Still Space to Build Your Own Multifuel Backpacking Stove


Class runs one night on Tues, first week in March.  As of today-  4 spaces left.
Make your own multi-fuel backpacking stove! Have fun and learn how to make a lightweight stove that you can use on day hikes and on backpacking trips. Created from metal cans and fasteners, these downdraft stoves are compact and efficiently burn wood, alcohol,  and solid fuel tablets. Each participant will be assisted in drilling, cutting, and fastening component parts to make their own stove, and receive practice in lighting and tending the stove. Class size is limited. Registration $20, plus $10 for materials to be paid to the instructor. 1 night 6:00-8:30 p.m. Class Tues 3/4 CHRHS Rm 112 • 236-7800 ext 274

Click here to learn more about the stove and it’s history.

Tom Jamrog lives in Lincolnville, and has extensive backpacking and stove construction experience.

2013 in review- Thanks to all my readers!

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

I appreciate all the contacts with my readers.  Even though I was not able to blog very often while I was off on my 5 month hike of the Continental Divide Trail, LOTS of people connected with me in 2013.  I pledge to try and bring my readers more interesting stuff .  Stay tuned!

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 33,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 12 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Carey Kish: “His toughest trek beckons”

In Maine’s Sunday Telegram.

Carey Kish: His toughest trek beckons | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram.

Class list filled- Multifuel backpacking Stove, but…..

I don’t mind taking a few more people if folks still want to come down and build your stove. It’s going to be fun.  I have extra materials I can use, I’ll contact Adult Ed on Monday to let them know.  Worst case–> just contact me and then show up.  I don’t want big surprises.

One-night double wall, downdraft stove building workshop in Camden, Maine on October 16.

Here is a picture of what the stove will look like:

Further details about the stove
itself are in this updated blog post from 2012.

  The evening will include an  introductory talk about some of the science and history of these stoves, which address the question of getting the most efficiency out of the unit.  This is a true multi-fuel stove,  suitable for also burning denatured alcohol and solid fuel tablets when wood is not available or is wet.  Because of the hands- on nature of the class it will be limited to 8 people.  Sign up!

Online registration here.

Where the Wild Things are – Adam Bradley goes 4700 miles!

From time to time I post from other peoples’ blogs related to hiking, biking, and the outdoor experience.  Here’s one with content that stands out above and beyond what you’d expect.

On October 5, I posted an entry about my disappointment with Fatbiking the Arctic- to date, an apparently failed Kickstarter project which I funded.  This was in response to  Outside Magazine’s Oct. 4,  update on the project, which appears to have been halted in the town of Pink Mountain, somewhere near the southern start point of the Alaska Highway.  That article is here- Fatbike Expedition Comes to a Quiet Halt.

Today I will highlight an hour long interview with another Yukon/Alaskan adventurer, but this trip was a resounding success.

Krudmeister is one of my online friends, and I know that I’ll  meet him in person someday.  This April, Krud completed a 4,700 mile human powered trip on bike, foot, and canoe.

Here’s the lead-in, from Trail Runner Nation-    “Our second interview with Adam Bradley, aka Krudmeister, a record-holding long-distance trekker!  The last time we talked to him he had just set a world record for a self supported Pacific Crest Trail trek. This summer Adam did a self-supported, human-powered trek over 4700 miles from Reno, NV to the Bearing Sea in Alaska. This is an amazing story of endurance. We talk “Krudmeister” about his 2 1/2 month journey through some of the American Continents most beautiful country, the wildlife he encountered, and his determination to keep going day after day.”

Krudmeister rode his bike from his doorway in Reno, NV up through Glacier National Park into British Columbia, Jasper, the Icefields Parkway, then Alaska’s Cassiar/Stewart Highways, all the way up to Skagway, Alaska, completing that segment of 2,847 miles ( in just 31 days).

Chilkoot Pass photo by Adam Bradley

Then he backpacked his gear up the historic Chilkoot Pass, where he reached Lake Bennet.

