Tag Archives: stove

Bushwalking Workflow | Repacking the Next Morning

How long does it take to pack in the morning? Do you vary your packing procedure if it’s wet? What if there is a frost or dew on your tent or it has rained overnight? How can you save time in the morning? Do you organise yourself before going to sleep?

How long should you take to repack in the morning?

The time taken depends on a number of factors such as:

  • How much you unpacked the night before?
  • Whether you partially repacked before going to sleep?
  • Whether you will be having a hot breakfast and whether you will need to cook breakfast or just heat some water for a hot drink?
  • Has it rained or snowed and if so, do you have a wet tent?
  • Which clothes did you sleep in overnight?

Most people can cook a breakfast, make a hot drink, attend to personal hygiene and fully repack in a leisurely 90 minutes. With a little pre-planning, this can be reduced to 45 minutes and if needed, cut back to 30 minutes by saving a few tasks for later in the morning.

Partially packing before you go to sleep

Usually there is plenty of time to begin packing, after your evening meal and  before you go to sleep. There is also time to complete tasks that don’t need to wait until the morning.

Simple tasks that can be done before you go to sleep include:

  • prepare your change of clothing for the morning and perhaps put them on before climbing into your sleeping bag.
  • store away you dirty and wet clothing unless you are going to put it back on, which is often the most sensible.
  • get out the new day’s meals and store in the lid of your pack.
  • refill your water bottle
  • bandage any blisters and tend to any injuries
  • read your route plan and make any modifications needed as a result of the day’s activities
  • if you are having a hot drink, pre-fill the billy/pan with the exact amount needed, add your tea bag to your cup along with the sugar and powdered milk. Find your lighter and grippers and place next to your cup.
  • pre-soak your muesli/porridge so it is easier to digest in the morning
  • write up your journal/diary or upload your blog if you have phone reception
  • replace the batteries of any items if needed
  • place items such as sleeping bag covers, tent stuff bags in readily accessible pockets of your tent where you can easily find them, and use the same pockets each time.
  • minimise the amount of clothing you will need to change in the morning, by carefully selecting what you will  wear in your sleeping bag.
  • place as many items as you can back into the correct pockets of your backpack. If you have room, and its likely to be wet, pull your backpack into the tent with you and then it is a simple task to fully repack before you emerge from your tent.

While not part of the pre-packing routine, place items you might need during the night such as a torch, watch and water in the same place each night, where you can find them while still half asleep. 

Waking in the morning

Unless you enjoy rising early to see the sun, stop in your sleeping bag as long as possible and pack around yourself in your tent:

  • pull your shirt over you thermals, 
  • put on your jacket
  • roll up any items that you can or place them back in their stuff sacs.

Only when all the items around you have been packed should you get out of your sleeping bag and stuff it into its compression sac, and then complete the dressing process, which will depend on the expected temperature:

  • thermal long-johns if you didn’t already have them on
  • put on your shorts or long trousers
  • then you waterproof over-pants and waterproof jacket if needed

Now is the time to let down your air mattress and roll it up tightly. Collect all items inside your tent and stack them inside as close to the entrance as possible. Check all tent pockets to make sure your torch or compass have not been forgotten.

Now its time to put on your boots and exit the tent. If its not raining and your tent is dry, this is the time to place all the items you have already packed inside your tent on a dry surface (eg your gaiters) ready for packing in the pre-determined sequence inside your pack.


Breakfast should be cooking, while you continue packing. Get you stove operating as soon as you get out of your tent and don’t stand waiting for the water to boil. If it is particularly wet, your wet weather breakfast of a few muesli/breakfast bars should be eaten before you get out of your tent and you will need probably want to forgo the hot drink.

A more flexible alternative is to fill a “thermos” with hot water at dinner time and place it in your sleeping bag overnight. If you carefully choose your breakfast eg muesli or porridge then there is no need to light your stove and your breakfast can be eaten inside your tent, with no threat from the weather. This will also save you at least 15 minutes of stove starting and packing time.

Repacking the contents of your pack

The overriding sequence that should be followed is to pack those items that should be taken out of your pack last eg sleeping bag, at the bottom. It is not quite that simple however, as weight distribution also places a role, with heavier items placed close to the body and higher in your pack. Items you will need during the day should be placed in readily accessible pockets, the lid of your pack or perhaps just below the lid if the item is bulky eg rain jacket or fleece.

See also: Packing for a Bushwalk

Packing your tent.

When you start packing away your tent depends on the weather and whether your tent is already wet.

If there is a sunny break between showers, take the opportunity to get your tent packed away as quickly as you can, so the inside of your pack does not get wet while it is open. I usually roll mine in the mini-tarp (eg emergency space blanket) I have under my tent, brushing the surface clean between each roll.

If it has rained during the night, or there has been a heavy dew, then you may want to leave your tent up until the last possible moment to try to get it dry before packing. Don’t forget to shake it, before taking out the poles, so you can get rid off excess droplets on the outside.

Your tent goes into your pack last, as it will be the first thing you will want to take out of your pack when reaching your next campsite.

