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How many travel with out a stove?

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.


  • Never
    And rarely just one.
  • Nope
    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.
  • nope
    -- 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.
    -- 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
    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
    -- 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
    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
    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
    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?
    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
    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!
  • Options
    Love campfire cooking
    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? :-)
  • Options
    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
    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.
  • Options
    How bout a wood stove
    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.
  • Well..
    .. 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.
  • Always carry one
    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
    have stove-in canoe.
  • and others..
    have a stove in a stove in canoe.
  • One thing about W&C canoes is, they'll
    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
    when they burned, my neighbor lost 2 yesterday to his brush burning.
  • Usually
    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.
  • burn

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

  • Often
    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.
  • Options
    A long long time ago....
    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.
  • Options
    Nope, lots of places it is not possible
    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
    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
  • the fire
    off a candle is so romantic ! Nothing like a roaring candle top off an evening camping in the deep pine forest.
  • Oh goodness I cannot let this go -
    "Fires are for the young people, newbies, and those that only paddle half a day."


    With all due respect. :-)
  • Agree with Jack
    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
    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
    -- 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.

  • Options
    How long
    was your trip? Little week-long trips would be fine, if you are in an area where fire wood is plentiful and burning it does not impact the biology of the area. On longer trips, having a backup (something you know will heat your water/food even during the rain) is not only nice but possibly life saving.
  • Some of our differences
    -- Last Updated: Jan-31-15 7:10 AM EST --

    reveal our basic styles of tripping. Some enjoy making a lot of miles every day and want the convenience of a stove at the end of a long hard day of paddling. Others, me for example, enjoy a different style with more time in camp each day and layovers from time to time for hiking and baking etc. These differences can lead to group dynamic problems on trips if people with opposite tripping styles are traveling together. For me paddling is a big part of tripping but by no means the most important part. For me its all about spending some time every year getting back to basics and being self reliant. Also its about time with close friends and taking stock of my life. Enjoying birds and other wildlife is a big part of it too. But the notion that fires are for newbies, young people and day trippers is simply not true - with all due respect. Instead, it reflects perhaps a different style of tripping that even old people and very experienced travelers on long multi week/multi month trips enjoy. I do agree though that having a stove tucked away is probably a good thing even for those who are oriented toward fires. Keep in mind, there was a day, not all that long ago really, when camp stoves did not exist and folks traveled in the wilds building fires and survived just fine. Of course there were also some that starved to death!

  • stove
    No campfires.I save weight by using a Solo Stove.It burns twigs,pine needles or pine cones.When wood is dry,I use downed birch bark for kinlin.When wet conditions exist,I use a fire starter.Thus I don't need to carry fuel canisters!Cook,eat,go to bed early and get up early to catch Adirondack brook trout!
  • Forgot to say that on a 3 day run of
    Slickrock Canyon of the Dolores in Colorado, I took no stove whatsoever. I wanted to maximize scenery time and avoid cooking and cleaning. I carried a quantity of granola and trail mix, plus a small amount of jerky.
  • no can opener ?
    filled the new butane soldering iron yesterday for sealing the cart's plastic wheels.

    Did you read SK's Killyu account of circumnavigating Vancouver with 'hunter-gatherer' food supply ?
  • Options
    I'm a survival skills buff
    and I have learned and practiced many different survival skills, including bow drill, finding water sources in unlikely places, and even improvising wound dressings from natural materials, but I always go on the trip with adequate gear to fall back on. Going on a trip unprepared is not adventurous, it's just stupid.
  • I'm really enjoying this thread,
    -- Last Updated: Feb-24-15 10:42 AM EST --

    never felt so much like an "old timer" until this thread came out.

    There are a lot of ways to camp- you can go minimalist- a bivy sack, tarp and cold food, somewhere in the middle like a tent and a stove, and you can camp with gas grills, dutch and reflector ovens and plug in coffee pots and even with an oven in a Winnebago. Its all your choice- not sure there are right and wrong answers.

    Knowing how to build a fire is an essential skill in my book. Now truly, I can't really say I've ever met anyone who didn't light and build a fire without some help: be it matches, a lighter, a bow kit, magnifying glass, a set of flint and steel, battery and steel wool.

    To be able to light a fire using only what is in one's surroundings would be impressive to me. Nothing brought with you, just what you found on site. So just as I carry a pocket knife I also carry some matches or a lighter with me.

    Building a fire takes time and energy but it also can be very rewarding. Its more important than a first aid kit to me. It is a skill, a knowledge, although not difficult in most situations I have struggled at times. So if its wet, you should carry dry tinder, a candle to melt, and an ax and saw can be quite useful- although they can dangerous as well. Otherwise, carry a stove as a back up.

