Fire lighting – Ignition

The Fire Triangle in action

This article outlines the main fire lighting options that are specific to bushcraft applications, in the Northern Hemisphere.

There are a number of ways to light a fire, with various tinder and ignition options available.

What you use will ultimately depend on your environment and what you have with you.

For this article, we will concentrate on the equipment used to start a fire, using a spark, flame or other magical force.

After reading this post, you should have a solid understanding of the different firefighting methods available and how to implement them effectively in the outdoor environment.

Matches

Picture of matchbox
Matchbox

Although it has slightly fallen out of favour to the more widely used lighter, the humble match is still a great option for fire lighting, as long as you take a few precautions.

It is good practice to become proficient at lighting a fire with just one match.

This way you do not to go through all your matches just to get a single fire lit.

Ideally, you should be aiming for one match, one fire!

This is easier said than done, but with practice and with the correct preparation, this can be achieved consistently.

Remember, prepare your kindling and fuel in advance, so that everything is ready to go.

Good practice

Keep the matches dry: it sounds obvious, but it’s easy to forget about your matches until you go to use them.

Matches and moisture don’t do well together – the heads will soften and disintegrate when trying to strike them.

Store your matches correctly, in a dry environment.

A dedicated waterproof matchbox is the best bet, such as a 35mm film canister, with a section of the striker glued to the inside lid.

If you have the time, you can also make one out of birch bark.

Ray Mears has a video on how to make one below:

How to light a match correctly

Everyone can light a match, can’t they? Well yes, but most don’t do it correctly. And why would they?

Most of the time it’s not the end of the world if you go through a few matches at home, lighting the BBQ or some candles.

If you are out in the field though, away from it all, it can really matter!

You need to get maximum use out of those matches and not use half the box to get a fire lit.

It may be your only ignition source, so learn to make them count.

Correct fire lighting technique

Assuming your matches are dry, the most important thing to have ready, before you even think about getting a match out of the box, is your kindling and main fuel source.

Using a standard pack of matches, find out which way the heads are facing. 

If the weather is dry, open the matches however you like. It will not make much difference.

Should it be raining or snowing though, open the pack from the other end (stick end) and keep the open end pointing downwards.

Put your back to the wind if it is raining, to shield the pack even further.

This is to stop any chance of a water droplet, or snowflake, getting in there, potentially ruining your match heads.

Assuming your hands are dry, take one match from the box by pulling one out and downwards.

Close the box. 

Hold the box in one hand, with the striker facing towards the match in the other hand.

Grip the match at the bottom of the stick with your index finger and thumb.

You now also want to place your middle finger directly on the match head itself.

This provides support to the match head and minimises the chance of it snapping on you.

If you have not done this before, you can be forgiven for being a little nervous about burning this finger when you go to strike the match.

However, in practice, the striking action is so fast, that your finger will be well out the way of the burning match head before it gets a chance to burn you.

You should naturally remove the middle finder when you strike and just have the match gripped between the thumb and index finger.

Strike the match!

Now that you have lit the match, immediately cup your hands and shield the flame.

You do not want the flame blowing out from a gust of wind. 

After a few seconds, the flame should establish and the main wooden stick should start to take and establish a stronger flame.

Now carefully take your flame to your kindling and keep it shielded while you ignite it. 

Once you have lit the kindling, you should now have an established flame that you can slowly build on with your different wood sizes, until you have a well-established fire.

Once the fire is stable and doesn’t need your constant attention, place the matches back in their box – not on damp ground.

Place back inside your pocket/backpack etc, to ensure they are kept dry.

You only used one match didn’t you, so you have plenty left for next time 🙂

Cigarette lighters

Clipper Lighter Bushcraft Firelighting
Standard refillable gas lighter

It doesn’t need much explaining and indeed some would regard it as cheating, but we all use lighters from time to time. 

They are fast and reliable.

Even though this is a common igniter, I would 100% advise that you practice and become proficient in the other methods (match, firesteel, etc), in all weathers.

This ensures that you can light a fire confidently, in a variety of conditions and environments, with multiple ignition options at your disposal.

If one fails you have another to use – it always pays to have a backup option.

Gas lighters

The disposable type is the most common and what most people think of when they think of a lighter.

I would urge you not to use disposable lighters if you can, as they are not great for the environment.

A good standard one that I like is the Clipper. They are refillable and you can replace the flints in them when needed.

They also just work! 

Windproof lighters: Another gas option is the windproof type – sometimes known as a butane torch.

These are designed for lighting up in bad conditions, by providing a jet like flame.

They use a piezo ignition and create quite a roar, which in turn uses up more gas than the standard type above.

The only problem with these types of lighter is that I am yet to find one that is reliable, as they all seem to break pretty quickly and stop igniting, hence me not recommending them.

If you do find a good one though, please let me know in the comments below.

Petrol lighters

Black Zippo Lighter
My trusty Zippo

One of my favourites is the petrol lighter, or to be exact a Zippo.

I just really like these and have used my trusty black version for donkey’s years.

They are solid and have that great unique ‘Zippo’ sound when opening and closing.

They are refillable, using the recommended specific lighter fluid – but at a push, you can also use other fuels, such as petrol or Coleman fuel.

Be very careful with these though and follow directions.

You can also replace the flints and wicks on them – and genuine Zippos also come with a lifetime guarantee.

The fuel can evaporate if left for a while, but if you are a regular user, these are a great option.

Correct technique

Using a lighter is pretty instinctive and I’m not going to insult you my telling how to light one up. There is only one way to do it.

However, I will mention trying to avoid rolling the strike wheel the wrong way, as this messes up the flint. That’s all I will say.

Once lit, as with matches, cup your hands to protect the flame whilst it ignites your kindling.

Place back in your pocket and get that fire roaring!

Ferro rods

Swedish Fire Steel - Light My Fire - Ferro Rod - Ferrocerium - Fire Lighting
Swedish Fire Steel – Light My Fire

The original ferro rods were composed of a mixture of 30% iron (ferrum) and the rare earth metal cerium – hence ferrocerium rod.

In recent times, this has been shortened to ferro rod, but is also known as a Swedish fire steel – or just fire steel.

Modern-day ferro rods are made from an alloy of rare-earth metals, known as mischmetal, which includes iron and magnesium to harden the material.

When struck with the back of a knife, or metallic striker, this action causes the metals to shed from the rod and combust.

This produces incredibly hot sparks – that can reach temperatures of around 3000 deg ℃ (5432 ℉).

If you have a good dry tinder such as some scraped birch bark or amadou, these sparks will ignite it very efficiently, with just a few strokes.

Ferro rods are incredibly simple in design and will last a very long time – that is their beauty.

They are very low maintenance and will still strike in all conditions, even if it is wet and cold.

They are an excellent tool, even if you only carry one as a backup to your lighter – I would always recommend carrying one when you are out.


