Gear Review: Stoves

While we’re thinking up different camping recipes, we got to have a stove. I have a couple of stoves that I will be taking on my picnics, camping trips, and travel.

The Coleman two burner stove

Almost everyone has heard of this. Remember camping trips as a child, when you’d wake up on a chilly morning, and Mom was brewing coffee and making bacon and eggs on the Coleman two-burner camp stove? Instant camping memories right there.

Coffee brewing and bacon and eggs frying. Camping memories.
Coffee brewing and bacon and eggs frying. Camping memories.

There are times when I don’t want to drag out the Coleman stove however. But I still want something hot. My answer to this:

The integrated stove system

Jetboil made a big name for itself through it’s easy to use integrated stove system. It was simple and easy, but there are some things on the Jetboil that are just plain weird and Jetboil doesn’t fix it.

The lid on the Jetboil, once it’s on the cup, is hard to get off. Plus the handle on the cozie sleeve is a bit floppy. Floppy handle and a lid hard to get off, all while juggling a pot of boiling water. Plus, a flimsy cup on the bottom which only holds, one cup.

UGH!

The answer, the MSR Windburner. The Windburner answers some of the oddities of the Jetboil. The cozie is held on by a plastic “jacket”, the handle is sturdier. The lid is solid plastic, not floppy, and can just rest on the cup while the water is boiling. The bottom cup on the 1.8 liter model is three cups, and very sturdy as to be actually useful. The Windburner uses the same radiant heat technology as MSR’s Reactor, the canister stove, integrated, snow-melting monster. I much prefer the Windburner’s heating element to the Jetboil’s spot flame.

When would I use an integrated stove system?

On a quick overnight camping trip, when I bring salads and cold fried chicken, and just want something to make some hot tea and hot water for washing up. Or it would be good for traveling, when constantly eating out would be a strain on the budget. Heat up some oatmeal, soup, coffee or tea, and you’re good to get back behind the wheel.

Jetboil, left. MSR Windburner, right.
Jetboil, left.
MSR Windburner, right.

I also have the Windburner’s accessory frying pan. It made a great Indonesian fried rice. It’s quick to heat up, has decent temperature control, and clean up was a breeze.

MSR Windburner frying pan

 

These are just some of the tools a good camp chef needs, but it’s the main tool. The camp stove.

Recipe: Popcorn

Whirlypop popcorn. This is one thing that will be a regular feature at my campsite. The Whirlypop makes perfect popcorn on a Coleman stove. I’m sure shaking a foil tin of Jiffy Pop over the campfire works too, but I’ll take my Whirlypop.

Perfect popcorn
Perfect popcorn

Base measurements:

1/2 cup organic Jiffy Pop popcorn

3 Tablespoons of peanut oil. I use peanut oil because it has a high smoke point and no taste.

Place popcorn and oil in the Whirlypop. Fire up the camp stove, turn down to medium heat. Turn the handle on the Whirly pop slowly. When the corn starts popping, steam will come out of the steam vents. When there’s 2 seconds in between pops, the popcorn is done.

Serve with melted butter and salt or any seasoning you like.

Gear Review: Light My Fire Meal Kit 2.0

light my fire meal kit 2.0

This has got to be one of my favorite pieces of gear, the Light My Fire Meal Kit. It’s very versatile and everything nests inside.

The kit comes with the following:

Bowl

Plate that is also the kit’s lid

Cutting board/strainer/chopper

small triangular container

long oval container

spork

The kit also comes with a holder that wraps around the triangle to hold everything together, and a collapsable cup (with was pretty useless, so I threw it away.)

I like it because I can use the main bowl as a plate, but if there’s flies buzzing around, I can cover it with the lid. I can put salad dressing, nuts, or chocolate in the containers. When I’m going on a picnic, I can throw the kit into my cooler. They can also fit in bike panniers. Or, if you’re renting a cabin and the facilities look iffy, whip out your meal kit, everything you need is there. It’s not something I would want to carry on the PCT or AT, but after all, that’s what titanium is for.

Overall, a great meal kit to take along camping, biking touring, or traveling.

Gear Review: Primus Campfire Cookset

primus campfire cookset

I just upgraded my cookware and I found this wonderful looking set at REI. I had been using some MSR pots that were anodized aluminum but one of them had a non-stick coating. Wary of toxic chemicals, I opted for good old stainless steel.

The Primus Campfire Cookset comes in two sizes, this one is the large. It comes with an 8 inch frying pan, a 1.8 liter pot, and a 3 liter pot. The pots also come with lids with holes to drain liquid. The large lid’s handle can be hung over a campfire. The handles stay cool and the lids come with a sewn on piece of leather to make handling lids easier. The quality is very good and comes in a beautiful mirror finish, 18/8 stainless steel.

The large set would comfortably feed about three, anymore and there better be more pots and pans to choose from. The small set would probably suit a backpacker’s needs, although being stainless steel, it would add weight. All of the pieces fit nicely on a two-burner Coleman stove.

The Primus Campfire Cookset is a welcome addition to my camp kitchen. It’s durable, and nice to look at. This set is so nice, it could have gotten Julia Childs out in the woods.

Recipe: S’Mores Oatmeal

Ok, take perfectly healthy oatmeal and wreck it eh? This was surprisingly good, I guess it’s a good way for kids to eat their oatmeal. Or to get the kids their S’Mores fix if there’s a burn ban going on.

img_1540

 

S’Mores Oatmeal

cooked oatmeal according to package instructions (I used Quaker old-fashioned oats.)

For topping:

Golden Grahams cereal

Mini marshmallows

Hershey’s extra dark chocolate syrup.

Hello campers!

I remember a camping trip I took at Sequoia National Park in the late 80s. I took a one burner camp stove and a 50 quart Coleman cooler. I packed the usual beans, hotdogs, pop. How original huh? I ate ok, but it was dull.

There are better ways to cook outdoors, from Boy Scout hobo packets and bannock to all out gourmet. There’s also a lot more ways to cook, more shelf stable ingredients, more options for cooking appliances, and better ways to store cold foods.

Here’s a look at some of my past camping food.

A winter camp kitchen
A winter camp kitchen
Snoqualmie Pass
Chocolate pudding tarts, cooled in snow
Smap fried rice
Spam fried rice
Campfire beef fajitas
Campfire beef fajitas

Serve enough beans and franks, and you’ll lose your outdoor dinner guests. Serve, well-thought out, well-planned meals and you’ll always have a crowd at your picnic table.

The Queets rainforest, Olympic Peninsula
Too much beans?   The Queets rainforest, Olympic Peninsula