than ESBIT
Toxicity Concern of toxicity with hexamine when burned in confined spaces

 

Trail Designs also has titanium version of their conical windscreens which allow you to use an alcohol stove or ESBIT fuel and allow you to use the windscreen as a wood burning furnace.  This allows you to use wood when available and further extend the range of your stove's alcohol or hexamine fuel.

 

Related Links:

Zen Alcohol Stoves

Zen Solid Fuel Stoves

Trail Designs

backpackinglight.com  24445

 

System Parts:

 

 

FlatCat Bobcat System

High Efficiency Flat Cat Bobcat Alcohol Stove System  Flat Cat Bobcat Alcohol Stove- Stored

FLAT CAT Bobcat

 

The Bobcat System by FlatCat Gear appears to be a reasonable system for most hikers.  It's a combination of an alcohol stove with a tight windscreen/potstand combo made to fit tightly around a titanium pot and pack inside the pot itself.  This combination system allows for great stability of your pot and maximum efficiency of your fuel.

 

System Parts:

 

 

Howard Johnson's 1.0 oz. Esbit Stove

High Efficiency ESBIT Stove System

Howard Johnson's 1.0 oz. Esbit Stove

 

This is a elegant minimalist system which uses ESBIT solid fuel.  Its full size windscreen serves as a potstand by supporting half of the pot by a single titanium tent stake and the other half by the pot's handles.  Howard Johnson reports the use of a single ESBIT will boil water in his 3 cup kettle.

 

System Parts:

 

 

Don Johnston's High Performance Alcohol Stove (AKA Photon stove)

Don Johnston's Photon Stove System

Don Johnston's Photon Stove System

 

This classic stove utilizes a pressurized stove made from beverage cans with directional jets.  The stove is designed so there is a protruding rim at the top of the stove which allows for thermal feedback.  The pot stand is made from wire mesh and this system utilizes a full height windscreen.

 

Related Links:

Don Johnston's High Performance Alcohol Stove 2001 version

web.archive  Don Johnston's High Performance Alcohol Stove 2004 version

Photon Stove User's Guide

web.archive  Photon Stove User's Guide 2004 version

web.archive  Fillerdiscussion 2001 version - penny listed

web.archive  Fillerdiscussion 2004 version

 

System Parts:

 

 


Lightweight Hiker

You love to go visit nature, generally during the warm part of the year, and carry everything on your back.  You've tried the expensive heavyweight version of hiking/backpacking or have read enough about it to know that you are not looking for an endurance event.  You just want to have fun while on the trail and not in a race to heat up your meal or drink.

 

What you need is a cook system which is dependable, very light weight and very efficient so that you don't need to carry lots of fuel.  You also like the idea of renewable fuels and not wasting our world's resources, even though you drive an SUV, when a motorcycle or small car could get you to the trailhead.

 

You want a low output alcohol or solid fuel stove which will allow your pot to absorb more of the heat produced by your fuel instead of using more fuel to cook faster.  A tight windscreen is vital to protect your stove's flame, insulate your pot and direct heat up the sides of your pot.

 

 

Example Light Hiking System

Mini Zen Chimney Stove

Chimney Stove made from a single 8.3oz Red Bull Can

 

Here is one example of a simple lightweight system based on a simple chimney stove and windscreen/potstand combo.  The chimney alcohol stove is easy to light and holds just enough fuel to heat up a small pot of water. 

 

Windscreen PotStand

Windscreen utilizing 2 titanium tent stakes to support pot

 

The windscreen/potstand combo allows for a very stable platform for your pot, while protecting it from the wind.  It also directs hot gasses up the sides of your pot, further maximizing heat transfer to your pot.  When disassembled, your windscreen will collapse and fit in your pot with your stove, making for compact and protected storage of your cook system all in one logical spot.

 

In regards to pot selection, aluminum transfers heat the best and is generally the most economical.  Titanium can also be light, but tends to be more expensive.  You should choose a pot which meets your needs in regards to cooking style and amount of people you need to feed.

 

System Parts:

 

 

DIY Light Hiker Systems

Zen Chimney Stove

Mini Zen Chimney Stove made from 5.5oz V8 cans

 

There are plenty of Do It Yourself alcohol and solid fuel systems the average person can assemble.  The best system for each individual will depend mostly on personal preference.  The challenge is finding a system that not only works, but works together as a set.  Unfortunately, there are many stove designs which function less than optimally when combined with the wrong pot or windscreen and some stoves just don't work.  But the up side, there are many combinations that work, and work great.  You may wish to visit our DIY Links Page to get some ideas of what others have tried and shared on the web.

 

System Parts:

 

 

Titanium Minimalist Wood Stove

FireFly UL Titanium Collapsible Wood Stove

 

A wood stove such as the 2.3 ounce FireFly UL (0.016" titanium sheeting) or 56 gram (2.0 oz) Pocket Stove (0.5mm Grade 2 Titanium sheet) allows you to carry a small stove which collapses and can fit into a flat envelope.  Since these burn wood, you don't need to carry fuel, which makes such a system light, especially on longer trips.

 

Related Links::

FireFly UL Titanium Collapsible Wood Stove

 

System Parts:

 

 


UltraLightweight Hiker

Minimizing is a sickness you have.  You may just be out to hike for the day or weekend, but some UL hikers will cross large countries on foot with less gear than most take on an overnight hike.  Your goal is to minimize.  Cooking may be optional, but if it isn't, it's minimal. 

 

Heineken CanPot Tea Light Alocohol Stove System

HogOnIce's Homemade Cooking System  Alt Link Web Archive

 

A popular minimalist stove system in the HogOnIce Heineken CanPot system.  It uses a Heineken Can, wire mesh for a stand, tealight cup with insulation for a stove, a small windscreen, a small plastic bottle of fuel and a cozy for a freezer bag meal.  This system really has minimal weight, but is delicate compared to the expensive and heavier titanium pots used by many outdoorsman these days.  But since a UltraLight hikers are carrying minimal gear, their packs don't weight so which allows them to be much kinder to their gear... and bodies.

 

System Parts:

 

 

Ultralight Hiker Assembled Stove System

There have been a number of interesting ultralight stove systems used successfully by the outdoors community.  Review the DIY Links Page and assemble your own wonderful system.

 

System Parts:

 

 


Economy/Conscientious/KISS Hiker

You don't feel the need to spend insane amount of money on hiking gear, especially when DIY gear works better and costs almost nothing to make.  "Keeping It Simple Stupid" is good.

 

You are in luck KISS Hiker, because this and other related sites gives you an idea of what you can do with readily available materials to make simple lightweight and very functional gear.  You will of course need to experiment a bit to make sure things are working has well as possible before heading out on the trail, but you will be surprised how easy and simple enjoying the outdoors really can be.  This is best done in the warmer parts of the world or during the warmer part of the year.

 

You can start your research on our How to Choose a Stove Page and hit our Site Index if you don't find what you are looking for.

