Forum Index » Backpacking Light with Scouts » The easiest, cheapest, robust Scout backpacking stove ever?


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Kevin Sweere
(sweerek) - F
The easiest, cheapest, robust Scout backpacking stove ever? on 05/17/2014 20:36:59 MDT Print View

= pop can pot + tomato paste can burner + windscreen



Faced with the task of getting 34 young Scouts backpacking stoves + pots (to only boil water), a couple hours to do it, $ones per boy not $$hundreds, BSA's alcohol fuel ban, and knowing how boys simply can't maintain or tune stuff, I combined lots of postings to create a very simple, quickly built stove consisting of:



Soda can (emptied by Scouts) as pot for boiling 1 cup water (it fits 1.5 cups but these are boys so you want less spilling and they eat smaller amounts.
6 oz tomato paste can (emptied for pizza) as the burner & 'pot' stand
10" tall aluminum flashing as windscreen
Hexamine fuel tablet (~1 Coghlans tablet boils 1 cup water)
Handkerchief, cloth, glove, pliers, etc as pot holder



Burner & Stand. Using a church key opener, punch 4 triangles on bottom of tomato paste can, plus 4-6 on top. This focuses flame upward to & around pop can and offer a bit of a standoff from the ground. The can's bottom holds the solid --> liquified fuel well. Use a long needlenose pliers to hold the can next to where you punch the hole (else can bends too much). Later, you'll burn the plastic liner outta it.


Windscreen can be many things, but aluminum flashing seems best cuz its lightweight, easily cut with scissors, leaves few sharp edges, holes punched with cheap paper hole punch, and comes in right size from Lowes, Home Depot. Foil works but tedious to maintain. Galvanized steel (HVAC duct) stronger & cheaper but edges sharp, need tin snips, and hole punched w/ a hammer & punch. Big beer cans then cut apart work, but metal is thin and not quite big enough.


On bottom of windscreen put many small holes. Roll flashing tight to fit around the pop can -- if tighter than can, then cut a 1/8" notch on top & bottom to keep it open. 10" is a bit taller than burner & can stacked, but it really keeps the heat in, protects everything when jammed into the pack, and its one less cut to make building it. (Get 10" tall flashing from Lowes, Home Depot).


Pot. No changes to pop can (pot, boiling kettle). It fits ok atop stand. Easily replaced if crushed.


Big Pot Option: A 24 Foster beer can also works fine atop the burner/stand. Leave as is to boil 2-3 cups water (with many tablets) or for more of a pot look, cut the top's inner ring (inside the lip) by scoring a knife or razor blade inside the little trough around the top ~80 times. After the top separates, press backside of knife around edge to remove sharp stuff. Wash well to remove aluminum shavings.


Light it! Put water in pop can, put fuel tab in burner, tip burner to ignite tablet with lighter, put pop can atop burner, wrap with windscreen (critical, not too tight, want flames up sides of pop can but not windscreen), watch water boil in few minutes, pour hot water into Ziploc and Cozy Cook (use a cloth or gripper to grab), blow out tab, cool, place all in plastic grocery bag for travel.


Cautions & Caveats. Despite telling boys many times, several will grab a hot can & git a bit burned. Expect to find aluminum dots from punching holes for years. Its not optimized (like many do here to eke out a few seconds less boil time or drop a gram). This is meant to be a Webelos or Boy Scout stove, simple, cheap, tough, no worries if lost, easily replaced/made by boys.

Adam Kilpatrick
(oysters) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
BSA Alcohol Ban on 05/18/2014 06:18:13 MDT Print View

That's interesting, I didn't realise they had done a ban too. I've been seriously considering raising this as an option at least in South Australia for Scouts. The upshot is it will save a ton of money and backpack weight as every group or scout goes out and spends on a trangia, thinking that's their only option!!!

Do you have a web link to any BSA info on it?

Mike Gunderloy
(ffmike) - M
Re: BSA Alcohol Ban on 05/18/2014 07:06:28 MDT Print View

BSA Policy on the Storage, Handling and Use of Chemical Fuels and Equipment

In my experience, lots of Boy Scout leaders know exactly what this policy says, although few seem to have actually read it. Certainly our Council training people have been putting out misinformation for years.

Points to note:

1) Alcohol fuel is "not recommended." This is not the same as "forbidden."

2) "Handcrafted" and "homemade" stoves are forbidden. "Commercially manufactured" stoves are approved. To my mind this allows things like a Zelph stove.

3) "Chemical fuels" are defined as liquid, gaseous, or gelled. So none of this applies to any form of Esbit or similar equipment.

4) Fire starting with liquid fuel is prohibited, specifically including using charcoal lighter on charcoal.

