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  1. #1
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    Default Stoves on the AT - why?

    I read these forums and I am always puzzled by why people bring stoves on their thru hikers. Even the ultra-light ounce-counting folks would bring with them 10oz of stove and fuel. I have been backpacking since age 7 and never have carried a stove with me on any of my hikes (with the exception of Brooks Range in Alaska where in most places there just isn't anything around that would burn). Almost anywhere on the AT I can start a fire and boil a pot of water faster than with an alcohol stove. There really isn't a whole lot to it. Dig a small hole in suitable soil, set a pot over the hole keeping the pot handle between two rocks (at least as heavy as the full pot), and feed the fire. Keep the fire small. Water will boil in 5 min. When done, fill the whole with soil, spread leaves around, and nobody can tell you cooked there.

    So I am wondering, why does almost everyone use stoves?

  2. #2
    Registered User ChinMusic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lebeda View Post
    Almost anywhere on the AT I can start a fire and boil a pot of water faster than with an alcohol stove.
    If you are talking about having to make the alohol stove from scratch at camp I would agree.

    Other than that, I call BS.
    Fear ridges that are depicted as flat lines on a profile map.

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    Because finding dry burning material can be impossible sometimes?? Because they want to be absolutely sure of a hot drink/meal and not hope that they can find the right stuff to start a fire? Because they can??
    "All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us."

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChinMusic View Post
    If you are talking about having to make the alohol stove from scratch at camp I would agree.

    Other than that, I call BS.
    1+

    You beat me to it ChinMusic.

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    Registered User Alpine Jack's Avatar
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    +2 on the BS.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lebeda View Post
    I read these forums and I am always puzzled by why people bring stoves on their thru hikers. Even the ultra-light ounce-counting folks would bring with them 10oz of stove and fuel. I have been backpacking since age 7 and never have carried a stove with me on any of my hikes (with the exception of Brooks Range in Alaska where in most places there just isn't anything around that would burn). Almost anywhere on the AT I can start a fire and boil a pot of water faster than with an alcohol stove. There really isn't a whole lot to it. Dig a small hole in suitable soil, set a pot over the hole keeping the pot handle between two rocks (at least as heavy as the full pot), and feed the fire. Keep the fire small. Water will boil in 5 min. When done, fill the whole with soil, spread leaves around, and nobody can tell you cooked there.

    So I am wondering, why does almost everyone use stoves?
    1) Bans on open fires.
    2) Bans / restrictions on open fires except in established fire rings.
    3) Availability of dry fuel
    4) Convenience
    I was self employed once, but it proved too stressful. My boss was a jerk and my employee was a slacker - I didn't know whether to quit or fire myself.

  7. #7
    Registered User Pommes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lebeda View Post
    I read these forums and I am always puzzled by why people bring stoves on their thru hikers. Even the ultra-light ounce-counting folks would bring with them 10oz of stove and fuel. I have been backpacking since age 7 and never have carried a stove with me on any of my hikes (with the exception of Brooks Range in Alaska where in most places there just isn't anything around that would burn). Almost anywhere on the AT I can start a fire and boil a pot of water faster than with an alcohol stove. There really isn't a whole lot to it. Dig a small hole in suitable soil, set a pot over the hole keeping the pot handle between two rocks (at least as heavy as the full pot), and feed the fire. Keep the fire small. Water will boil in 5 min. When done, fill the whole with soil, spread leaves around, and nobody can tell you cooked there.

    So I am wondering, why does almost everyone use stoves?
    Leave No Trace.

  8. #8

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    On my 1st thru, my stove blew up (SVEA)
    I ended up building fires for the next 600 miles or so.
    I'll agree that on a perfect day, with no rain in the past few days or weeks, I can probably build a fire to boil water faster than an alcohol stove. I got very good at it.
    But, most years, the AT won't have a week without rain, ANY part of your hike.
    And when it's pouring down rain, and has been for 11 days straight (like it did in '95 in June), You will have to eat something besides cooked food.
    Also, if you want to stay at shelters, dead wood is very hard to find sometimes.

    But good luck in your quest. I'm sure you'll be an even better fire builder when you complete your hike.
    Oh yeah, those dam fire bans. They can suck and most hikers won't start the woods on fire. But there are some a$$holes out there, and that is the reason for the bans IMO.
    Don't let your fears stand in the way of your dreams

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pommes View Post
    Leave No Trace.
    +1

    Thats the biggest reason.

    Plus, fires get your pots all sooty. And who wants to look for fire wood everytime they want a hot meal?
    Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread.
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    Registered User Pommes's Avatar
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    Also if you do decide to start a fire during a fire ban someone will call the Warden on you. Even if your not in cell range i've seen them wait till they were and then call. As they should.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pommes View Post
    Leave No Trace.
    The trick is to keep the fire small - no larger than the size of the pot. A hole 4'' deep is enough. When all done and covered with leaves and debris, there is absolutely no trace left.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by lebeda View Post
    I read these forums and I am always puzzled by why people bring stoves on their thru hikers. Even the ultra-light ounce-counting folks would bring with them 10oz of stove and fuel. I have been backpacking since age 7 and never have carried a stove with me on any of my hikes (with the exception of Brooks Range in Alaska where in most places there just isn't anything around that would burn). Almost anywhere on the AT I can start a fire and boil a pot of water faster than with an alcohol stove. There really isn't a whole lot to it. Dig a small hole in suitable soil, set a pot over the hole keeping the pot handle between two rocks (at least as heavy as the full pot), and feed the fire. Keep the fire small. Water will boil in 5 min. When done, fill the whole with soil, spread leaves around, and nobody can tell you cooked there.

