Camping is one of the best activities you can do with friends and family. There is no denying that spending time in the outdoors, tenting, canoeing, and all of that fun stuff is a real blast. However, before you slap your pack on your back and head out, there are some considerations you should make. One of these considerations has to do with cooking. Now, you might want to use an open fire pit, but that can be tedious, dangerous, and take a really long time to get right.
For this reason, most people choose to use some kind of small camping stove to prepare meals, whether gas or wood fired. The point here is that you need to bring enough fuel with you so you can cook enough food, boil enough water, and make hot drinks to sustain you and the other campers for the duration of the trip. So, how much backpacking stove fuel do I need? Here are some tips and guides to answer that question.
When it comes to wood: How much backpacking stove fuel do I need?
To get the easy stuff out of the way first, if you are using a camping stove that is wood fired, you obviously do not have to worry about bringing enough fuel with you. If you are out in the woods there are going to be leaves, sticks, twigs, and wood lying on the ground. So, as long as you go to an area that is known for having lots of trees and wood debris, don’t worry about bringing fuel with you. That being said, rain can happen in a heartbeat, which renders wood unable to burn. In this case, you should probably take a couple of propane canisters with you.
Calculating fuel use
Now, this is a very difficult thing to do because how much fuel you are going to need for X number of days and X number of people depends on various things. First off, there are different kinds of fuel, different sizes of fuel canisters, and different camping stoves burn fuel at different rates. So, even though it may not apply to all situations, we can give you a rough estimate or way to calculate how much fuel you will need.
In simplest terms, it takes a little more than 2 grams of fuel to boil a pot of water (1 liter). This ratio will increase if you have more water. For example, roughly 2.1 grams of fuel is enough to boil 1 liter of water, but 2 liters of water will require about 5 grams of fuel. Now, this is a very rough estimate, but you can work with it.
Now, you need to calculate how many liters of water you will be boiling throughout your trip. This will depend on how many meals you plan on cooking and how many people you have going on the trip. This can be almost impossible to do because there are so many factors which will affect cooking.
Factors which affect camping stove fuel consumption
There are various factors which will affect exactly how much fuel you need in order to get the job done. These factors can increase fuel consumption by about 3 to 4 times in the worst case scenario.
- Cold weather will increase fuel consumption
- Wet conditions will likely increase fuel consumption
- A stove with an inadequate design will increase fuel consumption
- Higher altitudes will also increase fuel consumption
How to minimize fuel consumption
Even though there are lots of factors which will determine how much fuel you need to bring with you, there are a few things you can do to try and minimize fuel consumption.
- Gas is less efficient when it is cold, so if it’s cold, you might want to try switching to wood
- Make sure to build a good wind guard in order to stop wind from messing with the flames
- Turn the gas down – try not to use the burner at its highest setting as this is much less efficient than a lower setting
- Try to not make huge meals – smaller meals take less fuel
- Try to boil as much as you can – complex meals with multiple steps will eat through fuel
- Try to build a rain shelter – water will do you no favors here
- Always use a lid with your pots in order to conserve heat and decrease cooking time
Measuring how much fuel you need for a camping trip is not easy at all. There are just way too many factors at play. However, as you can see from above, there is a rough estimate per liter of water you need to boil. That being said, you probably want to take a little extra with you just in case.