Stoveless on the Appalachian Trail
I said I was going to write about financial wellness today, but something else has been pushed to the forefront. Friends and family are wondering why I’m going stoveless, and probably how I’m going to survive. For those of you who don’t know, most long-distance hikers opt to carry a small fuel canister and an attachment that will hold a pot above a flame fueled by the canister so you can cook. Important because these are quicker than a campfire and are allowed in areas where there are fire bans. But there are a few things I’ll save by going stoveless.
Weight and Space
This is a big one. After first I thought that the little alcohol stove I have wouldn’t weigh that much, but then I realized I’m also carrying fuel and a cook pot. Those 3 items weigh 14.6oz right now, and my small fuel canister isn’t even full. They also take up a small but significant portion of my pack. And one pound might not seem like that much, but I have to carry it 2,200 miles. And you know what I can carry if I don’t have a stove? More food.
More of a coincidence than anything, but each 3.5oz fuel canister would cost me about $4. It’ll probably only save me $30-$40 for the entire trip but I’ll take the savings.
Not the original reason I started looking at going stoveless, but when I hike for 13 miles I do not want to sit down and set up a stove and wait for my food to cook before I can eat it. The only thing that might be worse than that? Having to clean my pot after I’m done eating. Having to carry a scrubby and dish soap with me 2,200 miles gets a solid “nope” from me. Some people will boil their water and then pour it into a Ziploc bag and add their food and let it cook this way. I don’t like the idea of carrying all those gallon bags with me or the idea of packing the dirty bags out with me.
I can change my mind
This is one of those things where I’m not risking my life by opting not to bring it. There might be points on the trail where I’ll think it would be really nice to have a hot meal- but I won’t freeze to death without it. Come summer months I’ll probably have no desire for hot food. If I do get out on the Trail and discover this is the thing that could break me? It’ll be pretty easy to have my support system send out my pocket rocket stove or to purchase an Esbit stove from one of the outfitters on the trail. If it comes to that it’ll be a pretty easy moral boost for me out on the trail. I’ll probably have a future blog about the sorts of things I will be eating.
An Important Note
I will still be carrying a lighter and emergency fuel pellets. Being out on the trail in the winter without a reliable means to start a fire really could be risking your life. It’s one of the ten essentials for a reason.
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