Wood Gas Stoves: Second Thoughts

No Backpacking Stove Fuel

I've had my eye on wood gas stoves for a while because I Iike the idea of having a stove where you don't have to carry fuel. If you're going to be out for 4 or 5 days the amount of denatured alcohol or isobutane canister fuel you need to carry can really add up. What better way to eliminate this weight by using wood scraps from the forest around you?

Bushwhacker Wood Gas Stove

But on hindsight, there's a catch, and I've concluded the advantages of a wood stove do not outweigh its disadvantages. Let me explain.

How Wood Gas Stoves Work

If you're not familiar with the principle behind a wood gas stove, it's simple. Normal camp fires burn from the bottom up, while a wood gas stove burns from the top down. Wood gas stoves are typically made with two cans that draw air from holes punched into their bases. As the fire burns down, it heats the air between the cans. This hot air rises and is vented into the inner can just above the burning flame, creating a bellows effect and a secondary phase of combustion that optimizes fuel consumption, producing a more efficient and hotter flame.

Here's an excellent training video from J. Falk, maker of the Bushwhacker Wood Gas Stove, that illustrates these points.

There are a couple of wood gas stoves available on the market today that people like. These include:

  • The Honey Stove '09, which is popular in Europe and the UK. It weighs a maximum of 11.8 oz (339 grams), but can be broken down into smaller components and stores flat, a really nice feature in my opinion. It's available from Backpackinglight.co.uk for 34 British pounds (about $50 USD).
  • The Bushbuddy Ultra, another second generation wood gas stove weighing 5 oz, manufactured in Canada and popularized by Ryan Jordan. It's available for $115 CAN (about $93 USD).
  • The Bushwhacker Wood Stove (shown above) from J. Falk at Trailgear.org which weighs 6.7 oz and costs $28.50 USD.

Of these, I decided to buy the Bushwhacker because of the price and not because it was the lightest one available. All of these stoves have a lot of interesting features, so check them out.

Enough preamble: here's the downside of using a wood gas stove.

Problems with Wood Gas Stoves

Cooking with a wood gas stove is slow. This is my biggest beef. I try to maximize my daylight when I hike, often waking before dawn and hiking until close to sunset. With a wood stove, I need to spend a lot more time making a fire and I need to babysit it until it finishes burning. This means that it will take significantly longer for me to break camp in the morning if I want a hot breakfast and that I need to allow more time to make a fire and cook at night, reducing my daily range by several miles each day. I'm not willing t make that trade-off. Using an isobutane canister stove, I can boil water in a few minutes for breakfast and dinner and pack my gear or set up camp while my stove is boiling water. It's a much faster and more efficient system, despite the extra weight of a fuel canister.

Wood fires create soot on the stove and on your pot. You can reduce this by wrapping your pot with tin foil but you're still going to have to segregate your stove and pot from anything you want to keep clean with a stuff sack. What a hassle. I don't carry soap or a camp towel and I'm not about to start.

These factors have really cooled my initial enthusiasm for using a wood gas stove.

Am I being too critical? I know many of you have switched to wood gas stoves. Do the benefits outweigh the issues I've listed?

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46 Responses to Wood Gas Stoves: Second Thoughts

  1. TrailGear February 24, 2009 at 2:26 am #

    Thanks for the review on wood gas stoves. My name is Jim Falk, inventor of the Bushwhacker stove.

    Most wood stoves are slow and you do have to baby sit the fire. Two points in your article I would like to add a comment.

    You said the Bushwhacker stove was slow and you had to baby sit the fire. If you use the Bushwhacker as designed it's a load once, light and walk away stove. No need to baby sit the fire once it's going. It is a little fussy to start but it takes just a little time to start the gasification process. As far as it being slow, most customers report they get two cups of water to boil under 10 minutes.

    Thanks for the review.

    Jim Falk
    http://www.TrailGear.org

  2. Lighthiker February 24, 2009 at 3:38 am #

    Exactly my thoughts. Obviously a wood gas stove provides a "back to nature" feeling and is the most lightweight option esp. for longer hikes but beside the arguments you've mentioned you also need to search and find for enough (dry) wood each day to get it going.

