November 20, 2015 8:16 PM MST - Subscription purchasing, account maintenance, forum profile maintenance, new account registration, and forum posting have been disabled
as we prepare our databases for the final migration to our new server next week. Stay tuned here for more details.
Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Cooking: weight vs speed vs effort for "long days"
Display Avatars Sort By:
Adam Kilpatrick
(oysters) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Cooking: weight vs speed vs effort for "long days" on 12/15/2007 20:37:18 MST Print View

Ok, I want to start the debate here about which stove to use for a long un-resupplied hike I am planning, and everyone's thoughts about stoves.

It will be 12-14 days in length, with big 40-50km days-likely running into 10-12 hrs of walking a day.

Originally I was leaning towards using a woodstove to save on carrying fuel. But now my thoughts have turned to using an SUL solid fuel stove, bringing the fuel in with us (three in party).

The rationale is that collecting wood and tending to a fire is a time consuming activity, which means less rest and more energy expenditure at the end of the day. Its not so bad if its dry, but if its wet the effort and time required increases substantially, as does the potential need for extra fire-lighting materials. If you are spending an extra 20mins at the end of the day collecting dry wood and getting a fire (in or out of a woodstove eg BB) going, wouldnt it be better to use a different stove, and enjoy that extra 20mins of sleep and time off one's feet? The weight of fuel per person per day will be minimal-an ounce? (I havent used solid fuel before).

(FYI-we only need to boil about 8 cups of water between the three of us each night, and I expect about 1 or 2 days out of the 12-14 to be wet).

I reckon I would pay an ounce for an extra 20mins sleep a night.



Christopher Plesko
(Pivvay) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: Cooking: weight vs speed vs effort for "long days" on 12/15/2007 20:52:28 MST Print View

If I was boiling ~2L of water a night in a group of 3 I'd be bringing a canister stove with at least a 1L cookpot, probably a 2L.

I love esbit but not for that application. The wood stove would be nice to save weight but with 3 guys you can already split the shelter load and possibly other loads as well.

When traveling fast and long distances, there are plenty of cases I'll sacrifice speed for weight. Another is the steripen or even a pump filter instead of MP1/aquamira.

Daniel Goldenberg
(DanG) - M
Re: Cooking: weight vs speed vs effort for "long days" on 12/15/2007 21:06:36 MST Print View

For the quantity of water boiled I'm sure a canister stove (especially with some form of wind screen) would be the lightest option, in addition to having a low futz factor.

I'd check this website for a review or article of the jetboil. There is a point where the efficiency of the jetboil makes it lighter than a canister stove, though I'm not sure how much water must be boiled before it's lower fuel consumption makes up for it's higher system weight. 14 days x 8 cups per day is quite a bit of water boiled, so the jetboil might possibly be the lightest option by you would have to check the article.


Just read the jetboil review on this site, and it indicated that (depending on conditions) the jetboil would be lighter than a canister stove system if you are going to boil 15+ liters of water.

Given the amount of water boiled on your trip it looks like a jetboil would probably be the lightest option.

Edited by DanG on 12/15/2007 21:15:08 MST.

Adam Kilpatrick
(oysters) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Jetboil on 12/15/2007 22:36:37 MST Print View

Wow, jetboil wasnt the option i was thinking about at all. I've already got one of those (PCS-given the great boil times this should be fine to run 2 or 3 times with ~.75L), so it does make it a simple, cheap option aswell for me.

I just read the reviews and it does look like a good option for this trip, probably coupled with 230g and 110g canisters (as suggested for about 25L of boiled water).

A couple of newer, more relevant questions then; what are the weights of the 230g and 110g canisters in total? I have a jetboil 100gm canister, bought here in aus, and including its plastic cappy thing, is about 190g. Thats 80g of canister we are carrying. We can offload empty canisters mid-way when we need to, but this is another factor to consider.

Maybe we will be better off carrying two of these 100g canisters, which should be good for 10L each, and the last couple of days if we run out of fuel we can revert to open fires with the cup with the insulation removed.

Thanks for the quick input guys,


Steve O
(HechoEnDetroit) - F

Locale: South Kak
Canister Weight and Jetboil Heat Exchanger Melting on 12/15/2007 23:03:05 MST Print View

MSR IsoPro is labeled 8oz net and 12oz gross weight but I measure 12.75oz (gross, with plastic cap on).

"if we run out of fuel we can revert to open fires with the cup with the insulation removed"
---Be careful useing the Jetboil cup this way. My buddy put his cup on a Coleman camp stove and melted the heat exchanger in about 5 seconds.

Edited by HechoEnDetroit on 12/16/2007 00:29:45 MST.

Adam Kilpatrick
(oysters) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Re: Cannister Weight and Jetboil Heat Exchanger Melting on 12/15/2007 23:44:21 MST Print View


The melting part doesnt sound like fun.

