Monday, 11 October 2010

Cooking Gear

I think most of us would put stoves and cooking gear in general, in our top two of most desirable bits of kit.  Shelters/tents/tarps taking up the other place.  I do anyway.

I realised that I’ve not posted much about the cooking equipment I use.  I’ve never done a dedicated post anyway.  Over the years I’ve used most types of backpacking stoves.  I started out way back when, with a full Trangia set, two pans, kettle and frying pan.  A brilliant bit of kit more suited to car camping than backpacking due to its weight.

When I started on the lightweight revolution I got a Coleman F1 gas stove - £15 and about 80g.  For the money a brilliant bit of kit, easy, fast, convenient.  The main problem was the gas you had to screw on the bottom of it.  Big metal canisters being thrown away and stored half full in a cupboard.  Again I still have this stove and I’m gradually using up the half full canisters when car camping.

Two or three years were then dedicated to making and messing about with meths stoves.  This is a very addictive pastime. Be warned!  I developed a small side burner stove made from Red Bull cans which an Alpkit MyTiMug could sit directly on top off.  This was quite efficient, very fast and did away with the need for a pot stand, just a wind screen.  I used this stove for about a year, but there were always problems with balance.  You needed a flat, preferably dead flat area.  I had a couple of spills and started looking for something else.

Woodburners, although fun are not massively practical when you just want a quick cup of tea in the morning.  I made a couple of stoves out of food cans with roughly the same dimensions of the Bush Buddy.  They worked reasonably well, very environmentally friendly but just not quick enough when you take into account the time for fuel collecting and prep.

I’d never tried solid fuel tablets or esbit.  I had dismissed these as stuff boy scouts used years ago.  After reading on the web of a lot of American hikers using them and then finding Colin Ibbotson's design I decided to give them a go.  I haven’t looked back since.  You can pick them up in most high street camping shops.

Having just finished making a copy of my cooking system for a friend’s birthday present I thought I post a few pictures and a brief description.  I make no claims for the design of the below.  They are copies of Colin’s ideas.  This is the most convenient, stable, quiet, and just down right brilliant way of cooking I’ve used.  I do just tend to heat up water for food and drinks.

To start with is the Alpkit MyTiMug, this is the newer one.  Mine’s got a small wooden knob on the top, this one is slightly lighter at 116g on my scales (including the lid).  My original apart from being sooted up is as good as new after about five years use and for £25 is probably one of the best bargains out there.

The stove itself is made from an aluminum foil baking tray.  I got two trays for £1 from Poundland and you can get two stoves out of one tray making the total cost of the stove 25p.  I say stove, when in reality it’s a dual pot stand/wind screen.  The two ends are clipped together with paper clips and a tent peg is slipped through the holes either side of the vent holes.  The pot with its handles extended sits on the tent peg and the side of the stove.  The stove can easily take the weight of a full pot despite its flimsy appearance.  The solid fuel tabs sit on the round piece of foil and just left to burn under the pot.  The stove weighs 9g

The pot cozy is made from three pieces of old closed cell foam mat to form a cylinder with one end that can be removed.  This is much more robust and efficient than the silver bubble wrap pot cozy.  It also provides a strong cover for the pot in your bag to stop the soot rubbing onto your other kit.  This weighs 25g.  I’ve just fixed mine with gaffer tape, Colin has used Araldite on his.  I didn’t have any.  The savings in weight and cost of fuel by using a pot cozy are immense.

The whole lot fits inside the cozy and this can also accommodate enough fuel tablets for a weekend trip making a very neat little package costing well under £30 and tipping the scales around the 150g mark.  As there are no special tools needed, apart from a single hole punch which can be picked up on the high street.  It’s a making moment most people can do.


Anonymous said...

What a great post!
I've been using my F1 until about a week ago when a friend sent me a Shed load of stoves plus other kit.
And I only read Colins stove post yesterday so it's great to see another make up of the same piece of kit. Definitely one I'll try. Thanks

Shed Dweller said...

Have a go. It takes no time or special tools. The one tip I forgot to put in the main post was that when flattening the foil with a rolling pin. Use the end of the rolling pin and rub the creases away, you'll be there for days trying to roll in flat.

tookiebunten said...

I've been experimenting myself and followed some instructions on a youtubez and have managed to craft a small meths stove out of two beer cans probably weights no more than 10/15g. Just having problems with the pot stand and wind shield but this great. I'm going to have a look at it see if I can adapt Colin's design.

Great post and thanks for sharing :)

Martin Rye said...

I tried a Ibbo stove a long time ago. It failed on the hills badly and sorter melted in places. Ibbo offered to help me get it to work and I should take him up on the offer. Then he offered a couple years ago nearly. I like tinkering with stoves now and then. Normal backpackers seem to share that obsession. Cat can stoves are my latest toy. Just need to get the wind shield right.

Shed Dweller said...

Mr Bunton, I too never quite got the pot stand/ wind shield combination right whern I used meths burners, hence the move to Esbit, and the above design. Also there's never any spilt fuel with esbit and you can blow out the tablets when burning so no wasted fuel either. You need a lot of puff to blow them out, also try not to blow burning tablets across the ground towards the edge of your tarp ;-)

Mr Rye, what fuel were you using? Also what did you make the stove/winshield/potstand thingy from? I've never had any problems with mine and I've used it for around 40 days on the hills, it's a bit dull but as good as new. I've managed to melt an aluminum windshield with a frisky home made meths stove which had aspirations of being a flame thrower but never with Esbit. Tinkering with stoves is cool.

Martin Rye said...

Esbit. I think the material was too thin for the wind shield and that made it fail. Your post has reminded me how much fun I had trying to make it work. I will dig Colin's instructions up again. I want it to work on my Titan Kettle. My fav pot. It is a classic.

Shed Dweller said...

Thin foil burns easily, most of the large roasting trays should be adequate.

Phil said...

My problem with Colin's stove was always the pot weight - it's great to have a 9g stove, but you've got to carry the 116g pot too. Colin actually put me onto the beer can pot idea (Caldera Keg GVP) - and that's what I'm using at the moment. The total weight is well under 100g (25g pot!), and you can use Esbit or meths.

BUT (big BUT) it'll cost you way more than £30, and the satisfaction level is substantially lower. Plus dropping a beer can full of water onto rocks a few days into a 2 week walk can make you sad.

Shed Dweller said...

I feel for your sad loss Phil. I really do. Can you drink from the cans even with a charity silicone band wrapped around the top? Also does the full bundle including protecting case come in under 100g. I did have a quick glance at it on the lakeland trip and it did look pretty cool.

I do, however, like the feel of the Ti Mug, bombproof and delicate. Also it has handles which are essential for the throwing away the dregs of cold tea like a builder does. Without handles you can't get the proper flick and the required distance. It's not something that's often taken into consideration in kit reviews, more's the pity.

maheswari said...

Your excellent guidelines will be of great help to many. Nice post. I enjoyed reading it. Thanks!

Cooking Equipment