Which ones are good?

Most firesteels are able to create a good shower of sparks.

Some are easier to use than others, with different lengths coming into play and handle options.

Some people like to take the time to make a custom firesteel, by affixing a handle made from deer antler or similar onto a blank rod. This makes for a nice looking tool.

Most standard options have a plastic handle though and are a solid, no-fuss option.

The one I currently use is the Light My Fire – 2.0 firesteel.

Light My Fire are a Swedish company, with their factory based in Västervik

They have been around a long time, and this simple to use and uncomplicated design makes this a great choice if you are looking for a decent ferro rod.

Flint and steel

Flint and steel striker in hand - fire lighting
Traditional flint and steel striker

The flint and steel is a traditional and time served fire lighting method.

When the steel striker hits the flint, the flint removes a very small piece of the striker’s metal and this creates a spark.

Not the other way around as is commonly believed.

You will not get anywhere near the same amount of sparks as you would with a fire steel, but this method does work and is ultra reliable.

The sparks produced are known as ‘cold sparks’, so you will need to be patient and try and catch one while it’s still glowing.

If you manage to get this spark to land on your chosen tinder, such as char cloth or some birch bark, you can then blow on this to encourage ignition.

As per the video below, you will need a nice sharp stone for this to work correctly, so that the small fragments of metal are removed.

Flint is ideal for this due to its ability to shed material and leave an incredibly sharp edge as it flakes away.

You can obtain some locally, or bring some in and keep it in a pouch along with your striker and tinder.

With some practice and correct technique, this is a great, reliable method, that has very little to go wrong.

Fire piston

Camp Fire Piston - Slam Rod - Fire Starter
The Camp Fire Piston – USA made

A fire piston – sometimes known as a slam rod – uses compressed air to ignite a small piece of tinder.

The fire piston is made up of two sections, one male part, one female.

The tinder – usually a piece of char cloth (see below) – is placed at the end section of the male part.

The male part then slides into the female (sorry).

When pushed down with force, the airtight seal causes the air inside to compress and raises the temperature to around 250 ℃.

This is usually hot enough to ignite the tinder.

The male part can now be removed and the ember placed onto your awaiting main tinder.

You can now blow on this to get your fire going.

Which one to get

There are a multitude of fire pistons on the market, with the bulk coming from China.

If you can, go for an American made fire piston.

One that works and also looks great is the Campfire Piston. It is made in the USA out of hickory wood.

A good video showing the fire piston in use can be viewed below:

Bow drill

A bow drill set is a great tool to use in the Northern Hemisphere and can create a good ember even with slightly damp wood.

You will need the following parts to create one:

Bow section: the main part that is drawn back and forward to create the drilling action. This is a formed from a carefully selected tree branch.

Cord: this attaches to the bow and is what grips and spins the drill. 550 paracord is usually used for this.

Drill section: this is what spins and ‘drills’ into the hearth below to create an ember.

Bearing block: used to create a low friction ‘cup’ that sits on top of the drill section and is held in place with your non-dominant hand.

Hearth: the base section of wood that stays fixed in place and is ‘drilled’ into, to create an ember.

Ray Mears demonstrates the process in the video below:

For an even more detailed look, MCQBushcraft has an excellent video on this also.

Magnifying glass

A very basic but effective method is to start a fire from a lense, usually a magnifying glass.

If you carry a standard plate compass, such as the Silva Expedition 4, then you will have a magnifying lens built into the compass.

You do need bright sunlight for this to work, but assuming the sun is strong enough, you can move the lens closer to the tinder until you have a small concentrated spot of light, that is laser focussed on your tinder.

If the beam of light is intense enough, the tinder will start to smoke and with a little help – eventually, ignite.

This is a great method to use, as it enables your compass to have a dual purpose.

Not much use if it’s cloudy though!

Summary

As you can see, there are many different ways to get a fire going. I would encourage you to try and master as many methods as you can.

Not only is it fun, it could save your bacon one day and is certainly not wasted effort.

We positively encourage you to leave a comment below or contact us to let us know what you think, good or bad.

We read them all.

Until the next time….

James

Bushcraft Hub

Camp Dutch Oven Cooking

Dutch oven cowboy baked beans

Dutch ovens provide a fantastic way to cook outdoors.

This article guides you through everything you need to know about camp dutch oven cooking, from selection to care and maintenance.

There are also some tasty recipes to try out!

Let’s jump in!

What is a camp Dutch oven?

A dutch oven that is designed for outdoor use, is commonly known as a camp dutch oven.

Put simply they are a cooking vessel, constructed of heavy, cast iron material, that allows you to cook efficiently over an open fire.

These ovens enable you to cook a wide variety of foods, from bread to more exotic main meals and will serve you well for your camp cooking needs.

This article explains what they do and how you can use them within bushcraft and other outdoor activities.

Camp Dutch oven cooking coals on lid

History of the Dutch oven

The dutch ovens of today owe their original design to Englishman, Abraham Darcy after he travelled to Holland to look for a better way to mould metals.

At the time, the Dutch were experts in casting brass pots using sand, which was a different method to that of loam and clay, which the Brits used.

He returned to England and decided to use cast iron instead of brass to make the pot, and the first incarnation of the cast-iron ‘dutch oven’ was born.

During the American colonial era, legs and a lid flange were added.

This version of Dutch ovens (legs or without) is what we know these days as a camp Dutch oven and were the cooking vessels favoured by the early American pioneers.

Often mentioned in peoples wills, as to who they should go to upon the owner’s death, they were an item of great importance and value.

They were the oven of choice for the famous Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804 – 1806, as they travelled and mapped the waterways from Pittsburgh in the East, to the Pacific coast out West.

These days, dutch oven cooking is very much alive and well, with a multitude of organisations around the world, such as the International Dutch Oven Society, still practising this fun, tasty and authentic way of cooking.

Design and features

Most ovens are made of cast iron and black in colour (unless rusty) – and have a pot and lid section.

There are some aluminium dutch oven designs out there, such as the GSI version, but these are not so common.

Most designs usually have a large carrying handle, which also allows the oven to be suspended over a fire, using a purpose-made tripod or pot hanger.

As above, most camp-style ovens also have 3 legs on the bottom, which are designed to let the oven sit directly in the fire’s embers, whilst providing stability and keeping the main pot raised above the coals.

Some users prefer not to have these legs though, which we will get into later.

As a large part of the camp Dutch oven cooking process comes from the heat above it, they all include a lid that is designed to have embers placed on top of them.

This allows heat to come from above and below.

This lid features a lip around its edge that stops the embers from falling into the pot when the lid is lifted – and into your food!

Due to their cast iron construction, they are heavy, so are not really suited to any hiking activities!

However, if you have a vehicle to transport it in, such as a car, 4wd or canoe, they are an excellent option for your campfire cooking, especially if you are staying put for a while.

