One cannot be a legit backpacker without a stove. After all, a portable stove for camping trips is a must-have for any backpacker. But for first timers or less experienced backpackers, buying a stove can be a daunting task as there are many kinds and brands out on the market. It is then important to know the pros and cons of each type of backpacking stoves. Here is a backpacking stove guide that would surely help anyone purchase the right one for their needs.
Backpacking Stove Guide: The Different Kinds of Stoves
There are various kinds of backpacking stoves on the market, which would often surprise first-time buyers. There are the liquid-fueled ones, alcohol, solid and canister stoves.
Canister stoves are preferred by many campers as they are easy to use. Plus, they are lightweight, which makes it perfect for backpacking. Unlike other types, a canister one does not require much setting up such as pumping or priming. This would save campers a lot of time when taking a break to boil water or cook food. One only needs to screw the stove and fire it up to get it to work.
However, canister stove needs an isobutane fuel canister, which is considerably more pricey and even hard to find in remote areas. Additionally, a canister stove is not advisable for extreme cold weather.
On the other hand, liquid fuel stoves are bulky and require plenty of maintenance if you want it to last for years. Plus, one has to do some priming before it can be used.
Using liquid fuel has some advantages, of course. The white gas it runs on is cheaper than the isobutane fuel used for canister stoves. Moreover, it is also perfect for trekking and camping out for days in the extreme cold. Melting snow is best done with a liquid fuel stove after all.
The alcohol stove is the top choice for many hikers because it is lightweight and easy on the pockets. Fuel is also easy to find. Unfortunately, alcohol stoves cook slowly. In exceptionally windy areas, it might not even work at all. The same can be said about the cold weather, too as this kind of stove will have a hard time melting snow.
There is another downside to using alcohol stove as its fuel can easily cause dry leaves to spark. Its flame is also hard to see, which could cause burning accidents. The solid fuel stove is a compact one that runs on Esbit fuel tabs. Using this stove is easy too as one only need to open the fuel tab to light the fire.
However, one will have difficulties in using a solid fuel stove for extreme cold weather or melting snow since it can only burn low to medium flame for 12 minutes. Its Esbit fuel tabs are also more expensive than other fuel types and hard to find in remote areas.
Choosing the Right One
There are several other key considerations when purchasing a backpacking stove. Weight, for example, is a crucial factor when choosing one. It is best to determine first how much space and weight one can accommodate in their backpacks. If the trip involves long walks, a lot of hiking and rough terrains, then one should opt for lighter stoves.
It is also essential to know what kind of hiker are you when it comes to food. Are you the kind who wants to cook from scratch on a camping trip or is fine with reheating packed or canned foods? If it is the former, then it is best to choose a stove that can quickly boil and cook food. If it’s the latter, then a stove that cooks and boils slowly would do.
If one prefers to cook meals instead of just heating them, it is best to choose a stove that has a simmer control option.
Moreover, when planning for backpacking, one has to account for the weather condition. The same should be done when purchasing a backpacking stove. For winter camping, it is most likely that campers would need to melt snow for their drinking and cooking needs. Unfortunately, not all stoves can handle constant snow melting, so it is a good idea to buy one that can handle such a task.
The regulations of a campsite is also a key consideration. Some campgrounds would go as far as banning all sorts of stoves if they have a fire ban. Others would allow only certain types and forbid the use of others. It is best to check the venue for rules on using the fire of any sorts.
The number of people camping is another point to keep in mind. Would you be using the stove for one or two people or would it be for boiling water and cooking food for a group? Given that backpacking stoves are already small in dimension and lightweight, it is possible for each camper to bring one. But for cooking in a group, a more solidly built camping stove might just be the one to buy.
How To Not Run Out of Fuel
However, it is not enough to know about backpacking stove guide to help backpackers ensure that they will not run out of fuel. It is still essential to follow tips on fuel efficiency. For example, you may want to alternate hot meals with cold ones like having a cold meal for breakfast and cooking for lunch to save on fuel costs as well as time.
Plus, one must also consider the fuel efficiency by taking necessary steps. For one, it is best to find a secluded corner to cook so that the wind won’t be putting out the fire frequently. Constant firing up the stove up will consume more fuel than just lighting it up once until all boiling and cooking are done. Windscreens can be a big help, too in fighting off the effects of the wind on the stove’s function.
Cooking with a lid is advisable as the constant release of steam would mean more fuel consumption. It is also best to refrain from always opening the lid to check if the cooking or boiling is done.
Just like any product out on the market, each type of stove will have its pros and cons. What is important is to plan a backpacking trip carefully, which includes choosing or buying the appropriate stove type. That, and following experts’ tips on fuel efficiency during backpacking.