The Bush Cooker stove – first impressions

by backpackingbongos

After a two week wait whilst backpackinglight waited for the next shipment, I finally have my hands on a Bush Cooker stove.  As usual an excellent service from Rose who kept me informed of when they were expected to arrive.  When I opened the package there was a hand written note and a packet of jelly babies along side the kit I had ordered.  Yesterday I had a call on my answering machine to check all was in order.  Nice personal touch.

What made me order the Bush Cooker?  For a long time now I have been using the excellent clickstand system with a trangia burner.  This has given me the benefits of a trangia but without the weight.  A system that I will continue to use for a long time yet and will probably post a review some time.  However on a backpacking trip last year in the Cairngorms I managed to spill half of my meths on the first night.  This meant either returning to Aviemore to buy some more and losing a day of the trip or carrying on and being really frugal.  Luckily I found some meths left in a bothy so all was well.  I would have felt much happier if I had a stove with me that could use another fuel source as well as meths…………………

I hate using stoves that run off gas canisters but may well post a rant on that another time!

The Bush Cooker appeared to offer a solution.

As I has always fancied a titanium pan I also ordered the Tibetan titanium 1100 pot.  The Bush cooker fits into this perfectly as this picture shows.

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I could review the pan but don’t have much more to say than it is a pan and it is made from titanium!

The Bush Cooker appears to be well made with neat edges.  The pan support nestles upside down within the stove to protect it.  I find this quite difficult to remove as it is a very snug fit and its edges get caught inside the pan.  It is also difficult to get back in without bending it.

I had collected a bag of twigs no thicker than my finger from the garden at work during the day.  When asked what I was doing I just said that twigs were my hobby.  I was left alone…………..

Anyway back at home I lit a piece of Hammaro tinder card which was about an inch square and placed it on the grate at the bottom of the cooker.  I then placed small twigs on top that quickly ignited, adding to the fire slowly.  It was soon burning brightly.  Once the stove had got hot I noticed flames coming out of the holes at the top of the inner skin.  This looked like wood gasification taking place where the gas released from burning wood is reingnited.  Think of the flames that come out of the side of the trangia burner but in this instance going inwards into the stove.

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Popped on a pint of water which took 12 minutes to come to a rolling boil.  All the time I was adding small pieces of tinder to keep the fire burning brightly.  Once the flames had died down it took a while for the stove to cool completely as there were glowing embers on the grate.  This could be usefull for that final slow simmer.

After a quick clean I took the stove indoors and tried it with a pop can side burning stove.  This was disasterous and I nearly set myself on fire as the meths got to a super heated state inside the Bush Cooker.  I then tried a trangia burner on top of the simmer ring inside the stove.  This worked very well indoors so will try this out in the field.  All going well I will have a woodburning stove with the option of a meths burner that is well supported and protected from the wind.

I then got all Blue Peter and made a pot cozy.

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Anyway a garden test is all well and good, I will do an update when used on a backpacking trip…………………………….

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19 Comments to “The Bush Cooker stove – first impressions”

  1. Interesting. I’m a dyed in the wool meths man. Never been able to drop the habbit since buying my first trangia way back when. The recent spurt of wood-burners are the first alternatives that have realy turned my head. Believe the EU bushcookers are made here in Holland so I could source one quite easily. Wood alone wouldn’t be an option since I plan to stay high where possible but combined meths/wood burners I find interesting. Await further feedback with interest.

  2. I have also always favoured meths and the idea of a stove that could also burn wood was a quiet exciting. Have just returned from a backpacking trip using the bushcooker and will do another post soon. Nice blog by the way, put you on my blog roll.

  3. Look forewards to it!
    Thanks for blogrolling me!

  4. Hello,
    Nice review and photos, thanks for posting this! I noticed your comment about the pan support. Am I understanding correctly that it is a bit of a tight fit to slide it back into the main part of the stove for storage? If so that is quite interesting. The reason I ask is I just got a Bushbuddy, the N. American cousin of your stove, and the top part of my Bushbuddy fits VERY loosely into the bottom part. So much so that it makes the stove seem cheaply made, though otherwise it’s quite nice. I have photos and a better explanation here:

    http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=23337

    Nice blog! Keep up the good work.

    Gordon Smith
    Portland, Oregon

  5. Hi Gordon – thanks for the comments.

    The pan support is a bit tight on the bush cooker when sliding it back into the main part of the stove for storage. The positive is that there is no rattle when walking along the trail. Just makes it a little difficult getting it in and out as the pan supports get caught in the air holes. Otherwise a great stove (except it is often wet here in the UK and our mountains usually dont have any trees!).

  6. James, my friend had the Bushcooker with him last weekend, and was rather disappointed by the quality, already after a few uses it started to build up rust on the inside at the grate and in the little plate underneath it. The tight fit of the pan support also wasn’t spectacular. Does yours already have rust (he takes very good care of it, so that can’t be the source)? What’s your take on it after using it for a summer now?

    I just came back from a visit to the Finnish distributor of the Bushcooker, and he told me they’re made in Poland, not the Netherlands. Got a Four Dogs Bushcooker LT1 and LT2 stover for testing, they look good and are really light =)

  7. Hendrik, I have only used the Bushcooker a couple of times out in the wild so there has not been any rust. Its probably not the best cooker for me in UK mountains as I often camp above the treeline. I would imagine it would be great in a country such as Finland though. However I will be getting it out for some low level wooded camps during the winter.