Why do some Dutch ovens have legs?

Lodge Camp Dutch Oven

As above, you can buy a camp-style dutch oven with legs, or without legs.

The rest of the oven is generally identical.

What you go for will depend on how you intend to use the oven and your needs.

Indeed Ray Mears comments in the video below that he prefers a dutch oven without legs, due to the possibility of them breaking when being stored and transported in vehicles.

Take a look at Ray baking some bread below to see what I mean – it’s also a good recipe!

As you can see, he’s opting for no legs, due to the portability factor.

Our opinion:

We would argue that the legs are very robust, and do not get damaged with normal use and transportation.

You should be storing your oven in a better manner if that’s a problem, but everyone has their views, and they do indeed have the potential to catch on things.

If you are solely going to cook on a tripod with your oven, above a fire, then the legs may not be necessary for you and it may be best to go for a simple legless pot.

If however, you are only going to buy one oven, and want to be able to use it straight on top of embers, with the added functionality of still being able to use it on a tripod, we would opt for the legged variety, as it allows you to comfortably do both.

Of course, the best thing is to have two ovens, one with legs, one without and you can then choose which one is best suited to your trip – or take both.

How to season a cast iron Dutch oven

As with all cast iron cookware, a dutch oven will need to be seasoned before it can be used.

Many ovens now come pre-seasoned, so you can technically cook on them straight away.

However, this factory seasoning can almost always be improved on, so it would be wise to season the oven yourself before use regardless.

This is an essential process to get your oven off to a good start.

Does a Dutch oven need to be seasoned?

Cast iron in its raw state, will rust and is not non-stick.

In order to make it non-stick, we must first correctly season the iron.

This seasoning process applies a very thin layer of oil to the metal surface of the oven, which is then placed inside a larger oven or stovetop and heated to a very high temperature.

This process ‘bakes’ the fat onto the metal, to form a hard and protective layer on the oven surface, known as seasoning.

This technical name for this is polymerization.

This ‘baked-on’ layer (which is actually a chemical reaction between the hot iron and the fat), stops the oven from oxidizing, keeping rust at bay.

Done correctly, this now provides a natural, non-stick coating to the surface. 

This aids the cooking process and obviously helps prevent food from sticking to your pot.

With care, as you use your oven in the future, this protective layer will build and improve further.

How to season a cast iron Dutch oven and lid

If your dutch oven comes with a yellow waxy coating on it (which is a rarity these days) this will need to be completely removed before starting.

This waxy coating has been placed on by the manufacturer to protect the oven from rust during transportation and storage.

Wax fully removed, start by cleaning away any surface residue from the cast iron.

You need to get down to the bare metal.

To do this, use a scouring pad or some steel wool with hot soapy water, and scrub well, all over the pot and lid.

Rinse all surfaces well with clean water.

TipIf you have a used, rusty pan, follow this process also, until all the surface rust is removed and you are back down to the bare metal again.

Dry thoroughly with a tea towel, ideally lint-free.

Once towel dry, let the oven air dry, or even better place in another low-temperature oven, so that any moisture is completely removed from the surface.

You can also place the oven on a burner and watch the surface change colour from the bottom upwards, as the water evaporates.

This ensures the metal is completely dry.

Now leave to cool.

With the oven now completely clean and dry – apply a thin layer of vegetable oil to all of its surfaces – inside and out, on both the pot and lid sections.

Wipe off the excess oil, so that it looks like the oven is almost dry again.

Don’t worry, there will still be a very thin layer of oil on the surface, which is what you want.

The best oils for seasoning cast iron

It’s best to use vegetable oil – which can be made from soybean, canola (rapeseed) or sunflower oil.

However, all cooking oils and fats can be used for the seasoning process.

100% pure flaxseed oil is very good, although this can be expensive.

Alternatively, you can also use melted shortening.

You ideally want a ‘drying oil’, that hardens as it heats and doesn’t leave an oily residue.

I keep it simple and use standard vegetable oil.

In the UK is usually either rapeseed oil or sunflower oil.

This currently works well for me.

Heating process

You now need to get the dutch oven very hot in order to seal it.

You will need to use your kitchen oven if your camp oven will fit inside.

Alternatively, you can use a kettle type BBQ so that the lid creates an oven in itself.

As the dutch oven now has a thin layer of oil on it, this process can cause some smoke, as the oil heats up.

Therefore, this process is best done outside if you can, but if you have to do this inside, prepare accordingly by ensuring good ventilation.

As with most things like this, it’s best to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for your particular dutch oven.

As a general guideline, you will want to get your oven up to around 205 ℃ / 400 F for the seasoning process to work correctly.

Once complete, this process seals the oven, protecting it from rust and giving the oven its natural non-stick coating.

If you are looking for a perfect finish, this process may need to be repeated a few times (4-6) to get the desired result.

With careful use, cleaning and storage, the oven should not need seasoning again and the seasoned layer will actually improve over time.

If it does need doing again, and your pan starts to rust, or the seasoned layer is just not up to standard anymore, simply follow the steps above to restore it back to its full glory.

The short Lodge video below also goes through a similar process.

Fuel for Dutch ovens

You can use a variety of fuels with your oven.

If out in the woods, you may have some decent dry firewood available to you.

If using this, you want a type that produces a good bed of embers when it burns down, as these are what provides the majority of heat for your oven.

Go for hardwoods like Oak and Ash if you can, as these will produce a good bed of embers.

Softwoods will burn quickly and will work, but will not produce as good a bed of embers like the above hardwoods will.

How to use a Dutch oven with charcoal

You can also use charcoal, which is a popular choice, which you can bring with you.

This generally comes in either lump wood or briquette form.

Either is good, but the briquettes seem to hold the heat for the longest time and give a good steady burn.

Tip – If using charcoal, an easy way to get your coals going is to use a chimney starter, such as the Weber version pictured below.

Charcoal chimney starter for camp dutch oven cooking - bushcraft cooking
A chimney starter gets the coals lit using just newspaper – no lighter fuel required!

How many coals do I need for a camp oven?

If using wood, it’s a bit more of a guess as to the number of embers that you need.

It depends on the wood used and oven size.

Experience will help you get a good idea of cooking times and temperature for your oven, so get cooking and find out what works.

If using charcoal, the rough rule of thumb is to use twice the amount of coals as to your oven size.

So, if you have a 12″ oven, then you need 24 coals.

This is quite simplistic but is a good rough guide.

For a more exact heat and coal number, including the amount that should be placed above and below – the table below shows the suggested amount.

Dutch oven coal temperature chart

Dutch oven coal temperature chart

Cleaning a camp oven

A good cleaning and maintenance regime will keep your oven in tip-top condition.

