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[pct-l] stove thoughts

I think that choosing one's stove is affected by several factors.  For
me, I prefer to eat simply, and cook less. Don't get me wrong, if the
person I hike with is sharing their Bakepacker creation, I'll be right
there in line. But if it comes to choosing whether I'm flaked out on a
rock by the stream, or cooking and cleaning, I'll choose flaking any
time.  This has resulted in my "bring it to a boil" school of culinary
skills.  Whether it's Mountain House or my own dehydrated stuff, I won't
make it unless all it takes is boiling water.  Then too, more of my
hiking is of the three day variety, and I'm not out long enough to begin
to crave the results of elegant cookery.

I use one of the homemade alcohol stoves. One ounce of fuel (2
tablespoons) boils my pint of water, and my dinner is complete.  If I
need to jazz it up a bit, I'll eat another Little Debbie Nutty Bar.  My
body requires me to down a lot of water, so I don't bother with coffee
or tea, because I've read that they are diuretics.  I'll drink chocolate
milk rather than hot chocolate, although I can get water soluble drink
mixes plenty hot with less than a tablespoon more of fuel.  My stove,
pot stand, wind screen and empty fuel container (an old 1-pint rubbing
alcohol bottle) weigh about 3.5 oz. and three days of fuel weighs maybe
4 ounces.  Say eight ounces.

If for some reason, I want to go crazy and cook some fish, I can do that
as well over the alcohol stove.  It isn't necessarily pretty, in that I
have to chunk up the fish to fit my pot, but with a little clarified
butter and some cornmeal, it works just fine.  I've also steamed and
poached the fish.  Usually, when I get down to it however, I end up
cooking my fish over a fire on a skewer. (Out of self protection, let me
give notice that the fire is where allowed, and built with LNT in mind.)

I don't cook for breakfast, again by choice, and not from fear of excess
weight.  I'll make Instant Breakfast, or have cold cereal in a baggie,
some dried fruit and the like.

I have a canister stove (an older GAZ), that I used to use religiously.
It started easily, did it's job without fuss everytime I hauled it out
of my pack.  My only bellyache with that stove was that regardless of
the length of the trip, I felt like I was carrying the same overall
weight.  It was quite thrifty with fuel, and I could use the same
cannister for several trips in a row.  But after a couple of trips on
the same cannister, I'd start to become concerned, and pack a backup
cannister.  For my kind of hiking and dining, it just didn't make
sense.  Now I carry the fuel I need, and no more.  Of course, after I
made the switch, I noticed two other advantages.  The first was bulk.
That old stove had to remain attached to the cannister, and in the
assembled state, couldn't tuck into my pot.  And I'd have to be careful
where it lay in the main pack body.  It always seemed to be poking me,
or in danger of being thumped against a rock when I set my pack down.
The other disadvantage was that the metal parts of the stove held their
heat much longer than my tin can stove.  Because the stove had to be
packed in the middle of everything (see disadvantage #1)  I would have
to make sure that it was quite cool before placing it next to the
polyester and nylon of everything else in the pack.

Just as an aside, I can simulate a simmer without too much trouble, just
by opening up the windscreen a bit to let the pot cool down.

Jeff E

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Cc:            pct-l@backcountry.net
From:          "BeachBum" <transient@backpacker.com>
Date:          6 Jul 2000 03:04:50 -0000
Subject:       Re:[pct-l] Sierra Hike vs. Thruhike

On Wed, 5 Jul 2000 17:54:17 -0700  &quot;Reynolds, WT&quot; <reynolds@ilan.com> wrote:
>Re: I'd like to go with the lightest stove and fuel
>Re: The best stove for a multi-week PCT hike comes down to two choices IMO,
>alcohol or ESBIT.
>IMO....not true.
>Multiple calculations by multiple people have confirmed that a canister
>stove is decidely superior to either alcohol or Esbit when hiking the Sierra
>[the original request of this thread]. Except for the extreme southern
>section south of Kennedy Meadows, there is plenty of water in the Sierra. As
>a result the weight saved by rehydrating food more than offsets any presumed
>fuel weight savings. 

ah....does this mean that if I use my Trangia, as I do, and rehydrate my own dehydrated food, as I do, I get twice the savings....I'm not sure....just couldn't figure out what you were trying to say. I'm not sure what rehydrating, which requires no stove at all, has to do with fuel weight savings no matter what stove you use.

