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ups and downs of wood
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Keith Selbo
(herman666) - F - M

Locale: Northern Virginia
ups and downs of wood on 09/07/2009 14:57:08 MDT Print View

I'm just back from hiking the Cranberry Loop 50 in the Adirondack Forest Preserve. My total stove and fuel load was 5 oz. at the start of the five day hike and 4 oz. at the end. We cooked on my Lunar Titan Woodsman wood stove.

see http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=18056
for a description and photos of the stove.

The ounce difference between start and finish is due to the consumption of a few drops of charcoal lighter per light-off. Charcoal lighter is my tinder of choice because it has a high energy content and doesn't stink if you get it on ya.

I've been cooking with wood for two years now, and about 8 months with the Woodsman. I'm ready to make some pronouncements on the philosophy of cooking with wood.

First, the contrast between conventional wood stove wisdom I've gleened and my own.

CW: dirty ME: so what?
CW: smelly ME: deal!

CW: can't cook with wet wood ME: can too!

CW: lower fuel load ME: darn toot'n

CW: can't use it everywhere ME: sad but true

CW: cooking with wood is a labor intensive pain in the butt. ME: a royal pain in the butt!

CW: Your fully enclosed design may be safer,
but I don't want to lift a pot to feed the fire. ME: What? Your arm's broken?

CW: Not that much of a weight saving. ME: you don't cook muffins or Viggo Red Beans and rice.

People don't seem to think about that last one very often. I think many people consciously or subconsciously alter their trail diet to conserve fuel which is something you never have to do with a wood stove. That said, I hate wood and I'm switching to gas for short hikes. It requires too much labor and too much attention. I want to come into camp and be cooking in less than 30 seconds.

Edited by herman666 on 09/07/2009 15:11:59 MDT.

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Locale: DON'T LOOK DOWN!!
Re: Ups and downs of wood on 09/07/2009 15:16:49 MDT Print View

Wood is good. I carry a simple woodstove and an alcohol stove. That way I can have a brew in bed in the morning or a quick brew when I arrive at camp, but conserve fuel by using wood for the main meal and more evening brews while I scan the stars.

Keith Selbo
(herman666) - F - M

Locale: Northern Virginia
wood and alcohol on 09/07/2009 21:02:37 MDT Print View

I might try that!

647575757 347474747
(686425) - F
I don't own a stove... on 09/08/2009 00:49:27 MDT Print View

...because wood is awesome. That's how they did it back in the day. If it ain't broken, don't fix it.

Russell Swanson
(rswanson) - F

Locale: Midatlantic
Re: Re: Ups and downs of wood on 09/08/2009 13:15:19 MDT Print View

I made a knock off of the Bushbuddy to see what I thought of wood stoves, since my favorite part of car camping is cooking bacon cheeseburgers over wood charcoal. I can to the same conclusions you did, basically. I love the idea but what a friggin pain. On less intensive hikes, I will still use the wood stove. Last hike, I cut up a nice 6 oz. Filet, dusted it in chile-espresso rub, froze it solid and packed it in. That's one awesome first night meal!

If I am pulling 20 milers, I can't be bothered to finesse the wood stove...isobutane all the way. Really gives me a lot more respect for the 1000km trip Ryan Jordan, Roman Dial, and Jason Geck accomplished. I can't imagine having to fire up the wood stove every night under suboptimal conditions, after hiking that sort of daily mileage, night after night. Guess you get into a routine...

Michael Skwarczek
(uberkatzen) - F

Locale: Sudamerica
the zen of wood stoves on 09/09/2009 18:08:27 MDT Print View

I just got back from a grueling 4 day trek (with BPL'ers Dylan and Josh. trip report by Dylan to come) and only brought my DIY double wall wood stove (you know, the pint and quart paint can design). I had an epiphany about my experience cooking or boiling with this method.

As UL'ers, we typically move efficiently and mindfully. Our expectations spare little room for fuss or mess. The terms "fiddle-factor" and "boil-times" tear across the boards. Wood stoves take time and effort, and can be messy if you don't mind things.

