For the last year I've been using this simple can-turned-Sterno-stove to heat water while camping. It is simple, much easier than starting a campfire, and worked well to make coffee, and oatmeal in the mornings. Especially when the camping is over and all you want to do is heat some water for coffee and breakfast before you tear down your tent. I have enjoyed having the my little hobo stove. It was cheap to make out of a 50 cent can, and Sterno is only a couple bucks per can. I've always brought a small, 20 oz, pot with me to heat my water. I already had it so there was not monetary investment in case I decided I didn't want to camp, and it is very easy to keep clean.
However, the prospect of backpacking got me looking at other stove options. I browsed alcohol stoves, gas stoves, and a few Sterno stoves. Although most people online seem to gravitate toward the gas stoves, I decided to stick with my Sterno stove. I've been using Sterno since my early days as a caterer, and I feel comfortable with it. When someone posts that Sterno won't boil water online (I've seen it), don't believe them. Sterno provides a nice, strong, blue flame and will boil water if lidded properly.
I did decide to ditch the homemade can burner. I purchased a metal stove that can be broken down and folded up for easy storage and transport. So far, I really like it. It is simple, does what it is intended to do, and was less than ten bucks delivered to my door. Additionally, instead of using the pot with a large handle I grabbed an 18 oz Ozark Trail stainless steel cup, and I purchased a lid to fit it off of Amazon. My entire cooking unit costs $20.00 including a can of Sterno heat. I'm happy with that investment.
Next to decide on which backpack to take. I could carry my old faithful external frame pack, or I could move to my brand new internal frame pack. Oh, the decisions!
David Thornton is a two time national award winning writer, chef, husband, father, and fitness enthusiast.