 

 

SuperCat Grease Pot Combo

Grease Pot Cooking System

Example Grease Pot System

 

The SuperCat Stove and its variants are simple to make and relatively durable compared to other DIY alcohol stoves made from beverage cans and tealight cups.  It also allows for a simple system system which does not require a separate pot stand.  It isn't the most stable platform around, but its simple and simple is good. 

 

SuperCat Stove  SuperCat Stove - Chimney Mode

ultralightbackpackintips.blogspot

 

If you use a thin walled aluminum grease saver can as a pot, you'll have a great lightweight system with more of a conventional "pot" than using a beer, soup or coffee can.  There is a lot of history behind these "pots" and their use by hikers back in the day.  To some it up, you could get a "Grease Pot" at a US Wal-Mart or K-mart for under US$5 several years ago and it was the lightest thing around.  They have since fallen out of favor and availability at local store, but you can still find these on Ebay or Amazon.  Antigravitygear also sells something similar with a non-stick coating.

 

Grease Pot

Stanco Non-Stick Grease Strainer "Grease Pot"

 

Related Links:

whiteblaze.net  45347

backpackinglight.com  42874

mikebrawley.com  5oz-cookset-for-7-50

backpackingdom  kitchen

 

System Parts:

 

 


Woodland Wanderer

Backpacking Wood Stove

BushBuddy - backcountrynecessities.com

 

If you like to live off the land as much as possible and have plenty of wood, sticks or cow patties to burn, a biomass stove is for you.  This allows for a contained fire as well as conservation and concentration of fuel and heat.  The stove itself can be quiet simple and still allow for a hot protected fire even in bad weather.  You will of course need to know how to start a fire, even when fuel is wet.

 

If local fuel is plentiful, you can sit back and enjoy the heat of dancing flames and hot tea all day long.  You can also grill up just about anything from fish to moose steaks, depending on what's available without needing to pack any fuel whatsoever.  You can even take hot showers if you wish.

 

And depending on stove design, it may be easy to use your stove to move ashes to a hole away from your camp site for burial and leave not trace that you were there enjoying an nice fire.

 

See our Wood Stoves Page for more on wood stoves.

 

System Parts:

 

 


Hunter/Expedition Setups

If you are traveling to remote areas via various earth roamers, you want a no compromise setup which can cook up any number of delicious meals from beans to rice to grits to soups to eggs to whatever meat you may have packed to killed along the way.  Since you are traveling via ATVs small or large, petrol fuel should be readily available and economical compared to other options.  Maintenance of your stove shouldn't be an issue as you are skilled with a wrench and makeshift tools, otherwise you shouldn't be operating an ATV in the outback.  Nominal weigh savings takes a back seat to durability and reparability.  Spare parts and tools can always be stored in your ATV back at camp.

 

Hot burning XGK Stove

Hot burning XGK

 

There are many multifuel stoves available for explorers these days.  They are generally durable in design and can produce a good amount of heat.  The following examples were selected for their overall utility in camp and suitability for the abuse these systems can expect on an expedition.

 

 

Optimus Hiker

 

Optimus Hiker+ Box Stove

Optimus Hiker+

Great for packing in anything with wheels or tracks

 

The Optimus Hiker stove have gone to earths highest mountains and both poles.  This venerable all in one system has a built in stove, fuel tank, stand and windscreen all in one self contained box.  It is an ideal expedition stove for base camp in most any climate.  But despite the name, this stove is not ideal for most hiking as there are much lighter options available.  That said, it is very portable and can be packed in if necessary.

 

Military Optimus Hiker 111 Stove System

Optimus Hiker 111 – Ein Outdoor Kocher mit Charakter

 

Unfortunately, earlier versions of the newer generation of this stove were problematic to the point of recall, but older and newer stoves should be fine.  Ones with steel tanks should be avoided.  And like a new carburetor, disassembly and cleaning prior to its first use is recommended.

 

Related Links:

YouTube  f34ItC2XenE

YouTube  gYwVxf3ZrOk

Optimus Hiker 111 – Ein Outdoor Kocher mit Charakter

usap.gov  FieldManual-Chapt14Stoves.pdf  US Antarctic Program

 

System Parts:

 

 

Propane Cook System

Propane Camp Stove

Portable Propane Stove

 

Propane is a wonder fuel.  It packs a punch and is really easy to use.  It will work well below freezing (except in the most extreme of conditions) and is easy to find and refill.  It comes in heavy duty steel containers so is a bit heavy for long distance dismounted exploring, but is great for base camp an vehicle based exploration.  This one is portable enough that you can pack it on short treks or to a hide site.  Smaller butane stove can run on propane with a adapter, allows for more usable options and versatility.

 

Propane burns pretty clean and without real flare-ups.  This allows you to use it in a confined space such as an RV or possibly a tent (which of course is forbidden but still commonly done).  You can also run an assortment of lanterns and heaters with propane.

 

Note: Butane, Isobutane and Isopropane are not the same as Propane.  Butane gas will fail at around the freezing point of water and the fuel mixes are significantly limited at subfreezing levels.

 

System Parts:

 

 

Double Burner Camp Stove

Coleman Double Burner Camp Stove

Coleman 2 Burner Stove

 

If you are traveling by truck, van or comparably sized tracked vehicle and plan to do all of your eating and possibly snow melting in camp close to your vehicle, a double burner multi fuel camp stove is great.  Some allow for the option of burning the same fuel used by your vehicle.  These are widely available in both commercial and military models and allow you to do real cooking with more than one cooking utensil.

 

The Coleman 2 burner white gas stoves are standard issue and the most maintenance-free stoves used by the US Antarctic Program.

 

Brunton Wind River Range - Packed  Brunton Wind River Range Cooking Setup

Brunton Wind River Range

 

The Brunton Wind River Range is a high end 2 burner propane stove setup which would be great for guide's basecamp.  At 23 lbs 4 oz, it must be vehicle or pack animal transported.

 

Related Links:

usap.gov  FieldManual-Chapt14Stoves.pdf  US Antarctic Program

 

System Parts:

 

 

Coleman Upright Stove

Coleman Exponent Multi Fuel Stove

21.6oz Coleman Exponent Multi Fuel Stove

 

The Coleman Multi Fuel Stoves have been around for some time in the US.  These are surprisingly heavy and prone to maintenance issues but popular among Americans.  This is likely in part due to brand loyalty, wide/dominating availability (Wal-Mart) in the US and price compared to other multi-fuel stoves on the market.  This single unit design makes it easier to pack away in a truck or tank while still being able to fit in a backpack.  The multifuel variants came with a separate jet to run kerosene, which allows them to run JP-8, which is readily available to soldiers.  The dual fuel stoves can run unleaded gasoline (with a good deal of expected maintenance) which is readily available at every gas station.  These fuel options, vehicle packability, price and availability make this stove very popular for many US outdoorsman and soldiers.

 

Various models over the years have had know problems.  You should review these issues prior to considering one of these stoves.  It is also important to know that since it is a burner over tank design, it can overheat if the tank is overfilled, or if you use a wide frying pan or if you use a tight windscreen with this stove.  Overheating will turn this stove into a huge fireball.  Coleman stoves are probably the stove most likely to be thrown into a lake.

