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Solid fuel stoves come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, some are complicated and heavy, some are complicated and light, others are simple and heavy and a few actually manage to combine simple and light into a reasonably useful package.

The first thing I’m going to do is admit that I’m not really a fan of cooking with solid (Hexamine, Esbit, etc) fuel … now that’s out of the way, I will confess that it does have certain qualities that lend themselves well to travelling quickly, while carrying as little as possible. It’s fairly light and compact, it’s easy to pack, you can’t spill it and it’s not overly effected by temperature or altitude … but the best thing about it is, you don’t need a cooker.

Base of tree + stick + stone = brew.


All commercially available stoves are simply a platform to burn your fuel on, with a support for your pot perched above, some might incorporate a windshield in there somewhere too.

So, if all that’s required is something to stand the fuel on and something else to hold your pot above it, do we really require a dedicated stove? Chances are that at any point in time you’ll be surrounded by everything needed to assemble a makeshift ‘stove’. I can’t think of any situation you might find yourself in where the natural resources couldn’t meet the requirements … and that includes everywhere from a desert to snowy, frozen wasteland.

Sticks ‘n stones.


Okay, the first thing to find is something to stand your fuel on. If you can find a bare patch of earth, gravel or sand, etc then there’s no need to bother, the fuel won’t produce enough downwards heat to burn those. If you’re setting up on something a little more delicate, then find yourself something that won’t burn … ‘cmon it’s not difficult.

Everything you need at the side of the river.

When it comes to a pot support be creative … make a tripod from from sticks, utilise tree roots, use stones, pile soil up, anything to keep your pot roughly 1″ above the fuel. The ability of your fuel to boil water will be greatly increased if you can fabricate some kind of windshield too.

Try to incorporate some wind protection.

If you’re in a rush then this probably isn’t the set up for you but if the idea of carrying the very minimum appeals, then keep your eyes open, be inventive and go ‘cookerless’.

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