I remember my first tropical rainstorm – I was in a bar at the time  – I was simply staggered by its intensity and said as much to the locals I was drinking with.  They were kind enough to smile politely and not to point out that this was nothing out of the ordinary at all …or that I was clearly used to nothing other than weak English rain.

In heavy tropical rain an open fire is wishful thinking, the ground becomes a muddy river, the rain permeates everything and staying dry (even with a tarp) begins to seem like a challenge. These are the times when you will be glad to have a stove: a hot coffee (maybe with a tot of whisky?) is just the thing to warm you up before you turn in for the night and wait/hope for the rain to stop.

But there is another time when I appreciate having a stove: in the morning…

I am not good company before a coffee and cigarette and knowing that a hot cup of coffee is less than 10 mins away makes me far less tetchy and much more sociable….ask me to build a fire after a coffee/cig and I will happily do it, ask me to do it before my first coffee and I am….well, less responsive to the whole idea.

So, stoves are a good thing to have as a back up in case your fire gets washed away in a tropical downpour, or for that first, delicious coffee of the day.

But what stove should you use?  This is a subject that has as many opinions as designs of stoves to choose from and I, for one, am glad that it is so.  I love to see the new designs that people come up with to solve to what is, at heart, a simple problem…how to get stuff  to burn well and cook or boil water/food; an age old problem.

In this video I look at the most basic type of stove – a wood burner – and the two main sub-options that you have, namely a hobo stove or a wood gassifier – also called an inverted downdraft stove (!)

The wood gassifier is an almost smokeless, very efficient batch-loaded stove that will easily boil half a litre of water in less than 10 mins.  The hobo-stove is less efficient, produces more smoke but is, perhaps, easier to light than the wood gassifier.  With either stove a bit of practice is well worth the time spent as they are not quite as simple to get going as you might believe (especially when the stove itself is small).

Some people carry a wood stove with them – sometimes because open fires are forbidden in the area where they live.    I wouldn’t carry one in the jungle (but only because I do carry another type of stove) but knowing how to make one is something that might well stand you in good stead in an emergency…and they really do work well …once they’re lit!

I think that everyone has to find the stove that works best for them and the only way to really do that is experiment a bit for yourself…there isn’t an ideal stove that suits everyone/every situation but there is an ideal stove that will suit you and your situation.