Cooker

It is rather a philosophical question whether one likes to use a cooker fuelled by gas or benzine.

A lively discussion erupts about the pros and cons.

We are using gas cookers, just because their handling is easier. It not necessary to preheat the cooker, the nozzles won’t clog, the gas burns up unsoiled and while transporting it your backpack won’t smell of gas. Even at high altitudes we have not experienced any problems so far. Small gas cookers are available in Chile for very little money (20 €) and are also suitable for high altitudes. At a height exceeding 5000 meters merely the Piezzo igniters runs down. It has to be mentioned that when choosing a cooker, benzine can be obtained everywhere, even in very remote areas of Chile, unlike gas.

Gas cartridges and benzine (benzina blanca) can be bought at every building centre (Easy, Sodimac). A gas cartridge of 250g is sufficient for one person for three days; though this calculation is just a rough guide. One should use a cooker with a screwed fitting to ease the transport. In comparison thereto a benzine cooker with a content of 0.7 litres will last for up to 8 days. Regarding the weight, they are not much of a difference; neither of them may be carried along on a plane.

At a high altitude the boiling point of water is lower, thus increasing the cooking time and the energy consumption. As at a high altitude one needs more fluidity, the daily need of energy has to be adjusted so one can prepare sufficient tea. In case one has to melt snow to receive water one should calculate with the double or even triple amount of gas or benzine. In order to safe energy please use a lid (alternatively a pan) and a windshield. If weight is no issue it is advisable to carry along a pressure cooker. Aluminium models can be bought at a reasonable price here in Chile.

For group expeditions it is advisable to use a industrial cooker with a large burning cap and a 5 Kg gas bottle (can be bought at most petrol stations). Even at high altitudes this will be a weeks´ supply for up to 10 people. During transport it is important that the attaching device of the gas bottle is protected against dust. As a precaution carry along a spare attaching device, be advised that her in Chile they are different.

Bear in mind that a tent is not a cooking site. In case you cook inside your tent anyway, be very careful as the material is extremely flammable. A carbon monoxide poisoning can happen easily if the tent is closed. Boiling water, hot pots and pans are other perils, so please be careful.

Surely it is rather romantic to prepare your food at the campfire. However, be careful that flying sparks won’t burn holes in your cloths, if this happens even the best Gore-Tex material is no longer rain proofed. Beware!!! The “Festuca” grass of Patagonia is also easily inflammable, forest fires are very likely in the summer months. For that reason several National parks prohibited to light open fires. When possible, usually on frequently visited trails, one should use already used fire places. When trekking in the wilderness on the contrary, one is expected to remove one’s marks. In the northern parts of Chile wood is a rather rare product, therefore do not use any of those resources. Some tips: set up the fireplace close to the water, isolate it with rocks and use only a limited amount of wood. In case of strong winds please abstain from lighting a fire, as the risk of flying sparks will increase. When leaving the camp extinguish the fire place with water.