 

Many are very happy with this stove and knowledge on use is key.  White gas is recommended over unleaded.

 

System Parts:

 

 


High Altitude Climbing Setups

If you climbing mountains, you need to be able to heat up your bones and hydrate your soft tissues enough to summit.  This means that you need a system which can melt snow without taking all day.  You are carrying everything on your back so your system needs to be light and compact.  If your stove fails, you die or fail to summit, so dependability is a must.  You are also likely to be at high altitude and dealing with cold temps, so you need a fuel that won't fail in the cold or the knowledge and experience needed to make your fuel work in the cold.

 

 

Canister Stoves

Hanging JetBoil Cansister Stove

Hanging Jetboil with holes in pot for clips

 

The cooking system of choice for most climbers is a hanging gas stove with a lightweight and appropriately sized titanium or aluminum pot.  Gas stove systems are easy to use and light weight compared to liquid fuel systems, but are limited in subfreezing temperatures.  This can be a problem for high altitude applications since subfreezing temperatures are often accompanied at high altitudes. 

 

Boiling Point of Fuels vs Altitude

Boiling Point of Fuels vs Altitude

The boiling point of each of these gases is around the 1 ATM level at sea level and decreases as you climb in altitude

Graph Link

 

What is interesting is that gas stoves depend on self pressurization which is basically dependant on their boiling point.  This boiling point drops as you increase altitude which makes gas stove fuels more usable than one might think.  That said, you will need to know advanced techniques for using canister stoves in the cold.  You will want a gas safe windscreen and the knowledge of how to make your fuel work in the cold.  Ignorance here can kill you.  See our Canister Stoves Page for more on this.

 

Related Links:

Zen Canister Stoves Page - information on fuel types, altitude use and cold weather use of gas

 

System Parts::

 

 

Petrol Stove System

Hanging MSR XGK

Hanging XGK

 

Petrol stoves are still used by many climbers and these stoves and systems have many advantages over gas.  For one, you don't have to worry about your system failing due to subfreezing temperatures.  You can also travel via commercial airlines to destinations were proper gas fuel availability is unlikely or undependable and still have a functional stove since you can always find kerosene or automotive fuels.

 

Hanging MSR Drangonfly Stove  Hanging MSR Whisperlite Stove

climbing.com  ttbigwall184

 

Compared to gas, the are more difficult to use and the flareups make them dangerous to use in tents.  Carbon monoxide and fumes are also more of a concern with petrol stoves.  See our Carbon Monoxide Hazards page for more information.

 

Depending on your climbing needs, an MSR XGK, Optimus Nova, Primus Omnifuel may be the a good stove for your type of travel/climbing.

 

Related Links:

International Fuel Names

Zen Petrol Stoves

Hanging XGK

 

System Parts:

 

 

Solar Snow Melter

Backpack Solar Cooker

14oz Backpack Cooker

 

In certain conditions, you can use the sun to melt snow for drinking water.  Having a system to capture melted snow can help you save fuel, extend a trip and maybe even save your life.  Many basic options are possible.  A conical parabolic solar cooker can be made from a thin sheet of plastic and Mylar and stored away in your pack.  Black plastic trash bags (prewash if you can), space blankets or tarps can be placed over a foam pad to help warm and collect water.  Also, Ziploc bags or empty water bottles (transparent or black) can be packed with snow and left in the sun, preferably over something insulated and dark.  Add snow as needed and collecte later in the day partially filled with warm water.

 

Related Links:

Zen Solar Stoves

solarcooking.wikia  Windshield_Shade_Solar_Cooker

fast-solar.com

Soltac

 

 


Car Camper

If you are camping out of your auto, van or bus and therefore get a chance to enjoy nature with many of the luxuries of modern civilization.  And since you don't have to carry everything on your back, you can have a nice stove that works well as one found in a home and uses economical fuel.

 

 

Propane Stove

Double Burner Propane Stove

Two Burner Propane Stove

 

It's hard to beat a propane stove.  It's just like having a gas range at home with easy to adjust burners and high heat output.  Propane also burns clean and is relatively inexpensive.  The one shown above has dual burners to allow you to cook two+ items simultaneously.  The top and sides allow for good wind protections and allows the stove to pack away as a nice thin rectangular box.  The only real concern with propane is the potential for gas pooling in low spots if there is a leak or the gas is left open without a flame.  Pooling of gas in a camper, van, bus or boat can lead to a nasty and unwelcomed explosion.

 

System Parts:

 

 

Charcoal Burner or Campfire Kit

Charcoal Grill

 

These are dirty to pack and heavy, but grilled food with the distinctive taste of smoke can't be beat.  Don't forget to pack your Smores ingredients.

 

Fire Grill

 

System Parts:

 

 


Airplane Hopping Backpacker  (Aeroplane Trekker)

Your type of travel involves a getting on and off commercial fights and heading out to areas where electricity isn't an option.  You travel time is precious, and you have not desire of using up too much valuable travel time looking for usable fuels for your stove or spending time decontaminating your stove so that you can check it on your return flight.  You have contemplated or attempted checking in various fuels at the airport but are not at a point in your life where detainment by local authorities and full body cavity searches seems worth the price for a hot cup of coffee.  You need a nonelectric cook system which is air travel appropriate and usable at your destination.

 

 

Gas Stove

Gas is a wonderful fuel for a stove and having an operational gas stove opens up all sorts of real cooking potential.  The problem is that you can't check gas canisters on a airplane and will need to purchase fuel after you get off the plane and dump whatever you have left over before getting back on a plane.  And to make matters more difficult, different countries and parts of the world use different types of canisters.  Plus, canister fuel isn't available everywhere in the world and searching for one may take valuable time away from your holiday/mission.  You need to know what canisters are available where you are going and pack appropriately.

 

MSR SuperFly with Multi-Mount

MSR SuperFly with Multi-Mount

 

The MSR SuperFly (131g/4.6oz) has a Multi-Mount system which mounts to the top rolled rim of gas canister.  This allows it to work with Lindal threaded and Campingaz CV canisters.  This makes this stove compatible with most US and Euro canisters, with the exception of the economical, valveless puncture-style canisters which will not work with this stove.

 

SuperGnat Hybrid Universal Canister Stove

SuperGnat

 

Apparently the extremely light Monotauk Gnat (47g/1.7oz) canister stove can be grafted with an MSR Superfly (131g/4.6oz) Muli-Mount to create an 84g (3.0oz) hybrid stove which will mount on both Lindal threaded canisters and CampingGaz canisters.  This makes for a pretty lightweight "universal" stove.

 

Primus Mimer Duo

Primus Mimer Duo

 

Primus has a Duo Kocher line of stoves which mate with both Lindal threaded canisters and the CampingGas unthreaded CV canisters.  The Duo line includes the Easy Fuel (346gm/12.2oz) remote canister stove, TehcnoTrail (177gm /6.2oz), Jan Stove (250gm/8.8oz) and Mimer Stove (257gm/9.1oz).  These can all be used as designed or as donors for a hybrid universal stove project.