Lake Bennnet photo by Adam Bradley

Here, at the headwaters of the Yukon River, he assembled a packable canoe,  and successfully navigated all 1,858 miles of  the Yukon River, where he reached the end point at the Bering Sea.

He used a small wood stove for cooking, kept his supply packages to two only, and also managed to send himself a shotgun, which him behind a couple of days due to a regulatory hassle.

Here’s the link for the podcast .

Here’s the link to his entire trip.

Enjoy.  What really impresses me is that he did this solo.  Krud not only put it out there, he delivered.   If Andrew Skurka gets on the March 2011 cover of National Geographic for 4,679 human powered miles through Alaska and the  Yukon territory, don’t you think Adam Bradley deserves increased national exposure?

Outside Magazine, HELLO ?

BushBuddy Stove Tweaks @ Backpacking Light

Good article, with exhaustive ( no pun intended) details on the concept of a wood stove gassifier system–>> BushBuddy Stove Tweaks @ Backpacking Light.

The diagram of how the air flows through these systems is particularly good.


I have posted instructions for a home-made version of the unit, primarily made from a 1 quart and 1 pint paint cans. I have just recently updated the construction ( July 2012)  to improve efficiency.
Due to repeated inquiries from people about how to make their own stoves, I will be conducting a workshop in Camden, ME at 6 PM on October 16, 2012 through Five Towns Adult Education where I will assist participants in constructing their own gassifer stoves. All components will be provided for $10 materials charge. We will have time to practice building wood fires in them as well.

Here’s the July 2012 model, that boiled up a pint of water in 5 minutes.

The Evolving Backpacking wood/alcohol/solid fuel Stove- 2012 edition

I think I have finally come close to my version of the perfect home made backpacking wood stove.

Uncle Tom's Home Made Wood Stove

Uncle Tom’s Home Made Wood Stove

In 2007, I started my thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail with a wood stove.  For that trip, I disassembled an older version of the Sierra Zip Stove , replacing the inner chamber with a modified titanium Sierra cup from REI, and ditching the old heavy base plate in favor of a Lexan replacement, with the addition of three Coleman folding legs. It weighed in around 9 ounces.  The stove worked fine, but the Lexan base did not hold up (it cracked).  I replaced it in Hot Springs, N.C. where I bought a simple Etowah alcohol stove that held up well for the remainder of the 2,175 mile  walk.

But my preference for using a wood backpacking stove led me to sign up for a stove building workshop at Snow Walkers’ Rendezvous in November of 2007.  The workshop was put on by Don Kivelus, of Four Dog Stove Company. You can view all of Don’s products here: Catalogue.    Don sells a titanium wood backpacking stove, the Bushcooker.   I viewed the stove at his vendor table and when I inquired about purchasing one ( for $120) , he told me that I could buy his used demonstration model for $60, but then Don encouraged me to take his Sunday morning workshop for $10 and make my own low cost version.  I had a blast with the workshop.

We each made our stoves out of one 1-quart paint can, one 1-pint paint can, 6 sheet metal screws and and six 1/4” bolts. No special tools were needed. We used only a can opener, knife, and screwdrivers.  I have a video of that stove in use on YouTube , that has over 38,000 hits to date.
I used the stove throughout the 2008 backpacking season, and felt it could be improved.

For the last week I have been making and testing stoves.
The finished stove, including windscreen, weighs a mere 5.7 ounces.  I filled the inner can with 2.9 ounces of air dried wood, scraps really, from around my wood pile.  On 12/21/08, the air temp was a crisp 17 degrees.  I was able to rolling boil a pint of cold tap water in 8 minutes and 45 seconds from touching off the birch bark tinder with a match.  I removed the boiled water, made a pot of tea and then checked the stove at the 20 minute mark and could still see a small bed of coals glowing inside.  NOTE:  I did not add any additional wood after the stove was tindered. There were occasional gusts of wind as well.  I plan to take along a sheet of aluminum foil to use as an emergency  windbreak.

