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  1. #1

    Default Is Stoveless a safety issue

    I am not sure if this belongs in cooking. I am planning NOBO start in late April/Early May from Springer. I hate to cook. I do like warm tea but can live without it. I won't cook. I am perfectly content to eat cold food. I have a lot of long distance bike packing and bike touring experience but limited backpacking with my longest being 30 days in pretty cold and snowy conditions in Colorado like 4 decades ago. I usually only take a stove with me on the bike if I know it will be cold, wet, and remote. The few times I needed the stove, I was very happy to have it. Otherwise, I just eat on the go with whatever I can buy locally.

    I am worried it will be cold enough in the Smokies in early or mid May that I probably should bring a stove even though I don't want to. I always go as light as makes sense but also always bring one temperature layer lower than expected low temperatures. I have a feeling I won't use the stove (MSR rocket that uses isobutane and I have a light pot). I would not want to ever make a fire, but I suppose some cotton balls with vasoline or a few freetos could be used to make a fire if I was real cold. I will have a tent, R4 air mattress, Katabatic Palisaides with 2 extra oz of down, and a lightweight down anorak puffer with lightweight merino underwears. Expected average low are 43F per y research but I don't believe it, I think 30F is more realistic with potential for one night into the 20's is very possible.

    Can somebody with hiking wisdom help me make a good choice? I am very green so to speak. Am I stupid not to carry a stove at that time of year? Please be honest with me. I am not sure if my thought process is correct. Thank you.

  2. #2
    Registered User lonehiker's Avatar
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    Default

    Your thought process is correct.
    Lonehiker

  3. #3
    Registered User SoaknWet's Avatar
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    Default

    Better to have and not need then need and not have. There's stoves out there that weigh nothing but get the job done when you need something warm just as a pick me up.

  4. #4

    Default

    I don't see it as a safety issue in May, but it can certainly give you an emotional boost if you need it.

  5. #5

    Default

    I think my stove is about 3 oz and a 110g cannister is 7 oz and my pot is 3 oz. So, it is 13 oz. It is also space. Logically, it makes sense to leave it home. My gut says bring it and then ship it home. Part of this issue is that I have a bad back and that is why I don't want to take extra weight if it is not needed. I don't expect my pack to ever weigh more than 15 pounds even with a long carry, so, 13 oz is relatively a lot if not used. Thanks for the comments and advice so far.

  6. #6

    Default

    I pulled an 18 day no stove trip back in April 2015 and it doesn't work for me.

    A big part of backpacking is Managing Discomfort and a stove increases my comfort levels---with more food options available. I.E. Less discomfort.

    Plus, eating no cook snack foods all day is hard on the teeth and may crack them or remove crowns etc.

    Food is a big deal for backpackers and the no-cook option means you'll never have hot coffee/tea or scrambled eggs or hot oatmeal or a decent ramen meal---and don't discount the psychological benefits of hot meals most esp in cold temps.

  7. #7

    Default

    buy an esbit kit,, but word has it,,, there is all kinds of fuel along the way...... a Bic lighter and some know how can be your stove,,, personally I dont go to the 7-11 without the means top build fire

  8. #8

    Default

    For these kinds of decisions I use an old bromide, "If there's a doubt, there is no doubt".

    To help make your decision, here's a common scenario most everyone who does this runs into in some form or another:

    A weather front stalls and sets up a multiple day rain, taking normal temperatures of 80 degrees into the 50 degree range with a 20 mph wind. Windchill drives temps into the low 40s/high 30s. Horizontal wind driven rain finds every entry point in rain gear as you walk to the planned campsite. Rain eases and fog/mist develops that is carried on the wind, permeating most any remaining dry clothing you are wearing. The ground is saturated, every rock and root a potential slip, your pace slows, you start to feel colder, decisions start to get a little difficult as hypothermia tests you and stage 1 begins. Daylight fades out before you reach the planned camping area and you have to make camp in the dark just as the heavy wind driven rain starts up again soaking you further, along with everything as it comes out of the pack. Your struggle with the tent in heavy rain and wind is maddening, you get impatient with things, you leave the pack uncovered because you are rushing and wind opens it to the weather. You manage to get the tent set up after a while but most all of your gear is now soaking wet. You are beyond wet and starting to shiver and you do not have a beanie hat to slow the immense heat loss from your head draining your body of heat and energy. Not much of a chance to get a fire going given conditions, so you close the tent and try to bundle up in wet clothing to warm as best you can but it doesn't happen, shivering becomes more intense. You have some cold water to drink but water has gotten into your snacks and food. You are leaving stage 1 hypothermia and entering stage 2.

    Do you think something hot to drink would help right now?

  9. #9
    GoldenBear's Avatar
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    Lightbulb If worried about weight

    A cat stove
    https://jwbasecamp.com/Articles/SuperCat/
    weighs almost nothing, can be made for a couple of bucks, and uses isopropyl alcohol as fuel. It will make a hot coffee in the morning, and some hot bullion in the evening if you need it. That and some vaseline cotton balls should be enough to handle any situation.

  10. #10

    Default

    I did a 5-week section this past fall starting late September through October (Springer Mtn NOBO to past Erwin).
    October climate 'averages' are pretty similar to April.
    I was in the Smokies ~ Oct 12-19. I had several nights in the thirties and one night that dropped below freezing.