Clean your oven as below:

  • Scrape all food residues to loosen them from the surface and remove.
  • Pour in some hot water and scrub with a brush until all food residue is removed. Use some washing up liquid if necessary.
  • Rinse out with fresh water and dry with a lint-free tea towel or similar and leave to air dry.
  • Now place a small amount of vegetable oil in the pan, and wipe this around both sides of the pot and lid, so that all the surfaces are coated with a very thin layer of oil.
  • Your oven is now clean and ready for its next use.

Can you use soap to clean a dutch oven?

The short answer is yes. There is no issue using a mild detergent, such as washing up liquid to clean a dutch oven.

There is a common misconception that the soap will remove the seasoned layer, as soap breaks down fat and it is this fat that forms the seasoning.

However, the fat has gone through a chemical process when the oven was seasoned and is chemically bonded to the metal through this heat process.

It will therefore not be removed with soap, so feel free to use it if required.

How to store your cast iron Dutch oven

Store your oven in a clean, dry, well-ventilated area.

Your oven should have a very thin layer of oil on all of its surfaces to protect it during storage.

Do not use lard or similar, as this can go rancid if left for a long period.

Use vegetable oil and wipe off any excess.

If storing the pot and lid together, leave a small gap by placing a folded up tea towel or similar between the pot and the lid. 

This will allow fresh air to circulate inside the oven, allowing any moisture to escape and help prevent any rust from forming.

What utensils do you use with a Dutch oven?

You can use all normal cooking utensils in your oven, both wood and metal, without them damaging the seasoned layer.

Just use them with care though and don’t be too rough.

How long will a camp dutch oven last for?

Properly cared for, your oven should easily outlast you and can be handed down to the next generation.

They should easily last 100 years or more and there is no reason why they can’t last for a few hundred years.

There is something deeply satisfying about owning and using something that you know will still be able to be used by your family, long after you have gone.

Not the dying bit though!!!

Purchasing one should definitely be considered an investment and is why I would recommend purchasing a good quality one from the outset – and looking after it.

What size dutch oven should I buy for camping?

The 8-quart (12 inch) is a good size for cooking larger meals, for multiple persons, but is also fine for smaller meals too.

We have this size, as it is a good all-rounder, whatever you decide to cook.

We’re also gluttons when it comes to food like this, so having some extra available is no bad thing in our opinion – it will all disappear 🙂

There are different sizes available to suit your needs, so go with what you feel is best for you.

A smaller size will do if you generally only cook for 1-2 people.

What is the best camp oven to buy?

Camp Dutch Oven Cooking - Lodge - Cowboy Beans
Rustling up some Cowboy Beans

As with most things in life, you get what you pay for.

There are multiple brands of camp dutch ovens on the market, with the cheaper ovens often being made in China.

These are often of a much lower quality than the USA or European brands – that’s just a fact.

If that’s all you can afford, or just want to dip your toe in and try dutch oven cooking, then these will certainly have their uses – you may end up disappointed though.

We always strongly recommend going for the best kit you can afford – it usually works out cheaper in the long run.

If you go for one of the decent makes, and your dutch oven ends up lasting you 100 years or more, that initial investment will seem quite insignificant, given the years of use and enjoyment that you and your family get out of it.

With that in mind, we would recommend either Lodge or Petromax dutch ovens.

Is Lodge a good Dutch oven brand?

Camp Dutch Oven Stew

Yes. They are considered the best brand out there.

We personally own and currently use the Lodge 8-quart 12 inch – deep camp dutch oven.

We went for this as Lodge, in our opinion, make the best ovens and have a great pedigree. 

They are made in Lodge’s USA factory, to a very high standard. 

They are pricey, especially in Europe, but as above, we view it as an investment and see it as great value considering what you are getting in return.

No-nonsense and great looking, these will last you and your family a very long time indeed.

Links: US | UK | CAN

Petromax Dutch ovens

Petromax Camp Dutch Oven

A good alternative to the Lodge is the Petromax oven.

They also produce camp dutch ovens with leg and non-leg options.

The lid on these is a bit more elaborate than the Lodge’s and are a bit harder to keep clean, but is not so much of an issue that it should stop you from buying one.

Where are petromax Dutch ovens made?

Petromax are made in Germany, not China like so many other brands – so this gives you some peace of mind over their build quality

They certainly look nice and are a great alternative to the Lodge.

Links: US | UK | CAN

Camp dutch oven inspections

When you receive your dutch oven, new or otherwise, take a few moments to check its build quality.

  • Place the lid on the oven and make sure that it’s a tight fit all around.
  • Make sure that the lid does not rock and sits flat on all sides.
  • Spin the lid to make sure that it easily rotates and is circular.
  • Check the oven sidewalls to make sure they are of equal thickness all around.
  • Inspect all surfaces, inside and out, for any notable cracks or blemishes on the metal’s surface.
  • Ensure that the bail arm is secured to each side of the oven, at opposite sides to each other. These alternate fixing points prevent the handle falling off if the oven tips to one side when carrying the oven.

Camp dutch oven accessories

You don’t necessarily need any special accessories to use your oven, you can use what you have in the kitchen – even a stick to lift the lid if necessary.

If you want the correct kit, however, you may want to take a look at the below.

Camp Dutch Oven Lid lifter

One item that you will need when cooking with these ovens is some form of lid-lifter.

You can use a claw hammer or a strong stick, but a proper tool for the job is a purpose-made device such as the one made by Petromax below.

Petromax dutch oven lid lifter
Petromax lid lifter

This has the added advantage of being able to be used as a poker for the embers of your fire.

Links: USA| UK | CAN

Campfire Dutch Oven Tripod

If you want to raise your dutch oven above the embers and also have somewhere to hang your camp kettle, a tripod may be a handy addition to your camp set up.

The Lodge version features an adjustable chain so that you can vary the height and therefore the temperature of your cooking.

Lodge campfire dutch oven tripod
Lodge tripod

Links: USA | UK | CAN

How do you make a camp oven tripod?

Want to make your own? Here’s a great DIY option from Mr Mears…

Cast Iron Chainmail Cleaner

Chain Mail Cleaner
Chainmail cleaner

To keep your oven in tip-top condition, a chain mail cleaner, such as the Petromax one above is a good addition to your kit.

As mentioned previously, a good maintenance regime will keep your oven in tip-top condition for many years to come.

These are therefore a worthwhile investment.

Links: USA | UK | CAN

Summary

Camp Dutch ovens are a fantastic time-tested cooking vessel.

Large and heavy they may be, but if you are staying at camp for a while, they are usually worth the effort of transporting and setting up.

They create delicious meals and are a joy to cook on.

If you haven’t tried one yet, I hope this article has at least spiked your interest to do so.

It might even be the start of a lifelong obsession!

As ever, thanks for reading.