But even on the longest day (three passes, 6:45AM-7PM), my buddy already dipping a Titanium Long-handled Spoon into his Mountain House Pro Pak, I just settled and sank into my routine. I boiled water for a warm drink. Next I was cooking, yep, "cooking" red beans and rice. Afterward enjoying the light of the fire and warming my hands. Hey, even during a 30min break I could still charge and fire the stove for coffee, a warm lunch and time to relax.

I practice tai qi quan, sit in zazen, so, maybe there's a little more appreciation for sinking and settling, and mindful practice in general. But I realized at the height of stress and strain (and jabs and complaints from my buddies) that I used the wood stove's routine as a minfulness practice: took a breath, tended the fire; enjoyed the fruit and the labour.

...OK, OK, granted, I'm also working on including an alky stove or esbit stand that'll fit into the top of the woodfire as a stand-by during rain, and for those get-up'n-go morning coffees. Rog, what do you use?

cheers all,
-Michael

Brian UL
(MAYNARD76)

Locale: New England
Re: the zen of wood stoves on 09/09/2009 19:43:53 MDT Print View

My TI-TRI cone has vastly improved my food choice and camping experience.
I had always lost my appetite on hikes but found that it was the low quality processed carbs that makes up most backpacking fare that my body was rejecting.
With a wood stove I can cook just about anything. I have an AGG2qt pot and an MSR fry pan. I can make bacon and eggs or boil rice and beans, vegetable stews or saute some greens.

I didnt find it a hassle because even when I brought my cone and mug ( SP 600) I would often build a small fire for the physiological fun of sitting by a fire.
I agree that there is something about the routine of building your fire at the end of the day that feels more ritual than work.

I also Benefited a lot by learning good fire building techniques from a respected bushcraft school.

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Locale: DON'T LOOK DOWN!!
Re: the zen of wood stoves on 09/10/2009 01:05:48 MDT Print View

"I'm also working on including an alky stove or esbit stand that'll fit into the top of the woodfire as a stand-by during rain, and for those get-up'n-go morning coffees. Rog, what do you use?"

Hi Michael,
I've found the most effective alcohol stove to be the good old coke can self pressurizing design with the side jets.
Here's an example: ebay item 280358025263
It has the right balance of low weight, reasonable stability for putting a pot direct on top, and versatility for different ambient temperatures and application. If the weather is hot, or for simmering/frying, I add a little water to slow the stove down. In cold weather I carry a 2oz bottle of alcohol in my shirt pocket to keep it warm for an easy start.

My simple woodstove is a single skin design and weighs 100g in stainless steel. I'm making another out of Ti. I like this design because I can feed sticks in without lifting the pot, and it catches the ash in the bottom.

I use an MSR heavy foil windshield for both.

.wodstove2

Edited by tallbloke on 09/10/2009 01:08:35 MDT.

Keith Selbo
(herman666) - F - M

Locale: Northern Virginia
Re: Re: the zen of wood stoves on 09/10/2009 14:36:15 MDT Print View

What is it with lifting the pot?

Fully enclosed can't throw sparks.

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Locale: DON'T LOOK DOWN!!
Re: Re: Re: the zen of wood stoves on 09/11/2009 04:22:55 MDT Print View

I don't carry a pot lifter, and I haven't got around to putting a Ti bail on my pot yet. :o)

Also, I like to feed sticks in one at a time to minimise smoke.

Keith Selbo
(herman666) - F - M

Locale: Northern Virginia
Re: Re: Re: Re: the zen of wood stoves on 09/11/2009 20:33:49 MDT Print View

"I don't carry a pot lifter, and I haven't got around to putting a Ti bail on my pot yet. :o)"

That would be a good reason to not want to lift the pot although it begs the question of how do you get the pot off when the cooking is done?

Since I can't see the fire, the absence of smoke tells me when it's time to add wood.

A TI bail would be light. I've often wondered why more people don't use a thin stainless or Ti wire instead of a heavy pot lifter, or stock bail.

Edited by herman666 on 09/11/2009 20:35:41 MDT.