The 8oz IsoPro canister sounds alot more efficient in terms of unused canister weight than using two Jetboil canisters.


Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Jetboil - heavy on 12/16/2007 02:04:56 MST Print View

Hi Adam

Personally, my sums showed that the Jetboil would never justify its high weight in under some extreme trip length.

My recommendation would be something like a Snow Peak GST-100 stove (78 g) and either 230 g canisters or a 450 g canister. The latter gets to be quite weight-efficient.
But shun the 100 g canisters: they are more canister than gas.

A 450 g canister suffices for Sue and me for a fortnight.


Brian UL

Locale: New England
Re: Cooking: weight vs speed vs effort for "long days" on 12/16/2007 09:24:15 MST Print View

May I suggest collecting wood while hiking to your campsite so that when you arrive you already have a least the bulk of your wood fuel. This is what I do if I know Im going be making a fire. This way you will not be spending so much time at the end of the day collecting wood, Im assuming your using somthing like a bushbuddy that doent require a lot of large heavy logs.

Steve Martell
(Steve) - MLife

Locale: Eastern Washington
Re: Cooking: weight vs speed vs effort vs efficiency on 12/16/2007 11:00:03 MST Print View

If the rumored smaller/lighter Kelly Kettle ever comes out, Brian’s idea makes the most sense. This also minimizes the impact of picking up wood in only one area—popular campsites for example can quickly become depleted otherwise.

When you only need hot water for meals, a light weight version of the KK would far exceed the efficiency of the BB or similar wood stoves.

Richard Matthews
(food) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Re: Cooking: weight vs speed vs effort for "long days" on 12/16/2007 11:15:22 MST Print View


I use the same technique for the Bushbuddy. I can cook a dinner and breakfast with a gallon bag of sticks. I harvest some branches along the way and break them into the bag.

I also carry some ESBITs to start the fire with wet wood and to make a quick cuppa on the trail.

The Bushbuddy gives me the option to treat at least some of my water by boiling.

Pamela Wyant
(RiverRunner) - F - M
Speed on 12/16/2007 19:25:49 MST Print View

I'd go with a canister stove of some sort, probably the jetboil just for pure speed and simplicity.

Picking up wood along the way would eliminate some of the extra time in camp, but would require having a zip-lock handy during the day, and taking the time to pick it up along the way. Not a good choice for me to be fiddling with trying to collect fuel on the way if I am trying to put in the miles.



John Kays
(johnk) - M

Locale: SoCal
Stove Choice on 12/17/2007 09:44:40 MST Print View

Another vote for the Bushbuddy. Your query noted that usage would be for a “long” hike and the BB would allow you to boil more water without concern for fuel conservation. When hiking with a canister stove I spend time fastidiously measuring the amount of water I boil and staying near the pot so that I don’t waste fuel by boiling too much water or allowing the stove to burn past the first hint of boil. The BB allows me relax a bit and the fuel is usually laying all around the camp. Other benefits have already been noted.

Jonathan Ryan
(Jkrew81) - F - M

Locale: White Mtns
Re: Stove Choice on 12/17/2007 10:07:51 MST Print View

I am going to have to go with the Bushbuddy as well with a backup supply os Esbit tabs. That way you have a quick boil at the end of the day with the esbit, but if you are in the mood to relax around at night, you can just add wood to keep it going. Plus, there is no fear of running out of fuel...

Keith Selbo
(herman666) - F - M

Locale: Northern Virginia
stove choice on 12/17/2007 15:38:10 MST Print View

If you use a decent wood camp stove (vs campfire) you needn't worry about a time consuming hunt for wood, at least not in the woods. I recently tested my home-made wood stove (6.5 oz, fits inside my 2 liter pot). Under 1.2C ambient temperature, it boiled (rolling) 0.43 liter of 13degreeC water in 4.8 minutes using 73 grams of wood. Thats a small branch or two. I can usually spot enough wood for the evening and morning meals in less than a minute.

There's one caveat. The woods around campgrounds and trail shelters are picked clean, so plan ahead. When you're ten or twenty minutes from camp, start looking for your branch(s). Use only deadfall, because it will have dried out. Green wood doesn't burn well at all. Rain-wet dead fall is usually only superficially wet. Pealing off the bark uncovers well seasoned wood.

My stove consists of a steel combustion chamber with a half-inch hardware cloth grate at the bottom. There is an air gap between the bottom of the combustion chamber and the bottom of the stove. The outer wall of the stove is made of aluminum flashing. The gap between the combustion chamber and the outer wall is insulated with fiberglass to minimize heat loss. The outer wall has 7 half-inch holes on one side at the base for air entry. There is also a windscreen/pot-stand that stores in the combustion chamber and mounts to the top of the stove for cooking.

Photo of all steel prototype:
my insulated wood burning camp stove.

