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I have found that preference for stoves is
basically divided into three groups, each one claiming the "best"
solution for back country cooking.
1) The "Gaz" type, light weight,
simple, screw on fuel canisters of propane/butane mix.
2) The torch burner "Svea" type, fuel
pre-heat for torch-like rate, liquid fuel of varying type.
3) Alternative types, i.e..: alcohol, Esbit,
Z-burner, No stove, small campfire, etc.
Each one has its benefits and
restrictions. I think each person builds a familiarity with one type and
may only vary off of that for a significant reason, i.e.: flare-up catching a
tent on fire, lack of fuel availability at a drop or town, significant weight
advantage, durability, etc.
I used a type (1) stove on my thru hike and
enjoyed the ability to simmer, the ease of fuel management, the light weight and
the simplicity. I mailed my canisters thru the mail in ignorance of the
laws at that time and never had a problem, even when the postmaster watched me
unload my box right in front of them and pulled out a couple canisters of
propane/butane. Maybe we were all a bit ignorant back then.
I perceive, from observation of many other thru hikers, that
the type (2) stoves require an attention to maintenance that the type (1)s
don't. They seem to always have problems, plugging up, fuel spills, dirty
fuel, periodic cleaning. I cleaned my stove once in the five and a half
months that I took. I still own it twenty two years later and have not
needed to clean it since.
I am now considering to shave a large amount of weight from my
huge, heavy, frame backpack and thinking about the need for a stove, considering
my rather simple desires in food and general lack of need for variety over the
time frames that I currently hike.
I recently hiked with a person who has done considerable
hiking in Europe. Upon preparing for a week hike he had several dinners
packaged, a stove, fuel and a large variety of things for breakfast, snacks,
lunches, dinners, deserts, drinks, etc. His European colleagues looked at
this and snickered. He asked them what they had for food and one of them
showed him a large salami, a chunk of cheese and a plastic bottle full of
wine. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, desert, stove and fuel in three
things! It sounds a little boring, but maybe the wine makes up for
Hike your own hike.
My 2 cents,