Is a tiny wood-fuelled stove a campfire?
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Peter Evans
(NLslacker)
Is a tiny wood-fuelled stove a campfire? on 03/02/2013 23:03:16 MST Print View

For parks that have "no campfire" rules, could a wood-fuelled stove be considered reasonable?
My reasoning is there is an open flame with other cooking methods, and if a stove is closely attended, and very small in size, do you think you could ethically bend the rules in your favour? Is it really a campfire?

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: Is a tiny wood-fuelled stove a campfire? on 03/02/2013 23:15:44 MST Print View

A wood fire is a fire. Anything that can't be turned off is frowned upon during fire season in many places.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Is a tiny wood-fuelled stove a campfire? on 03/02/2013 23:19:29 MST Print View

Peter, it depends.

Some parks treat a metal-enclosed woodburner stove the same as a butane stove.

Some parks simply don't want their local wood burned, so they ban all woodburner stoves even if you carried in wood pellets.

Most parks interpret a campfire to mean an open wood fire, so they allow small woodburners.

My point is that you almost have to inquire to a specific park, and it helps if you have a photo of your woodburner so that they don't get the wrong impression.

--B.G.--

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
re: Is a tiny wood-fueled stove a campfire? on 03/03/2013 08:18:48 MST Print View

In the southern California national and state forest areas, a wood fire in a small stove (eg, Bushbuddy, Firefly,. etc) is considered a fire and generally banned.

A ranger explained to me that wood fires, even in little stoves like that, can still emit sparks, which, given our generally very dry conditions, can start fires.

William Segraves
(sbill9000) - F - M
what's covered under fire restrictions on 03/03/2013 08:58:03 MST Print View

The specific wording of the fire restriction should give you information as to whether it's covered, and if not, you should inquire.

In my experience (mostly Sierra and Rockies), fire restrictions due to risk of wildfire generally prohibit all devices that don't have contained fuel and an off switch. An ember or a spill from a small wood-fueled stove or an alcohol stove can cause a fire.

When campfire prohibitions are keyed to altitude or lake vicinity, they are often accompanied by comments on ecosystem protection or restoration. In most such places you can use your alcohol stove or Esbit, but are not supposed to be burning the local fuel. Making a small fire is certainly not going to contribute to the damage as much as a big one, but how big is too big, and what would happen if everyone did it? Having to bring one's own fuel is a small price to pay for having nice places.

Bill S.

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
depends on 03/05/2013 11:12:47 MST Print View

There are definitely different interpretations on this depending on the jurisdiction. You should check with the powers that be in the specific park/national forest/etc that you have in mind.

Diane Pinkers
(dipink) - M

Locale: Western Washington
ash disposal on 03/08/2013 18:06:19 MST Print View

What about ash disposal? My boyfriend and I were hiking in Mt. Rainier National Park last summer, and one fellow in the campsite next to use was using a wood-burning stove. He had it sited correctly, and managed his fire appropriately--but the next morning, he casually dumped out the ashes in the campsite. They were cold, but they were unsightly, and an invitation to others to start fires. Seems like you should at least bury the ashes, or dispose of them well away from campsites--maybe even pack them out?

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: ash disposal on 03/08/2013 18:21:45 MST Print View

Scatter the ashes off in some bushes. As long as you aren't leaving huge coals laying around, new leaf litter will cover stuff up and the rain will wash the ashes away. A healthy forest will just absorb the remnants of your fire.

Nick Larsen
(stingray4540) - F

Locale: South Bay
Re: depends on 03/08/2013 21:08:23 MST Print View

If the fire ban is elevation related, it is because there is little to no wood to burn and they don't want you picking the area clean. So even wood stoves would be a no no.

But, in other areas, as others said, it depends. Check first, or at least find out the reason for the ban and use your best judgement.

Randy Nelson
(rlnunix) - F - M

Locale: Rockies
Ti-Tri on 03/08/2013 22:52:24 MST Print View

"What about ash disposal? My boyfriend and I were hiking in Mt. Rainier National Park last summer, and one fellow in the campsite next to use was using a wood-burning stove. He had it sited correctly, and managed his fire appropriately--but the next morning, he casually dumped out the ashes in the campsite. "

One of the things I love about my Ti-Tri Caldera Cone with Inferno insert. And there's many. But it's a great post cooking mini-campfire and the combustion is so complete that there are very few ashes left.

But it definitely falls under wood fires for the fire bans we often see in Colorado. Hoping for a snowy March to get us on track for a fire ban free summer.

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim) - MLife

Locale: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Re: Ti-Tri on 03/08/2013 23:53:40 MST Print View

Scattering the ashes (if they're cold!!) definitely works. I've also (with my Ti-Tri) used my potty trowel to dig a little cathole and dumped the ashes in. There's so little left when burning with a Ti-Tri, that it doesn't take much of a hole.

