Why I No Longer Travel With A Camp Stove

A few weeks ago I published my 2015 Bike Tour Packing List here on the website at Bicycle Touring Pro. Almost immediately, the comments and emails started flooding in…

  • I notice you’ve no dishes, pots or stove in your list.
  • Have you always toured without a stove? Don’t like the sound of packing up and moving on without at least a cup of tea or coffee.
  • Hey Darren, no cooking equipment?? You carry the things I would like to travel with but I’ve been bringing a stove and dinner food… I’m always worried I’ll get caught in some remote place where I can’t get to a restaurant or convenient store.
  • Interesting: no pots, dishes, or stove.
  • You don’t include a stove or any other cook gear than a spork & folding knife. Do you buy all of your main meals (other than simple lunches/snacks)? While I’m sure this would make for wonderful experiences with the people & cultures along your routes isn’t it expensive?

I received so many emails about the lack of a stove, cook pot and/or dishes of any kind in my equipment list that I thought I would make a short video to explain why, for the last 7 years or so, I have been traveling around the world without the traditional camp stove, fuel canister and cook pot that accompany so many traditional bicycle tourists.

Watch the video above for the answer… or read my three main points below:

  • Remember that every bike tour is different. The gear you pack is going to depend on where you choose to travel in the world, how long you plan to be on the road, the type of roads you choose to travel on, any personal goals you might have for your bicycle tour, and a whole lot more. So there is no one, single, correct way of packing for a bike tour.
  • Choosing whether or not to bring a camp stove with you on your travels is a matter of personal preference. It is not 100% necessary. It’s a nice thing to have in some situations, but you’d be surprised just how easy it is to find a warm meal almost anywhere in the world. And if you can’t get a warm meal, you can survive by eating cold, picnic-style foods. It might be a break from what you’re used to, but yes, you can survive!
  • For the last 7 years, the only items in my kitchen have been a simple folding knife, a plastic or titanium spork, and a small mini lighter. If you plan to eat on the road (and occasionally make a campfire), these are the only three things you really need. For some bike tours (where you might be eating at hotels or restaurants for every meal), you don’t need any of these items.

Make sure you watch the video above and read my book, The Bicycle Touring Blueprint, for an assortment of packing lists designed for the different types of bicycle tours.

7 thoughts on “Why I No Longer Travel With A Camp Stove

  1. Abel says:

    Hi Darren, I am with you in this way of think about cooking stuff. I would add that eating in places is a way to interact with cultures, is better than enveloped food (taste and nutritional), don’t need to clean stuff, don’t waste water for cleaning (water is more important than food), less weight, and is only a little bit more expensive.
    Thank you for your amazing website
    Abel (from Barcelona)

  2. Brian Lair says:

    Ha-ha, when I saw the headline/title of this article, I thought maybe you had a stove fuel canister explode in your pannier or something. *whew* 😉 Anyway, all good reasons for not having a stove — right in line with minimalist packing. Thanks.

  3. Martin fano says:

    Depending on the climate I would always have a way of making hot water…a compact stove that runs on hexamine tabs is great…no volatile fluids..just a simple tab…folds flat…very little weight…

  4. Brim Stone says:

    “Remember that every bike tour is different.”

    Right. So just like with car touring, if you are doing it ‘credit card’ style staying in hotels you won[t need a stove. But if you are doing ‘car camping’ then you probably want a stove. Do you sleep in a tent? Then you are camping. Bring a stove.

    Martin is right, hexamine stove and a single titanium pot can be very very small and light. Alcohol stove can be very small too, and easy to refuel on the road. In fact it is easy to make an alcohol stove while on the road. My set up for many years has been a small titanium wood stove (Vargo Hexagon, 4 oz) which folds flat and supports a pan or pot. I use an alcohol burner (Trangia, 3 oz) in that. No chance of running out of fuel, and much less chance of starting a forest fire or getting into trouble for having an open fire.

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