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Can I Cook in my Tent?


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Home Forums Campfire Editor’s Roundtable Can I Cook in my Tent?

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Viewing 25 posts - 1 through 25 (of 68 total)
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  • #1322619
    Stephanie Jordan
    Spectator

    @maia

    Locale: Rocky Mountains

    Companion forum thread to:

    Can I Cook in my Tent?

    #2148373
    Ralph Burgess
    BPL Member

    @ralphbge

    Is this related to
    "Doctor, will I be able to play the piano after the operation?"

    #2148386
    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member

    @rcaffin

    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    > Is this related to
    > "Doctor, will I be able to play the piano after the operation?"
    I have no idea.

    Cheers

    #2148490
    Nick Gatel
    BPL Member

    @ngatel

    Locale: Southern California

    Thanks, Roger. I enjoyed this one.

    #2148542
    Luke Schmidt
    BPL Member

    @cameron

    Locale: Alaska

    Very nice Roger, I enjoyed it. I never cooked in my tent or under my tarp for a completely different reason. Any shelter I use could end up being the shelter I take to grizzly country. I know the odds are in my favor with bears but I do sleep better at night knowing the dominant smell in my tent is hiker funk not meatballs and spaghetti!

    Of course we could do an experiment… Roger could give 25 BPL members a free sample of his tent. The only catch is they have to take it too Alaska and cook inside it for a week. Whoever survives the bears could keep his/her tent. Roger could monitor from a safe distance and record the results for an awesome article on stoves, tents and bear safety. Wait maybe the lawyers might have something to say about that.

    In all seriousness though glad to know I could safely cook in a tent if I wanted too.

    #2148549
    Robert Blean
    BPL Member

    @blean

    Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras

    Good article, Roger, and I agree.

    I used to do a lot of eastern winter mountaineering and it never occurred to us to cook anywhere other than in out tents. Typically, by the time we got tents pitched for the night, it was dark or at least close — daylight hours were for traveling. We saw no point in being outside, inactive, while cooking in the snow with the temperatures usually -10F to -20F, and often substantial wind. Seemed a lot better to get into our warm sleeping bags and then cook from there. I get bemused by reading about the elaborate snow kitchens some seem to think important these days.

    We were more worried about steam from the cooking making things damp than we were about any stove hazards. We commonly used Primus 71L stoves (Svea 123 was OK, but too small a fuel tank, and Optimus 111B was too heavy) and then MSR stoves as they became available. We used 2 quart pots (cooking for 4), and melted a lot of snow as well as cooking food. I never saw any priming artifact that was large enough to be a concern — we were just careful to use minimal priming fluid (crack the stove to get a small amount of gas, close the valve, and light the *small* amount of gas we had just let out.

    Warm weather was a different story — more daylight and more pleasant outside conditions. We generally cooked outside (unless it was raining), not because if any safety concerns, but because it was more pleasant.

    –MV

    #2148558
    Billy Ray
    Spectator

    @rosyfinch

    Locale: the mountains

    I never cook in my tent.

    Even though you may not burn to death in your tent, it will surely ruin your day (or entire trip) if you melt you tent.

    Also… there is the smell. Don't want my gear to smell like food. Or attract bears.

    If the weather is too bad to cook, I just eat something cold.

    Billy

    #2148566
    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member

    @rcaffin

    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    Hi Billy

    > it will surely ruin your day (or entire trip) if you melt you tent.
    True, true … IF!
    Given how many meals I and others have cooked in our tents, the statistics seem to be on our side.

    > Also… there is the smell. Don't want my gear to smell like food. Or attract bears.
    Ah, there you have me. We have Koala Bears and Drop Bears, but no black bears or grizzly bears. A few grizzly walkers sometimes, but they don't count.
    I will add that our silnylon tents do not smell as a result of cooking anyhow.

    >If the weather is too bad to cook, I just eat something cold.
    Hehehe
    Try doing that for four nights in a row at 0 F in the snow at 3,000 m – bearing in mind that you won't have any drinking water all this time. Could be a problem there somehow.