    During my hikes I've met a couple who carried a wood gas and canister stove with them on their four months hike in order to balance the pros and cons of each.

  3. Earlylite February 24, 2009 at 3:50 am #

    You're right – there is the dry wood issue too, although I suppose you could counter this by carrying a big knife to make wood shavings or by drying twigs that you pick up during the day close to your skin.

  4. Martin Rye February 24, 2009 at 4:18 am #

    I think versatility is useful in a stove if you are going to use a wood burning stove. If you have a lot of rain you might need to cook in a tent porch. I don't see that stove as safe for that. So a option for a meths burner to be used with it – I,E Bush Cooker from BPL.co.uk. Is essential. I would not use one in the UK as it would not fit my style of backpacking. Others do and that is the thing with them. If they suit your trip style with abundance of fuel and sheltered camp spots to always be able to cook outside they are great.

  5. Earlylite February 24, 2009 at 4:23 am #

    I agree. That's really the strength of the BPL.co.uk stoves – that they can be used as wind screens for an alcohol stove. Personally, I've mostly moved beyond (cooking) alcohol because I've gotten sick of priming alcohol stoves.

  6. rob February 24, 2009 at 4:48 am #

    My worry with this approach is simply that the time you REALLY need a stove is when everything is completely soaked (not uncommon on the east coast of the US) and it's cold. Unfortunately that's when this stove would be the hardest to use. Otherwise it looks sort of nifty.

  7. Lighthiker February 24, 2009 at 4:59 am #

    Well, good luck by trying to dry wood close to your skin after a few rainy days. I personally don't think you would succeed and I just try to imagine how that would look like.. :-)

    There is also the problem finding wood at all if you hike above a certain altitude.

    At the end it seems like a not 100% reliable option to me so you either backup with a canister/alcohol stove which to some extend neglects the weight savings or you are prepared to run a risk of not being able to have warm food/drinks at some point during your hike.

  8. Robert Ballantyne February 24, 2009 at 5:14 am #

    Thanks for providing this information. It is fascinating to see how this works. I certainly agreed with your conclusions. I think there are also some environmental concerns. You'd want to reuse all of that aluminum, and managing all of those sooty bits would be a pain. You may save the weight of fuel, but I suspect that you'd need to carry a small ax. Also, the wood pieces used in the demo were lovely dry pieces that were reduced to the exact size to work with the stove. I think finding and preparing the wood would be a chore. And where would it be found? Here on the wet (west) coast, in the winter, everything is soaking or under the snow. (In the summer everything is tinder dry and fires can cause a problem). Also, unless this is a trip to a beach, most hikes and ski trips go up mountains. Harvesting wood near the treeline would have a considerable negative environmental impact.

  9. GDeadphans February 24, 2009 at 7:31 am #

    A even lighter weight option would to be ditching the stove altogether. If your going to cook using wood, why bring a stove? Just put your pots on a campfire.

    • moeba January 13, 2012 at 11:10 am #

      GDeadphans February 24, 2009 at 7:31 am #

      “A even lighter weight option would to be ditching the stove altogether. If your going to cook using wood, why bring a stove? Just put your pots on a campfire.”

      Scars from camp fires are an eyesore and since they sterilise the ground, they take a long time to disappear. With lots of people, wild places get burned again and again. That’s why open fires are banned in many places. People who use open fires risk lighting combustible soils where there is a high organic content. These can smoulder for weeks, only to relight and cause major damage.

      Furthermore, as mentioned by others, a well designed stove is very efficient and uses much less wood than an open fire. Scavenging for firewood is a pressure on wild places.

      People go to wild places because they are beautiful, sadly some people’s visits make leave places much less beautiful than when they arrived. Make sure you’re not one of those people.

      Please practice no-trace cooking and camping.

  10. Heber February 24, 2009 at 8:03 am #

    I've heard people say that a wood gas stove is useless weight because if you are going to cook with wood you might as well build a fire. I disagree because of Leave No Trace principles. A fire on the ground will hurt the soil beneath it while a woodgas stove will not. Granted the effect is not large but what if we all did it?

    I'm also going to disagree with Earlylite about having to "babysit" the stove. That's true of a fire. But with my DIY woodgas stove I just fill it, light it, and it runs great until all the fuel is used up. No different than my alcohol stoves.