James

Thermarest ProLite Plus Review

Thermarest ProLite Plus - In Stuff Sack

The Thermarest ProLite Plus mat is designed to be compact and lightweight, while still providing a decent amount of comfort for the user.

Weighing in at just 670g in the regular size, this is a lightweight mat – that is suitable for many uses – when space and more importantly, weight, are at a premium.

My personal reason for buying this is for backpacking and canoe/kayaking trips.

Time will tell how this performs, but first impressions are very good.

How it looks and feels

On opening the packaging, this does indeed feel like a quality product – and so it should at the price of around £80.

The materials feel good quality and durable, considering the mat’s lightweight properties.

When packed up, inside its stuff sack, the size is certainly compact for this type of mat, which helps when space is at a premium.

Where is it made?

The mat that I purchased, is made at Therm-A-rest’s EU factory, which is located in County Cork, Ireland.

This is good to see, with so many products being produced in China these days, it’s nice to see something made in Europe like this.

My only slight disappointment was that the stuff sack is made in China.

This is not the end of the world, but I do think you should keep it consistent, especially when one of the main selling points is the mat’s EU origin.

I would like to see all the components made in the EU.

Never mind….

Therm-A-Rest also produce their mats in their US factory – to serve the North American market.

This is their original and main factory, and where your mat will be made if you are buying over the pond.

However, as I purchased this in the UK, we get the European made version, which should be equally as good. If not better 🙂

What’s inside the bag?

Asides from the mat itself, there are also a set of instructions included.

ProLite Instructions - Front
Instruction leaflet – front
ProLite  - Instructions - Rear
Instruction leaflet – rear

How to use a Thermarest mat

Thermarest ProLite Plus - rolled up - compressed
The rolled-up mat

Inflating the mat

Upon taking the mat out of the stuff sack for the first time, you will find it wrapped in a clear plastic sleeve.

Remove this and you will be able to unfold the mat.

As the mat has been in storage in this compressed position, you will probably find that it is a bit reluctant to actually ‘self inflate’ at the beginning.

I actually thought that something was wrong with mine the first time I used it.

Unfold the mat and lay it out on a flat surface.

Open the valve and you should see it at least inflate partially, but the first time you may not see any movement at all.

Self-inflating process

The reason the mat will start (hopefully) to self inflate, is that the memory foam has been compressed and will try to return to its original shape when unrolled – and with the valve open.

In doing so it expands and in turn pulls in air from outside, which inflates the mat.

This self-inflating process will only inflate the mat to a certain point.

To get the mat to a usable point, you will need to put in some extra air by blowing it up yourself.

Place your mouth over the valve and put in some good puffs. You will need to do this a few times until it is full.

There isn’t a non-return valve on this type of mat, so you have to be quick with your last breath.

At the last moment, turn the cap in one motion, in order to seal the air in.

Once this is done, you are good to go. It’s very simple!

Packing the sleeping mat away

Deflating and packing away the mat is almost the reverse of the inflation process.

The main difference is that Therm-A-Rest recommends that you squeeze the air out of the mat first, by opening the valve and folding the mat up in half and then in half again, towards the valve end.

Once this stage is complete:

  • close the valve again and unfold the mat – most of the air will now be out.
  • fold the mat in half, length-ways, and tightly roll up from the bottom.
  • once you get near to the top, open the valve to expel any further air that has been pushed up.
  • roll all the way up and then close the valve again.
  • the mat will hold its folded shape and you can now place the mat back in the cloth bag.

Video run-through

A video of the inflation/deflation/storage process is below.

However, note that the ProLite Plus will require folding lengthways first before rolling up, as the stuff sack is smaller than the one in the video.

Comfort

I’m 6ft 2”, with fairly wide shoulders and this does feel quite slim underneath, compared to other full-size mats I have used.

However, I went for the regular size, as I wanted to try and strike a balance between comfort and trying to keep the weight down.

I tend to sleep on my side, and this feels comfortable for that, with a good layer of padding under my body, providing a good level of support.

Even when lying on my back, it still feels good – although a little slim.

I also haven’t noticed too much of a sweaty back when sleeping on this mat, which is a good thing. Some mats can be bad for this.

It’s just my arms that are not on the mat and lay to the side of it, which is not too much of a problem – I can sleep like this.

If you go for the larger version, it is another 12cm wide (5”), so it would be more suited to bigger persons, but does come in at an additional 210g, at 880g.

Not too much of a problem if you’re not concerned with weight, but it all matters if you are trying to minimize what you have to carry.

Your requirements

If you are buying this mat, then you are probably doing so based on weight, over outright comfort.

As ever, it is about trying to balance this comfort with what you plan to do.

I would say the regular size is a good compromise for most larger adults, but go with what you feel is best for you.

However, it must be remembered that this is designed to be a lightweight mat and if ultimate comfort is your goal, I would look at a different mat.

Something like the Thermarest Basecamp would be the one to go for, but they are a lot bulkier.

ProLite Plus Mat - Logo
Printed logo on mat

Where you can use it

You can use this mat in a variety of applications.

In a tent, inside a bivvy bag, a hammock or just straight up on the floor.

It’s suitable for inside or outside use.

Place your sleeping bag on top and away you go – it’s as simple as that!

Long-term storage of your mat

Therm-A-Rest recommends that you store the mat in its inflated state when not in use.

If you do this, you will need to find a suitable place to do so, down the side of the wardrobe or similar.

This is presuming your other half will let you.

Storing the mat in this way will keep it in optimum condition, as the memory foam will be fully expanded, ready for your next trip.

ProLite Plus Specification

[table id=3 /]

Summary

This is a great mat, that’s lightweight, while still providing enough cushioning for you to sleep comfortably.

The fact that this is so packable means you can take in on almost any trip and still enjoy a good night’s sleep – without lugging around a hefty and bulky mat to do so.

I wish they did it in a green option, but I do actually quite like the red all the same.

If you are after a lightweight mat, that you can easily carry, then I think this is a great addition to your kit and would definitely recommend it.

Thanks for reading.

James

Bushcraft Hub

P.S. – please leave your comments and thoughts in the section below – it keeps us on the right track and ensures we are giving you the best content.

Thanks again!

What does paracord mean?

Paracord-Hanked-550-Green

The term ‘paracord’ is the shortened version of parachute cord.

It is used for the suspension lines on military and commercial parachutes.

However, due to its superb strength and other properties, paracord is also widely used for a variety of other applications.

In fact, its potential uses are only limited to the imagination.