Saving an extra few minutes

  • Choose a breakfast that can be eaten while you are walking.
  • Put on your gaiters at your first stop
  • Save your morning ablutions until you find a rest break near water.
  • Rehydrate before getting out of your tent, so you don’t need to brew a hot drink.
  • Have all you gear in individual stuff sacs which can be thrown into your pack with less care than if they needed to be packed separately.
  • Put on your sunscreen as you walk.

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Voluntary Recall Optimus Nova and Nova + Multifuel Expedition Stoves in Australia

The voluntary recall of Optimus Nova and Nova + stoves in September 2010 in USA and Canada, has been confirmed by Katadyn (Switzerland) as applying to Australia too, and is due to fuel lines or O-rings leaking.

This recall involves Optimus Nova and Nova+ Multifuel Expedition Stoves and equipment sold in Australia which were made in China and sold between January 2009 – September 2010, including the stove’s fuel pump and spare parts/repair kits. The stoves are black metal, measure about 6 inches in diameter and 3 1/2 inches high and can be used with multiple types of fuel. Stove serial numbers QA000011 through QA007313 are included in this recall. The serial number and “Optimus” are printed on the side of the camping stove. The QA-number of the stove is located on the side of the black burner housing. All Nova and Nova+ stoves with silver burner housing have no QA-number and are not affected. Pumps and spare parts kits also were sold separately. Pumps have a green open/close valve. Spare parts kits model numbers include 80163051, 8520, 80176321 and 8511 and are printed on the packaging.

If you have an affected stove, please file your claim under www.optimusstoves.com/en/service/nova-recall.

Read more…

Light my Fire: using fire starters

All of us need to be able to quickly light a fire with some confidence when bushwalking, whether that be a campfire or a stove.

In the mid-eighties, I only took a gas stove for emergencies, assuming that we would always be able to get a campfire going except in the foulest of weather.  Nowadays of course, having a wood fire is a luxury or as some would say an environmental disaster, that few of us experience on a regular basis.

WWII match holder and compass

A good example from the match era is  the waterproof bakelite match holder with compass in the lid and striker on the inside which were used by soldiers during WWII.

Over the years, the type of fire starter has diversified so that new alternatives to the waterproof match have appeared.

I could never get the waterproof match to work especially in the wet and always found that I wore out of the “striker” surface before I finished my last match. So it was not long before I migrated to a cigarette lighter, initially a gold one belonging to my aunt which had the benefit of an adjustable flame with renewable flint and the ability to refill. However I always managed to misplace it!

Disposable cigarette lighters were readily available and cheap so I usually took a couple of these with me. Over time I accumulated quite a few of these but they often seemed to stop working from one walk to the next, either the flint wore out or the gas seemed to escape.

I never found them very effective on a cold morning, especially if they had been left out over night next to your stove and got wet. I always burnt my thumb when lighting my MSR Whisperlite although some of my younger bushwalking friends taught me how to manipulate the flame on a disposable lighter so you could get a jet about 4 cm long. This certainly helped. One tip that I have been told for keeping your lighter dry is to put it on a string around your neck.

When air safety regulations were introduced which prevented you from carrying disposable lighters on board a flight, I changed over to “fire steels”.  By then I was using a MSR Whisperlite, and the sparks were all that was needed to light the Shellite primer (white gas).

Some tips I’ve learnt to help start a fire using a steel are

  • keep the steel in contact with the tinder *
  • pull the the steel up at the same time as you push the striker down.* 
  • use Vaseline** on cotton wool balls as fire starters (waterproof)
  • tampons make great “tinder”

*     Hard to see how you can do both at once!
 ** Vaseline® Petroleum Jelly is a mixture of mineral oils, paraffin and microcrystalline waxes

Light My Fire Firesteel

Some interesting facts about the flints (ferrocerium alloy) in cigarette and gas lighters  and in firesteels can be read at

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How to eat well with little effort, saving weight and time.


I have always admired those walkers who are so devoted to their food that they will spend 15 minutes carefully preparing their meal from the basic ingredients and then another 15 mins slowly simmering in a pot producing mouth watering aromas for all those around to enjoy. Afterwards they spend another 15 minutes washing and cleaning their utensils, with their tiny squares of ScotchBrite, surely the most unhygienic thing in their packs.

They provide me with endless entertainment around the campfire, for which I am very appreciative. Despite this, I occasionally feel sorry for the “gourmets” when it starts to rain and they are still preparing their meal or cleaning up, while I have finished and can head back to my tent.

I frequently recount the tale of one walker who I saw make a pizza in his Trangia pan, beginning with the flour and yeast, kneading to a dough, letting it rise and then adding  the finely sliced vegetables and sausage to the tomato paste base, before baking slowly in his covered frying pan.  Luckily the weather was fine and warm and we got into camp early!

I’m afraid I don’t have the patience. Meal time is not high on my priority list. In fact, I  go to great lengths to reduce the time spent preparing a meal and the cleaning up afterwards.

What could be simpler than boiling some water and adding it to a packet?