    Wet wood is an issue of course. I carry a few Esbit tabs with me for that reason.

  11. Earlylite February 24, 2009 at 8:54 am #

    Like Heber says. Campfires are bad because they scar the ground. They're a big problem for conservation and trail maintainers.

  12. Dave Sailer February 24, 2009 at 6:30 pm #

    I designed one of these that consists of one piece and weighs under 4 ounces (113 g).

    I'd say that the best way to use one is to carry a bag of twigs already broken down to the right length, then that as a backup.

    I almost always use alcohol though, and try to keep my cooking down to no more that two meals a day. I have gone a full two weeks with alcohol, using about 1.25 oz. per day (40 ml). Over a week fuel weight adds up, but it's still simpler and cheaper than a canister, if not lighter for trips longer than that. No fooling with almost empty cans though.

    Wood is good in dry country, and produces an ENORMOUS amount of heat, quickly. Fuel supply is unlimited, but there is always more danger of starting an extra fire. And dampness is a killer.

    Bottom line for me is having alternatives. I may be goofy but I like to make my own gear, and both alcohol and woodgas give me more chance to be in charge.

    My plans: see http://ultralighter.blogspot.com/2008/06/gassify-… It works.

    See also Niblewill Nomad's stove: http://ultralighter.blogspot.com/2008/11/occasion… (He now uses alcohol though. It's the weight thing.)

  13. Earlylite February 24, 2009 at 6:47 pm #

    Great stuff Dave – thanks for sharing this info. Love your site(s), btw. I know some of my regulars (Brian comes to mind) are going to stop building alcohol stoves and start building wood ones from your plans. Maybe I will too!

  14. Earlylite February 25, 2009 at 5:17 am #

    Jim – thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. It's probably irrational of me, but a real fire scares me – vs – an alcohol or isobutane style fire. I would want to watch a wood fire very carefully. That said, I suspect that practice would build confidence.

  15. ChaiG February 25, 2009 at 1:04 pm #

    Don't be fooled, it's incredibly easy to start an out of control forest fire using an alcohol stove. In fact someone did just that on the Pacific Crest Trail a few years ago.

    Personally, I like cannister stoves, no fuss, no muss, just light it and start cooking instantly. I don't believe any weight savings are that appreciable, certainly not enough to compensate for the convenience of a cannister stove.

  16. rory February 25, 2009 at 5:28 pm #

    I know a lot of people who don't even use gas stoves at all. I prefer to cook on rocks or directly on a fire, but sometimes I'm in areas that don't allow open fires, but I still use a wood stove, the Bushbuddy Ultra Cookstove. I found out about it in this forum on Hiker's Journal – http://www.hikersjournal.org/forum/topics/1284222

  17. stewart March 19, 2009 at 11:38 am #

    I've just bought a woodgas stove XL. Burns much more efficiently with the fan. I think the non fan wood gas stoves need a portable chimney to "draw" like the kelly kettle.

  18. Podcast Bob April 7, 2009 at 7:05 am #

    Just stumbled across this review and range of comments. Thanks for mentioning The Honey Stove.

    I seem to be unique in suggesting to users, that this kind of cooker is designed to be the missing link between different pots and different stoves, as well as being a wood burner.

    If anyone has seen the video on the website or YouTube, you'll see how it has been specifically planned to work with Trangia, White Box, and virtually any other meths unit. Not only as a option, but also as a way to enhance the cooking power of those kinds of stoves.

    The Honey can be configured in hexagonal or square shape, and this seems to be appealing to our customers, for this as well as the social aspect.

    It can rain over here from time to time ;-)) Wet wood about an inch thick can be quartered with a knife and feathered to burn rapidly. I find that leaning wet wood on the side of a burning stove will dry it out for the next meal. So I stuff it in a bag and collect more as I wander.

    These cookers have changed my life and approach to living outdoors. I've stopped rushing from a to b, jamming on the gas, sleeping, getting up, to rush off again. It makes me slow down, look more intently at the surroundings and work 'in hand' with my environment. Leaving far less trace in the process.

