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Rainmaker's 2001 PCT Cooking Gear

These are photos taken on October 7, 2001 of the soda can stove, cooking pot support, windscreen and cooking pot that I used on the Pacific Crest Trail from July 13 to September 18, 2001. I hiked about 830 miles with this gear, from Crater Lake, Oregon to Manning Park, Canada. Total weight of the 4 items shown is about 6.5 ounces.

These items were used each day that Brawny and I were on the trail. Usually, the stove was fired 4 times daily. It was used at least 200 times on this hike. Since these stoves weigh only about a half ounce, I carried a "back up", but never used it. I'd heat water in the mornings for coffee, then heat more water for coffee in the afternoons when we reached camp. Later, I'd "cook" supper (mainly heat my Ramen / instant rice / Knorr soup mix concoction that had been pre-soaked), then I'd have another mug of coffee with dessert before going to bed. In the cold, wet and isolated condtions that we hiked in, it was very nice having a simple, dependable, lightweight stove that has no pumps, generators or moving parts.

A variety of fuel was burned; denatured alcohol, rubbing alcohol, HEET fuel line anti-freeze and hexamine tablets. When I used the hex tablets, I'd invert the stove and put the fuel tablet on the bottom of the stove (which would then be the top). This worked well and didn't damage the stove at all, though the residue from the fuel tablets did crystalize on the aluminum surface. It could be scraped off, and toward the end of our hike, I found that it could be loosened and removed by pouring some alcohol on the residue and letting it sit for a while. Also, a small piece of aluminum foil can be placed under the fuel tablet, and a coin (quarter) also works pretty well.

I also found that rubbing alcohol stains the inside of the stove when it burns, but doesn't harm its cooking performance. Also, the fumes are bad. However, when it was the only fuel we could find, we were glad to have it.

The pot support is very sturdy and durable and I found it much easier to use than metal stakes. I just plunked it down on the ground, placed the stove inside it and I was ready to cook.

The windscreen worked well in windy conditions, and it also helped conserve the heat generated by the fuel. I believe that the holes in the bottom allow for better combustion. Once the air is taken in and heated, it rises to the bottom of the pot; sort of a chimney effect. I was careful with the windscreen, and it is still in good shape. I carried it, the stove and the pot support inside the cooking pot. The Wal-Mart Grease Pot served well as a cooking pot. However, it is very thin and light. It held up fine to the soda can stove (with both liquid and solid fuel), however, I'm not sure how well it would fare with a "flame jet" stove like a Peak 1 or a Whisperlite.

All these gear items are still usable, though they are stained and dented a bit. I don't think anyone on the PCT had lighter cooking gear than I did, at least not anyone who had hot food everyday.

In addition, I used these same items for my 2002 hike of the Long Trail, 2003 hike of the Colorado Trail and 2004 CDT section hike in Montana.

David Mauldin