cooking in the wild - some beginner's questions

1:52 p.m. on May 31, 2013 (EDT)
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Hi all

I plan to go trekking in a rugged area of China's Yunnan Province later this summer. I have trekked in that area in the past, but never cooked for myself - I either traveled with locals who cooked, or took dry food. This time I hope to cook for myself. I have never done this in the past, so I hope the community would help me with some questions, I would really appreciate it!

Here we go...

1. In China they use portable stoves with gas canisters. Do you have any recommendations on what kind of model should I choose, do I need something sophisticated or can I settle for something simple? And gas canisters - can I simply buy one single big canister or is it better to go with a few small ones?

2. How do you suggest to cook rice in the wild? I remember watching the locals doing so by boiling the rice together with plenty of water but couldn't quite catch the method

3. How much gas do I need per day? I plan to cook rice twice daily.

4. How should I train in advance in cooking? Do I need to simulate somehow the conditions I would face in the wild?

Any advice you have would be highly appreciated. Thank you!


2:12 p.m. on May 31, 2013 (EDT)
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I will start off by answering your stove questions.

Which stove to choose? Honestly, it doesnt really matter. Pick one, and learn how to and practice using it several times before your trip. I assume you are refering to a liquid fuel stove and not a compressed gas canister stove. Where would you be purchasing this stove at? if you tell us where you are we may be able to give you some recommendations on models etc.

One big canister or several small ones? This depends on the model of the stove really, but i usually prefer one bigger one depending on the length of the trip.

How much gas per day? This varies greatly, practice and find out. Weather conditions, wind etc can change this so bring some extra if your not sure. Using an appropiate wind screen for your stove is an essential part of this. IF YOU ARE USING A COMPRESSED GAS CANISTER STOVE BE VERY CAREFUL IF YOUR USING A WIND SCREEN AS THE STOVE CAN EXPLODE IF USED INCORRECTLY.

How to cook rice? I have two recommended ways. 1) put rice in pot, put cold water in pot and wait like 30 minutes - 1 hour, the rice will begin to absorb the water and this will save on cooking time and save fuel. This is something you can do and then set up camp etc while your waiting. Then bring to a boil, cover, shut off stove and wait anonther 10 minutes and the rice should be done. **Rice will actually "cook" if you just let it sit in cold water long enough, it will hyrate to a point where it is no longer hard just like "cooked" rice.

Method 2) put rice in pot, put water in pot, bring to boil. boil for like 5 minutes, cover, shut off stove, wait 15-20 minutes and it should be done.


2:38 p.m. on May 31, 2013 (EDT)
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I recommend you become an "old pro" at using your stove and cooking rice well before you leave on your adventure.  Practice setting up your stove, lighting it, and taking it apart many, many times so you can do it in the dark.  Learn to take your stove apart and replace o-rings and other common components.  If your stove requires a tool to do so, buy it and take it with you.  Finally, take a few common replacement parts.  Whatever stove you get, the folks at the gear shop, or forums like this one, can tell you what may break or wear out.  Depending on the stove, a wind shield is a good investment.

I can't add anything to Rambler's rice cooking instructions; just want to reiterate that you won't be getting minute rice, so be patient with it, and soaking reduces the amount of fuel you will have to use.  In the middle-east, I've known locals who fill up a skin of rice and water about 2 hours before dinner, then put some hot rocks in the skin at dinner time, and dinner is done.


3:04 p.m. on May 31, 2013 (EDT)
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you want to be an old hand with your stove. if your using gas canisters you want to have extras instead of relying on just one. if the valve on top of the canister lets go you could be screwed with just one canister. soak your rice before you cook it - that will reduce boiling time, and save fuel. also be sure to filter or boil your water - a lot of creepie crawlies live in the water sources in china. if you tell us where you are we can recommend some stoves.

1:07 p.m. on June 1, 2013 (EDT)
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1 - find out what gas canister is most readily available

   - simple is often better, lighter, smaller, reliable - repairable.

   - canister size depend on, storage/carry ability, volume need, disposal

2. How do you suggest to cook rice in the wild? 

    Uuuum how do you cook it at home ?  It is still rice in the wild or, is it now called wild rice ?  I think 2:1 boil and simmer is the style. Use clean water.

3. How much gas do I need per day? I plan to cook rice twice daily.

    A little practice at home will be a good start for checking all cooking needs. Remember altitude and ambient temperature will affect cook time. 

4. Partly answered in #3.

   also - Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance  or 

          -  No plan for failure is a planned failure

2:15 p.m. on June 1, 2013 (EDT)
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Thank you for the advice, it is just priceless.

11:09 p.m. on June 1, 2013 (EDT)
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Just make sure the stove takes the type of canisters you have seen.


You can get adapters for "screw on" type stoves (Lindal valve) so that they can use the "aereosol" type canisters.


The "boil for a few minutes then let it "cook" without a flame" bit works better if you cover the pot with a kitchen cloth/towel then pile on top of that clothing and or your sleeping bag.

Obviously make sure that the stove itself is not close by because it will melt your stuff instantly...

7:02 p.m. on June 2, 2013 (EDT)
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It is not clear to me that the OP got the appropriate answer here. One response assumed liquid fuel stoves (white gas, benzin, kerosene, and other liquid fuels), although the responder went on to discuss compressed gas canisters. Another response applied explicitly to compressed gas fuels (butane, isobutane, propane).