    I am a cold soaker - no stove. Never built a fire (I generally don't end my days early, and prefer not to have much down-time at camp; just looking for a place to lay my head!). My emergency "heat" is a lighter in the event I did need to build a fire (in wet conditions as described by Traveler, that might be pretty worthless, unless you happened to be at one of those shelters with a fireplace inside - several of those in the Smokies; in a circumstance such as an injury where I am unable to hike for a day or so - twisted ankle sort of thing - it might be useful).

    I never felt as though my lack of stove put me in any danger safety-wise.

    The psychological benefit of a warm drink is a totally different question in my mind. Some people can't imagine not having a fire at camp, or a hot cup of coffee or tea. Me, I couldn't care less. Cold is fine with me and I can drink and eat the same thing day after day.

  11. #11

    Default

    Always carry a stove for your safety against hypothermia.


  12. #12
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    Default

    I have, and love, my Jetboil Sol -- and at the risk of jinxing its so-far perfect performance, I have wondered what I'd do in the event it (or the gas canister) failed for any reason. I always bring fire-starting materials and feel pretty confident in my ability to get a fire started, but I wouldn't necessarily be able to use the Jetboil pot on a fire -- unless, of course, I was willing to ruin it for good. If I felt I was in a true life-threatening situation, I'd be willing to ruin it for good...but as several people have mentioned, just getting some hot tea can make a big difference in your mood and comfort -- not to mention safety.

    All of which is to say that I'm thinking about bringing another type of stove if I can expect anything like the scenario above.
    fortis fortuna adjuvat

  13. #13

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    I think that the colder it gets, the more important it is to have a decent stove. Today's stoves are so light and efficient, compared to what I grew up with...

  14. #14
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    Default

    While it may be safer with a stove, I would not out it in a safety issue not having one if one prepares that way. It's really a personal decision, I tried it but I wanted the ability to cook and hot coffee in the AM, so I won't go stoveless, but I gave it a fair shot. But others do fine stoveless. It sounds like you will do fine, I'd say go for it.

  15. #15

    Default

    Well, OTOH, if your food needs to be cooked and for some reason your stove fails or runs out of fuel then that can be a safety issue. So, there is that advantage to being stove less to begin with.

    But as mentioned, an alky stove, a few oz. of fuel and a cup you can boil water in doesn't weigh all that much or take up much space, and will probably be nice to have a couple times a week early in the season. Once it gets stifling hot out, you can decide if you still want to carry it or not.
    Follow slogoen on Instagram.

  16. #16

    Default

    What backpacking food truly 'needs' to be cooked though? Unless I'm just having a brain issue, there are very few examples that couldn't be eaten safely and nutritiously without cooking in the event of a stove failure.

  17. #17
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    Default

    Driving to the trailhead a safety issue. Not sleeping in a house with locked doors is a safety issue. Not having a police escort is a safety issue. So sure, not having a stove is also a safety issue. As with most things, one's skills have a huge impact on what one needs to "stay safe".

    I would never consider having a stove a safety issue while backpacking outside of deep winter. If I am in a situation, as you suggest you are, where having a stove to make a hot drink is a safety concern of mine, I will take a couple Esbit tablets with me and make sure I am carrying a cup that I can heat water in. An Esbit tablet placed on a piece of foil with a couple of rocks or sticks to support your pot does a nice job of heating a couple cups of water. Esbit tablets also make outstanding fire starter if you want a fire. AND, Esbit tablet are extremely light and take up very little space.

    I often take a couple with me even if I am carrying a stove just because they are a highly effective stove backup and a super effective fire starter if I'm feeling too lazy to put together an ideal fire bundle in less than ideal conditions, and I want a fire for whatever reason.
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

  18. #18

    Default

    I know someone who not only does not carry a stove,he doesn't even carry a cup to drink from!Not for everybody and certainly not for me but it works for him.If you carry the small gas canister and a BRS titanium stove it's gonna be about 8 oz total plus whatever you use to boil in.I can do without cooking better than not having a hot beverage twice daily.

  19. #19

    Default

    I am specifically thinking of the 105 mile stretch from NOC to Standing Bear given my understanding that resupply at Fontana Dam is uncertain and much of the elevation is 5-6.000 feet. Unless something goes wrong, I do not plan to come off the trail between Fontana Hilton and Standing Bear although I understand Newfoundland Gap down to Gatlinburg is a common resupply. I'd just prefer to stay on trail as much as possible, in general. So, a good amount of food carry and nearly a pound of unused stove/cook gear is around a day of food.

    I am seeing a few solutions to my imagined problem based on what folks are suggesting. Probably overthinking on my part. I have to look into the small alky stove or maybe a few Nesbit cubes sounds good, too. Another alternative is to carefully monitor weather and take the expense of buying a stove and cartridge at NOC if the forecast looks shaky. If the weather looks good, assume the risk going stoveless. If bad weather forecast, take the stove or if very bad (deep snow), just wait the storm out. Lots of very good suggestions, thank you.

  20. #20

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    Most hikers start by carrying a stove and cooking gear then decide what the want. For example, I, like you, don't cook but I must have a warm cup of coffee in the morning. So I carry a stove, small canister and a 250 cc container just to boil water.

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