With no plans and the start of a week long heat wave cranking up I was at a bit of a loose end on Sunday. Keen to get out and moving I decided to go for a long walk to the woods and cook my lunch.
To make things a little more interesting I decided to take my little twig stove, to light a real fire and cook over the flames.
The walk was along local country roads with hedgerows still in good colour but a real sense that autumn was coming with flowers past their best and berries starting to show.
The walk over was a very pleasant and warm 3k. Mostly downhill which obviously meant an uphill return! The woods were green and full of life but again some early adopters were starting to show signs of leaves turning.
I soon headed off track and into a heavily wooded area where I would have space to setup and be undisturbed. A lunch menu of smoked sausage, peppers, red onion and baked beans flavoured with a dash of sweet chilli sauce went down a treat with myself and Rosie also. A cup of tea to use the last of the coals before relaxing to enjoy the woods and let the fire burn out and cool down.
I went home a slightly different route which took me up the steep hill past Gleneely school before gradually descending and arriving home with 11k done and in a sweaty, sticky mess in the humid afternoon heat.
Having not done much walking since our holiday in June I definitely felt the hill in my glute muscles the following morning!
Video of my afternoon mini adventure at the YouTube link below
With a big Sale event at work to launch the new store it’s been a pretty busy few weeks. Wednesday was my first day off after working nine straight through and nine very busy days at that. As you may imagine a day off was very welcome.
I’d been keeping an eye on the weather and with a dry and sunny forecast I decided it was a perfect day for a longer walk and wanting something different I decided to walk to a small wooded area approximately 6km from home and to cook some lunch while sitting and enjoying the woods.
I packed a bag with a frying pan, some bacon and eggs and my Trangia stove. Not preparing the evening before I ended up doing everything in a bit of a rush and managed to forget a few things. The biggest thing I forgot was my fuel bottle so I only had what was remaining from my last time out. This was only half what I needed so I had to make a choice between a full lunch or skipping a cup of tea. In the end the tea won out.
The frying pan was too big for the stove and with the ground being more uneven than expected it was quite unwieldy and cumbersome. The uneven ground also resulted in mishaps with my water boiling and I managed to spill it twice! Despite all the things that went wrong I still learned some valuable lessons, had a really good time and enjoyed a great day for a walk. I initially expected a 13km walk but coming home by a slightly different route it ended up as 16.5km.
I’ve recently upgraded my cheapo Akaso action camera to a fancy new GoPro Hero 10 and Wednesday was my first real opportunity to try that out too. I didn’t know what to expect so was very impressed with the quality of the video compared to the old one. The sound quality was also superb but this was more expected. I put together a video of the day and it’s live on YouTube if you want to have a look at the link below. I’m looking forward to seeing exactly what the GoPro is capable of on outings over the next few months.
Part of the attraction for bikepacking for me is the additional gear especially tent options, sleeping systems and cooking systems. The Alpkit Bruler is currently top of my wishlist.
As well as the many professional versions out there, alcohol stoves have an amazing variety of DIY options. Try a search of YouTube and be prepared to disappear down a deep rabbit hole!
One of the simplest options is the tuna can stove which sometimes referred to as the cat food stove, due to the similar can size.
I have a plan for later in the week that requires some sort of cooking system so I decided to try and create one of these DIY stoves. I watched an interesting (to me at least!) video of slightly more complex versions of the tuna can stove and picked the one I thought would be easiest to make.
stove stage 1: supplies & tools
Supplies: Tuna can x 2 (identical size), soup/beans tin x 1 (all empty and labels removed), wire coat hanger.
Tools: Needle nose pliers, tin snips, drill, 12mm, 5mm & 3mm metal drill bits.
stage 2: inner layer
Take one of the tuna cans and using the needle nose pliers put a series of crimps in the sides approximately 2-3cm apart. Do this by gripping the side and twisting the pliers to one side. This creates vents for the alcohol vapour and allows you to slide this can inside the other with the base facing upwards.
stage 3: external burners
Using the 5mm bit drill a series of holes close to the top of the outer can approximately 1-2cm apart all the way around the can. I’m not sure if it’s correct but I also drilled through the inner can.
Change to the 3mm bit and drill smaller holes in between the first set. Neatness and accuracy may help here but don’t seem to be a priority on any of the videos I watched.
stage 4: top burner hole
Using the largest drill bit you have (mine was 12mm) drill a hole in the centre of the top of the stove (ie. the base of the inside can). Using the tin snips cut slits in the edge of the hole and press the edges inwards using the side of the needle nose pliers. Repeat the cutting and bending until the hole is still roughly circular and as wide as you require. I used one of the circles on the base as a guide.
That’s the stove complete. Denatured alcohol is the cheapest and easiest fuel to source. It’s most commonly sold as methalyted spirits.
If you prefer to watch a video from someone that knows exactly what they are doing the YouTube link below is where I got the design and instructions.
billy can stage 1: body & handle
This is a lot simpler. Using the large drill bit make two holes, directly opposite each other close to the top of the soup can.
Cut a piece of the wire coat hanger approximately 20cm long. Bend back the ends of this inwards approx 1-2cm making hook shapes. Shape the rest of the wire into a curve making the rough shape of a handle. Pass the hooks through the holes in the side of the can and squeeze them tight using the pliers to stop the handle slipping out when in use.
stage 2: lid
A lid isn’t necessary but it will retain heat in the can, speed up the boiling process and use less fuel. I used the lid from one of the tuna cans. Using the large drill bit make a hole in the centre of the lid. Cut a piece of the wire coat hanger approximately 6-8cm long. Bend the two ends until they meet and push half their length through the hole from the outside. Bend the edges back to prevent them pulling back through and leave a loop on the top.
The remaining piece of the hanger can be used as a hook for lifting the lid or the whole can off the stove without burning your fingers.
That’s the complete DIY cooking system. I plan to use it later this week. This plan will involve creating a YouTube video which I’m a bit leary of but I guess it will be good to get outside my comfort zone.