How to build an inexpensive stove platform for winter backpacking. Bonus: doubles as a heat reflector.
For three-season backpacking, my choice of a stove is simple: A canister if I am feeling lazy. Alcohol if I know I am pounding out the mileage on the trail with a friend. Or none at all if solo.
When winter backpacking in Colorado? The above stoves really do not fit my needs. I am melting a lot of snow for hot water and need something that is efficient in cold weather. I take a white gas stove.
One of the challenges of backpacking in winter is the snow. In particular, where to stick your stove on it. When you light your stove, the heat will cause the stove to sink into the snow as it is heating up your glop du jour . No fun.
A few tried and true methods have been used by people over the years: Bottom of an avy shovel, an old license plate, plywood, commercial solutions and even foil wrapped cardboard.
All can work.
But, I found a solution that uses material found in a typical backpacker’s gear closest and kitchen, does not cost much at all and takes minutes to make.
It is simple, cheap, effective and light. As a bonus, this dirt bagger design works as a heat reflector, too.
Here are the handy dandy steps:
- Foam pad scraps (we all have some form of CCF in our closet it seems. )
- Foil oven liner or similar
- Grab piece of foam and cut it down to about 9″ x 9″
Old blue foam before cutting it down. Stains are strictly optional.
2. Cover 9″ x 9″ foam pad with foil
3. Have foil about 1/2″ around edge of pad on bottom
4. Place pad on snow and place stove on pad
Rare form of wood grained snow….
As mentioned, the advantage of this set up is that it also reflects back the heat. Reflected heat of course helps heat the water and/or food faster. Which in turn saves precious fuel.
Unless you plan on using the stove for a very lengthy time (more than ~1hr straight perhaps), the foil covered foam reflects the heat with no issues.
This dirt bagger special weighs ~ 1.5 oz.
While it would not be my first choice for deep winter camping, this stove base will also work with an alcohol stove.
DO NOT use this stove platform with a canister stove such as an MSR Pocket Rocket. A remote canister stove such as an MSR Windpro should be fine, however.
Happy snowy trails!