Over the years I have gradually become minimalist. Rather than preparing a dessert, I usually have a twin serve of the main course and then perhaps some chocolate, if I want something sweet, followed by a hot drink. I simply add the water to my dehydrated meal, leave it to stand for 10 mins with a stir midway, and eat it out of the packet with my single eating utensil…. my spoon. No plates or bowls to wash and only a spoon to lick and a foil packet to roll up! I have even given up milk and sugar in my tea, so I have less to carry. Its amazing what you can do without and not miss!

I have recently started to boil extra water with my evening meal and keep it in a small insulated flask (Thermos) overnight, inside my sleeping bag, which saves me having to light my stove in the morning and conserves both my time and a little fuel. Sure it cools down a little, but it still is about as hot in the morning as my espresso coffee would be. Preheating helps a little. It weighs a little more than a standard water bottle, but is a lifesaver when its wet and you can’t get out of your tent to light the stove.

What is the ideal stove for boiling 1.5L of water quickly?

Quick boiling white spirits stove

 While my companions around the campfire laugh at my noisy MSR Whisperlite with its dramatic pre-ignition flames, they are amazed at the speed that its super hot flame can boil a litre of water. Along with its compact size and low weight, it burns Shellite (white spirits) which is very efficient, using about half the amount of methylated spirits you would need with a Trangia. Fuel efficiency means less weight to carry, something I value highly. In addition to the stove I take a single MSR titanium 1.25 L bowl with lid, inside which the stove, my lighter and grippers all fit inside. That leaves the fuel bottle, the size of which I select depending on the length of the trip and the number of people sharing the stove and my MSR maintenance and spares kit. I know what your saying…. my Trangia doesn’t need a maintenance kit!

Breakfast well that’s easy. A couple of substantial health food bars from the health food section of the supermarket, not those foil wrapped sickly sweet mini- breakfast bars that come by the “dozen” in cardboard boxes

I used to prepare snaplock bags of pre-weighed muesli with powdered milk premixed to which I had to just add hot water and then eat out of the bag. But why, when for less effort, I could eat an equally nutritious muesli bar pre-packaged in a waterproof packet, inside my tent, without the need to light my stove. I usually start eating breakfast while still in my sleeping bag.

Lunch: foil packet of flavoured tuna, half a block of hard strongly flavoured parmesan cheese, some dry biscuits, a couple of mini- metwursts and some dried fruit and nuts. High energy food, which can survive warm temperatures. Hardly what the doctor ordered!

On arrival in camp, perhaps a hot drink with some Sustagen, and a few snakes, M&Ms and jelly babies, which are guaranteed to put some energy back in most people.

To which camp do you belong?  The “minimalists” or the “gourmets”or somewhere in between?


Cartridge vs Liquid Fuel Stoves
Ethanol vs shellite vs gas: Tony’s Bushwalking Blog
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How much fuel do I need?

Going on a long walk soon?

Want to save some weight?

Which stove are you going to choose?

Over the years I have changed from predominantly using a campfire, to gas canisters, to a Trangia and then to a MSR Whisperlite. I  did this initially in response to Park regulations which changed to ban wood fires in the 90’s.

I found that for overnight walks or even extended walks up to a few days that gas stoves were great, but then I started walking in Tasmania and realised that gas stoves sometimes don’t work well in very cold conditions. Over 10 days, the  volume of the gas canisters became a significant factor and my conservation principles made the throw-away canisters unacceptable.

Trangia’s are great, low cost, low noise, environmentally friendly but they are a little bulky and the fuel being less efficient than Shellite (white spirits) requires much more to be carried for the same heat output.They are relatively slow to heat large volumes of water as required when melting snow. They have the advantage that they simmer well, so if you like preparing complex meals they are great. I don’t.

So I changed to an MSR Whisperlite, which has the advantage of being compact, fuel efficient and very quick to boil water. You can share one with a tent mate and if you adapt your menu so that boiling water is their main task they are ideal. Of course you will get a ribbing from your friends as they sound like a jet taking off and the pre-ignition flames are always sure to bring a gasp. At times they block due to soot or contaminated fuel but it only takes a few minutes to unblock them and if you remember to shake regularly, the built in “pricker” should keep the fuel flowing freely. Another advantage for overseas travel is that they are multi-fueled and will run on kero, diesel etc providing you use the correct jet (supplied).

Here are some factors you need to consider:

  • cost
  • weight and size of stove
  • efficiency of the fuel
  • effectiveness in cold windy conditions
  • time to get started and difficulty of priming
  • time to boil water
  • availability of fuel
Seems complicated, well it is. Check out this FAQ link
Want to save both time and fuel?
  • Boil enough additional water to fill an insulated (thermos) flask the night before and keep it in your sleeping bag overnight. In the morning it will still be hot enough to make a cup of tea and you will save the additional fuel needed to prime your stove.
  • Always use a wind shield, which can be bought cheaply at the local hardware shop, where it masquerades as aluminium flashing for rooves.

Want to know more?

Check out this video.


Fuel Efficiency
Zen Backpacking Stoves

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