    Cheers

    #2148571
    Robert Blean
    BPL Member

    @blean

    Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras

    It seems to me that the bears question is seasonal. Not so much problem with bears in the mountains in the winter, so I do not worry about cooking in the tent. I guess I have been assuming that any cooking odors are long gone by next summer — during the summer I'd just as soon cook somewhere other than anywhere in my campsite, let alone the tent.

    Eating cold food — I doubt that is practical with winter food. I'm not much into uncooked oatmeal flakes, pasta or rice. And Roger's point is critical — in the situations I have talked about there is no such thing as liquid water. I question the practicality of eating enough snow to supply your liquid needs for several days. OTOH as long as your only concern is the bears I guess you'd be willing to melt snow — I cannot imagine that attracting bears.

    –MV

    #2148582
    Ken Thompson
    BPL Member

    @here

    Locale: Right there

    I've always cooked in a tent. There's an issue?

    #2148596
    Bob Bankhead
    BPL Member

    @wandering_bob

    Locale: Oregon, USA

    Every human is born with a brain. Unfortunately, common sense and experience have to be acquired later.

    Proper use of all three greatly improves (but does not guarantee) your odds of survival.

    #2148603
    David Ure
    Member

    @familyguy

    I have never cooked in a tent but I backpack in black bear and grizzly territory. I always cook at least 75 meters from where I sleep. Yes, a small cooking tarp comes in handy.

    #2148627
    Bob .
    BPL Member

    @bcbob

    Locale: Vancouver Island

    "….I will add that our silnylon tents do not smell as a result of cooking anyhow…."

    That suggests I can keep my food in my tent. I carry it in a 5L dry bag. It doesn't smell of food either….. to me.

    Of course a bear can smell it just fine. I would never cook in a tent. The tent and everything in it would carry a food smell for far longer than I'm aware of it.

    #2148652
    J-L
    BPL Member

    @johnnyh88

    Cooking for me involves boiling water and then pouring the boiling water in a bag to rehydrate my dinner. Eating involves removing the food from the bag with a spoon and then into my mouth. I cannot imagine this imparts much "food smell" to my tent. Especially since the conditions that warrant cooking in a tent (rain, wind, rough weather) will probably blow away a majority of the smell.

    My clothes probably already have a slight food smell to them from the odor from cooking. And my whole pack probably has a slight food smell to it from carrying food in it and in my hipbelt pockets.

    I will agree that with bears it is best to cook away from your tent when possible. And that a cooking tarp is great (I bring one group trips). But I think people may underestimate how much food smell is already on them and their gear. I think hanging your food away from your tent is the most important thing.

    #2148656
    Mike Cecot-Scherer
    BPL Member

    @mikescherer

    Thanks Roger, absolutely spot on.

    Thank you so much for saying what those of us in the industry cannot – correction – dare not say.

    As an addendum, Here's an intersting link regarding the fire retardancy chemicals used by the vast majority of manufacturers in the US:
    http://www.alternet.org/personal-health/tent-camping-america-one-big-toxic-experience?src=newsletter1014909&paging=off&current_page=1#bookmark

    -Mike

    #2148673
    Mitchell Ebbott
    Spectator

    @mebbott-2

    Locale: SoCal

    Not the most irenic introduction, but good article nonetheless.

    #2148675
    Billy Ray
    Spectator

    @rosyfinch

    Locale: the mountains

    >If the weather is too bad to cook, I just eat something cold.
    Hehehe
    Try doing that for four nights in a row at 0 F in the snow at 3,000 m – bearing in mind that you won't have any drinking water all this time. Could be a problem there somehow."

    WEll.. I did manage a 3 week climb of Mt McKinley though storms without cooking once inside my tent. We hit -40F on that climb :)

    Regarding your claim that your silnylon does not smell from cooking… well smell is a funny thing… some people's sense of smell is better than others… and bears can smell lots of things that you can't. If you're in bear country, best to cook away from your tent… and certainly NOT in it.

    billy

    #2148696
    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member

    @rcaffin

    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    Hi Mike

    Thanks. And the alternet URL was very good.

    The only things worse than corrupt businessmen are corrupt politicians and corrupt preachers.

