For someone that’s just decided to get into camping, things like how to make a backpacking stove and not accidentally burn down a forest are things you should learn before you leave your house. Preparing for things like a long camp, hike, or a backpacking trip takes a lot of effort. Because of the limited amount of luggage space you have, you’ll want to be frugal about allocating it. A backpacking stove is a useful commodity to have, although not all trips may call for one.
If you’ve gotten as far as planning how you’re going to cook, we’re sure you’ve already put much research into what you need to know for your adventure. Perhaps you’ve decided, after all those research, is that a DIY stove is best for you, then we hope our guide can help.
The Soda Can Stove
If you’ve just started your love affair with backpacking, maybe you’ve decided you don’t want to invest that much into the hobby without testing it out first.
Commercial backpacking stoves can seem like an investment for what they are. And being a beginner, you maybe don’t have an idea about what exactly you’d need or want in a stove, making choosing one all the more challenging.
If you’re a simple garage hobbyist who would much rather dedicate time to planning other parts of the backpacking experience, but still wants to be able to cook, we present to you the humble soda can.
Most likely, among the top results to pop up if you Google “how to make a backpacking stove,” is the soda can—or really, any variety of can—stove, which is incredibly the simplest to make.
The good thing about this DIY is that most of the equipment you’ll need are probably already laying about your house; if you couldn’t tell by now, the main thing you need here is a soda can—make that two soda cans.
You’ll need those cans, a ruler or measuring tape, a sharp instrument, a heavy-duty x-acto knife or something like it, a marker, a pair of scissors, and metal tape.
The first step is to create the burner holes. Go ahead and poke holes along the bottom edge of one of the cans. The number of holes doesn’t particularly matter, just make sure it goes all the way around the rim evenly.
Next, you need to create the main opening and cut out the stove top. Cut out the bottom of the can you just poked holes into. After that, measure up 20mm from the bottom of the can and cut. Use the marker during that last step to get a nice, even cut around the can. This will be your stove top.
After that, snip the edges of the stop top several times to form tabs. Next, grab your second can and cut the bottom out of it. No need to poke holes, just measure 25mm from the bottom of the can and cut.
The next step is cutting out the inner wall. Take the bits left over from one of your cans and cut it up. You need a strip that’s 35mm wide.
To size the inner wall in the stove bottom, you’ll need to cut halfway up the strip on each end on opposite sides. You’ll need to lock those ends together, and you need to make sure that point of contact between the ends of the strip is inside the loop.
Cut three small notches approximately equal distances from each other around one side of the inner strip.
We’re finally getting to the part where you get to assemble the pieces! Place the inner wall into the stove bottom, with the notched ends facing downwards. Then fit the top of the stove on, tucking those numerous tabs you cut up earlier inside of the stove bottom.
A tip is to curve the tabs slightly before you decide to insert it all willy-nilly—the tabs are sharp and will get caught and give you much frustration if you don’t do this.
Check that the inner wall fits properly into the stove top, working it gently until everything locks into place. And you’re done! At least, with the stove itself. For something like a soda can stove you need a pot support.
There are tons of designs out there, and they’re also very simple to make.
How to Make a Backpacking Stove: Fuel Basics
Depending on the kind of backpacking stove you’ve decided on, there are many different ways to get it going.
Stoves that can burn a variety of fuels are the best because you’ll never have to worry about running out—if you don’t have solid fuel tablets but can find some twigs and pinecones for your wood burning stove, for example, you’re all set.
For the most part, after assembling your stove, the fuel should be easy enough to address. If you’re in a real pinch, however, it’s good to know how to provide alternate fuel and cooking sources. A good, tried and true method is getting some Hexamine fuel tablets.
Hexamine fuel tablets are a form of solid fuel and are an easy, simple way to cook. They require very minimal equipment and are great for emergencies. These fuel tablets can be used with the roughest of DIY stoves—you could just pop one inside a soup can and be able to work with it.
While their most attractive features are that they are incredibly simple to use and light enough to tote around, they do have several disadvantages as far as fuel goes. They don’t burn very quickly, and they make an awful mess of pots and pans. Depending on the brand, some of them smell awful too.
However, depending on what kind of stove you’ll be bringing around and your priorities, they’re an excellent fuel source. Having them on hand, especially in places you aren’t sure you’ll be able to get other sources of fuel, is something to consider.
Backpacking stoves are incredibly easy to make and require a minimal amount of equipment and effort. If you’ve decided you want to go this route on your backpacking adventures, then you can’t go wrong with simple DIYs!