Richard Bucker

stoves and campfires on the Florida trail

Posted at — Feb 23, 2017

Being a beginner hiker on the Florida trail I have more questions almost every day. The latest questions have to do with cook stoves and campfires. First of all I have confirmed that campfires are permitted almost year round so long as you use a fire ring and most approved campsites have fire rings. There may be exceptions so make sure you check the proper trail guides and web sites.Stoves, on the other hand, can be tricky. Some state parks do not permit stoves that cannot be turned off. Others do not permit scrounging dead-fall, carrying an ax or saw. And lastly the Florida trail guide makes special mention that isobut and esbit tabs are harder to locate on the trail.Here are my stoves… and a basic review.Solo Stove - $69.99 - nice little 9oz wood stove good for one or  two people. Limited to places where this sort of thing is permitted and wood is plentiful and permitted. Also provides sustained warmth on a cold night. The pot is covered in soot. The stove has limited capacity due to the shallow depth but is meant for twigs and other small fuel.The solo Stove kit came with a 32oz pot which nests the stove.Olicamp -  $49.95 - if you do not mind carrying around a canister or two this stove is ideal at 4oz. It’s also loud.Olicamp stove packed into a Stanley pottry packing it in a Toaks 750ml potit fits nicelyRUCAS Alcohol stove - $18.95 - I like alcohol stoves but I have get to find a tank or bottle worth carrying. They are just kinda bulky or just heavy like water. Make sure you’re drinking from the right bottle. The RUCAS is awful and if I ever went back in this direction I’d buy a new Toaks. Alcohol is probably the easiest fuel to get on the trail or anywhere. One other thing that bothers me is the packaging.20oz pot, 8oz fuel bottle, 2oz fuel bottle, 1oz measuring cup, RUCAS stove.4x 2oz fuel bottlesEsbit stove - $16.50 - before I discovered the smell from the tabs I bought 2 boxes of tabs. So either I put this one away in storage for the next hurricane or I use them. Also, I think I need a bottom reflector to prevent scorching the ground. The fish smell can be intolerable and I’m waiting to hear back from the company as to whether there is any danger.The Esbit fits nicely along with a spoon. This is a 550ml pot and separately a 750ml pot.One thing about these pots is that they all have measurements stamped into the side. This embossing can trap food and other germs… so boiling water is the only practical use unless you have a sponge and soap.Honorable Mentions:Toaks wood stove - $62.95 - it’s only about 1oz lighter than the solo stove and basically the same size. The fuel feed port and the combustion column seems bigger. One downside is that the ashes drop out the bottom. This does not mean that it’ll start a fire but it does suggest that you’ll not leave a little trace. The firebox and firebox nano are similar in that way although the nano weighs 4oz.Toaks Alcohol stove - $34.95 - twice as expensive as the RUCAS but seems to have some engineering behind it.Tunafish or fancy feast stove - FREE - DIY and available just about everywhere food is sold.Ikea Cutlery tote - $2.49 - it’s not a gasification stove but it is inexpensive and light, however, some DIY is required to create a feeder port.Finally,It’s all about trade offs. wood stoves need fuel, but you do not have to carry it, and there is a chance it’ll be wet or none at all. Olicamp is a great little stove. My full kit fits inside my 750ml pot but fuels is not as readily available. I checked the local grocery and home store and neither carried fuel. Someone said that trail towns would be more likely to carry them. Capitalism. I’ve talked about the RUCAS stove before. And Esbit is also not available locally.I think the plan is to understand where I’m hiking and what’s available. Each of these stoves has a sweet spot. If I’m camping instead of hiking then nature’s TV is ideal. On the AT where there are real trail towns then a isobut stove makes sense unless I’m limiting hot want to comfort days.UPDATE:- Stanley and canister stove 600g- solo stove 550g (bigger than the rest)- esbit stove with 550ml pot 350g- esbit stove with 750ml post 250g- the alcohol stove weighs about the same as the esbit, however, I think I can argue that the Toaks alcohol stove is probably more efficient than the others.** YES, as counter intuitive as it is the Toaks 750 weighs less than the Toaks 550. I was able to account for 50g because one stove had 4 tabs and the other only 3.