Finally, my experience in Scouts is that some youth and adult leaders will do stupid things with fire (and with sharp things, and pretty much anything else they can get their hands on) regardless of any rules. Common sense ought to apply...

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
stove on 05/18/2014 12:05:39 MDT Print View

Ummm....your homemade stove is FORBIDDEN. Doesnt matter what fuel it uses.

No, stoves made of RECYCLED materials not for the original use, particularly soda cans, etc. are expressly forbidden. Does not matter who made it.

A Trangia, etc would be acceptable although discouraged.

And honestly, Its not a good idea to have scouts fooling with any homemade items when that is prohibited. The rules may not make sense, but they are there because you have to have rules, and so they are.

Go purchase the $5 esbit stove, it is legal.

Edited by livingontheroad on 05/18/2014 12:10:15 MDT.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: windscreen on 05/18/2014 12:30:15 MDT Print View

Never use galvanized steel. Dangerous fumes from burning the zinc. A little research would be beneficial to all.

Bob Shaver
(rshaver) - F

Locale: West
what I have experienced on 06/03/2014 15:51:00 MDT Print View

scouts plus liquid fuel = stupid stuff happening. Just not a good idea, especially since you can't see the flame of alcohol in the daytime. Anything that can be screwed up, scouts will do it. Guaranteed.

Tony Ronco
(tr-browsing) - MLife
RE: what I have experienced on 06/04/2014 08:35:07 MDT Print View

+ 1 on what Bob said ... for most treks there always seems to be that percentage that are tempted to make "less than smart" decisions ... oy.

Understand, I'm a huge fan of alcohol stoves ... but certain realities exist. An esbit stove is the most fool-proof, light weight alternative that safely covers that percentage.

Still want to pursue alcohol stoves? Then in my humble opinion save the alcohol stoves for those treks that only have the scouts who have become advanced enough & mature enough to be responsible enough to use it safety & properly.

YMMV.

Matt Dirksen
(NamelessWay) - MLife

Locale: Mid Atlantic
Re: RE: what I have experienced on 06/04/2014 11:14:04 MDT Print View

"Still want to pursue alcohol stoves? Then in my humble opinion save the alcohol stoves for those treks that only have the scouts who have become advanced enough & mature enough to be responsible enough to use it safety & properly."

If it is considered a "Scout sanctioned" trip, I wouldn't even recommend that approach(from experience). Yeah it's just alcohol, but I assure you the minute something goes wrong and a kid gets a 2nd degree burn, the troop (and their charter) will be in a whole heap of trouble, both from the parent and from powers above. Given all the scouting stupidity out there on YouTube these days, BSA pretty much has a ZERO tolerance level for any rule breaking. Besides, the most responsible 17 year olds out there are still legally allowed to behave like children at any moment of time.
(EDIT: at least until they are charged as one in a serious crime)

It takes one hungry, tired, semi-dehydrated 17 year old kid after a long day on the trail, and the risk of an accident goes up ten-fold.

Edited by NamelessWay on 06/04/2014 11:23:57 MDT.

Tony Ronco
(tr-browsing) - MLife
Re: Re: RE: what I have experienced on 06/05/2014 12:48:41 MDT Print View

Hmm, apparently there are a few clarifications needed ... (plus I'm throwing in quite a few comments ... *smile*)

RE: "ZERO tolerance level for any rule breaking"
As it should be. Safety First. That is the purpose of The Guide to Safe Scouting, IOLS, Trek Safely, , Weather Hazards, Trek Safely, Safe Swim Defense, Safety Afloat, Climb On Safely, Passport to High Adventure Training Outline and High Adventure Leadership Training, (etc, etc). , all focus Scout Leaders/Advisors on being safe.
BUT if that comment is in reference to the general use of an alcohol stove, then please re-read Mike Gunderloy's post above (and the subsequent one). Take the time to review the info provided & follow the links ... then you will see it is not breaking the rules.

In other potentially hazardous activities, Scouting provides youth opportunities to use sharps and fire … (not going to get that at school). But first the Scouts need to earn their Totin' Chip and Firem'n Chit respectively …. For similar entry into backpacking stove use I follow what others have recommended: a starting point of the Backpacking Merit Badge.

Like all stoves, proper training & use is foundational to being safe.
White gas stoves have the challenge of priming (oy, look a mini fire ball), care and spillage. Butane canister stoves tend to burn clear too (I've even seen Philmont Rangers hold their hand over the burner to see if it is on (oy! ) instead of slowing coming in from the side). Alcohol stoves (as this thread as already pointed out) have the challenges of burning clear and potential spillage during use (although carbon felt designs mitigate potential spillage while burning )

Which leaves esbit stoves being the most fool-proof , lightweight, and affordable alternative for those Scouts at that stage of development… one that I’m in agreement with others’ recommendations.

