After a hard day of hiking, backpacking, canoeing or kayaking you need a good, hot meal to get your energy back. For many outdoor pursuits such as backpacking, keeping weight down in the backpack is essential for back health, easier trips and maintaining a solid pace. You need camp stoves to cook up that hot meal, and there are a variety of fuels to use in the stoves. Chafing fuel like Sterno is a possibility for camping.
Using chafing fuel for backpacking and camping saves weight due to the lightweight canisters the fuel comes in. One trade-off is that it burns at a lower temperature than many alternative fuel choices. The lower burn temperature means there is a longer cook or boil time for meals and hot drinks. There are dedicated camp stoves designed for use with chafing fuel.
Weight Savings and Availability
While using chafing fuel will save weight and backpack space, keep in mind the fuel is not always readily available at outdoor retailers. The website Zen Backpacking Stoves says that using through-hiking trails such as the Appalachian Trail will require extra solid fuel (chafing) as many shops along the trail do not keep it on hand as readily as other camp fuels.
Using Chafing Fuel without Stoves
As an added bonus with chafing fuels, many of the canisters the fuel is packaged in can serve as the cooking surface, saving space and weight by not requiring a special stove. It is important to keep the screw top or cap to the chafing fuel to prevent contamination when not in use, and keep the fuel from getting into food, water or gear in the backpack.
Article Written By Eric Cedric
A former Alaskan of 20 years, Eric Cedric now resides in California. He's published in "Outside" and "Backpacker" and has written a book on life in small-town Alaska, "North by Southeast." Cedric was a professional mountain guide and backcountry expedition leader for 18 years. He worked in Russia, Iceland, Greece, Turkey and Belize. Cedric attended Syracuse University and is a private pilot.