Lighting stove easier than gathering wood

Published 9:34 pm Wednesday, July 11, 2001

Sports Columnist
Roasting marshmallows over a crackling campfire while sipping a steaming cup of coffee and listening to the night critters sing is one of the ultimate relaxation experiences. But cooking a meal over an open fire requires gathering lots of wood and cleaning soot off pots and pans before snuggling into your sleeping bag.
The modern camp stove offers tired outdoor adventurers the luxury of a cooking fire with only the striking of a match and turning a valve. Even the little Sterno stove can cook a small meal and keep the coffee hot.
Modern camp stores are available in the lightweight backpack units that weigh less than one pound to the three burner units that have their own stand and can cook a log rollers meal as fast as grandma can at home. The type stove to buy is dictated by the type of camping or outdoor activity you are involved in. Backpackers primary concerns are weight and space considerations. The car camper is not so limited and can opt for the two or three burner propane or liquid fuel stoves.
One of the biggest choices that has to be made in selecting stoves today is the fuel selection. Using the small propane containers eliminates the often messy pouring and pumping required of liquid fuel stoves as propane cylinders are under regulated pressure. The drawbacks of using the propane cylinders are: it is hard to determine how much fuel you have left in a cylinder and the disposal of used cylinders. Always carry one more cylinder than you think you will need.
If space and transportation permit, the five and ten pound bulk propane containers are an excellent choice. These cylinders can be refilled at approximately half the cost of purchasing the same volume in disposable cylinders and they are refillable, eliminating the disposal hassle.
While a bit messy, liquid fuel stoves remain popular. The one or two gallon can of fuel, which is basically naphtha, can be bought in rural locations across the country. This super refined fuel burns clean and is considerably less expensive than propane. Many campers use unleaded gasoline in their stoves rather than the more refined Coleman Fuel. Although this works, the life of the stove's generator can be shortened considerably in older models.
Some of the newer Coleman stoves are designed to operate on unleaded gas as well as the standard stove fuel. The generator in these new stoves is designed to reduce clogging and increase vaporization.
When camping, I often think about the early settlers of this great country as they traveled west in covered wagons. I think of how they could have used some of our modern camping equipment. Just imagine how much easier it would have been to strike a match or turn the igniter button on a camp stove, rather than scouring the prairie for a bucket full of buffalo chips to cook supper with.

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