The most interesting finding about this new version is that it did not have to be tended.  The first stove required me to frequently remove the cook pot in order to add additional wood.  This one has been redesigned to allow adding wood without removing the cook pot, for example if you wanted to simmer for 10 minutes or so.  But I never needed to add any additional wood.

I also revisited an older fire building technique. This stove burns from the top down. I packed the stove with 2.9 ounces of wood, lit it from the top, and forgot about it.   Flames exit the top inner holes in this stove after the burn is halfway done.

At our summer camp,  we have a older commercial wood stove that operates under the same procedure, brand name Tempwood .  It was marketed in the 1970’s as a downdraft model. You load it with wood and kindle the top, just like this little stove.  The Tempwood works just as advertised.  There are disbelievers out there that are adamant that any backpacking wood stove can’t be a true downdraft unit, but doubters can check out the data/diagrams on the Tempwood, play around with this stove and decide for themselves.

Construction  Details:
Outer Can- 1 quart paint can, bottom removed and 1/2 “ holes drilled along base. I bought my can for $1.70 at Lowe’s.  You can use old paint cans as well, just clean them out, or throw them in a fire.  I didn’t drill all the way around,  but left untouched a 4” side of the can. You could do just half the can, in case you wanted to block wind, and add more holes later if you wanted to.   A #1 Irwin Unibit cuts through these cans quickly , but a regular drill bit is also OK.  It is easier to drill out the side holes on the paint can if you remove the bottom after you drill out the holes.


Inner can – best choice is a Progresso soup can, 1/4” holes drilled through bottom.

Bottom of inner can with 1/4# hole pattern

Bottom of inner can with 1/4″  hole pattern

Any 20 oz. can works as well, such as DelMonte or Dole crushed pineapple.  Drill out a ring of 1/2” holes on the top of this can, about 1” apart and centered about  1” below the top of the can.

Friction fit the inner can into the paint can.  Keep pushing, and you will feel it lock.  I suspect you could use high temperature JB Weld to cement it in, but it functions with the press fit.  For long term use, I secured the fitment by screwing through the top sides of both with three 1/2 sheet metal screws.  No drilling required.

The pot stand I made was constructed from a large can of canned chicken with 3/8”  holes drilled and the use of tin snips.  I fit it into the groove of the paint can for stability.
Morning coffee anyone?

[Editor's Note, 7/14/2012]I made two modifications that retains a 5.7 ounce stove weight. The first minor mod is with the attachment of the inner to the outer can, using three small nut/bolt/washer assemblies, rather than pot rivets. The other change is with the inner can. I substituted a standard 1 pint paint can for the soup can, cutting out the base with a standard rotary handle can opener. The lid is discarded. The pint can is reversed for insertion into the quart can, with the bottom now the top, and remember to drill a row of holes below the “new top” before securing with either sheet metal screws, pop rivets, or little nuts and bolts. Instead of using the old pint can lid as a base for the firebox, a new part is cut resulting in a 3 and 1/4″ diameter piece of metal stock.


Here is a diagram of the cutting pattern.

cut pattern for base

Thin sheet metal stock could be used for these finned assemblies that could be cut with metal shears and then bent with a pair of needle nosed pliers. I was fortunate enough to have an extra titanium fin assembly that Don Kivelus gave to me that fits the 1 pint can perfectly. It drops right in through the top and does not have to be secured. Not many of us have sheets of titanium lying around, but the advantage of titanium is that this will be a lifetime part. The rest cheap cans will rust and have to be replaced, but not the titanium fin assembly, which can be moved into the replacement stove, if ever necessary. I have burned out my original firebox after 4 years.

I was able to get a boil from 2.7 ounces of wood, with 16 oz.of tap water just before the 5 minute mark, lighting and building from the bottom, quickly adding dry wood. Granted, it is 90 degrees out, rather than the 17 degrees during the original tests. I was not using a wind screen.