I charge the stove with a few leaves at the bottom of the chamber, pencil sized chunks in the middle and up to 1/2 inch thick pieces at the top. A squirt of alcohol followed by tossing in a match and you're in business. If I need to recharge, I lift the pot and throw in more wood.

The bottom of the stove is also double walled so it can sit on a picnic table without burning it. The bottom comes off to remove the ashes.

The Bushbuddy will do all this for you for somewhere around 100 bucks, and you make your own arrangements for a windscreen. Or you can invest some time with various sized coffee cans, flashing, a pop riveter, tin snips and hardware cloth, save the money and have a custom stove sized to fit in your pot.

I decided to come back and include detailed test data in the first paragraph because I'm a little weary of the plausibility arguments and claims for efficiency unaccompanied by hard data that are so prevalent in stove descriptions. By the way, using a fairly standard 110 grams of wood to boil a liter of 20C water, the efficiency of this stove nets out at 69%. Is that good? I have no idea since I've never seen any decent data on any of the popular backpacking wood-stoves.

Whatever you decide, try it all out in your back yard. That's how I sold myself on my wood stove for long distance hikes. I still use a soda can alcohol stove for the short trips. Good luck.

Edited by herman666 on 12/17/2007 21:07:08 MST.

Albert K.
(archer) - F

Locale: Northeastern U.S.
Another vote for Bushbuddy on 12/20/2007 06:03:02 MST Print View

I was all set to make the Jetboil argument, but then I took a look at the Bushbuddy.

IMHO, wood burning makes too much sense. Great. One more thing now on the wish list.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
an intangible of the bushbuddy on 12/20/2007 06:54:52 MST Print View the enjoyment of using fire as a component of your trek. Maybe this in something still lingering in us from ancient times. Or maybe it's because it's low tech for change. Or maybe it's because the sticks are free : ) I don't know.

Also, if you collect fuel as you hike along, then you won't have to spend 20 min looking for it later. I take solid fuel tabs for when my slacker side kicks in because I've still not mastered using non-dry sticks.

Don Wilson
(don) - MLife

Locale: Koyukuk River, Alaska
Agreed - there is a primeval satisfaction in wood fire cooking on 12/20/2007 09:07:26 MST Print View

Hard to define or quantify, but the attraction of wood fire cooking is worth the penalty of extra time in most cases. It goes beyond the fire itself and encompasses the closer connection to the land......

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Agreed - there is a primeval satisfaction in wood fire cooking on 12/20/2007 13:37:07 MST Print View

Hi Don

> Hard to define or quantify, but the attraction of wood fire cooking is worth the penalty of extra time in most cases.
Hum ... you don't live in the explosively volatile and bushfire-prone Australian gum woodlands :-)

Andrew :-)
(terra) - F

Locale: Sydney, Australia.
Herman, a MYOG stove article please? on 12/25/2007 04:01:32 MST Print View

Your design looks interesting mate. Could you please do a more detailed blurb in the MYOG section and show some more piccys of the stove?

Edited by terra on 12/25/2007 04:05:19 MST.

Adam Kilpatrick
(oysters) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Re: Re: Agreed - there is a primeval satisfaction in wood fire cooking on 12/25/2007 05:50:32 MST Print View

Yep, the trip we are planning is in South Australia, "in" the Flinders Ranges. I'm sure Roger Caffin has probably been to parts, as have some of the other Aussie BPLers.

The first 2 days we will pass through alot of native dry sclerophyll woodland; that is pretty explosive. After that it starts to get alot more arid; day four we start hitting rocky ridges with Spinifex (Triodia spp.) for example (also explosive, but its a different kettle of spikes!).

I'm not really worried at the moment about accidentally starting a bushfire. It will be winter (august), and we have the fundamental skills to avoid setting the place alight with a cooking fire.

I am turned off the Jetboil stove now (I reckon the fuel efficiency will be pushing it for 12.5 days use, even with three guys), although I am now torn between using a normal UL canister stove and a simple homemade wood stove. Some BPLers have posted some great MYOG designs lately (sorry I can't remember the names and I am stuffed full of xmas food so am too tired to look) that come in under 5oz.

I think I might make one or two and get the other team members to have a crack with them. They are part of the process too.

As to fuel availability-there will be plenty wherever we camp; bushwalking isn't quite as popular here as in the US (population density I guess). The last ~3 days will be in sub 200mm rainfall isoheyet, with the last day almost hyperarid-in short the vegetation will be low, over-grazed saltbush-bluebush; this will mean it will take a bit longer to find fuel-but not too much. Its open country so we can camp when we find better fuel.

Carrying a few esbit tablets would probably be wise. I have a Spark-lite firelighting kit, and should still have plenty of tabs left by the time the trip starts.

Thanks for the advice everyone so far!
Merry Christmas!

Adam (and the team)