    There's nothing wrong with using a stove and as many have noted its a godsend on a cold day when your tired and hungry and want something right away. For the most part stoves are convenient, yet sometimes stoves themselves can be a pain in a**: cold weather can make them hard to light, fuel canisters run out when dinner is half cooked, white gas has leaked in my pack and left a nasty aftertaste to all of my food, and using unleaded gas in my xgk required constant daily cleaning.

    Some places fires are appropriate and other places they are not. Yet I have a sense of sadness for those who never experienced the warmth and glow of a campfire. Staring into the flames and embers and finally trotting off to bed as the fire dies out and the coolness of night creeps in.

    Sometimes its not just about the miles you cover, the terrain you mark off the map, but connecting to your more primal being where fire wasn't just a choice to be made but was a necessity for survival. I can relate all to well with Jack London's "To Build a Fire" and the urgency of the moment. I think every outdoorsman should know how to build a fire as a basic survival skill.

    Catching a fish, cooking it over the fire, that's how I roll. I never have tried sushi, but I've caught too many fish with parasites to make me think its safe to eat, so I say bring on the fire, along with its warmth, radiance, and gathering powers. Cold instant oatmeal and bivy sacks are for the young. Now I prefer a comfortable camp chair, store bought fire wood, and a marshmallow or two. Next thing ya know, I'll be sleepin' in a camper van and using my plug in coffee pot, oops I already do that. Oh, its a slippery slope from walking upright, then mastering fire, to using camp stoves, to RVs. Next thing ya know, folks will be paddling with two blades instead of one! Then we will all look back and wonder if its okay to use a single blade, to revisit our past, our heritage, and dare I say it, "canoe". It will be less efficient, slower, but perhaps like fire, for some of us it holds a different meaning, and enjoyment.

    None of this paddling stuff makes sense in a "modern age". So fire is no different. Make up your own outdoor code and follow it. My outdoor journey began as my father taught me how to build a fire and it will end someday with the flames of cremation.

  • 30 years ago, you could
    build a fire with downed wood.
    Today, with as many people as there are camping and such, often there is no more wood to gather and the Forest Service protects what is left.
    Plus the danger of starting a forest fire, the fragility of the desert, etc.

    I used to carry three things with me i nthe Air Force, a book, a pocket hammock and an esbit stove. You may wish to consider that route as the real Esbit and fuel are lightweight. Avoid the knock-offs.

    I was able to keep three days of of fuel and matches IN the folded stove.
    My food was not steaming, but it was warm to hot.
  • The Brits will light up a stove even for
    a snack, and they have a fascinating array of stoves that work efficiently with locally gathered twigs and branches.
  • Reflector oven and dutch...
    Is the way I prefer. I enjoy cooking on the fire. I too enjoy the act of camping. For me tripping is the entire process...paddling to camping. The smell of a fire, the warmth, and associated challenges.
    I usually have a gas stove in the pack, but more for emergency situations. I know/practice survival skills too, but don't rely on them daily (see bow-drill blisters).
    Obviously I would plan my camping method based on the location. Lack of wood, fire-hazards, ecosystem, or weather.
  • yup
    which is the reason I carry a stove.

    You cannot cook over a fire, even a twig stove in Manitoba or Ontario during fire bans.

    You cannot cook over a fire in Maine in some campsites without obtaining a fire permit from the local warden. You cannot cook over a fire above high tide line on a Maine island. You may find yourself standing in water..

    You cannot cook over a fire where there is no fuel. Believe me Yukon willows suck and the driftwood is too big.
  • ok - sure
    but - what if you are on a trip where there is plenty of wood and there are no fire bans etc. etc. Do you still cook on a stove? Or do you leave it in the pack?
  • Stoves are useful
    I always bring a tiny stove that is $10 on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Etekcity-Ultralight-Portable-Backpacking-Compatible/dp/B00B4FY8YO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1441216677&sr=8-1&keywords=etekcity+stove). It is smaller than a pack of cigarettes and comes with a plastic case.

    It screws onto different fuel canisters (I use isobutane like the JetBoil canisters), many of which come in very small options. I bring a pot as well that doubles as a bowl.

    Honestly, I could do without the stove since I usually pre-make pot roast in foil packets and cook them in the embers of my campfire. However, I do enjoy a good cup of coffee in the morning and this stove will boil water in 2-3 minutes and the total weight for all the gear is negligible, especially since it's packed into your kayak...
  • edited April 2018
    ...most of the time the stove is the #1 dependable tool, especially when the weather turns on you, which happens a lot in Maine.
  • you are back
    of course a fire is not always appropriate. We don't need you to tell us that through yet another Google link..

  • right on!
    that post made too much sense

    many nicknames for the regulators- Bastard State Park, North Maine Hoods, American Money Club, Green Money Club, Dumb Old Club (Dartmouth) All-a-Gash (to your wallet)

    heck I avoid most of the permitted stuff out west- lots to paddle out there that is wide open

    wv just keeps lookin' better and better, just hopin' the NPS doesn't mess it up
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