I really enjoy backpacking. I don’t like carrying heavy cooking gear.
I own several camping stoves, everything from a giant Coleman beast that I use for car camping to my very small MSR canister model. The MSR has served me well on many week-long trips into the mountains but I always end up coming home with partially empty fuel canisters. And next time I am packing to leave on a trip I have to decide whether I should take all new canisters or take some new and some mostly full ones. I usually end up taking new canisters. Quite a collection of these canisters have taken up residence in my garage.
But is there is a better way? Alcohol stoves are light weight, use easy-to-find fuel and can be very inexpensive. Zen and the Art of the Alcohol Stove contains an impressive collection of information about the use, construction and advantages of these stoves. They list the advantages as:
Lightweight – few ounces versus a pound or more
Simplicity – just add fuel and light a match – no pumping, priming or pre-lighting required
Reliable – many designs are fail-proof
Quiet – generally can’t be heard
Odorless – if you spill alcohol all over your gear, you won’t smell like a gas pump for the rest of your trip
Availability of Fuel – can be found at any hardware store or gas station (great for thru-hikers)
No Maintenance – no time or repair kit need for adjustments and cleaning
Safety – fuel not explosive and can be easily extinguished
Easily Transportable Fuel – don’t need a heavy metal container to transport fuel – a disposable plastic water bottle is more than ample
Low Cost – the cheapest around or even free (use common recycled items)
Eco Friendly – uses a clean renewable energy source
DIY (Do It Yourself) – Tools, metal and fire! DIY stoving is so satisfying that is has become it’s own hobby
Which stove will you take on your next trip?