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Gear Guy

What's your opinion of the Trailstove?

What's your opinion of the Trailstove wood burning stove for backpacking? Bill Stell Charlottesville, Virginia

A: Well, I haven't used it, but it's certainly a clever idea. The Trailstove is essentially a metal pipe with a grate built into it and an air tube that sticks out the side. You stack some wood inside, light it with a piece of paper, dried grass or, better yet, Coghlan's Fire Paste!! ($9)-then blow on the tube (it has a long extension) to fan the flames. Set your pot on top and cook. It's light (one pound) and inexpensive ($20).

In many cases it probably works just fine. It'll make a mess of your pots, of course. And if it's raining, maybe you'll have a problem, although even wet wood is usually only wet on the surface. I also wonder how often you'd have to stick that tube in your mouth and blow on it. Keep in mind as well that in some areas it's strictly forbidden to burn wood. But what the heck. It's probably kind of fun to use, and after all didn't everyone cook over a fire once upon a time? And for a long backpacking trip through terrain where fuel is plentiful, it might save you four or five pounds over a regular backpacking stove and the fuel-the fuel being the big weight contributor.

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