Markill Canister Adapter for Valveless Canisters

 

Adapters can make just about any gas stove work with whatever fuel canisters are available.  See our Canister Adapter section for more on this.

 

Related Links:

Cascade Designs - MSR

US Patent Design 446422 - Universal adapter

Zen Canister Adapters

 

System Parts:

 

 

Multifuel Stove

Primus Omnifuel Multi Fuel Stove

Primus Omnifuel

 

If your trip requires that you have a working stove for your trip and gas availability isn't a certainty, you'll need a multifuel stove.  Like gas only stoves, fuel can't be checked on the plane so you'll need to procure it at your destination and dump whatever is left unused prior to getting on the plane.  The good thing is that you are able to burn more fuels and shouldn't have a problem finding something which will burn.  But if you end up using petrol fuel, you'll need to wash out your fuel canisters and stove prior to getting on a plane again to remove any petrol smell.

 

The Primus Omnifuel is capable of running on white gas, gasoline (petrol), kerosene, diesel and Lindal threaded gas canisters. 

 

The WhisperLite Universal is designed for white gas, unleaded gas, kerosene and Lindal threaded gas canisters.

 

The Brunton Vapor All-Fuel Expedition Stove (VAPOR) is designed forgasoline, diesel fuel, kerosene, aviation fuel and Lindal threaded gas canisters.

 

An addition of a Canister Adapter will allow you to run other gas canisters when available.

 

Related Links:

International Fuel Names

Zen Petrol Stoves - info about petrol powered stoves and fuels

Zen Canister Adapters

 

System Parts:

 

 

Wax Gasifier Stove

Gatt-Gen G-Micro Wax Stove

 

The Gatt-Gen G-Micro is one of the few systems that may work for frequent plane hoppers.  It burns candle wax, which is more than safe for air travel (as long as you aren't burning it on the plane).  You can pack this light weight system in your mug with enough wax sticks to last through your trip.  Once you get there, you can fire up your stove, sit back and have a cup of your favorite hot beverage, even if you land in the middle of the jungle far from any outfitter or gas pump. 

 

Once at your destination, there is no need to spend valuable time searching for fuels for your stove.  And there is no need to wash out your stove prior to your return flight back, unless you drop it in the mud.  This means that you don't loose any valuable travel time looking for fuel for your stove or decontaminating your gear before your return flight.

 

This stove will also burn several other fuels such as denatured alcohol, methanol fuel additive (HEET), liquid candle, lamp fuel, kerosene and even rubbing alcohol, making this quite the versatile travel stove system.

 

Cook and boil times are slow, but it sure beats having to lug around a heavy stove or getting a body cavity search at the airport.

 

Related Links:

Zen G-Micro Review

Gatt-Gen

 

System Parts:

 

 


International Traveler - Hotel Room Cooking

You travel with your backpack and visit some really interesting places in this world.  Since you do live out of your pack and would like to extend the value of your dollars or Euros, you need a cook system which is light weight and economical enough that it's actually worth having.  You also can't have a system which uses petrol fuel, as it's sometimes impossible to clean out our stove enough to check it at the airlines.  Canister fuels can't be checked on an airport and are sometimes difficult to find in country.  Gas can also be expensive and come in so many different configurations.  And smoke from a wood fire isn't going to go over well with a hotel or hostel manger. 

 

 

 

If you are staying at a nice hotel, you may have a fridge, iron, coffeemaker or even a microwave.  A coffeemaker allows you to boil water and can be used to cook up noodles, eggs and all sorts of foods.  An iron can also be used to cook with some advanced methods.  You can "iron" food wrapped in aluminum foil, toast bread directly, or flip it upside down and place a pot on it or use it as a frying pan for eggs and bacon.

 

Hotel Iron Stove Iron Cooking English Muffins

Steam iron "stove" in Shaving Kit Bag

Steam iron supported by towels on ironing board

 

But in many hotels and hostels around the world, you are lucky to just have electricity or your own toilet.  Forget about the free soap and toilet paper.  And if this is the case, you are going to love having your own cook system...and a bar of soap and butt wipes.

 

Related Links:

seriouseats.com  how-to-cook-a-meal-in-your-hotel-room-george-egg

wikihow.com  Cook-Food-in-a-Hotel-Room

wikihow.com  Make-a-Grilled-Cheese-Sandwich-with-an-Iron

solotravelerblog  cook-in-hotel

make-a-cooked-breakfast-with-an-iron-and-tin-foil

make-a-three-course-meal-using-only-a-coffee-maker

thesegoldwings  Hotel Room Cooking

instructables.com Hotel-Cooking-or-how-to-NOT-empty-your-wallet-eat

TravelTuesday Tip Guerilla - Cooking in your Hotel Room

 

 

Lightweight Simple Travel Set

A simple international backpacker system includes two methods for heating up and boiling water for food, drink or washing.  The first method is an immersion heater and the second method is a simple stove which burns alcohol or candles found in most parts of the world.

 

Immersion Heater

 

An immersion heater allows you to plug into the local power in your room and heat up water for tea, coffee, broth, soup, noodles or even washing.  There's nothing like a nice hot beverage in the morning.  And if you pack the proper outlet adapter and a lightbulb socket outlet adapter, you can plug in anywhere there is electricity.

 

A simple empty mini cat food sized can with holes punched in it will allow you to burn rubbing alcohol or candles, both of which can be found in most corners of the world.  Your mug or small pot can sit directly on this type of stove on a non-flammable surface such as the concrete or tile floor in most bathrooms and many bedrooms.  If you end up with really poor quality alcohol, you may need to use a taller can with more ventilation to get it to burn well.

 

Related Links:

hobotraveler.com

 

System Parts:

 

 

Travel Cook Set

One way to save some of your travel money is to cook some of your own meals where you are staying.  But since you are traveling by air, canister and petrol stoves are out of the question.  But since you are staying in hotels or other places with a roof, you will likely have electricity or a convenience store nearby.

 

Hot Plate Burner

 

Part one of your system is an electric stove (i.e. hot plate, coil stove or induction cooker).  You will want one rated to 220V unless you are staying only in a country with 110V.  This is one of the easiest ways to cook, but does have some drawbacks.  For one, some of these stoves can be a bit too heavy to travel with, but lightweight ones can be found abroad or made with a little ingenuity.  Another potential problem is that some of the more economical and lightweight ones are prone to failure and not made for the rigors of travel or repeated use.  Another potential problem deals with where you intend to use your stove.  Hotel owners will often frown on hot plates that they are a fire hazard, use up costly electricity and can easily overload circuits and burn out expensive fuses, wires or worse.  If you burn out the wiring in your room and don't burn down the place, you will be without lights and happy neighbors or host.

