The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Saturday, 2 August 2008

The Efficiencies of the Bushbuddy

On my posting below on the subject of LEJOG Cost, Martin asked what appeared to be a simple question about the Bushbuddy.

I found myself writing something of an essay in response, so rather than hiding it in the comments, I thought I'd give it a post of its own:

Q.On fuel you must have saved a bit of money with the bush buddy stove,from burning twigs etc and if so is it worth having on a long trip?

Our theory on using the Bushbuddy, as well as saving on fuel, took into consideration that it would save us from having to carry so much gas (thus saving weight) and from the trouble of resupplying gas so frequently.

Part of our theory worked well. We must have saved fuel. We used 8 x 250 gas canisters in total (actually, we used 9 canisters, but as we threw two of those away when still half full (because we'd received new ones and didn't want the extra weight) for the purposes of fuel efficiency we used 8). We know from past experience that cooking two cups of tea and one evening meal per day each, a 250 canister will last for 5 days. So, theoretically we should have got through 12 cans on this trip (60 camping nights).

However, we also had porridge for breakfast on probably between a third and a half of our camping days - and I'll not bore you with my sums here - but that amounts to an extra canister, and some days we frivilously drank more cups of tea (because with the Bushbuddy we didn't need to conserve fuel), so let's call that 2 canisters.

So, I reckon that we saved 6 cans of gas by using the Bushbuddy. I buy my gas at £2 per 250 can, so that was only a saving of £12 - however, had we bought them as we went along then (aside from the extra effort and miles that would have involved) I expect it would have been around £22.

The bit of the theory that didn't work so well, at least on the second half of the trip, was the weight saving from not carrying so much gas. With the vagaries of the weather (I draw the line at using the BB in wet weather), the knowledge that we would struggle to buy gas as we went and the intervals between resupply, we found ourselves with two canisters most of the time - one full, one in use - which was purely on a 'just in case' basis. With a bit more careful thought on the subject of resupply, we needn't have carried so much gas so much of the time and could have better realised the weight saving.

Because of the weather over the last three weeks, the BB had almost no use towards the end, so I did find myself carrying the extra weight for no good reason, and it's not the sort of item that you can just throw into a jiffy bag to send home. I just had to remind myself, when I heaved my heavy pack with five days food in it onto my back, that we'd had good use from the device earlier in the trip!

At £55 (which I think is what mine cost) you'd struggle to justify it on cost alone unless you were doing lots of long trips, but with the other considerations (plus the fun of having a real fire (not to mention the 'fun' of getting your hands and trousers covered in soot*, if you're as careless as am I), I definitely consider it worthwhile for the meagre 150g weight.

(*Actually, to us the mess generated by the Bushbuddy is the big downside of it. I often got myself filthy using it (my carelessness, rather than it being an inherently messy device) and Mick had the job of trying to scrub the outside of the pots clean, which in turn covered his hands in soot; that soot only comes off the hands using soap and water, which is a bit of a faff when you're out in the wilds.)

1 comment:

  1. The longer the walk the more fuel weight counts. On the bush buddy I wont get one as I can carry two 24g esbit tablets as a back up - less weight and less space in the pack. Good write up about it though. I wonder how it got on with Andy Howell on his last trip?