    Cheers

    #2148709
    Theron Rohr
    BPL Member

    @theronr

    Locale: Los Angeles, California

    I'm going to go out on a limb and call bogus on the bear issue. I hate it when concern about food smells is used as a reason to shut down a discussion because a lot of people don't camp near bears and can't respond to the argument. (For the record I camp in California and they do have black bears – I know, not Grizzlies but I still get to participate in the discussion :)

    Yes we all know that you shouldn't store food in your tent and that bears have an amazing sense of smell. But if you think about it part of their amazing sense of smell is to be able to tell the difference between a tent that has a pot of spaghetti sauce in it and one that used to have a pot of spaghetti sauce in it earlier or last week. If a bear is crossing a mile of territory just to investigate a tent that had a pot of spaghetti in it last week then that bear just wasted a lot of energy for no payoff. I call bogus.

    #2148711
    Bob Gross
    BPL Member

    @b-g-2-2

    Locale: Silicon Valley

    "corrupt politicians"

    I think that you are repeating yourself.

    –B.G.–

    #2148731
    Billy Ray
    Spectator

    @rosyfinch

    Locale: the mountains

    Here's the visitor you risk if you cook in your tent in bear country:

    https://search.yahoo.com/search?p=bear+candy+bar+tent&ei=UTF-8&fr=moz35

    not good.

    billy

    #2148734
    Hikin’ Jim
    BPL Member

    @hikin_jim

    Locale: Orange County, CA, USA

    Excellent article.

    I do note that the article seems to be implying that HEET contains ethyl alcohol.

    The problem with ethyl alcohol is that one cannot normally buy pure ethyl alcohol: one buys something vaguely called “methylated spirits” or other terms such as HEET.

    HEET, unless the formulation has radically changed recently, is 99% methyl alcohol. See MSDS for HEET. Perhaps a clarification is in order?

    To quote the MSR instructions for their XGK stove: “A brief soccer ball size flame is normal”.

    Well, yes, but with a bit of finesse, one can get that priming flame much smaller, particularly on stoves that have an at-the-burner valve like the Dragonfly, Nova, and Omnifuel. Better still is to use alcohol for priming as you alluded to in your article. Not that I'm advocating the use of white gas stove in a tent!

    “We do recommend against cooking in a tent. But when you have no other choice, use kerosene in a model G/K stove for relative safety because kerosene is far less volatile than gasoline.”

    My old XGK's instructions say exactly that, but someone has lined them out with a marker. It looks like someone ordered the instructions modified until new instructions could be printed. Larry Penberthy, the founder of MSR, was himself a climber. I believe (but don't know for sure) that the instructions remained as quoted above until the company was sold and Penberthy was no longer in charge. My memory says the sale occurred in the early 1980's. The sale was to REI. Cascade Designs currently owns MSR.

    HJ
    Adventures In Stoving
    Hikin' Jim's Blog

    #2148736
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    "The only things worse than corrupt businessmen are corrupt politicians and corrupt preachers."

    In the final analysis, they're all businessmen.

    #2148737
    Bob .
    BPL Member

    @bcbob

    Locale: Vancouver Island

    "….But if you think about it part of their amazing sense of smell is to be able to tell the difference between a tent that has a pot of spaghetti sauce in it and one that used to have a pot of spaghetti sauce in it earlier or last week…."

    That doesn't mean they won't be interested/curious enough to give it a go.

    A bear like this that comes into camp (for whatever reason) and attacks as this one did is likely reacting to a food smell in the tent or has been trained by other campers to associate tents with food.

    If that bear comes into MY camp, would I rather be sleeping in the tent that smells like food or the one that doesn't? I think I know the answer (hint: I like both my ears).

    #2148738
    Neil Williams
    Member

    @njwilliams449

    One technique for the snow not illustrated in the article is to dig a hole about 1 foot deep and 2 feet wide in the vestibule, which gives an extra foot of space between the stove and the tent if there is a flare-up, more storage space in the vestibule, somewhere to put your feet while taking your boots off and on and an easier entrance under a low vestibule. Bears are not a problem – koalas are herbivores and don't like spag bol.

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