Sunday, 20 January 2008

Camp kitchen

Much has been written about the best knife or jacket or rucksack for bushcraft but little if anything is written about the humble cook pot or stove!!

For many a billy can is best - but ask them why and they dont know - or they will answer "it can be hung over the fire" - so in essence they limit themselves to this one pot because they lack the skills or fire management, Granted a Swedish Army Mess kit is highly versatile and serve as many pots rather than one but even that may not be good enough.................

Imagine your kitchen at home. Do you cook everything in one saucepan? Or do you use a frying pan, a saucepan and a kettle??

So why do we feel we need to limit ourselves in the field??

In Lars Falts book FRILUFTSBOKEN and in Woodcraft by Nessmuk we see that a small kettle and a frying pan are incredibly versatile. Soldiers in the jungle are often taught to carry a frying pan as its a better cooking pot for that enviroment - why?

A pan or pot with a large flat surface area heats up the cooking materials quicker and more evenly - it requires the cook to stir the contents to stop them burning but for speed of warming a ration pack meal or boiling water a frying pan works amazingly well - saving fuel and time!! Remember a frying pan can fry, boil and be used for roasting or as a hot plate for bannocks and breads ect

But maybe boiling water in a frying pan isnt the ideal answer - after all what if you want a brew with your stew - well here the small camping kettle comes into its own - something like a trangia 27 or the Gelert camp kettle which has a folding bail arm can be used to boil water on a stove or hung over the fire - it can be used as a billy can too - Lars Nilson has a good picture in his book of him boiling a couple of fish in his kettle! And in Sweden the coffee pot is never far from the fire ......lets also remember the oldest name for a cooking pot hung over the fire is kettle, or a translation of that.

And then what about our stove - gas or Multifuel stoves can be expensive and the fuel doubly so - they also require you to carry in the fuel and containers and once used require you to carry out the empty containers ... and as a backwoodsman surely we'd rather cook on the open fire anyway??

So why not look at something simpler - a hexi stove or a Tommy cooker as their known for example these are cheap - the fuel blocks can be used as tinder for fire lighting as we'll as with the stove and once used their no rubbish to carry out.

Another consideration for our cookware and stoves is size and effeciancy - a frying pan can sit happily at the back of a ruck sack taking up no room unlike say a Zebra billy can with its useless fold down bail arm that sticks out awkardly.

And something like a Tommy cooker has very few working parts to break and the blocks burn well in most temperature ranges unlike gas or white fuel ...........

Of course the above ideas may not suit everyone - the light weight camper might be happy with just a crusader cup and cooker - or the scout leader who has to feed a pack might want a big double burner ect - but persoanlly speaking I dont think we should be blinkered by convention or limit ourselves in our solo kits to what we think looks bushcrafty - try something new, see what you think!!

And remember a good meal and a hot drink are pricelss in the field, lifting morale and marking the end of pleasant days in the bosom of nature their second only in importance to a good nights sleep - so why skimp!!

No comments: