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Wilderness Tripping - BWCA & Beyond New Topic Printer Friendly Version

  How many travel with out a stove?
  Posted by: rpg51 on Dec-12-13 6:57 PM (EST)

I recall one trip many years ago when we did not carry a stove or fuel. Lightened the load a lot. Thinking about doing it again. Something about centering your life around the fire is very appealing.

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  Posted by: sweeper on Dec-12-13 7:50 PM (EST)
And rarely just one.
  Posted by: jhb8426 on Dec-13-13 1:38 AM (EST)
Relying on firewood availability or the ability to have a fire is not a good thing, particularly in in the dry season when burning restrictions are common. Usually carry at least a 1 burner, sometimes 2 or also a 2 burner.
  Posted by: kayamedic on Dec-13-13 10:34 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Dec-13-13 10:37 AM EST --

to not have a stove means you don't go some places. Its very difficult to cook over a fire in the desert. You need a fire pan.

Its difficult to eat when there are fire bans in the boreal forest.

Gathering wood on the tundra can be difficult and also above treeline if you want soup. A small stove( such as the Superfly) and a mini canister can save your butt if you need hot liquids in you quick.

Now if you were more specific as to where you want to travel you might have gotten a different answer. For sure if you are doing a two night trip on sheltered trails you can live without a stove. I have done that on the Moose River at home. But that is the exception not the norm.

Your question is phrased as a popularity vote which probably is not what you want.

  Just dreaming a bit.
  Posted by: rpg51 on Dec-13-13 9:56 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Dec-13-13 9:58 PM EST --

Although I will say that even in the arctic barrenland there is an amazing amount of wood. The problem is it is so dry that it gives off almost no heat. I guess I am thinking about Maine and Eastern Canada below tree line mostly. I've done it on week long trips in Maine and it was delightful.

  Fire alone is fine
  Posted by: kayamedic on Dec-14-13 9:53 AM (EST)
but in most (not all ) areas in Maine remember that you need a fire permit available from the local game warden.

I forgot my stove once !! And did not have a fire permit..duh. Good ole Moose River.. I did not starve.
  yep need your fire permits in me
  Posted by: tdaniel on Dec-14-13 7:36 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Dec-15-13 12:45 PM EST --

but its an easy place to go without a stove. I went with scout groups on the allagash and penobscot waterways for six summers and never used a stove. I wonder if there is still plenty of wood available near some of the fancy allagash sites?
We usually had to burn dri ki (drift wood) on the island sites on some of the lakes. The bigger impact than the fires were the homemade latrines, especially on the island sites. A good smoky fire helps keep the bugs away but nobody wants to wander into a forest of toilet paper and fecal matter.

I don't think they''d be too big on fires at quite a few places in Baxter or some spots on the AT near or above treeline.

I can't speak for the there and now, but thirty years ago the mind set in Northern Me was that it was a working forest and that burning wood was fine as long as you were responsible (fire permits, put out your fire completely). It was an easy place to get a fire going, plenty of wood, as well as birch bark tinder (which I carried with me) but some areas lacked hardwoods for good coals for baking. I usually didn't carry an axe or even a folding saw. That was just something the kids could get hurt with in the middle of nowhere.

I understand that there are many places (especially in the west) where a fire is not allowed but I say go for it when the fire conditions allow and the area permits it. Somehow the glow and warmth of a stove just isn't the same.

  Not by choice
  Posted by: randy_morgart on Dec-15-13 10:08 AM (EST)
But I had my stove break on the first night of a five day solo in Flaming Gorge. There's not a lot of wood up there but I found enough scraps in the fire pits to cook dinner every night. My backup was an MRE with a heater and I never had to use it.

Better to take a small stove and not use it unless essential.

  Twelve nights in Quetico in '73. We took
  Posted by: ezwater on Dec-17-13 12:18 AM (EST)
a SVEA stove and maybe a pint of fuel in case we might get to a campsite in heavy rain and be unable to get a fire going.

But we always did scrounge, cut, and split wood. I chopped the end off my left thumb. We had more cleanup after meals, getting soot off the pans.

If paddling through and area with lots of firewood and little risk of wildfire, I still would consider carrying and relying on small stoves for cooking. Not an expert on the matter, just my thought.
  2 instances
  Posted by: booztalkin on Dec-18-13 12:18 PM (EST)
One, we somehow ended up on the river with no stove, for ten days. All the food we had needed to be cooked. For example, we had Bisquick for breakfasts. You gotta cook. So that meant no fire, no food. One night a torrential downpour turned into snow and left about four inches of wet snow on the ground. Everything was wet and it took us until noon to get a decent fire going. I so wished we had a stove. And, it's a lot of work to make fires every day, twice a day. Often, You have better things to do with your time than hunt for and process wood for fires.