  19. Earlylite April 7, 2009 at 7:26 am #

    Well said Bob, and one of many key innovations of this stove. Thanks for your comment.

    On another topic – I just listened to your TGO podcast series. Great stuff. Keep it up.

  20. caribou July 7, 2009 at 8:54 am #

    Just came back from18 days in maine bush,used the wood gas stove. Only thing to do is carry a plastic bag to keep the two inch twigs drya.it was very wet in early june this year.also prep some cotton-balls with petroleum jelly. Pack about 3x as much than you need,if wood is damp it's hard to get going,

  21. caribou July 7, 2009 at 9:07 am #

    In addition to the petroleum jelly cotton ball's was a can of sterno that one could dip the top twigs in to get the stove going.my cooking pot was an empty coffee can 10.5 oz filled three quarters full of water, with a make-shift lid. The water wold get hot enough for making ramin,or tea,boulion hot drinks, instant oatmeal.one needs to carry it in seperat bag,rather sooty. It can chase bugs away if used as a smuge pot. End of message.

  22. Earlylite July 7, 2009 at 10:22 am #

    Must have been a very wet trip this year.

  23. XPO December 7, 2009 at 4:34 am #

    "Campfires are bad because they scar the ground." What? Dig a hole and bury your ash. Oh dear, but then you'd have to carry a shovel.

  24. Earlylite December 7, 2009 at 4:54 am #

    All the more reason to use a wood gas stove instead of a campfire. Seriously, all you need is a tent stake or a stick to bury ash.

  25. David D. from the Up December 10, 2009 at 2:50 pm #

    Phil's current raffle made me re-read this thread. I have been toying with the idea of a wood gas stove and I am going to take the plunge. Not quite sure which one though. The idea of cooking a DIY meal over a wood flame, and not just heating water, is very appealing. I am going follow a suggestion found on http://www.backpackinglight.co.uk and have a cozy for the stove and cookware to deal with soot problem. Both the cozies and pots can be washed thoroughly after the trip. Now to suggest home-made cozies as a Christmas gift …..

    – David

  26. David D. from the Up December 10, 2009 at 2:54 pm #

    I do have a question as long as all of the players are here: what is the difference, if any, between the Bushbuddy and The Bush Cooker on the bpl.co.uk site? I have been assuming that they are the same stove with one being sold in CA and the other in the UK, but after looking them again, I had second thoughts?

    Thanks,

    David

  27. Evan February 1, 2010 at 8:30 pm #

    There is another option for a lightweight, backpacking, woodgas stove = the Spenton WoodGas Campstove LE, that retails for $52.50. It only weighs 1 lb 7 oz. It may give you an improvement over soot output and ability to burn damp wood, but the drier the wood the more efficient your burn. It's main advantage is it has a little computer fan on the bottom that increases efficiency. You do have to carry some AA batteries with you, but I think the increase in efficiency is worth it. Some day they may come up with a woodgas stove that generates its own electricity for a fan and recharging flashlights and cellphones (they are working on it), but that might be awhile. I actually sell these The Wood Gas Campstove LE<img src="http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=ultrarevie-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B00161IV08&quot; width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />

    on Amazon.com.

    Evan

  28. Patrick February 27, 2010 at 6:45 am #

    ..lower boiling points.

  29. Patrick February 27, 2010 at 10:40 am #

    I had experimented with alcohol stoves (ie, pop can stoves), but found that at certain elevations it is quite difficult to get water to boil, because of the higher boiling points, and low BTU content. Then, I pondered wood gasification stoves for a while (an upgrade from the winnuski(sp?) rocket stove), and believe that in certain applications, they would be great, but not so much for backpacking. I can imagine them as an in-camp stove (with some modifications), and disaster relief, but man; to through that in your bag after each meal can be a bit dirty. So the outcome?

    1. Short trips where combustable fuel is available; dig a cat hole with sticks, rocks, or even (god forbid) your hands -be sure to allow enough room for air to feed the fire inside. This can be finicky, but when trying to camp “under the radar,” and cook on a fire, this has proved to work. All other times, pull a shallow “ditch” and build the fire there, do the monster mash, and re-place top soil when finished.

