Which stove is best for kayak camping?
I spend a great deal of my time wild camping from my sea kayak. I also like my food. Thus the choice of stove is really quite important to me.
One of the great joys of sea kayaking (unless you are targeting records) is that one has the space and capacity to avoid an 'alpine' approach to wild camping. So I am not looking for the lightest, fastest, tiniest stove - I want something utterly reliable, stable, efficient - and quiet!
Another, rather well known sea kayak guide (who might just occasionally contribute to this blog) has a deep seated, passionate, almost sociopathic hatred of high powered pressure stoves! He feels that any camper who feels the need to pump up high octane fuel stove that will burn at high altitude are rather missing the point of sea kayaking (which is at sea level by the way), and are perhaps compensating for something.... I think that he actually doesn't like the noise!
So what is the perfect stove? I have a Jetboil and I love it. For backpacking. It is too small, too flimsy and too unstable for kayak camping. I do not like leaving it unattended, and would not consider using it inside my tent. I do have a petrol pressure stove, a mighty MSR Whisperlite International. It has served me well on expeditions in many far flung areas of the planet for over 25 years, where it will burn almost any fuel you put in it. I do not take it sea kayak camping though. It is too noisy. I do not like to carry smelly petrol in my boat, and its fierce flame tends to burn foods; it is difficult to get the gentle simmer required for perfectly scrambled eggs for example!
Then there are biofuel stoves. These seem perfect: light, reliable, robust and simple. They are the Kalashnikov of the stove world. So long as you have a reliable fuel source of course. I like them, and there are even models that can use the heat to generate electricity to charge your phone or VHF! Quite brilliant technology.
I also have a Kelly Kettle, an amazingly ingenious device that quickly boils water with tiny amounts of fuel. I love it for day trips, boiling up some water to make fresh coffee on a beach using drift wood twigs, but it is not ideal for cooking on.
But....why carry a biostove when one can simply enjoy the simple and delightful pleasure of cooking on an open fire?
So what do I carry? After several thousand miles of paddling, and many months of wild camping, I find myself using the trusty Trangia. I do revert to the gas burner version; it is clean, light, smell and drip free, and easier to transport. I love it for its versatility, it is so stable that I can leave it unattended, and have the confidence to use it inside my (well ventilated) tent porch. It is not the smallest packing stove, nor the lightest, but I have space in my boat. It is hugely efficient, uses so little gas and has an adjustable flame for cooking. I have yet to find a better stove for sea kayak camping.
I also carry the small, collapsing grill for cooking some foraged coastal goodies!
Let me know your thoughts on your choice of stove, or alternatives that I have not mentioned, it would be great to hear your thoughts.