  8. Thanks for the lovely post! I did the opposite of what you did. I’ve had a lovely Bushbuddy which I have been using for over a year and nothing beats the lovely smell of burning wood. Unfortunately for my last two trips I encountered heavy rain & cold and wasn’t able to find any dry wood to burn. I ordered a Trangia burner as a backup and was wondering whether it would work efficiently inside the Bushbuddy. Then I though better of it and ordered a Clickstand. Very difficult to get Meths in India though 😦

  9. Hi Benjy. Your right there is nothing better than the smell of wood smoke. Don’t try the trangia burner inside your Bushbuddy (especially not indoors!). The clickstand is a great bit of kit, had mine for years and been very pleased with it. Do you live in India or just hike there? I have done a few trips spending roughly a year there in total, love the place.

  10. Thanks for the tip about using the burner in my Bushbuddy. It is reassuring to hear from you about the quality of the Trangia and the clickstand. Yes I do live in New Delhi. Please feel free to contact me if you need any assistance for boarding or travel the next time you are here. I work for http://www.eha-health.org and we get a lot of International volunteers who usually like to do a bit of touring as well. My boss (an avid travel freak himself) who looks after these arrangements loves nature and will be able to provide reliable information on travel, lodging and interesting places based on his experience.

    I think I’ll be stuck with Isopropyl alcohol which is easily available here for cleaning printed circuit boards as fuel for the Trangia and I hear its quite sooty when burnt 😦

  11. Hi Benjy, one day I would love to return to India, if I do I will get in contact. There are some areas that I have not yet visited and would be keen to do so, the far North East is high up on my list.

    Did not realise that Meths would not be available in India, will be interesting to know how you get on with Isopropyl alcohol.

    • You’re welcome any time. If I’m free and have leave left over, I’ll be glad to accompany you. The North East is high on my priority list too and I have quite a few friends and colleagues who are from the North East. My Trangia burner just arrived about an hour back 🙂

  12. Enjoy your Trangia burner 🙂
    If I ever get to India again I will definately give you a shout!

  13. Sure! Just for the record, I got the meths quite easily at the paint & hardware store, about Rs. 50 per litre, I don’t want other travellers to get a wrong idea that meths are not available easily here, its another thing that inflammable stuff like this is forbidden to be carried by bus, train or air so it will either have to be bought locally or carried on the sly. The Trangia red bottle with orange warnings does not help much if your luggage is checked 🙂

  14. Good to hear that you got meths ok. Put it in a cola bottle when travelling around :). Just the thought of Indian bus travel fills me with fear Benjy, its all that overtaking on corners. The Delhi to Manali trip by bus was rather epic! Train is definately the way to go, British trains are rubbish in comparison to what you have in India. I love the sights and sounds of Indian railways and being rocked to sleep to wake up somewhere new.

    • That’s a good idea! A bottle of mountain dew probably as it is green. I prefer train too! I’m disappointed with my Trangia burner though 😦 I found corrosion on the inside of the burner when I left the meths in it overnight. I googled and found someone else who had the same problem. Looks like they don’t make them as good anymore! My Clikstand is still in shipping so I can’t put the purner through the paces. Is any fuel supposed to show in the well? After the purner heats up I get a tongue of flame about a foot in length! This did not happen on the first day. I wonder what I’m doing wrong… How much fuel do you add at one time?

      • Hi Benjy, when you said that you found corrosion on the inside of the burner, has it gone a greenish colour? You are going to get some sort of discolouration as meths is pretty nasty stuff. I have had my meths burner for years and had no problems even though the inside looks corroded. I usually fill my burner to about half way. You will notice that when putting meths in the burner will soak it up a bit, keep topping up till half full – that usually does my evening food and drinks and sometimes breakfast. You should find that after being lit a minute of so you get blue flames coming out of the small pin holes in it.

  15. Hi again out of interest what colour is Meths in India? (it is purple in the uk)

  16. Hi bpb, the meths are clear here -no colour, I assume they are used to dilute paint as they seem to be available in all the paint shops. It seems ok as it evaporates cleanly when I pour some on my hand.

    Thanks for the info about how much meth to fill. I googled online and someone said 3/4th full so that was what I was doing. I bought my burner, simmer ring and lid as spares (I did not want the whole kit) so it did not come with any instruction manual.

    I did notice a bit of greenish discolouration on the bottom today, but this seems normal for brass -no more debris looking like pieces of dead skin at the bottom. This happened only the first time, and when I filtered the meth through a cotton plug in a funnel it turned yellow. I should try filling the burner with fresh meth and see whether it recurs. I got a triangular patch high up on the wall which was rusty brown in fact its all around the top of the well like greyish-brown streaks coming out from under the burner -initially looking at the debris I thought the burner’s wicking material partly dissolved after the first burn. I got a nice blue gas ring kind of flame for two minutes and then a yellow flame about a foot in length almost as if the heating of the burner was making more meth evaporate. I was afraid that it would reach a runaway cycle and dropped the simmer ring on it. No soot on the ring though! Maybe the meth is too concentrated/volatile and I need to add water?

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