So question for Erap21 - what type of fuel are you intending to use in your stove -a liquid fuel such as gasoline, petrol, benzin, kerosene - or a compressed gas that comes in a canister like the ones shown in Franco's post, namely butane, isobutane, or propane or some mix thereof? In general stoves are designed and manufactured for one of these fuel types, with some being convertible among two or more of the same class of fuels (liquid or compressed gas, also known as liquified petroleum gas LPG). At present, there are only two reputable manufacturers (MSR and Primus) making stoves for backpackers which can be converted easily between liquid and LPG fuels.

If you are not sure of the American name for the fuel (Trailspace is an American-based website, though with an international mix of members), I can translate via a table of fuel names provided by our Australian members. Even within English-speaking countries, the names for the various fuels are different from place to place. It should, however, be easy enough to distinguish between liquid fuels and compressed gases (LPG type gases).

As for the amount of gas, as the others have posted, that depends on a number of factors. I will assume, although assuming anything is dangerous (old saying - ASSUME = Actions Seldom Supported Under Meticulous Examination), that you will be using a petroleum-derived fuel (not alcohol or wood, in other words), and that you will be starting with water at "room temperature" (68°F/20°C). If you are melting snow or ice for your water, approximately 4 times the fuel amount as a starting point. For boiling the water for hot drinks or for rehydrating freeze-dried food, 2 ounces fuel weight or about 60 grams is a good starting point per person per day. For white gas in volume measure, this is about 2.5 fluid ounces.

Plain rice (as pointed out above, not "Minute" or "Instant" rice) can require 20 minutes of boiling if not pre-soaked. So you are likely to find that 5 to 7 ounces weight (140-200 grams) of fuel is needed (big hint - pre-soak your rice). The few times I started with dry rice, I found I was consuming fuel at a prodigious rate. That's why I now use instant rice, angel-hair pasta, and other similar foods that only soaking in boiling water for a few minutes.

As noted above, practice, practice, practice with your stove before you leave on your trip to (1) make sure you thoroughly understand your stove and its operation, and (2) to make sure you have the fuel needed per serving of rice well determined.

4:28 a.m. on June 5, 2013 (EDT)
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Hi , many thanks again for all the answers. One final question... I will be using canister stoves, the clip-on type that Franco mentioned:

Is there any real difference between the various types and  brands, or does anything goes? As far as temperatures are concerned, I expect them to be about 5-15 degrees Celsius (about 40-60 F) with high levels of humidity.

Thank you again!


1:01 p.m. on June 5, 2013 (EDT)
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Instant rice is available in much of China. 

Some manufacturers:

  • Shanghai Lehui Food Co., Ltd, [Province: Shanghai]
  • Sun Fung Food Industrial (GZ) Ltd. [Province: Guangdong]
  • Jilin Runhe Foodstuff Co., Ltd. [Province: Jilin]
  • Deyigreen Food Co., Ltd [Province: Sichuan]
  • Qingdao Qiandangu Food Company [Province: Shandong]

That would give you a big saving in fuel. 

There is also the question of buying the right kind of canisters in a remote location. For maximum adaptability, have you considered something like the MSR Universal?





2:33 p.m. on June 5, 2013 (EDT)
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If you are not an experienced camp cook you most certainly must practice practice practice!

Get your stove and pot set, and cook all your meals for at least a week outside in your backyard or on your porch. This will get you accustomed to your cook kit ( which is just as important as your stove ) how many and what kind of utensils you'll need, how difficult a recipe you can pull off under field conditions, what kind of foods and ingredients to look for while on the road  and oh yeah, how well the food you make tastes! 

The time to learn how much rice your pot will hold and if your stove is so hot it burns it every time is not in a remote location after a long day on the trail. 

Learn this now, and come up with at least few easy to make fool proof meals that satisfy you. Remember that you'll probably eat quite a bit more on the trail. 

I often do this myself when breaking in a new stove.

In 2010 I went on a cycle tour of Iceland and decided to take an old stove that could run on automotive gasoline, as that is the most available fuel up there.

But I'd never used that stove very much before, and in Iceland I would also be buying ordinary locally available foods instead of my more usual carefully selected and prepared beforehand backpacking foods. 

To make sure it would work out well I cooked all my meals for a week over that stove, out on my porch, using only my camping cook kit. The experience was very valuable and helped contribute to a successful trip.


Cooking out on the porch -



10:52 a.m. on June 11, 2013 (EDT)
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I would try to use the instant rice and Ramen noodles they will take a lot less time to cook then grain rice.  You should be able to get most of this in China from food stores before you start your trip. 

As for canister stoves, your better off with a brand name, MSR, Primus, etc. then a no name or unknown named stove.  There have been issues in the past with some cheep stoves out of China leaking and catching fire.  Possibly exploding?!

Have a great time and post some pics when you get back!


2:39 p.m. on June 11, 2013 (EDT)
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I would recommend the msr windpro or the snowpeak gigapower 100. the windpro may be the better choice, it lets you invert the canister for coldweather cooking. either stove is a workhorse. let us know what you decide on. another note- you posted a link to screw on canister stoves, but you say it is clip on. a little clarification please.  

June 24, 2018
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