 

Wire Coil Hot Plate Coiled Ceramic Hot Plate Rommelsbacher Travel Induction Cooker

Wire Coil Heating Element Electric Stove

Coiled Ceramic Heating Element

Rommelsbacher Travel Induction Cooker

 

Economy coil wire electric stoves are likely the most fragile and light.  Ceramic spiral hotplates a a bit heavier, but more dependable.  Cast iron round plate induction cookers are heavier.  The cooker shown above to the far left has a cast iron plate and weighs 0.7kg. 

 

Modified SuperCat Alcohol Stove

Aluminum can with holes punched around top rim

 

A good backup is a simple alcohol stove.  This can be as simple as an empty tuna can under a pot supported by 2-3 taller food can.  Or, it can be as sophisticated an empty can with vent holes punched in it.  This allows you to use rubbing alcohol or candles to cook with.  Just make sure you use it on tile or concrete and not on a wood, plastic or a carpeted area.

 

Box Mess Kit/Tin

Box Mess Kit/Tin

 

For packing purposes, a square pot is generally easier to pack than a round pot, especially if your are using a rectangular pack/bag.  A square pot also allows you to pack items in it a bit easier than a round pot.  It is also easier to use two food cans, bricks or rocks as a pot stand for an alcohol and candle stove with a rectangular pot.  They also fit the bottom of an iron better if you like to cook with a hotel iron. 

 

Evernew Titanium チタン ランチBOX

Evernew チタン ランチBOX

 

Mess kits, mess tins, lunch boxes and bento boxes (e.g. Trangia, Laken, Vango, MFH, BCB, Sigg) of various shapes and sizes can be found in camping and military surplus shops and are generally made for packing.  Evernew of Japan even has a 280gm titanium lunch box (チタン ランチBOX ECA367) for those needing a durable high tech square pot.

 

With this complete system of electric and alternative fuel stove and pot, you can cook in just about any room in the world.

 

Related Links:

hobotraveler.com  stoves

hobotraveler.com  choosing-electric-hot-plate-travel-tip

hobotraveler.com  togo-cooking-in-hotel-room

Homemade-Electric-Stove

375-Watt Coffee Can Stove

$1 Lead Smelter

the-art-of-cooking-in-your-hotel-bathroom

hobotraveler.com  military-vs-civilian-travel-gear

 

System Parts:

 

 

Advanced Gourmet Travel System

If you are big into cooking, which you may need to be in more expensive places like the US, you can cook up some great meals.  You have many options, but a rice cooker can't be beat.  It is extremely versatile and relatively safe to use on a tabletop in a small carpeted room. 

 

Backpacker Rice Cooker

 

Options can be somewhat bulky for backpacking, but well worth the trouble when you plan on staying in travel locations for extended periods.  You can also purchase and leave a rice cooker in country as they can be relatively inexpensive and not worth the trouble or expense of packing for your return flight.  But if you are traveling by car, you can bring a nice cooker and accessories.

 

Related Links:

Chef Morticia's Super Rad Hotel Room Rollercon Cooking Challenge

sixsuitcasetravel.com  hotel-room-crock-pot-cooking

herethere.travellerspoint.com/114

cooking-experiments-in-a-hotel-room

a-rice-cooker-for-less-than-17

 

System Parts:

 

 


Musher Cooker  (Hundekjøring Vannvarmer/Vannkoker)

You and your sled dogs cross great expanses of snow covered landscape.  You need a cooking system able to melt enough snow to thaw out your frozen meat and hydrate your kibble for your pack of four legged friends.  A wood stove is a reasonable option when traveling over areas with trees and when not in a hurry and is certainly a step up from the naked wood fires of old which took hours to heat up enough water for your dogs. 

 

Dog Sled Cooker

 

But when their is no wood to be found or when you are in a hurry, other cold resistant options are a must.  And when you are melting several gallons of snow, a cutesy little backpacking stove isn't going to cut it.  Two burner petro stoves were once popular for your crowd, but the simplicity, predictability lighter weight of large alcohol stoves have made the the norm.  Besides heating up water, you can heat up your personal meals sealed in a bags and frozen fruit juice and smoothies in their plastic bottles.

 

 

Basic Paint Bucket Alcohol Musher Cooker

Musher Cooker

Musher Cooker

 

The stove of choice for mushers is and Alcohol stove running on yellow HEET methanol.  This type of stove has a simple design without any moving parts with good protection from the wind and cold.  It will dependably melt snow and heat up your meal in weather so cold that gas fuels will fail.  And without moving parts, your life doesn't depend on how well you can maintain your stove when your fingers are frozen, your brain is numb and your eyes are blinded by the eternal darkness of winter concealed in a haze of a blizzard.

 

Musher Alcohol Stove

Fancy Square Alcohol Burner

 

The burners can range from simple bowls to more fancy ones with jets and adjustable burner stands to change your heat settings.  A DIY round version of the burner above would be easy to make from coffee cans or a metal beer keg and a bit of ingenuity.  The inner wall can be constructed from sheetmetal to create an inverted cone by using the same tools made for cone shaped windscreens.  Other stove technologies such as chimney ventilation, jetting, pressuring and wicks can be incorporated with or without turning these stoves into "Cyclone" stoves.

 

The cookers doubles as a potstand and windscreen which protects the heat and flame rising from your burner and directs it around the sides of your pot.  The cookers are often cylindrical in shape (5 gallon metal bucket) and some have provisions for spinning rising air around to enable centrifugal decomposition.

 

Related Links:

Zen Musher Cookers

Cold Spot Feeds - commercial musher cooker with adjustable burner height with spiral cyclone - uses only two HEET bottles to cook

Adanac Sleds & Equipment - Commercial musher cooker

How to make a dogfood cooker DIY Dog Food Cooker

 

 

System Parts:

 

 

Square Norwegian Mushing Cooker

 Norwegian Musher Square Cooker

TROLL HEIT 4 - Vannkoker

 

Square cookers are great in that they pack up much better in a tight sled.  They are a little more difficult to build and therefore a bit more difficult to find.  But when it comes time to packing up your gear, these are well worth the extra cost or fuss.

 

Hundekjøring Vannvarmer/Vannkoker

5 liter Sammenleggbar Vannkoker

 

The older 5 liter Sammenleggbar Vannkoker used a lid that covered both the pot and cooker to maximize heating of water.  The drawback of this system is that alcohol would condense on the lid and drip into your water, tainting the taste of the water.  Methanol is also poisonous, which isn't ideal to consume.

 

Related Links:

Zen Musher Cookers

troll-hundefor.no

emilinauen.ch  36 eiBoost Swiss Musher Stove - see German page for details

TROLL Sammenleggbar vannkoker i aluminium  Old 5liter version

 

System Parts:

 

 

Snowmobile Cooker

Exhaust Food Warmer  Muffpot Exhaust Food Cooker

Muffpot

 

Your other sled is motorized and its exhaust gets hot enough to literally cook with.  And this is another old technology available for your food cooking needs.  Just strap your cooker to your exhaust and you'll have a hot meal at your destination.  Just don't ride too long.

