I love home cooked meals, hot and fresh, prepared with care. It gives me more energy and keeps me healthy. The same is true when I’m camping. Ever try to live on Trailmix or Powerbars ® for 3 days? B-O-R-I-N-G. You should cook culinary delights on a well-maintained camp stove. Here’s how to make sure you can.
Don’t wait until you’re on the trail.
I test my stove before the camping trip. I make sure it works at home where I’m only a phone call away from the store or manufacturer.
If it’s a new camp stove, I boil water with it. This way I get used to its functions and find out what its quirks are.
This will give me an idea of what to expect when I’m camping. It also burns off the protective oils and coatings.
Bill S. from www.trailspace.com suggests: “If you time the boil time when the stove is new or just overhauled, you can get an idea of how close to needing an overhaul it is. A longer boil time can indicate that things need attention. The test should be standardized. For example, fill the fuel bottle to the full line, pump 20 strokes (or 30 or whatever the manufacturer recommends), use the same pot each time, filled to the same level, and so on. Important thing is to do the test consistently.”
If it’s an old camp stove, I’ll know if it needs repair. There is nothing worse than getting to the campsite and having to come back because your stove is broken.
Use the ideal fuel.
If my camp stove uses multiple fuels, and the manufacturer recommends one type over another, I always use the preferred fuel. Using alternative fuels can clog the burner or shorten the life of the camp stove. Only use alternative fuels if the recommended fuel isn’t available.
The wrong fuel can ruin your stove. (For a comparison of the advantages and disadvantages of fuels see this fuel chart.) If fuel has a funny odor, debris, or sludge at the bottom of it, I assume it has been contaminated, dispose of it properly, and get fresh fuel.
Water (from condensation, typically) and debris can clog a fuel line. I use a fuel funnel outfitted with a small screen to pre-filter fuel, and check inside for water and debris before filling my fuel containers.
If you use disposable fuel canisters please try to recycle them, if not, dispose of them per the instructions on the can. Remember: Leave No Trace! Pack it in. Pack it out.
Tip: recheck your fuel containers before you leave. Murphy’s Law dictates that full fuel containers become mysteriously empty when you’re ready to use them.
Get spare parts and a maintenance kit. Learn to use them.
Again, home is the best place to try things out. Practice using the repair kit in this controlled environment. Get used to changing those tiny o-rings in proper lighting, not when you are shivering and hungry in the wilderness.
NEVER OPERATE A BROKEN STOVE. IT COULD CAUSE SERIOUS INJURY.
I clean my stove after each camping trip. A properly cared for stove can literally give decades of service.
Tip: Read the directions that come with your stove and maintenance kit. They have a lot more details about your particular stove than I can cover here.
Store your camp stove properly.
While camping, I store my camp stove and fuel away from food (in a side pocket of my pack). Many camp stoves come with padded sacks or special stove cases for this purpose.
After camping, I store my camp stove separately from the fuel, especially liquid fuels. When I’m done with my trip I remove all the fuel canisters from my gear. Leaking fuel canisters can ruin a pack or other nylon materials.
Having a camp stove is vital to your culinary camping enjoyment. Keep your stove working and keep yourself in good health. You’ll be glad you did.