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Overland Cooking with Firewood [no more gas]

Overland Cooking with Firewood [no more gas]

Overland Cooking with Firewood

Overland cooking with firewood is a more natural and earth friendly solution compared to gas, think camping or outdoor cooking and gas may spring to mind however we prefer cooking over natural flame, having purchased a twin burner gas stove to get us started we are now converting over to other methods of cooking and here’s why.

The big issue with gas

It’s pretty obvious that the biggest issue with gas is that it runs out, not good if you are out and about and you lose your main source of fuel for cooking, the stove is rendered useless and you’re off to implement plan B collecting sticks to make a makeshift fire.

The other issue with gas is that it’s expensive, the current climate in the world and by that I mean Russia etc has driven prices higher and put into question source and availability not just for the short term but also the long term future. Cooking using a natural source of fuel eradicates that problem.

Cooking with Firewood

Cooking with a renewable source of energy makes sense and not just for overanding either however we’ll stick to the vehicle side of things for now. Bringing prepping into the equation briefly, wood allows you to be completely self sufficient when it comes to overland cooking:

  • Wood never runs out
  • Wood is usually always available
  • You don’t have to take wood with you
  • Wood is free
  • There is no waste to consider [ie: empty cartridges]
  • Wood is better for the environment
  • Food always tastes better!

Imagine if something happened and you had to bug out for a few days, you’d have gas cartridges to consider and rationing the gas in case you run out if there is no immediate timescale, both of these factors add smething else to think about when simplicity and a clear head would be crucial.

Overland Cooking with Firewood
IMEX mini bbq

On the other hand, cooking equipment that is designed for or can handle firewood is a better option, wood is always available, no rationing, you don’t need to keep a supply in the rig and it will warm you up three times as the Spanish say, once collecting it, once, chopping it up and once burning it.

There is an abundance of fuel just lying on the ground, all free and more friendly to the planet, cooking over naked flame may well be the way to go in the long term for everyone, we’re just doing so out of choice and not necessity.

Wood is the first source of fuel mankind ever used so it makes sense to use wood especially in a world where climate change and gas supply etc etc are becoming more of an issue with every day that goes by.

The Downsides

Okay, so overland cooking with firewood wood is not all sunshine and rainbows, I’ve been cooking over naked flame for over 40 years both indoors and out and the most common problem is wood getting wet, while it’s still very possible to work with wet wood it does bring to light how convenient gas is.

Convenience however is not our primary concern and is a contributing factor as to why many of us have lost the skills our ancestors possesed even up to as recently as the 1950’s. Cooking with wood takes time, yeah, it takes longer compared to gas where you have instant heat wood is going to keep you waiting.

Overland Cooking with Firewood
Open fires are not permitted in many areas during the summer months

We also have the fact that fires or burning wood may not be permitted in certain areas, restrictions like this can affect where you end up parking to have your lunch or set up camp.

Gear Considerations

Our decision to move from gas to firewood has been an easy one, overlanding has brought the mindset that not everything has to be done at a hundred miles per hour, there are no deadlines, there is no rush and if things take longer then that’s fine, in this respect overlanding has chilled us out quite a bit.

Overland Cooking with Firewood
tabletop barbeque with kebabs

We all know that cooking plays an important part of any overlanding trip whether it’s making a simple coffee on top of the mountain to a full on roast for the team at basecamp cooking is an important part of the day, a part where the chefs and outdoor food enthusiasts really look forward to. Gear plays a big role and while it may have to be simple and functional from a space and weight concious perspective we have a great choice of tools from which to choose:

I’d seen Kelly kettles in action in many a Youtube video while researching gear back even before we’d bought the Shogun. The Kelly kettle always seemed too big and cumbersome to be worth serious consideration. Looking into these kettles with a more natural fuel sourced view and overland cooking with firewood in general plus 2 years overlanding under our belts and they became more of a realistic proposition. We settled on the Petromax [full review in this post]

petromax fire kettle
Petromax fire kettle – a great kettle if you have the room

The Space Issue

Is there really a space issue? There’s no doubt that a Petromax FK2 kettle for example is big but compare that to three canisters of gas [which we always carry] and the difference if any, is negligible. The same goes for the Petromax Atago, yeah, it’s big even when collapsed but it is really all you need for open fire cooking – how big is your current gas stove and how much room does that take up.

Space is important but so is food, the biggest advantage something like a firepit has is the variation of meals you can make, as well as being a fire pit you have the barbeque feature, grill and oven and along with that a whole stack of recipes you can make that you can’t on a gas stove…

Why we moved to wood from gas

In a nutshell we moved from gas to wood for self sufficiency, not having to rely on or buy gas [which we could only realistically do online] made perfect sense to us. The Campingaz stove we initially purchased was only ever a stop gap, a budget stove to get out there and get overlanding.

Gas still has it’s place, a twin burner and a few canisters will never come in wrong especially if you’re into your prepping, you just never know when you might need instant heat. Cooking on wood however is far more enjoyable, there is something about it which brings more satisfaction than doing the ‘convenient’ way on a modern gas stove.

There is an abundance of fuel just lying on the ground, all free and more friendly to the planet, cooking over naked flame may well be the way to go in the long term for everyone, we’re just doing so out of choice and not necessity.

1800 1200 Mac


K90overland is Mac and Gayle, they lived in Andalucia for 19 years before moving back to the UK. Overlanding since 2019 the pair have built up a 'budget rig' and now enjoy a relaxed approach to discovering Scotland and the north of England.


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