View Full Version : Low budget stove advice

04-25-2006, 08:35
Hey. My wife and I start a thru-hike in July (SoBo) and we HAVE to stay on a tight budget. Which is cheaper, alcohol stove or gas stove? Thanks, all.

04-25-2006, 09:11
Well, if you are asking which is cheaper to make/purchase, then the answer would be an alcohol stove of the pepsi/cat food can variety. However, pepsi can type stoves are probably better suited for one person ... unless you're okay with boiling three cups of water, refueling, and boiling another three cups.

What type of cooking do you plan on doing? How many meals a day will be cooked?

04-25-2006, 09:31
I prefer alcohol, as do many hikers. Check these links for a lot of good information. A Google search will get even more. These could keep you busy just reading for the rest of the day. Look closely at the ION stove. But be careful if you try to make your own alcohol stove - it is addictive.

Alcohol Stove Links

*Posted in another thread also

04-25-2006, 10:44
ofcourse the cheapest stove to make is the alcohol,but denatured fuel is high,alternatives 90percent rubbibg alcohol,heet ect ect,I think personally on a thru-hike which I usually only hike 2-5months at a time so not qualified,I like the whisper light,white gas is almost everwhere and last pretty good,I have two 32oz fuel bottles,I like alcohol on short trips 2months or less,I like white gas on longer trips less mess cooks faster.ky

04-25-2006, 10:48
What stove to use depends upon your needs.

Wrote a doc that could be useful.

The quick summary of this article: If solo, alcohol works well.
If a couple, a canister stove works well.

If you are on a budget (which I did not address in the article), two alcohol stoves will probably be least expensive for two people overall.

Frolicking Dinosaurs
04-25-2006, 19:15
You might also try using a small cook fire when not prohibited to save weight and fuel.

04-25-2006, 19:41
You might also try using a small cook fire when not prohibited to save weight and fuel.

That's so retro. :D

Seriously, that's a very good point that many of today's high-tech ellandgee's( latest and greatest) don't even consider.

04-25-2006, 22:38
I use a Sierra Zip woodburner 16oz., 4 pine cones to boil pot of water.

The Hog
04-26-2006, 06:36
I'm with the Frolicking Dinosaurs - you can cook with a very small wood fire for free. The only thing you have to carry is matches, which you can also get free at many stores. If the woods are wet, look for duff and small sticks at the base of large trees for dry tinder. If everything is soaked, break small branches and split them down the middle, there's dry wood on the inside.

Store your blackened pot in a (free) plastic grocery bag to keep it from blackening other stuff in your pack.

The bonus of this method: you carry zero ounces of stove and zero ounces of fuel.

04-26-2006, 07:10
The zip stove --is that the one that uses a small fan and battery? My coffee can stove douses natural draft (like a chimney) and weighs about 5 oz. I carry an alky stove and 10 oz of alky as a backup. The alky is great for starting a wood fire and I've used it for bug bites.

Two Speed
04-26-2006, 09:04
. . .and 10 oz of alky as a backup. . . That's about what I carry for a 4 -5 day trip. If it was me and I was using alcohol as a backup I'd probably carry no more than 4 oz, which brings me back to the original intent of the thread.

Speaking as an largely uninformed individual, I suspect the wood fire w/homemade alcohol stove as back up is probably the lowest cost option. If money for gear was really tight I'd probably build a Nimblewell Nomad style stove and a pop can stove; should be able to scrounge up the materials for both of them. Lots of websites with instructions for building pop can/cat stove/super cat/kitten/Ion stoves. Instructions for building the Nimblewell at:
Nimblewill Nomad's Little Dandy Wood Stove (http://www.nimblewillnomad.com/stove.htm)

Then I'd be set with a good wood fired stove and an alky backup for those days when I screw up building a fire. Just my $0.02 worth.

Frolicking Dinosaurs
04-26-2006, 10:43
That's so retro. :D Merciful heavens, I've lived so long I'm back in style. Seriously, many of the clothes and hairstyles I wore as a young adult are now quite fashionable. The down side is I was an ultralight dino back then and looked good in that stuff. Now I'm a much heavier and well-worn dino who would resemble a dime's worth of air trying to fit in a nickle balloon in a pair of low-rise jeans and belly shirt. Those with a highspeed connection can watch this funny video (http://www.i-am-bored.com/bored_link.cfm?link_id=11327) of me dancing and singing and then use your imagination in regard to why I never wear a halter top.

Now back to cooking on a cook fire for weight and fuel savings. The Hog made most of the points I would have about the benefits and drawbacks of the cooking fuel method.

Some practical suggestions for anyone who plans to use the cook fire method

Collect a small amount of dry tinder whenever you make a fire to be used for the next fire. If conditions are wet, use the heat / airflow at the base of the fire to dry enough tinder to start the next fire. Crriy it in small plastic bag and leave the top oppen if possible (more moisture will escape).
LNT and cooking fires - Make the fire in established fire rings when available. When not available, scrape all duff away to expose bare ground, make fire there, very thoroughly douse the fire with water after cooking and replace duff only after the area has cooled.
Cooking fires are build with sticks up to the size of pencil and are constantly fed while cooking. This method lends itself to the two person party - one cooks while the other gathers fuels.
I have been known to cook over the remaining coals from campfires built the night before at shelters or established campsites. This eliminates the need to build a second fire. If a fire pit is still smoking, it contains enough coals to get the job done.As a backup, an alcohol fuel stove makes a lot of sense. I personally would prefer the solid alcohol tablets for this, but I have no idea what they or liquid fuel cost.