The addition of the finned base plate appears to bring additional burning efficiency due to the vortex created by the air moving upward into the burn chamber. On 7/25/12 I received confirmation from Don Kivelus about the improvement in efficiency using the finned grate .  Here is what he sent me:

Kivelus installed his “fan grate” in the “Bush buddy” and found it improved the performance by 10-20%.
His results, as follows:
16oz water, 80 degrees F, SP900 pot /with lid
1 oz wood dowels/ 3 cc alcohol
4DS quick burn technique- [The quick burn technique -> stack your fuel wood in a random fashion in your fire pot to just below the top holes, then dribble 3-4cc alcohol on the fuel. Light, place pot, walk away and let food cook !!!]
No fan grate:  4 minutes 50 seconds = 200 degrees / no rolling boil achieved

Fan grate installed: 4 minutes 50 seconds = 207 degrees/6 min. rolling boil @ 212 degrees

Another big advantage to using the 1 pint, rather than the soup, can for the burn chamber is that the shorter vertical height allows enough height to place an alcohol burner cup under the stove. Find a small metal cup that holds 1 oz of yellow Heet or denatured alcohol- fill it, light it, and then after a few seconds place the stove over the burning cup, carefully! If you have never used alcohol for boiling, do this in the dark the first time, so that you can see the flame pattern, which is invisible in strong daylight. Also be very careful of spilling the fuel. I highly recommend taking along some alcohol so that you have a backup when you can’t find dry firewood, or just want to quickly get water boiling at the end of a hiking day. I was able to get 16 oz. of water to boil in 5 minutes, 10 seconds.

You can also use solid fuel tablets ( Hexamine), sold as Esbit or Coghlan’s fuel tablets. (Two Coughlan’s = 1 Esbit). Just light and drop into the burn chamber.

[For those of you who live in the midcoast Maine area, I'm scheduled to conduct a workshop on building your own backpacking stove through FiveTowns Adult Education on Tuesday night, 6 PM, October 16, 2012. $10 materials charge.]

A brief video of the stove in action.

Coffee- 400,000 person long-term study mutes the critics!

Where’s that Dunkin’ app?  I carry real Rock City ground coffee, with a stove to prepare it in my backpack. My reasons are primarily for the performance enhancing effects. The study, reporting on a 13 year analysis, will be published Thursday (May 17) in the New England Journal of Medicine. Drinking coffee long-term may decrease the risk of death from heart and respiratory diseases, as well as stroke and diabetes.

via Coffee Drinkers May Live Longer : Discovery News.

Snowshoeing the Loneliest Trail in Camden

Craig Nelson and I just spent a chilly two and a half hours crunching out a five miler in the Camden Hills.  Here is a link to the map of this hike.

I consider the Frohock Mountain trail the loneliest in the Park, because it just doesn’t connect to anything- it’s out and back,  and the summit (at least in the warm weather ) doesn’t have a view, it is leafed in.

Standing on the lonley summit

During this time of year, the leaf drop allows one to look out to the east to see glimpses of the Bay, and to glance west brings views of the ridges of Lincolnville/Searsmont in the distance.  We had our boil up, as usual.

Nelson boiling up

I feel it is excellent practice to ignite wood, or even alcohol stove fires in the windy sub freezing temperatures.

Even though it was below 20 degrees and breezy out, my clothing selection was adequate.  I had on for skin base a ultra-thin Ibex wool short sleeve t-shirt, covered by a wool blend long sleeve Trek bicycling shirt.  I like the bike shirt in the cold because it affords a double layer of fabric over the kidney area.  My outer layer was my Patagonia Houdini shell. The Ibex wool gloves I had on were inadequate.  My hands were painfully cold.  I have yet to figure out an acceptable hand cover for when I am using my hiking poles. Wrist straps complicate things.  I think it should be shelled mittens with inner liners.

Later, at home, after rising from the couch, I experienced a terribly painful episode where both my thighs cramped up , a seriously uncomfortable bout of pain that had he shrieking like a baby.  I would very much like to understand what I have to do to prevent this type of reaction after a day of harder than average leg exertion.  Any good ideas?