This is not true of a thruhike.
>Frankly, however, I don't see any weight savings. An empty canister weighs
>between 3.3 and 5.5 ounces depending on the size of the canister and the
>brand. A canister stove and windscreen weighs 4 ounces. In comarison, the
>weight of an alcohol stove [2 ounces] and the weight of bottle the alcohol
>is stored in [2 ounces]is ONLY between 3 and 5 ounces more -- BEST CASE. 

Again, I'm not sure I understand all I know about this part. I just weighed my Trangia, empty, and the plastic 1/2 pint bottled water bottle I use as a fuel bottle and, together, they weight 5 oz. or somewhere near the weight of an empty fuel canister, by your figures. The lightest canister stove I've heard of weighs around 3 to 3 1/2 oz. I guess this means your windscreen weighs between 1/2 oz and nothing. Actually, both types require a windscreen so it would be a wash but my MSR screen weighs about 1 1/2 oz. so I guess your is a lot lighter...;o) These figures are for a Trangia. The home-mades are a lot lighter but not as controllable. I guess this means I'm in BEYOUND BEST CASE.....=o)

>People who cook like a thruhiker [one meal a day] using a canister stove use
>less than one ounce [weight] of fuel a day whereas most alcohol stove users
>use slightly more than an ounce [weight]--BEST CASE. In reality most alcohol
>and esbit users use close to two ounces a day because it's just too
>difficult to perfectly measure the exact fuel you need and/or extinguish the
>stove and recover unused fuel. Where is the savings?

ah....after testing this time and time again over the last year and ahalf, it takes 1/2 oz of alcohol to boil 2 cups of water....period. Now it does take around 2 oz. to melt enough snow to equal 1 1/2 liter of snow... Trangia stoves have liquid tight screw on caps...no measuring required. You just use as much as you need and then screw the cap back on.
>Back to the Sierras. Almost nobody on the lists that I am on that contain
>primarly multi-week Sierra hikers DON'T USE alcohol or esbit. Instead these
>backpackers focus on tasty, low weight meals and rely on a ready supply of
>water and a simple-to-operate stove that simmers to accomplish this. This
>approach saves POUNDS, not ounces.

Weird....we do the same thing in the Rockies....but we rehydrate as we walk to save fuel and use the simplest stove possible...no moving parts...alcohol.
>This ain't rocket science. 
>Thruhiker style eating cooks one meal a day with 2 cups [1 pound] of water
>and doesn't simmer anything. This water is absorbed into the meal. The
>result is ONE pound of weight saved per day. 
>I boil 4 cups of water per person [2 pounds] per day that is adsorbed into
>my food. This water is absorbed into the meal. The result is TWO pounds of
>weight saved per day.

ah....Boy, I really didn't get this one.....does this mean that, if you boil 100 gallons of water a day you'll save 840 pounds over what ever it is your using for a base??? Once again, I don't understand what this has to do with the stove used, just the food style. 
>This approach is obvious. Just cooking eggs or heating water for oatmeal in
>the morning saves many ounces over cookies, power bars or whatever
>ready-made substitute for a decent breakfast one chooses.

And carrying snack bags with powdered milk, sugar, and a couple of cups of your favorite cereal save both fuel, time and weight and is just as filling. 
>Also, funny that whenever I hike with a 2-cup-a-day-cooker they are always
>eating my food. [They also carry about a pound extra per day in food weight]

Can't really address this one. If there is one thing I don't kid about it's food.

Interesting post though.....


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