Gear Guy

Exponent Xpedition     Photo: courtesy, Coleman

Q:

What car-camping stove's best for a family trip to Alaska?

This summer I'm taking my family of five to Alaska for three weeks of mostly car camping. Is there any way I can sufficiently clean my Coleman two-burner Powermax stove to fly with it? Is it easier to clean/travel with a propane canister stove? Is it worth trying to cook for the family with my two-burner expedition Powermax backpacking stove? Rayne Metairie, Louisiana

A:Same story with your stove as with any backpacking stove. The odds that an airline will let you take a used Coleman two-burner camp stove on board, packed in luggage or otherwise, are essentially zero. It's apt to have residual fuel in it no matter how diligently you clean it and air it out, and it just won't pass muster. Try to pretend it doesn't exist and sneak it in your luggage, and they might just grab you and throw you off the plane before it takes off.

Your Coleman two-burner Powermax—the Exponent Xpedition ($75; www.coleman.com)—should be a different story, as all you'll be taking is the burner unit, no fuel. Airlines vary on stoves such as this—I'd call ahead and explain your position. Then get the name of the person you talked to. I have one of those Coleman stoves and like it very much, although it's a little bulky. The rub is that ONLY Coleman Powermax fuel canisters work on it, so you'll have to call ahead to the arrival city—Anchorage, I presume—and track down a sporting goods store that carries them. There's an REI in Anchorage and seeing as they carry the Powermax stoves, that would be a good bet.

Alternatively, you could simply make a stove purchase part of your expenses and buy one in Alaska. Coleman's two-burner propane stove ($55) is an excellent stove for car camping, and propane bottles are ubiquitous. On your way back to the airport, you drop it off at a Goodwill and do someone a favor down the line.

For the ultimate moveable feast, check out the mobile gas grills reviewed in "Packing Heat" from the August '04 issue of Outside.

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