Two, a guy I paddled with on a multi-day trip never brings a stove. He ate a lot of canned food, cold, out of the can. Yum, cold spagetthi-o's. He stirred instant coffee into cold water. I didn't see him drinking any liquid Bisquick mixture though. He says it saves weight and cooking/cleaning time to eliminate not only the stove but the pans and kitchen utensils beyond a spoon and a can opener*.

* In the second case, my buddy got injured and we had to abort the trip a couple days in. I suggested to Mr. No-stove that he continue the trip without us. His response? "No, I can't, I don't have a can opener!" It was true. He'd forgotten it and had been borrowing mine. Of course I offered to give him my can opener, but he turned me down. I just thought it was the funniest reason to cancel a trip.

  how much weight saved?
  Posted by: sapien on Dec-19-13 11:49 PM (EST)
my solo cook kit that I take on backpacking or kayaking trips weighs a little over 2 lbs including fuel that lasts a week and a backup stove.

one very rainy trip where it was near impossible to keep a fire going was enough for me to learn that lesson!
  Well, the idea
  Posted by: rpg51 on Dec-23-13 6:58 AM (EST)
is to learn the lessons needed to cope without it - even on a rainy trip. It can be very rewarding and what a sense of freedom it offers - not to mention warmth. Some think it adds to the adventure. Not many here obviously!
  Posted by: Varmintmist on Apr-15-14 1:36 PM (EST)
.. learning to make decent meals over a pocket rocket with bags of dehydrated food is a challenge in itself. It also teaches preperation and planning by packing the meals and conserving fuel. Since most often I am camping with scouts it is a lot eaiser on everyone if they canoe like they backpack.

Any idiot can burn a hot dog over a fire, it takes a special kind of idiot like me to make red beans and rice with beef or chicken alfredo in 5 min with a pocket rocket. This summers mission, jumbalaya.

Anyway, most of the places we go are national forest, or private where we get permission from the owners and only leave bent grass behind. Best way to get invited back is to treat their stuff better than you treat your own.
  Love campfire cooking
  Posted by: RobW on Dec-23-13 9:20 AM (EST)
We do most of our cooking over the campfire, but always take a stove along too. In the spring it's part of the safety plan as getting a hot drink into someone quickly is a good way to restore body warmth should someone dump. In the summer it is insurance against a fire ban.

As far as weight savings go, for a 4 day trip we would come out ahead leaving the hatchet and saw behind and just using the stove, but where's the fun in that? :-)
  Posted by: Umnak on Jan-02-14 8:37 PM (EST)
On long kayaking trips in Southeast Alaska we take a canister and an ultrlight stove in case we need to warm someone up while the fire is starting. We've never had to use the canister stove. We use fire for all of our meals and tea. The same for backpacking.

On the rare occasions we are in a national park that forbids fire, we use the stove. Fire is easier, lighter and more predictable than a stove.
  stove or fire
  Posted by: ppine on Jan-06-14 2:34 PM (EST)
The longer the trip the more you need multiple systems. Stoves are handy for quick stops, wet weather, places with little fuel, and fire danger.

Cooking with wood is rewarding most of the time when it is legal.
  How bout a wood stove
  Posted by: jonnyboy on Apr-02-14 9:34 PM (EST)
On pretty much every trip kayak or backpacking I take either my pocket rocket or Esbit and also my Emberlite wood stove. I tend to use my Emberlite more than the others and bring minimal fuel to save weight or space and use them as a backup. Part of the fun of the trip is the hunt for firewood.
  Always carry one
  Posted by: QCHiker on Apr-20-14 7:06 PM (EST)
I always carry one. They don't weigh that much so why not. Plus you can't always find firewood and I hate to take it with.
  Some have canoe in stove. Some
  Posted by: ezwater on Apr-27-14 12:11 PM (EST)
have stove-in canoe.
  and others..
  Posted by: Varmintmist on Apr-29-14 2:52 PM (EST)
have a stove in a stove in canoe.
  One thing about W&C canoes is, they'll
  Posted by: ezwater on Apr-29-14 5:34 PM (EST)
burn in a stove, leaving very little residue. Not like those nasty composite boats that leave fiberglass shards to get in your lungs when you haul the ashes.
  And Com kayaks do smell
  Posted by: sweeper on Apr-30-14 8:29 AM (EST)
when they burned, my neighbor lost 2 yesterday to his brush burning.
  Posted by: Dmax on May-29-14 2:33 PM (EST)
When I'm with my wife I will sometimes take an alcohol stove. But when I'm by myself I'm stove less. When on the water or backpacking, I prefer this method. And while paddling or walking all day I'd just rather snack. With some snacks every two to three hours I never want a meal.
  Posted by: datakoll on May-29-14 8:02 PM (EST)

The vastness of burned out lands stuns. And we are the people who did that.

