Lightweight Wood Burning Backpacking Stove
I always liked to cook over an open fire. I usually pack a light weight metal grate about 12 X 16 inches which I suspend over a stone fire pit about 6-8 inches above the coals. When I finally got the hang of it, controlling the cooking temperature was not too difficult. Three rules I have when building a cooking fire:
1. Strart a larger fire first and let it burn down until you have a bed of coals.
2. Have a supply of short, dry 3/4"- 1" diameter kindling on hand to feed the fire.
3. Keep the flames low. Cooking temperature tends to run very high, very quickly when the flames get too high.
Back packing stoves and fuel can consume a fair amount of weight in your pack. Sometimes traditional backpacking stoves are required if you want to cook or heat food when you are camping in an area with fire ban. I've found that some of the small stoves are handy if all you want to do is heat some water or partially cook a meal. These stoves are some what cleaner,quicker to start, and more convenient than open fire cooking, but the heat output, although easy to regulate can be low.
I notice that food cooked over an open fire seems to taste better. Maybe its the smoke or maybe its that the cooking temperature rises quickly with a fire.
I recently purchased what I thought would be a fair compromise between traditional back packing stoves and cooking on a grate over an open fire. I purchased the 180 Stove from:
It is a lightweight stainless steel boxed fire grate, under which natural fuel can be burned for a cooking fire. It has a 6" x 7" cooking surface, is about 3-1/4" high and weighs about 10 ounces. it can be folded up to about 7" x 3-1/2" x 0.6". It can be purchased from this site for about $49.
In my opinion this is a bit pricey. I think if I put my mind to it I could make something comparable for much less.
The stove works well and does a great job of containing the heat, which provides a hot cooking surface. The stove is easy to assemble but a bit flimsy until it is completely assembled and set in place. It will support a fair amount of weight but the cooking surface is small so, you're back to cooking in one pot just like the traditional backpacking stove. And of course cooking over a fire causes soot to accumulate. Not a fault of the stove.
It is small enough to throw into your pack for a backup or if you are a minimalist it would work fine as your primary stove, providing you are adept at starting a fire in all weather conditions that you may encounter.