 

Related Links:

Muffpot_Food_Cooker

thesledshed.net  things

Exhaust Burger: Let your tailpipe cook for you

Exhaustcooker.blogspot.com

Fullthrottle Inc  Hot Pot and Hot Pot Jr.

Hot Pot Snowmobile Food Warmer

Snackerpackers

 

System Parts:

 

 

Other Quasi-Ice Related Links or Cookers:

History Week: eating in extremes -what did Mawson and Scott eat in Antarctica?

SLED STOVE for SKATING PARTIES

dewclawkennel.com  998  dewclawkennel  810  Propane cooker

nbcsports.msnbc.com  4  Smoke rising from a stove/cooker

trumftrading.no  19

Ray Lang Cooker

Swenson Cooker

 

 


Developing World Cooker

Many parts of the world lack dependable electricity as well as other resources the developed world takes for granted.  If you find yourself there, you will need to familiarize yourself with cooking methods used by locals.

 

 

Solar Cooker 

Backpacking Solar Stove

Basic cardboard solar stove with black pot and plastic bag

 

Depending on where you are in the world, fuel of any kind may be hard to come by and not self sustainable by any means.  The sun however may be an ever present nuisance.  Yet, it can also be harnessed to cook your food and make water safe to drink.  A simple solar stove and black pot will allow you to cook food so that it is both safe to eat and tasty.  A collection of water bottles can be left on a hot corrugated metal roof so that they are slowly heat pasteurized to kill off all those nasty bugs swimming in your drinking water.

 

Cook times and everything else is slow here, but it's great not to have to eat raw food full of bacteria, viruses and larger nasties.

 

Solar stoves can and are used to melt snow in remote areas where fuel must be packed in, often on your back.

 

See our Solar Stove Page for more on solar cooking.

 

System Parts:

 

 

Charcoal Stove

CH-2200 Envirofit Charcoal Stove

CH-2200 Envirofit Charcoal Stove

 

Charcoal is a popular lightweight economical fuel used many.  It is easy to light, burns well and has minimal smoke compared to other biofuels.  A properly engineered and constructed stove will allow you to minimize how much fuel you need to cook with while limiting emissions.

 

 

Wood/Biomass Stove

BioLite Thermoelectric Wood Stove

BioLite Thermoelectric Wood Stove

 

Much of the world depends on biomass and wood to cook with and heat their homes.  A good deal of effort goes into new technologies to bring affordable cleaner burning, fuel efficient stoves for much of the world.  And because of this, you have many choices in regards to stove systems.

 

 Electricity produced from burning of fuel

Electricity produced from burning of fuel

 

The BioLite is mentioned here because it not only allows you to use wood as a cook fuel, it also allows you to charge your hi-tech gadgets.  This makes it a hi-tech gadget in itself, which may have some practical applications.

 

EnviroFlame G3300 Rocket Stove

EnviroFlame G3300 Rocket Stove

 

The topic of wood stove technology and biomass gasification is a science all in itself and a topic for entire websites.

 

Related Links:

Zen Wood Stoves

Envirofit wood and charcoal stoves for developing world

BioLite - Thermoelectric stove

 

 

Kerosene Stove

Aluminum Indonesian Kerosene Stove

 

If you are lucky enough to have a dependable supply of kerosene, you are in luck.  There are many stoves available which burn relatively clean with little fuss compared to biomass stoves.

 

NR44 Kerosene Stove

NR44 Kerosene Stove

 

Related Links:

Zen Petrol Stoves

 

 

Plant Oil Stove

2012 Protos Plant Oil Stove

2012 Protos Plant Oil Stove

 

A well designed plant oil cooker can use various plant oils as fuel and provide a cooking platform for many which uses renewable energy and produces minimal emissions.  Plant oils may also be readily available and as so nontoxic that it can be consumed and used to fry foods.  Vegetable and plant oils are only a minimal fire hazard compared to kerosene and charcoal, which makes them great in small houses and huts.

 

Related Links:

Zen Candle and Oil Stoves

 

 


ParaMilitary Type

If for some reason you are performing military operations or participate in military themed travel for whatever reason, you will have special priorities when selecting outdoors gear.  You may be in luck as a lot of great gear which will fit your needs are available at military surplus outfits for reasonable prices.  There are of course many options and here are just some of the common ones considered.

 

 

US Canteen Cup Stove

US Army Canteen Cup Stove  US Army Canten Cup Stove System

 

A US military canteen has been specially designed to fit on a pistol belt and follows the contours of your waist.  If you are carrying one of these, you can use a canteen cup and stove specially designed to fit around your canteen.  This means you will always have your stove with you and with your water.  This stove allows you to use solid fuels such as trioxane and hexamine and well as small stick fires.

 

System Parts:

 

 

Swedish Army Stove

Swedish Military Trangia Alcohol Stove

 

The Swedish army has an aluminum cookset complete with pot, lid/pan, pot stand, Trangia burner and fuel bottle.  Not a bad set for anyone.

 

System Parts:

 

 


Post Apocalypse Zombie

After a long day of fighting zombies and dealing with rouge army units, you'll want to sit down and have a hot meal before the nocturnal zombies attack.  And although you may have have a nice stockpile of supplies, fuel and a nice stove in your bomb shelter, you will want to be able to cook while out and about.  And with most of the city in shambles, the most plentiful fuel may be the remnants of a torn apart home or piles of paperwork from the local gutted police station.  You can use these and some empty cans found in the alley to cook up some stew.

 

 

Zombie Apocalypse Hobo Stove

Zombie Apocalypse Hobo Stove

 

A hobo stove is a basic cook and very versatile system which has been around for a very long time.  It is highly useful in that it will burn just about any wood or paper product you can find.  Various synthetic items will also burn if you are conserving your wood for another project but will likely release toxic fumes...which are the least of your concerns.  If you are cooking up slices of meat, or with a small pot, use the closed side up.  If you are using a larger pot or cooking meat on a stick, use the open side up.  You will need one or two appropriately sized metal cans to cook with, which shouldn't be too hard to find in the ruins of what were pre apocalypse cities.

 

System Parts:

 

 

Zombie Apocalypse Wax Survival Stove

If your city has been burn to the ground and burnable fuel is scarce, you can pack a premade wax survival stove.  These are easy to pack, waterproof and won't spill, even if you take a tumble.  They do produce a fair amount of soot and will blacken your pot, but with zombies looking to feed, an unsightly pot isn't even a concern.

 

Wax Survival Stove - Buddy Burner

Wax Survival Stove - aka Buddy Burner

 

The  knowledge of make use of wax survival stoves is a basic skill set to surviving any zombie apocalypse.  You will need a shallow can, cardboard, wax and method to melt wax.  Place the cardboard in the can.  Melt your wax in a disposable metal container (empty can works fine) and fill your shallow can with the wax.  Make sure you leave some cardboard showing.  A wick in the middle of the survival stove will make it easier to light up. 

 

These are very easy to mass produce and store better than any other fuel as there is no concern of sills, explosion or decomposition.  This makes them ideal for stockpiling before the apocalypse.