  Posted by: WaterBird on Jun-16-14 9:50 PM (EST)
I'm always looking for ways to simplify the entire trip experience. Leaving the stove behind is one of the ways. A stove is a hindrance at breakfast time, when you want to be paddling in the quiet morning hours. And cooking creates a lot of fuss and mess at suppertime, when you're tired and just want to sit and enjoy the sunset, and prepare for the next day's paddle.
  A long long time ago....
  Posted by: mike on Aug-18-14 7:38 PM (EST)
A long time ago in my youth, before my friends and I could afford a backpack stove, we cooked exclusively by campfire. We camped rain or shine and ate many late meals by punky smoldering fires fueled by wet wood.

Then the wealthiest among us acquired a Coleman single burner liquid gas stove. THAT changed our level of comfort immensly. We only used it for emergencies and that allowed us to only carry a minimal amount of fuel. When it rained or when we arrived at camp late in the darkness of night or simply too exhausted, we would use that gas stove. It was a Godsent.

Today, I cook mostly by liquid gas stove. I appreciate the minimal imprint on my camp. If we desire to stare into a flame, I use a candle.
  the fire
  Posted by: datakoll on Oct-07-14 10:21 PM (EST)
off a candle is so romantic ! Nothing like a roaring candle top off an evening camping in the deep pine forest.
  Pa, dogs are ready...
  Posted by: datakoll on Aug-18-14 7:47 PM (EST)
  Nope, lots of places it is not possible
  Posted by: Reefmonkey on Oct-06-14 5:02 PM (EST)
or responsible to have a campfire, and even in parks where I do plan to have a fire in the provided fire ring, a stove is reassuring insurance against unexpected burn bans, lack of firewood, and wet firewood that just won't light. Lots of great little lightweight stove choices out there, I am fond of my MSR Pocket Rocket, but I also have a little esbit stove, hard to find anything lighter and more compact than that.
  Almost always use a stove
  Posted by: jackL on Oct-06-14 6:35 PM (EST)
Our stove when it is stowed is only about four inches in diameter and an inch thick. The largest part is the cylinder of butane
Fires are for the young people, newbies, and those that only paddle half a day.
After paddling all day, all we want is a nice hot meal, and in the morning just some hot oat meal and a cup of coffee.

Jack L
  Oh goodness I cannot let this go -
  Posted by: rpg51 on Oct-22-14 9:25 PM (EST)
"Fires are for the young people, newbies, and those that only paddle half a day."


With all due respect. :-)
  Agree with Jack
  Posted by: Glenn_MacGrady on Oct-24-14 10:30 AM (EST)
Although I love to sit around a fire, and have many times on group trips or when car camping, I've never made a fire when canoe tripping alone, which is what I mainly do.

Jack qualified his comment in the context of "paddling all day." That's what I like to do, and I want to spend as little time as possible setting up camp, doing camp chores, hanging around a camp, and breaking down a camp. That includes things like scrounging for wood and tinder, processing wood, tending a fire and putting it out. Some people love to do those things and revel in bushcraft. That's of no interest to me.

I've used nothing but a Jetboil stove and a spork as my "kitchen" for more than 10 years. My preference is maximum time on water, minimum time on land, and avoid as much kitchen and housekeeping work as possible.

Another qualification is that I only trip in warm climes and weather any more, times when fire isn't needed for warmth.
  Even if a fire is not an everyday need
  Posted by: kayamedic on Oct-25-14 9:18 AM (EST)
and for me it isn't, it pays to keep up your firebuilding skills.

To say you will never need a fire is just plain silly.

Been in some warm climes where it was damp and chilly. Hypothermia can happen in Florida too.
  For me a fire is
  Posted by: rpg51 on Oct-28-14 9:22 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Nov-03-14 6:45 AM EST --

as much or more an emotional need than it is a cooking or warming need. But, a fire can also save your life in some situations and the only way to ensure you have the necessary skills to build a fire in difficult conditions is to actually do it on a regular basis.



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