    2. Whitegas: Really, we opted for the “old reliable” MSR Whisperlite International, not so much for it’s strong efficiency and lightweight, but for it’s versatility of fuel. It’s nice to be able to know that I can have a warm meal/drink, however these things are loud. ;o(

    3. Short trips, ditch the stove; longer trips (big miles), we bring “old reliable.”

  30. Amos Herrera April 20, 2010 at 7:03 pm #

    "Like Heber says. Campfires are bad because they scar the ground. They’re a big problem for conservation and trail maintainers." What? We have been building fires to cook on for only about 20,000 years and I dont see "scars" everywhere. I find it strange that people would worry about a 10" ring of potash that actually fertilizes the soil and improves the environment but you all are not worried about hundreds of thousands of miles of groomed marked trails blazed through the woods????

    I am a Guide in Maine. A friend and fellow guide of mine and I are out all winter long on rabbit hunting trips, we have used propane, campfires, and a small can wood stove to cook over. It all comes down to what you want to cook, how much and the situation. We always start our fires with magnesium friction fire starters.

    Want to make an awesome fire tinder for when its wet out, take a film canister, fill it half full of dry sawdust, then pour about a teaspoon of gasoline in, then a teaspoon of melted wax (be intelligent and dont have an open flame near the gasoline) the wax will make a seal over the gasoline soaked sawdust. Stuff a cotton ball on top and close the container. Use a spark to start the cotton, it will light the sawdust, gas and wax.

  31. Earlylite April 20, 2010 at 7:20 pm #

    In all fairness to Heber – the issue comes down to overuse. There are parts of the AT where camper impact has been huge resulting in bald areas where people burn all of the available local wood (and even bring chain saws to cut stuff up) and sear the ground under it. That's not right. But you Maine Guides know how to minimize your impacts and leave what's there pristine. Right?

  32. Ranger September 17, 2010 at 10:56 am #

    I wish I'd found this site sooner because there's a fair amount of misinformation about backpacking wood stoves here. I can say this because I've cooked with a variety of stoves on the AT and other eastern forests including some temperate rain forest conditions for several years.

    1. You don't need to collect or carry dry wood. Unless wood is lying in a stream, it's only going to superficially wet, even after days of rain. At worst, you'll need to peel the bark off your kindling to start your stove. Once you have a fire going, just wipe the excess water off your fuel and throw it on the fire. It will burn. This is especially true for an enclosed stove because the heat is very intense.

    2. A good stove, by it's construction, will direct far more heat to the pot than an open fire will. Most of the campfires I've come to on the trail use enough fuel in an evening to run one of my stoves for a month. Fortunately, campfire builders generally prefer big pieces of wood. Backpacking wood stoves do best with twigs so even at heavily picked over campsites, I can usually find enough wood to cook supper and breakfast within 30 feet of the fire pit.

    3. If you use the right computer fan for your stove, it will weigh about an ounce and consume less electricity to boil 2 cups of water than than your camera uses to take a single picture. If your camera uses AA's you'll have a ready source of electricity with very little loss of function.

    4. For kindling I use ten drops of charcoal lighter applied to a small roll of fiberglass at the bottom of my stove. A tiny bottle lasts a couple of weeks starting 3 fires a day. I use it for convenience because it gets a hot fire started right away, but I have done without it. It's more work, but a good skill to have for emergencies.

    5. When it's raining, the pot stove can be a few feet out from under the tent fly. The pot will shelter the fire.

    6. The claims for wood gas stoves are largely exaggerated if not bogus. The extra wall will add extra weight but it won't give you significantly better performance. For the stoves I've tested, it won't even give you measurably better performance. What you really need is an enclosed firebox with a good air supply and some metal work that screens out the wind and keeps the hot gases close to the pot.

    The stove I'm presently using meets all these criteria. It's made of titanium and weighs 4 oz. You can see it at backpackinglight.com. Here's the link: http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpacki….

    It works best with a fan. If there's a way to upload a picture, I'll show that tool

  33. David September 17, 2010 at 2:59 pm #

    I bought a titanium Sierra Zip wood gas stove several years ago and have used it quite extensively since. It has a computer fan and runs forever on a AA battery. The almost dead batteries from a headlamp and camera will run it.

