Zip stove story from the AT in Connecticut.

Zip Stove in Operation

Interesting story that happened to me on the AT in Connecticut back in 91: (or maybe it was ’95?)

I was staying near the shelter just after Kent, CT named Stewart Hollow Brook Lean-to and this guy was staying there with his 3 kids, the youngest being a little girl about 4 or 5.

While I was setting up my tent to spend the night, I noticed they were planning an evening campfire and gathering firewood near a makeshift fire ring they had just built.

When the ridge runner came along and saw the ring and preparations, he said: “Sorry sir, but I can see what you are trying to do here and we have a law in this state that says: No fires in CT. He was very polite and the guy said he was sorry and hadn’t known.

Then the little girl was trying to figure out what he said and she blurts out: “but, Mr. Ranger, how are we going to cook our marshmallows” (with a real sad look on her face) Well, the ridge runner (college age) was pretty hurt at that and he was in a tough spot to explain this to the little girl.

Then I said: “maybe the nice ranger will let you cook them on my zip stove” . He looked at me with a big grin of “thanks” and said that would be OK with him. So,that’s what we did. Built a fire in my zip stove and they had a great time cooking, burning, and eating their marshmallows.

The zip stove is a nickname given to a stove called “Sierra Stove” that burns wood. It has a small electric fan that helps the fire that you build in it’s chamber to combust rapidly and burn quite hot.Zip or Sierra Stove

I used a zip stove on 2 of my thru hikes and it saves the need for looking for and buying fuel in towns. It also allows you to boil unlimited amounts of water for purification, or boiling beans or real rice (more nutritious than minute rice), as well as many cups of tea or coffee and cleanup afterwards with hot water. You can make many friends on the trail by shouting, who would like a cup of boiling water? (or who would like to cook marshmallows in a “No Fire Zone”

The disadvantages are the smoke that it produces, the problem of finding dry fuel when it’s raining, and the fact that your cooking pot stays black from the soot, so it must be kept in a separate bag to keep your other gear clean.