Watching a pot boil: the best ways to heat water in the wilderness.

Watching a pot boil: the best ways to heat water in the wilderness.

August 20, 2019

Gone are the days of fry pans, spatulas, pots and pans. The beauty of freeze dried meals is that you only need to take a spoon and something to boil water in for your cooking utensils. When choosing a cooker for your next adventure there's lots of factors at play. Size, weight, functions and fuel efficiency all come into the mix. We decided to review all of the options and lay out the pros and cons of each. Let us know in the comments below what you prefer to take outdoors.

Jetboil / Windboiler (Integrated Canister Stoves)

Pros: Easily the fastest way to boil water in the bush. These cookers are primarily designed to heat water efficiently and fast. If you're only taking freeze dried then this is a great option to save weight and space in your pack.

Cons: Whilst they can be used for frying, they're not really optimised for much other than boiling water. It can be harder to guess how much fuel you have left if you're using gas canisters, often you'll end up with heaps of half used ones.

Gas Stove (Small Canister Stoves)

Pros: Like a Jetboil/Windboiler these cookers use gas canisters. They're often significantly cheaper coming with just the burner. Finding a good pot and pan combo is the key. The key benefit (other than cost) is that it's a lot easier to fry food.

Cons: Significantly slower and less efficient than a Jetboil style cooker. A good quality pot and pan and combo adds to the weight and cost of this option.

Liquid Fuel Stoves

Pros: Rumoured to be the most weight efficient way to boil water, these lightweight stoves come into their own if you're planning a long hike with no resupply points. They're also a better option if you're planning on frying food.

Cons: Badly effected by the wind, they often require a fair amount of skill to get set up just right. Boiling water can take a long time.

Spirits stove (MSR Whisperlite)

Pros: One of the best options for groups, these stoves are commonly used by outdoor education groups and guides. These cookers offer a larger degree of control over the temperature and can come into their own when snow melting is needed.

Cons: Weight, these suckers are heavy and they have lots of parts. Whilst they're easy to maintain they do seem to require more regular maintenance than the other options here.

A pot, some matches and good luck:

Pros: If you're going from hut to hut and you rate your fire making abilities this can be the lightest weight option around. 

Cons: If it rains or you can't find decent firewood your stuck cold soaking your meals. Luckily because Absolute Wilderness meals are made in such a unique way they'll rehydrate with cold water - it just takes slightly longer.

Cold Soak

Pros: no gear needed at all, just add cold water and wait for your meal to rehydrate. This method is common amongst adventure racers, who often prefer Absolute Wilderness's meals for their ability to rehydrate quickly even with cold water. Fan favourites are: Banana Smoothies, Couscous Salad, Banana Porridge and Tom Kha Gai.

Cons: Cold meals! Sometimes a warm meal makes all the difference on a chilly day. 

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