    When we stop to camp, we gather up thumb size pieces of wood, pine cones, needles, etc. There's never a shortage of fuel. Wet wood hasn't been an issue. We can use the packaging from our meal as tinder if needed, however, even after rain, we've usually found dry enough kindling, and once the stove gets going, it is an inferno that dries out whatever we toss in it.

    Sometimes, my brother will bring a hand pruner (weighs about 5 oz.) to cut small branches to thumb size to drop in the stove. It will also burn the charcoal left in fire rings. My brother has set the stove up in the vestibule of his tent with some charcoal, turned the fan off and let the stove work on that charcoal to keep the tent cozy at night. There's always been enough ventilation to keep fumes from being a problem.

    I handle the soot problem by storing the stove in my titanium pot, all of which then goes in a bag. When we have the stove out, the bag is used when we collect fuel for the stove.

    The biggest issue I've had with the stove is that some places, like Big Bend National Park, will not allow any sort of wood burning device. When I hike there, I've used my JetBoil.

  34. Ranger September 17, 2010 at 3:52 pm #

    Brilliant! The charcoal produced by burning wood in my stove works great for simmering. It never occurred to me to glean charcoal from fire rings. I can't wait to try it!

  35. jarra September 17, 2010 at 7:33 pm #

    In the 70's we routinely cooked over a wood fire and the pots got a thick coating of soot and creosote. We just carried them in a stuffsack and never cleaned the outside.

  36. cdreid November 4, 2010 at 11:41 pm #

    The one downside of a woodgas stove i the time to light. It does take more time and more effort.

    The positive of these stoves are: environmentally friendly (if you hike/camp and you dont care about that you shouldnt be allowed outside a city), near unlimited fuel – unles youre hiking everest you should be able to find organic matter to burn. Unless you're in the amazon there i dry wood.. you just have to know where to look. And they burn HOT and are more efficient than jet stoves.

    The downsides other than time people have mentioned imho arent. Yes you should carry a knife. If you dont carry a knife in the forest youre a fool. Forest fires: liquid fuel are MUCH more likely to start a secondary fire. You spill a wood stove and your boot or dirt put it out. You spill burning alchohol and its going to burn til it out. RE soot yes they get dirty but suggeting having to carry a microlight bag to toss it in is a burden is crazy. As to time. Beyond the first day we can assume you build a fire at night. Theres no reason you cant have these stove simmer overnight. Simply radically decrease the air available and you will probably wake up with hot embers to start your fire with.

    I also think however if youre doing serious hiking/campign you should carry a small "soda can" alchohol jet burner and a couple ounce of fuel as a backup. If youre in the snow and ice even if you want a wood fire the alchohol fire will quickly give you warmth you may need on an emergency basis.

    Lastly you shouldnt use ANY of these stoves in a tent. First of all theres the fire danger from a non tent-stove. Secondly you're tired in your tent with a small warm fire, you fall asleep and suffocate in your sleep.

    I think you should reconsider your stove. It goes againt the very idea of getting off the hiking to carry the stuff you use into the woods. Admittedly the Actual difference environmentally is miniscule in the scale of things but there is something to be said for thinking natural.

  37. Steve February 1, 2012 at 12:58 am #

    I have enjoyed this discussion. It’s good to hear other peoples views and ideas, weather you agree with them or not. I use a wood gas stove (a dog food tin and tin foil) in the mountains of Andalucia (southern Spain) when hiking alone in the winter, and many miles from the nearest tree (see Youtube Mulhacen in winter). It’s tricky finding fuel when the snow is down, but during the afternoon, I can often pick up a few dead roots from the spiky ground cover that grows here. In the summer I hike with two friends, and they would mock me for being so high tech. We make a tiny fire with grass seed heads, dead thistle heads, and a few dead roots, to boil our water. It takes the three of us a while to collect enough fuel, but we’re not in a rush.
    Enjoy your hiking, and stay safe.
    Regards Steve.

  38. Weldon Curtis May 17, 2012 at 10:21 pm #

    Wow! What about the 180 Stove (just over 10 oz.) or the 180-VL (under 6 oz.)? I have a 180 Stove and it boils 16 oz of water in under 6 minutes. Yes there is a little smoke on the parts, but it makes a pocket sized case that keeps the smoky parts INSIDE.

