I look at my altimeter watch. The temperature is a fridged 15 F. We have climbed a total of 1,500 ft. in 8.3 miles. I haven’t had a decent snack since we left the car at the trail head. My stomach is eating itself but at least it’s getting a warm meal. I look in my snack pouch and all I see is a box of raisins and an energy bar. Raisins… Energy bar…. not much to choose from…. maybe the energy bar. I start to pull the wrapper back and take a bite. I might as well eat a piece of limestone. There…I see it…the campsite. I scope out the spot and decide to camp there. I look over beside me and see an opening in the trees but nothing beyond it. I walk over to the boulder ledge and gaze out at the clouds that we have just climbed through. Its beautiful. Like a flat blanket of snow covering the valley, as if I could step off the boulder and walk on it. I think to my self, “What would make this moment complete?”, a hot cup coffee or tea or even better yet….a warm meal. I unzip my side pouch and place my hand on what turns the hard climb up the trail to a nice relaxing time by the fire…..My Stove.
To me, having a good stove when arriving at camp or making the meals for the trip can make everything feel better. Some people like to eat everything cold but a having a stove to cook a meal or heat liquids just makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. But having the right stove for the right occasion is very important.
If you are a UL’er (ultra light backpacker) then you would want a stove that is the lightest weight that you can get, efficient, small in size, good price and good quality. That’s the fun part of picking out a stove. Searching the web to find those qualites in a stove.
If you are a person that weight is not that much of a concern when carrying it in your pack, then you can go for the bigger stoves where you have to carry liquid fuel, butane or propane.
Here are a couple of things to think about while you are searching for a stove to purchase:
* What will I be cooking? If you eat dehydrated meals most of the time where you are just boiling water then you would want something that boils water fairly quickly and efficiently. If you are a gourmet chef while you are in the back country, then you would want a stove the is also efficient but the boil times aren’t a big concern since you will mostly be simmering your meals and cooking more than just a “Pouch” meal.
* Weight and Fuel: Depending on what type of backpacker you are will determine how much weight you are willing to carry for our stove. Most UL’ers like to carry alcohol stoves or Esbit Tab stoves which the stove itself can be made from aluminum or titanium and be very small “Pepsi Can Stoves” is what I like to call them. But if for the backpacker that is not counting every single ounce there are bigger stoves that burn liquid fuel such as gasoline, kerosene, white gas and others from an aluminum fuel bottle. There is also “Canister” stoves that burn propane and butane from canisters. These are little bit heavier but more stable and burn at a higher temperature.
This will be a good start. Search the web and see what you come up with. Write down all the features of the stove so that you can compare them once you narrow your selection down. Remember to pick what will work best for you. More on different aspects of the Stove next week.