Paracord uses

The options are almost endless, but to give you an idea for bushcraft and survival purposes, let’s list out a few common uses for 550 cord below:

  • Erecting shelters: whether stringing out a tarp/bivvy or used as a binding to construct shelter from natural materials.
  • Lanyard: to ensure precious items such as a knife or compass do not fall out of your pocket and get lost in the bush.
  • Bootlaces: some use paracord as their standard lacing system, or it can be used as a replacement if your main laces fail.
  • Animal snares: if absolutely necessary, the inner strands can be removed and used to trap wild game.
  • Emergency fishing line: as above, the inner strands can be removed and used as fishing line.
  • Bow drill cordage: strong, pliable cord is an essential element of a bow drill. Paracord does an excellent job and will help you get that fire going.
  • Equipment repairs: for lashings etc, or for more delicate tasks, the inner strands can be removed and used for sewing.

Make sure it’s real

It must be clearly stated that not all ‘paracord’ is actually paracord. Confused? You’re certainly not the only one!

There are a great many imitations on the market, of varying quality, with most claiming to be the real thing.

Most of this cord is imported from China. This is sometimes known as ‘Chinese cord’.

It may be marketed as 550 cord, but it is usually much cheaper and of a much lesser quality than the genuine, US made article.

It will certainly have its uses for less demanding applications, but you need to know the difference, especially if you are going to depend on it.

Put simply, if you were going to rely on it to jump out of a plane, would you trust the imitation version?

I certainly wouldn’t!!!

550 Paracord - Green - Hanked
Hanked 550 cord

Mil-spec paracord

Genuine ‘mil-spec’ cord is made in the USA, by trusted and certified US government suppliers.

The U.S Department of Defense extensively vets these manufacturers to ensure compliance.

This ensures that the quality and specification of their ‘mil-spec’ cord meets the Department of Defence’s strict paracord requirements, MIL-C-5040H.

These requirements stipulate what raw materials must be used, down to the exact construction method required.

This paracord is called MIL-C-5040, commonly known as Mil-Spec.

Mil-spec is manufactured in different strength ratings, but 550 (type III) is the most popular, this being 550 pounds in strength.

[table id=1 /]

Most paracord that you see on the market claims to be ‘mil-spec’.

However, unless it has been made in the USA, to the requirements of MIL-C-5040H,  by an approved government supplier, it is not mil-spec.

It is vital therefore that if you are after real paracord, that you purchase it from a reputable supplier.

It is also worth knowing that mil-spec cord will have a coloured strand inside, that is unique to the manufacturer.

This is known as the Manufacturer ID Marker.

The purpose of this is to essentially provide traceability so that the end-user (military) can identify which manufacturer produced the cord, should there be any issues in use.

This presence of this identifier is another way that you can tell if your paracord is mil-spec or not.

The most popular strength mil-spec paracord will be the type III, 550 class.

This is the most commonly available and provides great functionality.

Mil-C-5040H type III specifications:

  • Approx diameter: 3.8 mm
  • Weight: 6.6 g per metre
  • Certified minimum tensile strength: 550 lbs / 249 kg
  • 100% high-quality nylon yarns
  • Sheath structure: 32 Strands
  • 7 core strands, each made up of a further 3 twisted strands
  • Rope Construction: kernmantle
  • Unique manufacturer ID marker inside the cord

Commercial 550 paracord

In addition to their mil-spec cord, US Government approved manufacturers will also usually manufacture a commercial version.

This is known as 550 Type III – commercial spec.

This is almost identical to the mil-spec, but with some subtle differences.

It still consists of 7 core strands, as per the military-grade version, and has the same strength rating, it just differs in its construction.

Instead of using 3 intertwined strands per core strand, as the mil-spec does, commercial-grade 550 uses 2 intertwined strands, per core strand.

It also does not have the internal colour coded core (Unique Manufacturer ID Marker) that the mil-spec does.

Although it varies slightly in its design, it is as strong as the equivalent mil-spec version and a great alternative, should it be made by a reputable supplier as above.

Commercial 550 type III Specifications:

  • Approximate diameter: 3.8 mm
  • Weight: 6.6 g per metre
  • Certified minimum tensile strength: 550 lbs / 249 kg
  • 100% high-quality nylon yarns
  • Sheath structure: 32 Strands
  • 7 core strands, each made up of 2 twisted strands
  • Rope construction: kernmantle

[table id=2 /]

For those looking for genuine paracord for bushcraft or survival purposes, the above (and their strength variations) are the only 2 real options.

Safety

Although it is extremely strong, paracord is not to be used for climbing activities or similar.

The 550 lb / 249 kg rating (assuming you are using 550 cord) is its ‘static load’ rating.

This essentially means a load that is not moving and stable.

When climbing, you are placing what is known as a ‘working load’ on the rope.

This will likely be much, much higher than your actual body weight in a static situation, due to the movement and shock load placed upon the rope.

There is also likely to be abrasion from the rope touching rocks etc under tension.

Serious injury or death could occur, so do not use paracord for this purpose, or anything similar.

Summary

Paracord is essential bushcraft equipment, that has a multitude of uses.

If you are serious about your equipment and want the best out there, go for the ‘real deal’, genuine US made paracord, that has been manufactured by a US Department of Defense approved supplier.

Unless you specifically need a certain type of cord, the two main options are:

  • 550 type III mil-spec or
  • 550 type III commercial-spec.

Mil-spec is more expensive, but this is the exact cord that the US military gets and is, therefore, more expensive to produce, due to the manufacturing requirements.

If you opt for 550 Type III commercial-spec, you are getting an almost identical cord to the mil-spec above but made for commercial use.

Just make sure it is from a supplier who also supplies the military.

The commercial is usually sold at a more competitive price.

Either of these two cords will serve you well.

We use and recommend Clutha paracord. This is US-sourced, from a reputable and US Department of Defense approved supplier.

You can find them here.

Thanks for your visit today! We hope you found this article helpful.

James

Bushcraft Hub


What is the Best Bushcraft Stove?

Bushcraft liquid fuel stove - MSR XGK EX

Although it is generally preferable to cook on an open fire, there are times when you will want, or indeed need, some form of bushcraft stove.

Fast and reliable, they will get things cooking in minutes.

So what’s available?

Wood burning camp stoves

If you can’t have an open fire due to it not being practical, or perhaps they are prohibited at your location, then you may be able to use a wood-burning camping stove.

These are also sometimes known as Hobo Stoves.

If used with wood, these are as close to an open fire as you can get, whilst having the benefit of keeping the flame concentrated and controlled.

Of course, the main benefit of a wood-fired stove is that you can operate them using free fuel.

This is presuming this is available at your location, or you have brought some in with you.

Most of these stoves are fairly compact, with some being foldable.

They pack down into a smaller carry bag, making them suitable for transportation.

These stoves are primarily designed to burn small twigs and sticks, but most will also run on a variety of other fuels if required.

This includes hexy blocks or meths/alcohol.

Some will even let you incorporate a gas burner.

There are various models and designs on the market, with some performing a lot better than others.

The main options are the foldable box type or the wood gas type.

Box type

Honey Wood Stove - Bushcraft
Backpacking Light’s Honey Stove

The box type wood stoves feature a series of sections that slot together, allowing for different configurations, providing a solid base and pot support.