    The cooking surface is as big as my burner on my stove at home and easy to feed fuel. I love this thing!

  39. steve October 25, 2012 at 3:58 am #

    You may be putting your pot on too soon or using wood that’s a little wet. It really shouldn’t be too sooty that a small towel and packing everything into a bag shouldn’t handle tho.

    If your all about the miles and saving time then yes, a gas or alcohol stove are quicker, but you can cut down the time with practice. For me tho the extra time and real wood fire help me relax after hiking and perk my spirits in the morning, kinda a primal thing. But free fuel is a nice bonus.

    I pack both a woodgas stove and a small alcohol stove for convenience and backup. The little extra weight of the small alcohol stove and some fuel is negligible. Also most places that won’t allow an open pit fire will allow a contained fire which was why I started using them in the first place.

  40. randy December 25, 2012 at 1:51 pm #

    i think you should all stay in the city. if you cant hunt, cook and survive without carrying a stove into the woods you should stay the heck home.

  41. Wayne January 6, 2013 at 5:45 pm #

    Like most backpackers I have a collection of stoves, but the two I now take on most trips is my DIY wood gas and my DIY alcohol soda can stove(s). When I get into camp I fire up my soda can first and get water for my coffee,tea,cocoa heating up while I gather wood for my Wood gas stove to cook dinner. After dinner, I prepare the Wood gas stove for breakfast and setup the soda can stove for my hot tea, coffee, cocoa so it is ready within a few minutes of waking up and drink that first cup while sitting in my down bag while the wood gas stove begins heating my water for breakfast.

  42. Taoutdor January 10, 2013 at 8:26 am #

    Like everybody knows each and every item has its drawbacks.
    Stop criticizing without even able to do things right, stop talking about things or people if you do not know what it is all about.

    I taught mz students and friends to light a small stealthy cooking fire with dry and dead leaves, twigs and dead but non-rotten wood which you have already collected on the road within a minute or two which burns first nearly, then almost without smoke. Native Americans said one who lights a fire that can be seen needs to be seen (needs help), is stupid or a white settler.
    Dry the fuel if necessary, collect the right stuff, know how to get the fastest fire going on the trail your on and have a backup.

    It’s all about preference of the user and up to his mastership, trail, weather, equipment.
    Adapt to your enviroment.
    Learn, get taught how to do things right. Find out tricks of the trade. Train. Get a master of the things you do.
    Leave no trace.
    Respect man, we all bleed when hurt. Respect earth, it’ s the only place we can live.
    Do your best, take care of yourself.

    nuff said,

  43. Oldsparkey June 5, 2013 at 9:12 pm #

    Like most campers I have tried several of the gas stoves and found them to be OK till they break down and they manage to do that when they are needed the most. So i moved away from the gas stoves and to wood burners. Pick up the fuel as I walk along , no more liquid fuel sloshing around in the pack.
    Switched to the Zip Stove and by using the fan you can control the fire but make sure you have spare batteries.
    To get away from the batteries and lose some more weight I have been using the Trangia Alcohol stove when camping.
    To get back to the wood burners I have gone with the Solo Stove ( The poor mans copy of the Bush Buddy ) and have the Trangia with some alcohol as a back up. The Trangia will fit inside the burning area of the Solo Stove and used as the heat source for cooking. The best of both worlds.
    This double set up allows me to cook when the wood is wet or when I am just plain lazy and want a quick cup of coffee. Plus I still have some of the alcohol along as a disinfectant for any cuts or scrapes.

    • Earlylite June 5, 2013 at 9:33 pm #

      That is a pretty nice setup. I like the trangia because you can save the fuel you don’t need. The solo stove is also a really good value, I think.

  44. Jim December 2, 2013 at 8:37 pm #

    I have built and used this type of stove. I love the near zero smoke, the great heat, the fast cooking and the fast burnout of the fire. Great for base camping, I have boiled many gallons of water with mine, am always amazed at the speed, and also how easy this stove is to light. I use shavings, cotton tinder and a fire steel to easily get this going every time. Great design.

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