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Locale: DON'T LOOK DOWN!!
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: the zen of wood stoves on 09/12/2009 03:49:50 MDT Print View

"how do you get the pot off when the cooking is done?"

Carefully. :-)

I put on a glove or use a piece of cloth to pick the pot up with. Ti pots don't seem too hot to handle compared to aluminium.

It just seems more effecient to me to keep the pot on the stove while feeding fuel.

Keith Selbo
(herman666) - F - M

Locale: Northern Virginia
efficiency on 09/12/2009 21:55:08 MDT Print View

"It just seems more efficient to me to keep the pot on the stove while feeding fuel."

Maybe, maybe not. I've not tested my stoves for that particular function because to boil 4 cups of water I'd lift the pot for two seconds to drop in wood maybe five times. That's ten seconds in about as many minutes if memory serves.

You also lose the efficiency of the hot gasses being held close to the pot for as long as possible over the entire boil time by not having it fully enclosed.

That said, on a windless day, both stoves would probably work fine. The one thing that gives a quantum leap in heating speed is a forced draft. I'm looking for a weightless way to do that.

Edited by herman666 on 09/12/2009 21:56:16 MDT.

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Locale: DON'T LOOK DOWN!!
Re: efficiency on 09/13/2009 02:06:50 MDT Print View

Fair points Keith. I find a simple foil windsheild set fairly close to the pot works well though, as long as enough air passes under it to feed the stove.

Forced draft for minimum weight is something I've thought about too. Big chimney's are not really an option and electrically driven fans are complicated and vulnerable to heat damage. Perhaps a bellows made from a stuff sack or pack liner? Makes for a labour intensive cooking session though.

I have been playing around with fans driven by peltier units, self powered by the stove, so no batteries. Problem is the weight of the heat exchangers and the vulnerability of the peltiers to overheating.

Small pieces of firelighter or candle wax mixed in with the wood speed up the action quite a lot though. :-)

Keith Selbo
(herman666) - F - M

Locale: Northern Virginia
efficiency on 09/13/2009 14:52:34 MDT Print View

I think your stuff sack idea has merit. It's certainly close to zero weight adder. I assume you'd have to add a hose.

I'm looking into a tiny computer fan and a small aluminum manifold that would keep the fan far enough away to avoid the heat. The fan is very light and I already carry a couple of rechargeable AA's to recharge my electrics so there's not much extra weight there.

My batteries source about 250 Watt-minutes. The fan I'm looking at is 1.5 Watts. I estimate I'd run the fan only until a boil is achieved, or about 5 minutes per meal which comes to 7.5 Watt-minutes per meal so the additional power consumption won't tax the batteries too much.

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Locale: DON'T LOOK DOWN!!
Re: efficiency on 09/14/2009 04:02:05 MDT Print View

Hi Keith,
Most computer fans need 5v to spin at a good rate, though 3v may do the job for you. I had better luck using the fan blades of a computer fan with a small dc motor designed to run at 1.5v. This kept the peltier cool and provided a reasonable amount of draught. Peltiers weigh around the same as an AA battery. Having the manifold on the side of the stove is a good idea. Blowing air onto the top of the fuel makes a good glow which radiates heat efficiently to the underside of the pot.

My idea is to use a strip of Ti as a 'memory metal' inside the stove to automatically adjust the draught into the stove, by levering a shutter which controls the air flow, the degree of movement being determined by the temperature reached by the Ti strip. An additional manually operated shutter would permit fine tuning for conditions and fuel quality, and desired output.

Keith Selbo
(herman666) - F - M

Locale: Northern Virginia
fans and stragegies on 09/14/2009 07:37:18 MDT Print View

Hey Rog,

By careful choice, all my electrics (PDAPhoneGPS, camera, mp3) all require 5 volts to charge. I have a little 2.2V to 5 volt converter that runs off two AA NIMH batteries to charge everything, hence my choice of a 5 volt fan. The power for it is already there.

I charge the AA's from a 4oz. solar panel. For now, that seems like the lowest weight overall solution for me.

The peltier powered fan sounds like a good completely self contained solution. Did you consider bi-metal for your damper control? My plan is to turn the fan off once a boil is attained.