    So I am wondering, why does almost everyone use stoves?
    So you haven't hiked the AT in Conn?
    I guess you haven't seen the "No Fires Allowed" sign right on the Trail just south of Race Brook, you know, the one with the chainsaw marks all over it and the makeshift fire ring right at the foot of the tree it's nailed to?
    I guess not.
    I think I smell a troll.
    As I live, declares the Lord God, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn back from his way and live. Ezekiel 33:11

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by lebeda View Post
    The trick is to keep the fire small - no larger than the size of the pot. A hole 4'' deep is enough. When all done and covered with leaves and debris, there is absolutely no trace left.
    Now i sense a troll.
    Covering your fire with leaves and debris.
    Yeah right!
    Don't let your fears stand in the way of your dreams

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by lebeda View Post
    The trick is to keep the fire small - no larger than the size of the pot. A hole 4'' deep is enough. When all done and covered with leaves and debris, there is absolutely no trace left.
    Unless you wait for it to burn out completely, and then broadcast the ashes, it is still considered a pollutant.
    "A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do."

    -Bob Dylan

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mrs Baggins View Post
    Because finding dry burning material can be impossible sometimes??
    You don't really need dry material. Tiny dead pine branches will easily burn when wet. Once you get those going, the slightly larger sticks will burn easily wet as well - the water evaporates very quickly once in the fire. A lot of people won't believe me - but try it out yourself. Prepare a small bundle of wood sticks of varying sizes from tiny to pencil wide. Dunk the whole bundle in a creek for a minute. Then use it for a fire. You'd be surprised how easily you can get the wood to burn.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mrs Baggins View Post
    Because they want to be absolutely sure of a hot drink/meal and not hope that they can find the right stuff to start a fire?
    You may not find enough dry wood right by a shelter, but all it takes is going 50 yards away to collect enough suitable dead wood. You don't need much.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mrs Baggins View Post
    Because they can??
    Well, I'll give you that. That's probably the only reason I can think of.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by fiddlehead View Post
    Now i sense a troll.
    Covering your fire with leaves and debris.
    Yeah right!
    Not a troll. I have been doing it this way for 25 years. I, of course, put out any hot embers with water. Then fill the hole with the dirt I dug out previously. Spread leaves around. No trace at all.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by lebeda View Post
    The trick is to keep the fire small - no larger than the size of the pot. A hole 4'' deep is enough. When all done and covered with leaves and debris, there is absolutely no trace left.
    The Trace is the hole you dug whether filled in or not.
    Everyone has to bury their crap.. thats a neccesity.
    Diggin holes to make fires is not a neccesity if you have a stove.
    Actually i very much doubt even the most experienced woodsperson
    could kindle a blaze and boil 2 cups of water faster than
    a person with an alcohol stove could.
    Consider the time you actually collect your wood, dig your hole, light
    your tinder, and bring the water to boil.
    Versus squirting an ounce of alcohol into a can stove and flicking your bic.

    Anyhow, HYOH. If you wanna make fires more power to ya!
    Headed in to town.. You gotta rock the down! -fellow hikers mantra

  18. #18
    Registered User ChinMusic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fiddlehead View Post
    Now i sense a troll.
    Covering your fire with leaves and debris.
    Yeah right!
    He pees on it first.
    Fear ridges that are depicted as flat lines on a profile map.

  19. #19

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    it is possable to find dry fuel in the wettest of woods. it is possible over the course of a day to assemble a "nest" in your pocket ready to light at any time without really stopping hiking to do it. it is possable to walk into camp and pull the nest from your pocket and boil water . and it is possable to become somewhat of an exspert quickdraw and do all this seamlessly and profincently in a time faster than one might open a pack and boil on a popcan. and you could outhike and out plan all fire bans and fuel sparse places. with alot of carful planning. and doing all this you could possably eat about as much hot food as a stove guy or gal hiker.there would be places you would eat cold food when you could have choosen to have a popcan. but it would have to be your chooice to be any fun. fun needs alot of room to operate. be sure to have fun.
    matthewski

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tinker View Post
    So you haven't hiked the AT in Conn?
    I guess you haven't seen the "No Fires Allowed" sign right on the Trail just south of Race Brook, you know, the one with the chainsaw marks all over it and the makeshift fire ring right at the foot of the tree it's nailed to?
    I guess not.
    I think I smell a troll.
    Actually I lived in CT for a number of years and hiked the AT there. There is no law on the books in CT that says "No Fires Allowed" on either the AT or any other trail. It is a rule promoted by non-profit organizations that has no legal standing. But that is a discussion for another thread.

    Second, I have seen much more damage done by careless stove users than from a properly managed small cooking fire. The many burned tables and benches by shelters speak to that.

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