 

When you later decide to venture out of your stronghold, simply pack on of these survival stoves and you'll have a means to cook.  See our Wax Stove Page for more on these stoves.

 

System Parts:

 

Related Links:

Zen Wax Stoves

midwestbushcraft.blogspot.  wax-stove

survivalblog.com  building_a_dryer_lint_and_wax

YouTube  10lVe_cGn8k  Alcohol & vegetable oil stove

zombieapocalypsesurvivalists.com  homemade-stove

wiki  Buddy_Burner

zombiehunters.org  55950

bryceandkate.blogspot.com  how-i-made-my-buddy-burner

randomcreativity.wordpress.com  tuna-can-burner

web.archive  bushcraftliving.com  how-to-make-a-wax-stove - interesting wick pattern

savagesisters.wordpress.com  keep-kids-entertained-with-a-hobo-stove  Paper/wax stove and Hobo Stove

thesharpenedaxe.blogspot  hand-warmerportable-stove-however

 

 


Bush Master

People think you are Crocodile Dundee and you don't need a bunch of 21st century, or even 18th century technology to live in the bush.  You will need to depend on your knowhow and knife.  A fire piston will make fire making much easier than rubbing sticks together and is self sustainable as long as you know how to use it, how to make tinder and how to survive.

 

Fire Piston

Fire Piston

 

System Parts:

 

 


Restaurant/Catering Cooking

There are several systems used by the Food Services industry to cook and/or keep food warm.  Many of these same systems are used by hikers and backpackers for various reasons.

 

 

Butane Stove

Portable Butane Stove

Butane Stove

 

These butane stove are all in one units which uses economical disposable butane canisters hidden within.  These are great for restaurants, but would also be great for car camping or at remote huts and cabins.  Note that the butane fuel used in these stove will only work at above freezing temperatures.  Quality ones should have a temperature fuel cutoff switch.  But do note that these have been known to overheat from using wide pans which have caused severe injuries and even death.

 

 

Canned Heat

Sterno Canned Heat

Sterno Canned Heat

 

You can cook with these, but they are generally better suited for heating up or keeping foods warm for serving.  These are still widely used for camping.  A can is far more economical than purchasing an entire quality liquid fuel stove and use is pretty simple.  I may also be safer for young hikers such as scouts as there really isn't a significant explosion or spill hazard and if damaged, little is lost.

 

 

Charcoal Burner (Konro, Hibachi, Shichirin, เตาย่างถ่าน)

Thai Charcoal Stove

Thai Charcoal Stove

 

Charcoal is used in much of the world as a "smokeless" fuel.  It is light weight and inexpensive.  It also releases a good deal of carbonmonoxide so should be used with care.  It can also cook up so pretty tasty foods.

 

Related Links:

bigboysoven.com  baby-seafood-restaurant-batu-belah-klang

justphood.blogspot  wet-thai-food-kampung-kayu-ara

eatlah.blogspot  restoran-yakiniku-pandan-indah-kl

blog.chefsarmoury  japanese-bbq-konro-hibachi-shichirin-take-your-pick

templeofthai.com  cookware

importfood.com  thaicookware

hotel-marts.com  40275

 

 

Alcohol Burner

Restaurant Alcohol Stove

Restaurant Alcohol Stove

 

These are used in many Asian restaurants instead of charcoal.  Alcohol is easy to light and burns relatively clean.  It does pose as a spill hazard if the stove is knocked over. 

 

Chafing Alcohol Stove

Chafing Alcohol Stove

 

Fondue sets can also be used as stoves and come in all sizes.

 

 


Mariner Cooking

Cooking on a boat or ship has its own special considerations which most just don't understand.  For one, your cooking platform isn't always stable, especially in a small and compact ship.  This means that you might want a hanging or gimbaled stove system with bracket/clamps/bucket/etc that encircle and stabilize your pot as your boat waves back and in forth in the water.  Your cook system also needs to be made from non-corroding materials like stainless steel. 

 

Stove Fire on Boat

 

You as also aware that propane gas is heavier than air and will collect in the bottom of your hull.  A pool of gas in your bilge and a small spark have set many a sailor and ship to a burning end.  Flare-ups from fuel spills or stove priming are also undesirable as they can set the inside of your boat ablaze.

 

Fuel Btu Per Gallon
Compressed Natural Gas 37,500
Alcohol 64,600
LPG (Propane) 91,000
Butane 102,000
Kerosene (Paraffin) 129,350


Non Pressurized Alcohol Stove

CookMate Refillable Alcohol Canister

CookMate Refillable Alcohol Canister

 

A non pressurized alcohol stove is about as simple as it gets.  The heart of the system is basically a metal can with a wick. 

 

ORIGO Non-Pressurized Alcohol Stove

ORIGO Non-Pressurized Alcohol Stove

 

It's a pretty foolproof system without jets to clog, seals to fail or fuel which can easily leak and collect in your hull and explode later.  The downside of these systems is that they are low output and you will need to spend a little more time cooking.

 

 

Pressurized Alcohol Stove

Homestrand 126 Alcohol Stove

Homestrand 126 Alcohol Stove

 

Kenyon, Shipmate, Galley Maid and other stove brands made stoves with pressurized tanks to feed their burners.  Once fuel is delivered to the burner, fuel is vaporized, metered with a valve and ready to use.  This requires priming, which can cause an overflow of fuel and flair ups if done improperly.  But when maintained and used properly, you get a more responsive stove.

 

Because of the many reported boat fires caused by flare-ups from pressurized alcohol stoves, their popularity has declined over the years.

 

Kenyon 126 Marine Stove Guts

Kenyon 126 Marine Stove Guts

 

These stoves depend on a air tight system which will need some maintenance and occasional repair.  One popular modification is to add a tire valve to the filler cap so that you can use a mini bicycle pump to pressurize the tank.  A tire pump is pretty dependable and easier to replace than a stove pump.  It's also easier and quicker to use a bike pump to pressurize a fuel tank than most mini built in pumps.

 

Related Links:

petesharbor.com  stoves

chipford.com  kenyon_stove

britelyt.com Alcohol/multi-fuel stoves and lanterns

 

 

Petrol Stoves

Taylors Ideal K Paraffin Cooker

Taylors Ideal K Paraffin Cooker

 

Some boats use kerosene or diesel as fuel.  These are relatively "safe" to use on a boat as they are generally not explosive.  These stove tend to burn much hotter than alcohol which is desirable in the northern and very southern latitudes where it is cold.  This type of stove may also be desirable when your boat is diesel powered.  The downside of these stoves is that they smell and blacken your pots.  You may even taste some of the fuel in your food. 

 

Sea Swing Optimus Stove

Sea Swing Optimus Stove

 

White Gas and Gasoline is explosive, but easy to find.  Many still use small camp stoves in a hanging configuration for cooking.

 

Most of these stoves will need regular maintenance.

