While most homemade gear requires special materials and skills, the alcohol stove offers an entry-level option for backpackers looking to craft their own gear. BRO talks with Jim Wood, a Virginia hiker and creator of the Super Cat, which may be the simplest, most efficient do-it-yourself stove in the world.
BRO: What has made the Super Cat such a big hit? JW: People like it because it’s so simple to make. You can make one in two minutes, and it’s one of the fastest-burning alcohol stoves out there. BRO: Homemade stoves are celebrated worldwide on online hiking forums. What’s the attraction? JW: I think people just like tinkering with gear, and the stove is very accessible. But there’s no such thing as the perfect stove. You’re going to want a canister stove for some applications, but for a relatively short trip, or a long trip where you won’t have access to more fuel canisters, the alcohol stove can be the way to go. BRO: Why do you like making your own gear? JW: For me, it’s not about money. It’s about having the exact gear for my needs.
Materials • One 24-ounce Heineken Can • One 3-ounce aluminum CAN OF CAT FOOD
Tools • Can opener • Marker • Loose measuring tape • Hole punch
Steps 1: After cleaning the cat can and removing the outside label, punch your first hole about ¼” below the top of the can. 2: Measure the first row of holes, marking points at ½ inch intervals around the can. This should allow for 15 holes. Punch the holes. 3: Measure the second row of holes 1/8” below the top row, dispersing them between the upper holes. Punch the holes. 4: You can use just about any camping pot with the Super Cat. Wood suggests an empty 24-ounce Heineken can, which out-performed a variety of other pot choices during a battery of tests. Use a can opener to open the can so that it leaves a smooth rim. 5: Pour one ounce of denatured alcohol into the cat can. Light with a match through one of the lower holes and wait for the fuel to “prime.” You know it’s ready to cook when the top of the alcohol begins to simmer. Place the Heineken pot on top of the stove. This will force the flames to channel through the holes you punched, which pressurizes the stove. Hang out and watch the water boil, which should take around four minutes.