Apr 4, 2010 at 9:08 pm #1257314
I used a Stratus wood stove 2005-2006 and was fairly disappointed. Although the stove did great in my backyard (5400 ft), its performance really fell off at altitude. At 10,000 ft it was a chore to get it to do anything, and above 11,000 ft it was nearly useless. Low oxygen was a problem, obviously, and was compounded by the resinous fuels available, principally Englemann Spruce and Subalpine Fir. These would burn well enough to get started, and then die out immediately when I put a pot on. I tried drilling more holes in it, which helped, but it never really was satisfactory.
I still like the wood stove concept, and both the BushBuddy and Ti-Tri have gotten good reviews on this site. But backpacking in CO often means camping at timberline (~11,500 ft), and I haven't seen a review stating that either of these stoves works great at this altitude with the fuels available there. The Trail Designs web site shows the Ti-Tri being tested at 10K, but that's not enough to get me to switch from my Trangia.
Does anyone have any timberline experiences with these (or any other) wood stoves?Apr 4, 2010 at 10:18 pm #1594271
Interesting. I hadn't thought about altitude affecting woodburning capability, thanks for brining this up. I'm definitely interested in hearing input from other people, I hope there's a way to fix this problem. I'd really like to be able to cook with wood on my CT hike this summer.Apr 5, 2010 at 7:57 am #1594363
@jbmcsr1Locale: Rocky Mountains
I use a camp fire to do my cooking at least 95% of the time and at altitude. I don't use a wood burning stove but instead a grill exactly like the Purcell packer http://www.purcelltrench.com/grills.htm The grill weighs a little over 3ozs and I haven't had any significant issues with a lack of oxygen but then I'm usually not in a hurry. I like a small fire–there's warmth, I can grill a freshly caught trout, cook my meals, dry out a pair of socks, and as my grandmother said, "It keeps you company." I realize that it is not exactly "leave no trace" but with thought and care it is real close.Apr 5, 2010 at 8:38 am #1594380
Yup, I've done that too. I used to carry a grill as backup for when my various Sveas/MSRs would die or run out of fuel. And back in the 60's I didn't know there was a choice other than campfires and would carry a hatchet. But the wood stoves are a LOT more efficient than an open fire for cooking. Saves time and energy looking for fuel, and they're easier to keep going in wet conditions. Worth 4 oz net weight over a grill in my estimation.Apr 5, 2010 at 9:00 am #1594384
@benwoodLocale: flatlands of MO
i switched from a trangia to a ti-tri myself. i found that i like the ti-tri much better as an alcohol stove. the highest elevation i have burned wood is somewhere around 8000' and it did just fine. sorry, i don't have any experience above 10000' with wood, but i have burned the alcohol stove at that altitude and it worked just fine. even if you just use it as an alcohol stove, i think you will like it as much as a trangia and it is lighter. btw, i think the trangia is a great stove. the inferno insert might give you more effeciency(sp?) at that altitude. i would send the guys at traildesings an email asking about the limitations, they are very cool guys, and won't BS you as to the performance of their product.
ben-Apr 6, 2010 at 10:12 am #1594801
What is it that you like better about the Ti-Tri alcohol stove as compared to the Trangia? I like the Trangia because it can be dampened for sauteeing/simmering rather than just going full blast. I like to actually cook rather than just boil water and I'd hate to give that up.Apr 6, 2010 at 2:08 pm #1594909
The nice bonus about using wood.That after you bring your
pot to a boil you get a nice bed of coals that gives a person a long lasting simmer after the flame goes down .
You can extended the simmer by adding small pcs of wood as nessery for total cook time.Apr 6, 2010 at 11:59 pm #1595132
As Don said, you can simmer just fine with wood, with the precondition you know how to. Feed it with cones or other biomass which has a slow burn, and you shall be fine.
Personally I think simmering with the Trangia is completely overrated. To put the simmer cap on, you need to either reach in, likely burning yourself if you're not careful, or need to take the windscreen off to put it on. Add in size, weight, and the need to carry the fuel, and the woodburning stoves look like the real winners.
Re: Your original question of using wood at altitude, given you can find burnable biomass (doesn't need to be wood, moss and dry excrement from animals work just fine) I believe you should be set. Take a Esbit tablet or two as back-up with you; and you always could collect some sticks while below the tree line if you plan to camp above it. That shouldn't weigh down your pack too much.Apr 7, 2010 at 3:40 am #1595179
@benwoodLocale: flatlands of MO
Drew, I don't "cook" in the backcountry, just boil. So that is a big difference. I have cooked once with my ti-tri I just used a bigger pot and set it on the windscreen. It worked, but still no simmer control.
The ti-tri is far more effecient than my trangia setup, but that really has to do with the cone. I did try my trangia burner in the cone and it worked just fine. That is an option for you. You could have the benefits of multifuel, effeciency of the cone, and the ability to simmer with the trangia burner. I love my caldera cone, it just plain works well.
What I like is the effeciency, the weight, the ability to burn different fuel sources, and the way it works as a system. if you have any other questions for me don't hesitate to PM me.
Ben-Apr 7, 2010 at 5:56 am #1595199
I'm wondering if this isn't a case of stoves that are relatively optimized for lower altitude use not "breathing" well enough to supply enough oxygen when at high altitude. The report of the fire burning OK until the pot was placed on it might (or might not) support that idea.
A (very little) bit of goggle searching did not find much but there was an article about a cooking stove designed for and used in Nepal. The design's object is to decrease fuel use and reduce smoke in living spaces (both relative to open fires). None of that is relevant to our discussion except that it does confirm that wood fire cooking is practical at high altitudes and has been done for a long, long time.
There are several MYOG wood stove builders frequenting this site … perhaps one who has ready access to high altitude would be interested in experimenting with larger holes and air passages?Apr 7, 2010 at 6:12 am #1595204
@tallblokeLocale: DON'T LOOK DOWN!!
The way short volcano stoves and tapered designs like the Ti-tri get an advantage is in generating a better gas velocity on the incoming air. Higher altitude means less oxygen content per volume of air moved, so anything which delivers more oxygen to the combustion process is going to be beneficial.
This is also where the forced air designs using fans come into their own. I'm working on a prototype stove which uses three attached peltiers to generate a 5V supply at a big enough amperage to run a computer case fan as well as recharge a few AA batteries. The fan cools the outside face of the peltiers and the warmed air is then forced through into the combustion chamber. My current problem is that it's too effective and quickly goes into a runaway meltdown scenario. It would probably work well at 30,000 feet in it's current form. :o)Apr 7, 2010 at 8:09 am #1595231
@legkohodLocale: Eastern Europe / Caucasus
I've used my BushBuddy ONLY at altitude (8000-12000, Colorado CDT), so I can't compare to lower altitudes, but it seemed to work just fine, once we learned to light it properly.
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