A popular choice is the Honey Stove which is made by Backpacking Light.

The Honey Stove consists of multiple pieces that can be constructed in a variety of fashions.

You can alter this depending on what you are cooking/boiling and what fuel you are using.

This stove allows for many fuel types including dry leaves, grass, wood, hexamine blocks, to name a few.

It can also incorporate a meths burner (Trangia type) and will even utilise an Optimus Nova burner if required.

All in all, it’s a very versatile choice for bushcraft activities.

These stoves fold down to a very compact size and are therefore ideal for transportation.

Similar alternatives to the Honey Stove include the Firebox or BushBox XL.

Wood gas stoves (Solostove)

Solo Stove Lite Wood Gas Stove
Solo Stove Lite

These types of stoves are usually cylindrical in design and incorporate an external jacket.

How does a wood burning camp stove work?

This jacket funnels warm air (taken from the external vents below), upwards.

This warm air is then deposited into the top of the main fire compartment, via the internal vent holes, just above the flames.

The Solo Stove diagram below shows the process in more detail.

Solo Stove Airflow Diagram

As you can see in the diagram, the airflow process effectively fans the flames, similar to when you blow on a fire to get it roaring.

This creates a hotter, cleaner burn, and also helps to reduce soot build-up.

The above process will begin to happen once the fire in the main compartment has warmed the stove up to operating temperature.

Wood stove round-up

Whether you opt for the box or wood gas type, these stoves are very popular and have very little to go wrong.

They are therefore a great choice if you are looking for a no-nonsense stove, that should last for many years.

The fact that most can also incorporate other fuels, such as meths or hexy blocks, is an added bonus and further increases their versatility in the field.

The main consideration on which type to go for would be transportation.

If you want one that can fold away into a flat package, the box type is probably your best bet.

They take a little assembling, and they can be a little frustrating to put together at times, but once together, they are solid.

If portability isn’t your primary concern and you are happy with a fixed unit, the wood gas type is a great option.

These are already good to go, so are great from a time perspective, but do not fully pack down.

Your choice will ultimately boil down to space and your trip length.

What is a Solostove?

A Solostove is a type of wood gas stove that is cylindrical in design and incorporates a jacket, so that cold air can be drawn upwards from the bottom of the stove, warmed by the flames and then delivered to the top of the stove where it fans the flame and produces a hotter burn.

See the image above for a visual description.

What is a twig stove?

A twig stove is a type of camping/outdoor stove that uses natural materials, such as dry twigs, leaves, pine cones, pine needles etc.

These stoves are a great option if you have a reliable supply of fuel as they can be run on free to find materials.

Additionally, some models allow you to incorporate a basic burner, such as a Trangia or you can just use a basic hexy block. See above for more on these.

Meth burners

Trangia Meth Alcohol Burner Bushcraft Stove
Trangia Spirit Burner

Sometimes known as an alcohol or spirit burner, this style of stove is another simple option for bushcraft activities.

They are generally known as Trangias, although this is a brand name and they are not all made by Trangia.

These stoves are small in design, lightweight and portable.

You will need some form of pot support as well, as these will not generally work with a pot placed directly on them.

However, there are many options available.

How does a Trangia work?

These burners all work on the same principle, in that you partially fill the main central chamber with fuel, then light it.

The main chamber will slowly burn (sometimes it’s very hard to see) and heat up the stove and fuel.

Once it is up to operating temperature, the fuel that is in the outside chamber, starts to vapourise.

This vapour then rises up to the small pinprick vents at the top, where it combusts.

This is often referred to as ‘blooming’ and means the burner is now ready to cook on.

Trangia spirit burner

The Trangia Spirit Burner pictured above is the best known and most widely used meth/alcohol burner out there.

Low cost, virtually indestructible and brilliantly simple in its design, this is a fantastic, relatively lightweight stove, with a multitude of applications.

Designed back in 1951, at Trangia’s headquarters in Sweden, not much has changed.

It is made of brass, with a weight of 110g and consists of the main burner unit, screw-on lid and a simmer ring.

The simmer ring’s design allows the flame to be regulated and also allows you to extinguish the burner completely when finished.

The stove is designed to run on methylated spirits (denatured alcohol). This fuel can be obtained very cheaply from your local hardware store.

It is worth noting that this burner can be used on its own if it is placed in a sheltered depression and your cooking vessel suspended above.

In general, though, the spirit burner is designed to be used inside a cooking system.

Examples include Trangia’s popular 25-2 cooking set or other makes such as the Honey Stove mentioned above.

The meth (or alcohol burner) is an extremely simple and effective cooking system, that has stood the test of time.

Esbit alcohol burner stove

Esbit Alcohol Burner Methylated Stove - bushcraft stoves
Esbit alcohol stove

A good alternative to the Trangia is the Esbit Alcohol Burner.

It is based on the Trangia, however, the Esbit also incorporates a foldaway handle, that operates the simmer ring.

This lessens the possibility of you burning your fingers when adjusting the flame – making it more user friendly.

You can purchase the Esbit here: USA | UK | CAN

Gas stoves

MSR Pocket Rocket 2 Gas Stove
MSR PocketRocket 2 Gas Stove

One of the most convenient and simple options out there is the gas stove.

As long as you have a ready supply of canisters, these stoves are a great choice for your cooking needs.

They provide a quick, clean heat-source, providing minimum hassle for the user. They are just as quick to dismantle and pack away.

Gas selection

Historically, gas canisters were 100% butane. This is the worst performing gas for stoves.

In the early days, 100% butane fueled gas stoves struggled to work at all in cold conditions.

This is due to the fact that butane’s boiling point is approximately -2 deg C.

Essentially, this means that below -2 deg C, butane gas reverts back into a liquid.

It, therefore, loses its pressure and does not want to leave the canister, as it is no longer a gas.

This doesn’t help matters if you are relying on it to ignite.

What gas do you use for a camping stove? The modern solution

In more recent years, nearly all gas canisters are a butane/propane mix, generally around 70% butane and 30% propane.

Propane has a much lower boiling point of around -42 deg C.

When combined with butane, the mixture provides good performance well into the minus figures.

Another gas commonly used in isobutane.

This shares the same chemical structure as butane but delivers higher pressure, which increases flame performance.

If you want to read more about gas stove fuel options see the MSR article here.

Modern gas stoves may struggle at extreme altitudes, but for most applications, they will operate absolutely fine.

Due to the above, these stoves are slowly becoming the choice of professional mountaineers.

This is due to their simplicity and the fact that they are generally more lightweight and safer in use than liquid fuel options.

Fuel availability

One thing with gas stoves is that you do need to have the correct gas canister cartridge for your stove.

You also need to be able to find these fairly easily should you need to get replacements.

