Do You Really Need a Stove?


Oatmeal (here: oat,water,salt). Danish: havregrød
Oatmeal (here: oat,water,salt). Danish: havregrød (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you plan to use your stove much on your hike, or do you take it because everyone else does? Will you use your stove three times a day, or just for breakfast and your late meal? Do you like messing around with a stove early in the morning, or have you decided to cook only in the evening? When I got to this last stage, I asked myself why bother with a stove and fuel at all. Especially if I’d planned to resupply in town every four or five days and get cooked meals there.

Okay, I do pack my tiny Esbit Pocket Stove with two fuel tabs. It’s good to have if I must boil water. But on hot summer days, when all I want is to stay cool, I don’t cook meals. This may not work for other hikers, but I don’t miss hot meals on the trail in summer.

Breakfast: Oatmeal with cold water. Sounds bland, until you try it. Oatmeal in the little packets doesn’t taste bad at all when you add cold water and stir. And you can eat right from the packet–no fuss, no muss. I’ve also stirred flavored Gatorade into oatmeal, but it covered up the oatmeal taste. I like flavored oatmeal (apples & cinnamon, raisins & spice, maple & brown sugar) stirred with plain water. Try it; you’ll be surprised.

For other meals, I pack (sealed baggies or aluminum foil) fruits, hard cheeses, pepperoni and jerky, tuna packets, wheat crackers, peanut butter, energy bars, etc., and gorp.

Who’s ready to cast the first stone?

Published by Ray Anderson

Hiker and writer. Have hiked the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, The Long Trail (Vermont), and some of the Continental Divide Trail. My trail name is "HAMLET." Have written three hiking novels (thrillers). The first one, "THE TRAIL," was traditionally published in 2015. My second hiking thriller, "SIERRA," released Oct 2016. Book three in my AWOL hiking-thriller series, "THE DIVIDE" releases from Turner Publishing 8/18/2020.

4 thoughts on “Do You Really Need a Stove?

  1. Hi Ray- I’ve gone without a stove before, but last hike carried it again. I make my own oatmeal mix with raisins (or other dry fruit) & some PB2 powder which gives me a protein boost in the morning. I call it PB&J oatmeal & it’s fine hot or cold. I don’t mind cold coffee either when I use the flavored instants, but I like my tea hot. I never found a dinner that satisfied my salt cravings & protein needs that didn’t require a stove. Any suggestions there?
    Glad to read your posts again!

    1. I admit that I always looked forward to a cooked dinner. But I didn’t require hot tea, coffee, or cocoa, and I went without a stove in the hot summer months. I would take a stove in the other seasons for one hot meal at the end of the day. Thanks for sharing the PB&J oatmeal; I’ll have to try that.

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