Camp Stoves Demand Respect

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    Kirby Kinkead


    Camp Stoves Demand Respect

    Two in a Series of Five Camping Gear Care Articles

    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.

    · Is it difficult to prime?
    · Is it stable?
    · Does it need a windscreen?

    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 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 go to: 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 on the trail.

    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.


    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.

    Kirby Kinkead is a camper, backpacker, and outdoor enthusiast. See his other camping gear tips at: Contact him by email: [email protected].

    John austin


    This is all good advice. I reommend everybody use there stove to get use to it. If you on the other hand carry a simple alcohol stove 95% of the usual problems and weight of the complicated canister and gas stoves is eliminated. And even if you spill your fuel in your pack it will just evaporate and leave no mess or smell. this is very close to the perfect system for cooking with nothing to clog ,break,wear or get out of adjustment and you always know exactly how much fuel you have left.—life is good!!!

    Daniel Peterson


    I agree with trying it out before you go. I have a Dragon fly that I was going to take with me last weekend. I set it made a pot of coffee and everything worked fine. I should have been ready go. I put it away and packed it. When we go to the camp site I had a terrible time getting it to light and then it sputtered and would not stay lite. My friend has the same stove and we were going to have a 3 course meal using both stoves. So much for that idea. I messed around with it for awhile but could not get it to work. I am glad he had his along or it would have been boiling water over a campfire. I have still not figured out what is wrong with it. And I thought I was being prepared.

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