(Of course there is also the no-stove option … but if training for Philmont that’s not an option there)

RE: "responsible 17 year olds out there are still legally allowed to behave like children at any moment of time"
I would advise caution confusing age (17 year-olds or even in adults) with the maturity, experience & judgment to act responsibly. The development of which, is one of the primary goals of Scouting has for its participating youth ... I inwardly smile when I see our youth leadership overcoming the challenge of helping the younger ones become better focused. Naturally, following BP’s concepts of raising the level of expectations is a good practice.
Hint: Not acting responsibly is a clear give away that one is not responsible.
In addition, becoming legally responsible, does not equate with acting responsibly.


RE: "Scouting stupidity out there on YouTube"
Like these Scout Leader miscreants toppling a 200 million year old goblin formation. Even though they are adults, they are in no way acting responsibly and at the same time they’re being the wrong type of role models to their youth. They have no clue or understanding of LNT or even the Scout Outdoor Code ... they are obviously not even aware that they represent BSA to the land manager of Goblin Valley and the world since they had the chutzpah to post a video of their vandalism on YouTube. I wonder it they went through any training at all … but if they did, then that’s pretty damning for the quality of the sessions they attended.

“Common sense is not so common” - Voltaire

RE: “It takes one hungry, tired, semi-dehydrated 17 year old kid after a long day on the trail, and the risk of an accident goes up ten-fold. "
Fatigue regardless of age effects judgment (which can effect many things including the use of any stove type). The goal is to minimize that.. it both increases enjoyment of the trek and minimizes risk. Matching a trek’s difficulty with the proper conditioning, a light load, balance of skill sets and monitoring calorie and water intake is the preventative approach that the adult leaders / advisors should be making sure that the youth leaders are acting on. Making sure that the “how to use skills” are as ingrained as the “stay safe in the backcountry skills” is also important.

YIS

Edited by tr-browsing on 06/05/2014 12:55:48 MDT.

Matt Dirksen
(NamelessWay) - MLife

Locale: Mid Atlantic
Re: Re: Re: RE: what I have experienced on 06/06/2014 09:38:01 MDT Print View

Tony,

Thank you for your eloquent remarks. I now realize I wasn't clear about the use of alcohol in relation to "home made" stoves vs. commercial. Esbit is certainly a good option for teaching proper stove use, especially in contrast to a white gas or canister stove.

I'm very glad to know you (and many on BPL) are actively tending to our youth. For all the "issues" BSA has in the 21st century, It brings me joy to know there are many of us out there helping boys grow into responsible & awake men in this world.

YIS

Rudy R
(rudyr1999) - F
Ughhhhh... on 06/11/2014 06:30:22 MDT Print View

Again pussification of today's youth. The BSA should only focus on reducing the chance of death, not injury. A scout burns his finger, hand, arm with alcohol well that scout learned something and so did everyone else that was present during the injury. Parents should well PARENT and teach their kids responsibility.

I'm a 33 year old Eagle Scout that gets disgusted when I see Boy Scouts camping with blow up mattresses, fans, soda, huge popup shelters with bug netting, palace tents that have to hauled in by vehicles, and food carts serving burgers, french fries, and chili cheese fries.

Sadly I will not expose my 2 boys to Boy Scouts because of what it has turned into. I will end my rant.

Back on topic... I have used a supercat stove with Esbit and it does just fine. In my scouting days everything was cooked on a campfire. If it was raining well you just ate your food cold. Many times I ate cold bennie wennies and oatmeal. Luxury wasn't part of scouting when I was a kid.

-Rudy

James Tisdale
(Jameyt) - M

Locale: PaNW
not all troops on 06/24/2014 22:44:27 MDT Print View

Rudy,

Not all Troops arenas you describe. Try a few out. Heck, the fact this forum exists says something

James S
(steinerj) - M
Ughhhhh on 06/25/2014 10:43:04 MDT Print View

"Again pussification of today's youth. The BSA should only focus on reducing the chance of death, not injury. A scout burns his finger, hand, arm with alcohol well that scout learned something and so did everyone else that was present during the injury. Parents should well PARENT and teach their kids responsibility."

Has nothing to do with pussification and everything to do with parents hiring a lawyer and suing the BSA when their kid gets hurt. . .

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Ughhhhh on 06/25/2014 10:46:20 MDT Print View

women are pretty tough

men are sometimes stupid - just like to show off thinking it will attract females, but actually, they're on the side, ignoring us, eating grass or something