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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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.