 

 

Propane/Butane Stoves

Seacook Propane Stove

Seacook Propane Stove

 

Propane and butane stoves are easy to find and set up as a hanging stove.  Cooking is easy, hot and clean.  No priming or maintenance is required.  Unfortunately, both propane and butane will pool in the bottom of your hull if there is even a small leak.  This has caused many boat explosions causing propane/butane use is generally frowned upon by many boaters, ER doctors in port towns and marine firemen.

 

Butane stoves don't work in freezing temperatures, while propane works pretty well in all but the most extremely cold environments.

 

Despite safety concerns of using propane on ships and boats, propane stoves are still the most popular and widely used stove for ships due to their ease of uses and hot burning nature.  Portable butane and propane stoves can also be used on shore as they are really easy to pack up, carry and use.

 

Propane Tank Above Deck

Blue Vinney

 

A propane canister can be mounted or stored above deck to allow it to vent.

 

Related Links:

onemoregoodadventure.com  home-made-sea-swing-stove

 

 

Wood/Coal Stoves

Skippy Classic Fisherman’s Cast Iron Wood/Coal Boat Stove

Skippy Classic Fisherman’s Cast Iron Wood/Coal Boat Stove

 

There's nothing like a good old wood fire.  And because of this, cast iron stoves are still popular on boats.  These often have rails for supporting pots and are made of cast iron to allow them to absorb heat from the fire and warm your cabin on the coldest of nights.  These are obviously not a good choice for backpackers.

 

Faversham Wood/Coal Stove

Faversham Stove

 

Related Links:

Shipmate Stove

Colin Frake, Block Maker

 

 


Flameless Hot Food

There is a place for flameless cooking. There is no concern of setting off a forest fire and can generally be used indoors.

 

 

Flameless Chemical Heaters

Mountain Oven - Flameless Heating Kit

Mountain Oven - Flameless Heating Kit

 

There are a few methods of heating up food with flameless chemical reactions.  This allows you to have a warm meal where flames and cigarettes are banned.

 

Military Ration Flameless Heater

Military Ration Flameless Heater

 

US Military rations use and flameless heater contained in a plastic bag.  A military MRE ration packet is added to the bag and the user adds water to create a chemical reaction which heats up the meal.  The bag contains a supercorrodible magnesium/iron alloy in a porous matrix formed from polymeric powders with sodium chloride.  The addition of water dissolves the sodium chloride into an electrolyte solution causing magnesium and iron to function as an anode and cathode, respectively.  An exothermic oxidation-reduction reaction between the magnesium-iron alloy and water produce magnesium hydroxide, hydrogen gas and heat:

 

Mg + 2H2O → Mg(OH)2 + H2 + heat

 

Quicklime Powered Hot Latte

Quicklime Powered Hot Latte

 

Commercial heat sources for self-heating food packaging use an exothermic reaction between calcium oxide (quicklime) and water, which generates 60 calories of heat per gram.  Calcium oxide is inexpensive and generally recognized by the FDA as safe.  The by-product of the reaction is calcium hydroxide.

 

CaO + H2O → Ca(OH)2 + heat

 

Flameless Heaters:

canned foods in Japan

HeaterMeals

MountainHouse's Mountain Oven - uses magnesium and iron in pads and salt tablets

Hot Pack

NASA rations

US military MRE (Meals Ready to Eat) rations

Paramilitary MREs

 

Related Links:

Zen Flameless Stoves

Mountain Oven - Flameless Heating Kit

Ontech - Calcium oxide

Heat Genie - uses aluminum and silica

Baro Cook

makezine.com  48  Disassembled coffee cup

Wiki  Flameless_ration_heater

Wiki  Self-heating_food_packaging

US Patent 4,017,414

US Patent 4,264,362

 

 

USB Bento Heaters

 

You can use your computer to heat up your meal.  This allows you to have a hot meal without having to walk away from your computer.

 

Related Links:

thanko.jp  hot-launchbag - USB Powered Bento Warmer  lunchinabox.net  usb-bento-warming-bag

bentoandco.com/products/  USB Bento Warmer

Thanko USB Super Slim Bento Warmer

 

 


Cookless Cold Food Consumer

For many reasons you will be required or wish to go cookless.  This means that you don't need to worry about the weight, bulk and fuss which comes with a stove.  But it also means that you are limited to certain foods or what might be locally available.  This means that you need to pack appropriately.

 

 

Cookless Eating

Cookless Hiking Food

Stoveless isn't all that bad

 

Going cookless can be a game changer for some.  It might mean that heavier foods must be packed and more garbage is packed out.  It may also mean that trips will need to be cut short or completed without the company of these with sensitive taste buds or who are nonfunctional without hot tea or coffee.  It might mean that you get to shop for fresh foods along the way get a chance to visit cute little villages.

 

American Food

Restaurant Food

 

Reasons to go Cookless:

Fire bans

Simplicity

Air travel, time restrictions and limited fuel availability/compatability

Pyrophobia

Tactical limitations

Stove/cooking restriction in hotel

Economy - no need to purchase expensive cooking gear

Warm weather

Inadequate gear

Day hikes

Urban Backpacking

Laziness

 

Potential Options:

Pack rations like preserved meats, cheeses and bread

Nuts, Dried fruit, crackers, cereal, GORP

Cereal and dried milk

Precooked canned food

Bento style anti-bacterial style packed foods

Pack foods with icepack or frozen "jellies"

Eat at restaurants along the way

Stop at shops along way and restock on fresh baked croissants, meats, cheeses, fruits, drinks and wine

Military rations

Dehydrated meals and allow more time for water to hydrate

Eat Roman Noodles raw - not as bad as it sounds

Peanut butter

Sticks of butter in the winter

Energy bars and the like

 

Related Links:

mountaineersbooks.org  Going Stoveless

friends.backcountry.net  cookless

lunchinabox.net  food-safety-for-packed-lunches

 

System Parts:

Water bottle

Pocket knife

Can opener if not part of knife

Cork screw if not part of knife

Spoon (optional depending on what you are eating)

Local currency and credit/debit card

 

 

Insulated Food Container

Thermos E30500 Vacuum Insulated Food Jar

Thermos E30500 Vacuum Insulated Food Jar

 

Thermos reports that their stainless steel double wall vacuum insulation keeps food hot for 7 hours or cold for 9 hours.  You can pack are really nice and hot Thai shrimp soup and have it for lunch on a day trip.  If you are touring around towns and villages, you can even fill up at a nice restaurant or food stand and have a hot meal later.

 

To maximize heat/cold retention of an insulated jar, you should fill your jar with boiling water or ice water prior to adding hot or cold food respectively.

 

Related Links:

unchinabox.net  yellow-shrimp-curry-and-somen  YUM!

Thermos

 

 


Free Spirited Freeloader

There is no need to plan out every detail in life and it's more important to just enjoy nature, the energy it offers and the world around you.  Whether you are on the trail or visiting small townships in distant lands, you are likely to make new friends.  And those friends are likely to offer you a hot meal while listening to your incredible stories of traveling across Asia with just a small backpack and limited funds.

 

System Parts:

Charmed personality

Luck or good karma

Willingness to go without

 

 


 

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