Advice for my Gen Z Brother on Backpacking (or Bikpacking) Stoves

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Ask Chase: Advice on Adventure Planning, Endurance Training, and Gear

Wednesday’s posts are inspired by my little brother, Keefer, and his Gen Z friends. Five years ago, four of them (all about 18) borrowed a minivan from someone’s parents and drove out West, stopping in Flagstaff to say hello to me. For the 1.5 days they spent in Flagstaff, I owned my role as an outdoor Cougar, offering them wisdom on gear, adventure planning, & good beer (they were drinking Tecate Lite). In this post, I’m picking up where we left off five years ago with advice on backpacking and bikepacking stoves.

Keefer, in a recent text, wrote: “Yo who makes the best pots and pans for backpacking? I just got an expensive MSR one and it’s garbage.”

Let’s be clear: Keefer does not seek me out for life advice. He studied accounting and landed a job right out of college paying almost twice as much as my (now former) Senior Lecturer salary at Northern Arizona University. But he does text me almost weekly asking for outdoor adventure and gear advice. The kid knows where my strengths are as a big sister.

Dear little brother, here is my response to your text about a pot for backpacking.

If you have a job as an accountant for a high profile (and high paying) corporation, it’s worth getting a titanium pot set. However, if you are unemployed like the rest of us, just about any pot will work as long as it is the right size for your needs. When I was your age, my backpacking pot had a handle and the wrong sized lid. I bought it at a thrift store for a buck. In fact, I still have the pot, it is spending retirement with the cook set in my van.

But my real question is, what are you doing with a backpacking stove that needs a pot? Is light, fast, and efficient not the priority of your generation? Is morning coffee within seconds not your number one criteria for a backpacking setup? I need help understanding this.

AZbikegirl’s Backpacking Stove Recommendations

Little Bro, Keef Dog, Keefer Reefer: Since you are rolling in both dough and job security, you might as well get another stove to supplement the dinosaur you are using. I have to ask, is your stove a Whisperlite? Have you ever woken up to a Whisperlite not working and had to take the entire thing apart before you could make coffee? I still have nightmares about this.

Best backpacking stove (or bikepacking stove) for weight, fuel efficiency, and fast boiling water: JetBoil MicroMo

The JetBoil MicroMo for fuel efficiency and saving weight.

I brought the JetBoil MicroMo down the Baja Divide. You can’t buy fuel canisters in a lot of places (including anywhere in Baja) so you have to plan ahead with how much fuel to bring. Also, you can’t fly with fuel, so taking the train and crossing the border by bike was what made it possible for my ride down Baja.

Best lightweight, versatile backpacking stove (or bikepacking stove) for when frequent resupplying is an option: Alcohol Stove.

There are a lot of DIY guides online for making these yourself. Mine is made by White Box. It was an awesome present from my ex-boyfriend. You should definitely get one for your lady friend. Her name is Clare, right?

When traveling in the US with my alcohol stove, I like using Liquid Heet from gas stations as fuel. Internationally, especially in tropical climates, you need to research available fuel options. I brought this stove with me to Costa Rica and used denatured alcohol from the pharamcy as fuel.

Best Present for Your Unemployed Big Sister: Wood Burning Backpacking Stove

Keefer Dude Bro, for really remote trips, when time is not an issue, I think a wood fire backpacking stove would be awesome! I want either the TOAKS Titanium (only 7.8 ounces!) of the Solo Stove Lite (only 9 ounces!). I know you are as bad at remembering birthdays as I am, so I’ll help you out: September 28th.

A Note on Fuel Canisters

My former students tell me climate change is Gen Z’s number one concern. If this is really the case, then I suppose the Whisperlite, with its refillable fuel canister, is an excellent option. Just be ready to drink your instant coffee cold if the jet gets clogged. The purists will all tell you it is the most reliable stove to fix. I agree, as long as it needs fixing or cleaning after the coffee has already been made.

Tomorrow, I’ll be back with an AZT 800 training update.

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