HJ
Adventures In Stoving

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
depends upon the ranger on 03/09/2013 19:13:15 MST Print View

In jurisdictions that don't specify, I think it mostly depends upon the attitude of the ranger you're dealing with. I wouldn't depend upon their sympathy.

J J
(jraiderguy) - M

Locale: Puget Sound
Rainier is a strange one on 03/19/2013 12:26:53 MDT Print View

They prohibit all backcountry fires now, as far as I know. (http://www.nps.gov/mora/planyourvisit/wilderness-guidelines-and-regulations.htm).

On the bulleted list of prohibited items, it just says "Fire (stoves okay)." Reading the surrounding text, it seems they chalk this up to following LNT principles.

Seems like a ranger in a good mood might let a twig "stove" slide and not cite you for a fire, and a ranger in a bad mood might not. I definitely think that twig stoves should be allowed if collecting dead/down wood in low elevation areas. At high elevation, hikers should be able to carry in their own bundle of twigs/pellets and burn those. I'd even find it reasonable to allow small fires like the UCO fire bowl with twigs or charcoal so long as the hiker is packing in their own fuel, and not collecting fuel in fragile areas.

I find that small fires are part of backcountry cultural heritage, and think that experienced hikers making personal-sized fires should be respected allowed to do so. Of course I understand the arguments about inexperienced parties making overly large fires and sourcing fuel from fragile areas, or worse, live trees, but I don't think that these risks outweigh the benefits to responsible hikers, especially deep in the backcountry.

Edited by jraiderguy on 03/19/2013 12:30:37 MDT.

Nick Larsen
(stingray4540) - F

Locale: South Bay
Re: Rainier is a strange one on 03/19/2013 12:50:19 MDT Print View

"They prohibit all backcountry fires now, as far as I know. (http://www.nps.gov/mora/planyourvisit/wilderness-guidelines-and-regulations.htm).

On the bulleted list of prohibited items, it just says "Fire (stoves okay)." Reading the surrounding text, it seems they chalk this up to following LNT principles."

The way I read that, a wood "stove" would be fine, and the burden of proof is on the ranger to prove it isn't a stove.

"I definitely think that twig stoves should be allowed if collecting dead/down wood in low elevation areas. At high elevation, hikers should be able to carry in their own bundle of twigs/pellets and burn those. I'd even find it reasonable to allow small fires like the UCO fire bowl with twigs or charcoal so long as the hiker is packing in their own fuel, and not collecting fuel in fragile areas."

I agree, problem is, as with all laws and rules, they have to account for the lowest common denominator. Of course they could do like Yosemite and give you a lecture when you pick up you permit, and give heavy fines to anyone caught harvesting above 9,000ft.

"I find that small fires are part of backcountry cultural heritage, and think that experienced hikers making personal-sized fires should be respected allowed to do so. Of course I understand the arguments about inexperienced parties making overly large fires and sourcing fuel from fragile areas, or worse, live trees, but I don't think that these risks outweigh the benefits to responsible hikers, especially deep in the backcountry."

I whole heartedly agree. I think, with all things, education and punishment for causing harm would be more effective than outright bans, and doesn't punish responsible people.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Is a tiny wood-fuelled stove a campfire? on 03/19/2013 13:47:47 MDT Print View

The UL contraptions typically used here are an accident waiting to happen. One mistake in use could do a lot of damage or kill somebody. Why risk it? If the region is so delicate that there is any question, bring a canister stove and be done with it.

The core of the problem is the discretion of the stove operator and that drops to a lowest common denominator scenario before the first match is struck. One errant spart is all it takes and I don't trust the hiking public to handle it properly.

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Rainier is a strange one on 03/19/2013 14:08:19 MDT Print View

I've scratched my head on this one for years and have come to the conclusion (after talking to a few of the Rainier rangers) that the answer is: NO, on wood stoves. They really don't let much slide (size of group, hard sided containers, stoves, camping in fragile areas, etc.)
You might know how to use it, but the next guy might not be as careful. They restrict everyone to protect us from the few.

J J
(jraiderguy) - M

Locale: Puget Sound
You guys are probably right on 03/19/2013 15:48:25 MDT Print View

It is pretty funny that some of these "UL contraptions" I've been learning about on this site may not ever have a practical/legal application. Not that it makes them any less fun to build and play with in the backyard. Watching my ti canister stove boil water is boring, but watching water boil from a cat food can I poked holes in?! Now that's entertainment. :) The neighborhood cats like the new hobby as well.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Is a tiny wood-fuelled stove a campfire? on 03/19/2013 17:03:38 MDT Print View

If you are in place that only allows campfires in established fire rings, then you might be able to use your wood stove away from campsites and fire rings because you are kinda carrying your own portable, contained fire ring. A ranger might not see the same logic as you, however. Or a ranger might not even care what stove you are using.

Edited by justin_baker on 03/19/2013 17:04:08 MDT.