Cooking with in-tent stove hanging systems is popular among high altitude mountaineers, but has also gained favor among the not-so-elite among us. While there is some paranoia about carbon monoxide poisoning (and the risk may certainly be real), the benefits of in-tent winter cooking are meaningful:
- Cooking in your tent keeps your tent warm, even in subzero conditions.
- Cooking in your tent allows you to take the time to rehydrate and get the nutrition you need while a storm may be raging outside.
The practice is generally not recommended for white gas stoves, because the incomplete combustion of white gas in cold conditions leads to excessive buildup of carbon monoxide in the tight, confined space of a tent. Well, that, and the fact that a white gas stove flareup can instill quite a lot of fear in you (and fire in your tent) when you're hanging out at 10,000 feet in the middle of a subzero winter night. Alcohol stoves are messy and prone to flareup in a tent, and are a rather risky proposition. Solid fuel, such as Esbit, should generally be avoided for in-tent cooking because burning them causes the accumulation of rather funky odors, and incomplete combustion may result in CO toxicity.
So, the general consensus, at least among the mountaineering community, is that in-tent cooking should be limited to cleaner-burning canister stoves in well-ventilated tents.
Markill and Bibler have set the standard for in-tent canister stove hanging kits, but they're heavy and bulky.
MSR entered the game a few years ago with a "titanium" hanging system consisting of a windscreen/heat exchanger and a set of wiry cables, the whole bit of which required quite a lot of finagling for setup and takedown, and virtually no easy means of placing and removing pots, an essential task for pouring water for your porridge or cocoa. And who among us really wants to tote a ladle?
When the Jetboil stove system was introduced a few years ago, I was skeptical about its general applicability for what we call "lightweight backpacking", simply because the entire system weighed at least twice as much as the very lightest stoves and pots available on the market. However, what "ultralight" systems failed to offer that the Jetboil delivered was significant: phenomenal fuel efficiency, simplicity, and component integration.
That's why I was pretty excited about converting my Jetboil system into a hanging kit for winter travel. After drilling holes, building cables, and rigging an ultralight carabiner setup, I promptly and proudly introduced my new Jetboil hanging system to Mount Rainier's Wonderland Trail on a November thru-hike that kept me tent bound, or raingear bound, but never in between. It was to be the perfect marriage of technology, home made gear, and application.
On my first night out, as the water began to boil and my design innovation began to mature, the whole system fell to the floor of my tent, and my quilt was soaked with boiling water. I completed the hike, but cooked outside - in the rain, snow, and wind - for the remainder of my walk.
Two months later, I visited Dwight Aspinwall of Jetboil at the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, and asked him to develop a hanging kit. His reply was simple, rote, and expected: "they say you shouldn't cook in a tent" (who is they, exactly?) Then, I'm quite sure, I saw him wink, which gave me a hope for a new product in the future.
That was two years ago.
So after following the aroma of clam chowder and fresh coffee to the Jetboil booth at Backcountry Base Camp in Brighton today, I was pretty tickled to see a Jetboil stove hanging from a carabiner attached to the struts of their party tent.
For less than two ounces, you get a hanging kit that literally does disappear into the entire system for storage, is very simple to set up and put away, allows you to access your pot for pouring, and best of all, is very stable. Heck, it even works with a fry pan.
It's a polished, clean, and elegant design that proves that Dwight and the gang have been thinking about this for quite some time.
So, for 21 oz (the weight of the Jetboil Group Cooking System with 1.5L pot plus the weight of the hanging kit), you can have a simple, stable, easy, and effective hanging stove for cooking in your tent or snow cave. This is slightly heavier than the very lightest white gas or PowerMax stove kits, but some say there is a cost for comfort.
And if comfort for you is staying warm and dry while you prepare hot drinks, soup, and stroganoff within the confines of your shelter while Mother Nature exerts her tumultuous force on the other side of the fabric, then so be it, and check out the Jetboil hanging kit for your winter travels.