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#219667 - 03/18/11 02:56 PM Why carry a wood stove?
Hikin_Jim Offline

Registered: 10/12/07
Posts: 1804
Loc: Southern California
Say one has decided to just use wood fires for cooking. I see wood stoves advertised such as the Bush Buddy, The Back Country Boiler, or the Vargo Hexagon. But why carry a wood stove? Why not just make do with whatever materials are at hand? I have some ideas on this, but I'm curious as to what other people's insights are.

Adventures In Stoving

#219671 - 03/18/11 03:26 PM Re: Why carry a wood stove? [Re: Hikin_Jim]

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 1815
people don't know how to make a real wood fire these days so they want a gizmo to help them along.a wood fire that really burns hot,stays lit and provides a bed of hot coals is just about a lost art in the age of self lighting-turn the knob stoves.if your just going to heap up some wood and somehow get it going with a stick holding a pot of water over it you could heat up something to eat.really cooking is another matter.it calls for using the fire in the right burning sequence to boil,simmer and bake a real meal.
the Kelly kettle for getting hot water fast from just about anything that would burn is the only wood fired stove i can see that has any use.the other is the fan driven Sierra stove.i have one and the only place i could see any use for it would be on a trip that called for hot food often with the lightest weight in the pack..no fuel carts or bottles..

#219673 - 03/18/11 03:28 PM Re: Why carry a wood stove? [Re: Hikin_Jim]
EMPnotImplyNuclear Offline

Registered: 09/10/08
Posts: 306
Keep the fire contained/leave no trace, emit less pollution, use less fuel smile and, recharge your batteries

#219674 - 03/18/11 03:33 PM Re: Why carry a wood stove? [Re: Hikin_Jim]
hikermor Online   content
Geezer in Chief

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 5915
Loc: southern Cal
When I discovered the outdoors, campfires were the only realistic option. When our day hikes got a little too long, we would stop, build a fire, throw in a can of beans, and enjoy. We all got pretty good at building fires, even when conditions were not ideal. When I started doing winter trips, I was introduced to white gas stoves - perfect for the cold and wet.

With the development of modern stoves, especially gas canisters, I have basically given up on wood fires because of their environmental/aesthetic impacts and fire safety. The ability to light a fire remains an essential survival skill. If I light one now, it is a pretty good sign that I am in trouble and need assistance.

For both safety and efficiency, a wood fire should be enclosed somehow. I would use either materials at hand to construct a firebox or excavate a "Dakota" style firepit, if at all possible.

Wood gas stoves are fun gadgets, but you are still relying on the local availability of good fuel. It is much easier to throw a gas canister (or a Tragia alcohol stove) in the pack. The problem is solved for a very trivial cost.
Geezer in Chief

#219676 - 03/18/11 03:49 PM Re: Why carry a wood stove? [Re: CANOEDOGS]
EMPnotImplyNuclear Offline

Registered: 09/10/08
Posts: 306
Originally Posted By: CANOEDOGS
the Kelly kettle for getting hot water fast from just about anything that would burn is the only wood fired stove i can see that has any use.

The kelly kettle is an expensive, heavy, single purpose overrated gimmick smile with moving parts

You can equal or surpass it with a hobo stove, a regular pot and metal pot skirt (heavy foil + 3 screws to maintain 10mm gap)

The outside of the pot alone offers double the surface area than the internal chimney of the kettle , provided you use the skirt, and you don't lose any of the functionality of a pot, and its about 8 times cheaper

Add an improved stove (woodgas...) and the kettle can't compete

#219677 - 03/18/11 03:57 PM Re: Why carry a wood stove? [Re: Hikin_Jim]
juhirvon Offline

Registered: 03/09/11
Posts: 36
A good wood stove...

...allows you to use less fuel for equal heat.
...is far quicker to set up than a regular fire.
...keeps your fire contained, and thus help prevent wild fires.
...can be set practically anywhere (with common sense).
...help you leave no trace.
...allows more even heat than a regular fire.
...can be used as a pot stand and/or hot plate.
...will not be a thing to gather around for chatting and guitar playing.
...will rub soot on all your gear unless you clean it, and I mean, really clean it after every use.
...will make your gear smell like smoke, despite how well you cleaned the stove.
...will get sticky spots if you use resinous fuel like pine cones or pine wood.

A bad wood stove will do more of the bottom bits and less from the top of the list.

And besides, most of the wood burning stoves are ridiculously expensive for what they are. Metal containers with holes in them. Some with battery powered fans (provides more heat faster, but requires batteries and pretty much adds the possibility for wood stoves to malfunction).

I agree with Canoedogs that a properly made fire is far superior to any gizmo you have, no matter how shiny or feature-laden.


#219678 - 03/18/11 04:00 PM Re: Why carry a wood stove? [Re: Hikin_Jim]
Teslinhiker Offline

Registered: 12/14/09
Posts: 1308
I have a small coffee can sized wood stove and I find that I am using it less and less as the years go by. The main reason is that although the stove is handy, stopping to heat up water or lunch/dinner takes 2-3x as long as a similar sized gas or canister stove which will boil water in ~3 minutes in almost in any weather conditions I expect to find in my AO.

As for the reasons for a wood stove vs a open fire. The wood stove I have is faster and is self contained and can be fed very small pieces of wood which burns very well in the confined contours of the can. Whereas an open fire, you need to find a good spot for the fire, gather enough wood, build the fire, find a few rocks to balance your cooking pots etc then heat up whatever water or food. After this, the fire needs to be safely extinguished which requires water that is not always readily available...and without using your drinking water. By time you get through all this, the 10 minute break turns into twice as long.

The one glaring aspect of open fires is the ecological damage and blight they add to the landscape. In NA, there are not many backcountry hiking areas left that have not been visually scarred by the remmants of open fires. Around here, the .gov has slowly realized this over the years and has added properly designed open fire pits along or near many many trails that has drastically reduced the wanton damage to the eco-system.

With all the above said. In a true survival situation, a large, hot open fire is an extremely valuable resource and which your life and hope for rescue may ultimately depend on...
Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.

John Lubbock

#219682 - 03/18/11 04:50 PM Re: Why carry a wood stove? [Re: juhirvon]
Mark_F Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 06/24/09
Posts: 714
Loc: Kentucky
Almost sounds like our cub-scout troop should be learning about stoves rather than how to make a fire.
Uh ... does anyone have a match?

#219683 - 03/18/11 05:06 PM Re: Why carry a wood stove? [Re: Mark_F]
hikermor Online   content
Geezer in Chief

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 5915
Loc: southern Cal
The paradox is that fire making is a really essential survival skill, but is a practice with significant ecological consequences. How do you stay proficient in a rarely used skill? I guess that is why more and more of us carry handy dandy lighters, tinder, and fire starters.
Geezer in Chief

#219691 - 03/18/11 06:00 PM Re: Why carry a wood stove? [Re: Hikin_Jim]
Pete Offline

Registered: 02/20/09
Posts: 1305
I carry an empty can that used to be a rolled oats container. That's my survival stove. There's a couple of holes already punched in the sides (at the bottom) - air vents for a fire. I use this particular can because it's well-made and not too big. It's good enough to boil some water for tea or heat soup for dinner. I do keep it in my emergency rucksack, because otherwise I might spend a fair amount of time scrounging for an alternative can. But it's not a problem - I do also use it for storage in the rucksack (pile a bunch of stuff inside it).

Pete #2

Edited by Pete (03/18/11 06:01 PM)

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