Many people have a somewhat romanticized idea of bugging out. They see themselves camping out under the stars, cooking their freshly caught fried chicken over a campfire. The girl of their dreams is sitting there, waiting to enjoy dinner with them and someone is playing a guitar or maybe a violin in the background.
Unfortunately, reality isn’t that kind. If any of us are forced to bug out, it will be a definite survival situation, with all the problems that entails. Even catching that chicken rabbit will be a problem, let along being able to cook it out there in the wild. While cooking over a campfire does work and can actually work quite well, the first couple of times you try it will probably be a disaster. You’ll end up with burned, inedible whatever, rather than that sumptuous repast you were expecting.
Putting your expensive backpacking cookware directly into the fire is a good way to damage it. Your food will probably be burnt on the outside and raw in the middle as well. While you can cook over a campfire just fine, you need to know how to do it.
Cooking Over a Campfire
There are two basic methods for cooking over a campfire effectively. Actually, there are three, but I don’t think you’re going to be carrying a cast-iron Dutch oven in your bug out bag. The first is to put the pot on a flat rock, right next to the fire. Heat the rock first, by putting coals on it and allowing them to burn for a while. Then scoop them off with a stick or camp shovel, to put your pot on there. The second way is to suspend the pot over the fire.
There are several different ways of suspending a pot over the fire, such as making a tripod to suspend it from or putting a couple of poles into the ground to make something like a spit to hang it off of. But the easiest way to hang a pot over the fire is to cantilever a stick over the fire to hang the pot from.
In order to do this, cut a green stick that’s strong enough to hold the weight of the pot, without bending. You’ll want to have a fork in the stick at the hanging end, to put the wire handle of the pot into. The other end of the stick should lean on one of the rocks around your fire. Place the very end of the stick on the ground and hold it down with another rock. This should leave your stick angling up, with the highest point roughly over the center of your fire.
Using a Backpacking Stove
Your other option is to use a stove. Personally, I prefer this method, although I am rather picky about the type of stove that I’ll use. Stoves that require propane tanks, butane or liquid fuel force you to carry a supply of fuel with you. While that’s fine for a three day backpacking trip, it’s not so great for a bug out. When you run out of fuel, your stove becomes useless.
I prefer carrying a stove that allows me to burn sticks or other fuel that I find. While they might not be as easy to start as a butane stove, they are more reliable over the long haul. This is the actual stove I currently have in my bug out bag, although there are a number of other excellent models out there, such as the Titan from Solo Stove. One I have always been intrigued by and been tempted to buy is the BioLite Campstove. This little wood burning stove not only provides heat to cook your food, but somehow creates electricity to charge your cell phone at the same time.
Although I am not highly in favor of carrying a stove that requires special fuel, I also carry an Esbit stove with me, as a backup. If I happen to be somewhere where I can’t find sticks to burn or all of them are wet, this gives me a sure way of being able to make a cup of coffee or cook my food. Esbit makes a number of models, but this one is the one that I carry.