This is not usually a problem in more developed parts of the world, but may be an issue in more remote regions.,

Make sure to check this before setting off if you are likely to need more.

How does a camping stove work?

In general, most gas stoves simply require you to:

  • attach the gas canister by screwing it onto the burner (clockwise)
  • deploy the pan and stove supports (if any)
  • turn on gas by opening the valve
  • ignite

Simplicity!

Some stoves even feature an integrated piezo ignition, which ignites the gas for you when you turn on the gas.

This is a handy feature to have.

However, even if your stove has this, you should always carry an alternative form of ignition.

This could be a ferro rod or lighter, in case the piezo ignition fails for whatever reason.

Top-mounted canister stoves

This is the most common type (see picture above). The gas canister screws onto the bottom of the burner and acts as the stove’s base.

Because of this, top-mounted stoves require a very stable and level surface to place the complete unit on.

This style of stove set-up often becomes top-heavy.

This is especially true if you have a lot of liquid in the cooking vessel that might slosh from side to side.

This sloshing can then end up tipping the stove over, including your food.

It is therefore important to site the stove correctly in the first place, on a flat, level surface.

Be vigilant of any gusts of wind that might have your pot toppling.

You also need to guard against you or your companions knocking into it.

Although the above is a bit of a drawback with this style, the fact that they are simple and generally cheaper than other designs, makes them a popular and solid choice for your bushcraft cooking needs.

Remote mounted canister stoves

Primus Express Spider 2 Gas Stove - bushcraft stoves
Primus Express Spider 2

This style of gas stove is by far the most stable, due to the burner being much lower to the ground and having a set of wide legs for stabilisation and support.

The gas canister is attached to a hose that allows the canister to sit to one side, adjacent to the burner.

However, due to the additional materials used, they are generally a little more expensive to buy than the top-mounted style.

Other than that, they generally operate in much the same way as topmounted stoves.

Liquid fuel portable stoves

MSR XGK EX Liquid Fuel Stove
MSR XGK EX

Liquid fuel stoves generally cost more than their gas-fired cousins.

They also usually weigh more and involve a bit more effort in their operation.

With this in mind, why would you choose to opt for liquid fuel over the more common gas cartridge type?

What are the advantages of a liquid fuel stove?

In most cases, it chiefly centers around the fuel that you can obtain.

If you are operating in remote locations, for extended periods, a liquid fuel stove may be the better option over gas or other types.

The reason for this is that gas canisters are not always readily available should you run out.

They are usually stocked in outdoor shops and available online.

However, if you are out of area and certainly if you are in a different country, you may not be able to come across them quite so easily.

You can obviously bring 1 or 2 in your pack when you are on shorter outings.

For extended trips though, such as expeditions etc, you need to be mindful of how much fuel you are likely to use.

It is likely that you will find that you do not have the room to be taking heaps of gas canisters with you.

Added to this, once used, empty gas canisters need to be brought out with you and disposed of responsibly.

This creates additional dead weight and space that you will have to carry out with you.

Here lies the advantage of liquid fuel stoves!

In most places around the world, you can find some form of fuel to use in your stove.

Available fuels

Most liquid fuel stoves burn a variety of fuels, that are readily available across the globe, so you should never (hopefully) find yourself without a fuel source.

These include – white gas (also known as Coleman Fuel), petrol (auto gasoline), kerosene, diesel and more.

Read more on this here.

If you are travelling by vehicle, an additional benefit is that the stove can share the same fuel as the vehicle.

This can simplify things by eliminating the need for additional fuel storage.

How much fuel should you carry for your trip? Check out this MSR article here.

Economy

Because they can run on standard unleaded petrol or in some cases diesel and other fuels, they tend to be more cost-effective, when compared to resealable gas canisters.

This is especially true if you are on an extended trip.

This needs to be balanced with the fact that they are usually more costly to buy.

However, over the lifetime of the stove, this difference is negligible.

Safety procedures for using a liquid fuel stove

There are safety considerations to take on board when using liquid fuel stoves.

You have a bottle of extremely flammable liquid, usually petrol or similar, a few inches away from a roaring burner.

This sounds worse than it actually is, as the stove is obviously designed to operate this way and is safe as long as you use it sensibly.

How to fill a liquid stove fuel bottle

MSR Stove Liquid Fuel Bottles
MSR Fuel Bottles

One of the big things to remember is to wipe everything down after filling the fuel bottle, as you will no doubt spill a small amount whilst doing this.

Tip – It sounds obvious, but do not fill the bottle over its max fill line.

If you do, when you go to insert the pump, it will spurt out fuel all over your hands and the bottle, as the fuel pump takes up quite a bit of volume.

Only operate the stove once the stove is properly connected and you are sure there is no fuel residue left on the outside.

Can you use a camping stove inside a tent?

As with any stove, only use in a well-ventilated area. It’s not a great idea to use stoves inside of tents.

Apart from the obvious reason of potentially burning the tent down, you can get carbon monoxide poisoning too.

Follow the instructions and use some common sense and you won’t go too far wrong.

Remember, gas and other stoves are potentially hazardous too.

How to use a liquid fuel stove

One thing to note is that liquid fuel stoves require priming before they will work.

This means that a small amount of fuel is pumped into the stove and burnt off before it can be used properly.

The main purpose of priming is to heat up the section of metal tube that sits over the top of the burner.

This is known as the Generator Tube.

This is what fuel passes through before it reaches the burner. Once this is warm, it transfers heat to the fuel passing through it.

This, in turn, enables the now heated fuel to vapourise and combust correctly when it reaches the actual burner.

Stove Maintenance

MSR Expedition Service Kit for MSR Stoves
MSR Expedition Service Kit

There are more moving parts on a liquid fuel stove as opposed to gas.

Due to this, although very reliable, it is essential to carry some form of field repair kit if you are relying on your stove to function effectively.

Most of the stoves mentioned below will come with a small parts kit included.

However, it is wise to bolster this with some extra parts such as those included in the MSR expedition service kit.

Periodic maintenance of the stove is required to ensure long term performance.

The MSR expedition service kits will cover most eventualities in the field and are a good item to carry with you.

If looked after, and properly maintained, these stoves should last a lifetime.

Summary

There are many options available when selecting a bushcraft stove.

If you have a good supply of small twigs etc and don’t mind longer boil times, the closest and most environmentally sustainable option is the wood type, such as the Solo Stove, or Honey Stove.

The fact that this fuel is usually free and readily available, further adds to their appeal.

However, if you want or need to go down the fuel route, meths, gas and liquid fuel stoves are all excellent in their own right.

Your choice will depend on the environment you will be in at the time, trip length and of course, personal preference.

Hopefully, this post has outlined the main bushcraft stove options available.

If you feel you would like anything else mentioned, please leave a comment below or use the contact us page and I will do my best to oblige.

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