Originally Posted by Tim Wood
Here in Australia it would be very unwise to use wood as a fuel in summer. In wetter climes it might be better, but why would you bother?
The climate is the key.
I've never been to Australia so can't really comment. I imagine it's like North Africa only without the added disadvantage of knowing you are stealing the locals fuel supply? In that case I totally agree.
My use in Alpine/Scandanavian climates is safe (snow doesn't burn!) and (dead) wood is plentiful and has no local demand that comes close to the supply. I will always carry a petrol/kerosene stove for the serious work. What you do need however is a back up in case of weather that'll stop you moving. It's also useful to have some means to heat the tent and any means of saving fuel is good, water boils a lot faster than snow.
The modern approach is to fire up your MSR, melt the snow, drop in your bag of lumpy goo, eat then retire for the night with an LED lamp and small book. All very efficient but a bit too much like the sort of trip HM government organise.
It seems generally more sociable to follow something closer to what people might have done years ago. An open fire is possible in some places but not all and certainly not in the sort of tent you can carry even on an outfit. Some means of containing a fire allows something between the two. My kelly kettle is a brilliant back up device (but is still limited to boil in the bag). A firebox would allow some sort of evening fire that would be both comfortable and a group focal point. In addition it should be possible to get real food going if fuel is almost unlimited (pressure cooker/dutch oven/BBQ type setup). I'm not sure about inside the tent, but in a real blizzard would be possible with the right design and care.
Wet wood BTW is not usually a problem. For a small fire you can split enough wood from the middle of a pile to get at the dry bit inside. Once it's going it's just technique to feed it so the dry bit burns and dries the bark. Vasoline (petroleum jelly) and cotton wool are an easy way to get it going.
Last edited by Threewheelbonnie; 9 Jul 2009 at 14:48.