How to Use Camping Wood Stoves

How to Use Camping Wood StovesA wood-burning stove is a great way to save money on fuel when backpacking. It also can shave precious ounces in a heavy backpack. These generally are simply constructed, consisting of two pieces of curved metal that fit together to form a cylinder. Using these stoves doesn't require much preparation or skill, but take steps to be safe.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Wood stove
  • Kindling
  • Wood
  • Firestarter (optional)
Step 1
Purchase a wood-burning stove. These are available at most outdoor stores or backpacking outfitters. Prices vary, but you shouldn't have to spend more than $50. Make sure the metal stove pieces have holes in the side -- this allows ample oxygen to feed the flames. Also, pick up a firestarter of some sort -- Fire Paste comes in a tube and works well -- if you are new to these stoves.
Step 2
Collect kindling while hiking. Some of the best kindling is birch bark. Be sure not to pull the bark directly from the tree, just the pieces on the ground. Also, dry brush and very small twigs work as great firestarters. Keep a resealable plastic bag of very flammable kindling with you at all times. You never know when you'll arrive at a campsite with few options for kindling.
Step 3
Place the two metal pieces together so they're secure and form a cylinder -- it should look like a large soda can. Before setting the fire, make sure the pieces are locked together. Collect small branches and pieces of wood from around your campsite. Be sure to collect pieces of wood in varying sizes. Smear some of the fire paste on the larger pieces of wood. The smaller pieces will light easily, but the paste will ensure the larger pieces catch as well.
Step 4
Feed the fire until there are small coals at the bottom of the stove. Make sure the stove is on a level surface. Also, make sure leaves and other flammable items are far from the stove -- you do not want to catch part of your campsite or gear on fire. Once you've established the coals, prepare your cooking materials and place your pot directly on top of the stove. Don't worry about smothering the flames -- the holes in the side of the stove will keep oxygen flowing.
Step 5
When you're done cooking, douse the flames with water. Do not take apart the metal pieces of the stove until they are cool to the touch. Before leaving a campsite, be sure the embers and coals are completely out and buried. Practice Leave No Trace ethics when using a non-established campsite.


Article Written By Duncan Jenkins

Based in Eugene, Ore., Duncan Jenkins has been writing finance-related articles since 2008. His specialties include personal finance advice, mortgage/equity loans and credit management. Jenkins obtained his bachelor's degree in English from Clark University.

Don't Miss a Thing!

All our latest outdoor content delivered to your inbox once a week.



We promise to keep your email address safe and secure.