Gear Contest - Win a FREE Wood Stove!

That's right, I'm giving away a brand new Jim Falk Bushwhacker stove. All you have to do to win is post the best gear disaster story. Tell us about the most catastrophic gear fiasco you've ever had. The time you accidentally impaled yourself with your own spork. The time both of your pack straps failed, leaving you to carry your pack down the mountain as if you were holding a baby. Or the time you almost set the garage on fire when your new prototype stove unexpectedly exploded. Extra points if you lost an eyebrow or two.

Here are some features of the stove:

- Small ultra-light wood gas stove.
- 3 stoves in 1 - wood stove, slow cooker and food warmer.
- Extremely small pack size of 4-1/4" wide x 4-7/8" high.
- Weighs only 6.7 ounces.
- Double wall construction - 2 piece nesting design.
- Burns twigs and wood for fuel.
- No dangerous liquid or gas fuels to carry, perfect for airline travel.
- Boils 2 cups of water within 12 minutes.
- Keep your meal warm with simmer times up to 30 minutes.
- Adjustable air intake ports allows for heat control and variable cooking times.
- Special design feature allows for easy lighting.
- Hands free cooking, load once with wood, light and walk away, no need to baby sit the fire.
- It even makes charcoal.

I look forward to hearing all of your stories. I will make a final decision Friday September 18th. Good Luck!


Thanks for all your stories everyone. They were great. The winner is Chris for his story of Scorpian stove. I love the fact that the hose wasn't on. Very Benny Hill. Chris, send me your address and I'll get the stove out to you. be careful out there!
Gear Contest - Win a FREE Wood Stove! Gear Contest - Win a FREE Wood Stove! Reviewed by Jason Klass on September 14, 2009 Rating: 5


Chris said...

Here you go. I was going through a box of gear and came across an old Olicamp Scorpion stove. Of course I just had to see if it still worked so I grabbed a Snow Peak Giga Power fuel cylinder and took the whole lot to the back yard. I set the stove up on one of the benches we have around our fire circle and whipped out the old strike anywhere matches. Next I turned on the gas and lit it up. Everything was fine for about 15 seconds then all hell broke loose. Flames started coming out of the hose connection at the bottom of the stove and caught the bench on fire. I couldn't get close so I made for the garden hose. I Turned on the water, grabbed the hose and started pulling it out. Got the fire and pulled the lever on the nozzle and nothing happened. The bench is now burning quite well. I ran back to the faucet to see what was going on. This is were I discovered that the water was turned off on a little hose splitter that we have. I flipped the little knob that turn the water down the right hose and run for the end of it. I got the fire out after a few minutes, turned off the fuel, and disconnected the fuel line. In the end all was fine, except for the bench top which was easily replaced. I now keep an extinguisher close at had when messing with stoves that I don't know the condition of.

Jason Klass said...

Nice story! We're off to a good start!

JGMTB said...

ok so i was testing my climbing gear in tree. i was about 30 feet up and a sling snapped sending me on a 9 foot nerve racking fall onto a questionable sling that thank god held. and another one is i was lead climbing and i missed the quickdraw (the biner gate was stuck) and fell 10 feet and my belayer flew up into the air about 5 feet.

Unknown said...

Ok. I have to tell story...

Last summer, three weeks before a long planed trip to north sweden, one of my travel mates had an horrible motorbike accident. He called me and said "Niklas, sit down. I can't go.". It took me a while to figure out that he wasn't joking.... So we discussed the situation and made up the following solution. I would take a friend that has never been on a trip before and he also has never been out of Germany except for vacation in Austria.
So he spent about 650€ only for the flight, that by the way had cost me 99€..., and about 400€ on new gear.
As the date of departure came closer I pulled out my selfmade tent and asked Max, the new guy on this trip, "Max this tent is ower home for the next 10 days! Do you think we can make it save home?". Long story, short ending. One day before departure the tent was in perfect condition. Everything worked out very well so we went to the airport and took off. 1h flight to Stockholm, 6h ours waiting for the overnight train, 15h train ride through Sweden, 2 1/2h bus ride and 30min boat trip later we arrived (I didnt note the waiting time...). We set off and got at least 15km under our feet. As we found the right campsite we pulled the tents out and got ready to set everything up. And it came as it had to come... My tent broke down. On one short seam it broke and we couldnt fix it. So we spent the night in an tent, 4,5ft wide... Three guys on that little space... Not funny at all. The next morning we decided to return back home. No one wanted to spent the next 10 days in suche conditions....
Told that you can imagine how horrible I felt for Max! He spent so much money for... 1 night in north sweden in a sweaty tent with tow other guys. And we also needed to book new flights home... after that loooong journey back.

Greetings from Germany,

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SL said...

This is my story. I was trying to make an alcohol soda can stove and after filling it, I set it aflame. I naively had the top "half" not totally pressed down on the bottom half of the stove. When I stupidly tried picking up the stove (while it was still burning) with pliers, the heat caused the top half to expand and had the bottom half full of fuel to fall off. The fuel still inside immediately oxidized and created a MASSIVE fireball (about 3+ feet in diameter). I was really close to the flame, since I picked it up with the pliers, so the fireball singed all the hair off of my right arm. I now make sure to only pick up my proto-stoves when they have finished burning.


Mek Opolis said...

My story is more a lesson learned on my part about my footwear.

I was hiking a 21 mile trek in New Hampshire, aiming to get a good time and beat a buddy, also I knew a thunderstorm was blowing in that afternoon, so I was trying to move fast, and light.

around mile 5, I felt a sharp pain in my foot, nothing like i had felt before, so i looked down, and my $6 shoe that i had bought from Walmart, made in China, had exploded, it looked like a Bomb went off in it. so I had to finish the remaining 16 miles barefoot, and because i could not move as fast barefoot, I did get caught in that thunderstorm atop the last peak, Hail and lightning and all.

so My lesson that i learned the hard way, Don't Buy cheap Walmart Shoes and go Hiking in them, Cause you won't finish in them.

Jolly Green Giant said...

Sadly, a recent demise was already posted on another website recently:

However, this is only SECOND worst story.

Early in my backpacking career I lugged my (then) 70 pound backpack as far as I could carry it - about 5 miles. I ended up at the second tallest waterfall in Virginia. Have absolutely no backcountry skills or clue how to camp correctly, I figured I would set up my tent in the spot that gave me the most visibility (not the site where I could see the best, the site where others could see ME the best - after all, I figured I was a stud for backing into the wild and for finding such a great spot).

The spot I found was the TOP of the waterfall and feet from the edge of the cliff. I was about 6 feet from the water too at it went over.

Well, I pitched my 7 pound tent and held it down, not with stakes, but with the weight of my gear. Aside from a terrible location, this choice would prove to nearly kill me.

In the middle of the night, a storm kicked up and ultimately picked up my tent and tilted it on its side. On the inside, I had no idea where I was other than on the side of my tent. The problem was - I was on the edge of the waterfall and I had no clude which way was towards the drop off and which way was safe.

To make a long story short, I literally spread out like a starfish trying to hold everything down until the storm ended. When it ended, about 3am, I literally packed my stuff up, lugged it out, and did't go backpacking again for 8 years or so. I should mention that I actually didn't have a sleeping bag with me either. What I thought was a sleeping bag was a bedroll from the 1950's. I was probably close to 10 pounds.

Since then - I've learned - I had no choice as otherwise I probably would have killed myself.


Jolly Green Giant said...

Since I'm ensuring all readers know that I grew up under powerlines, I also remember finding an uninflated life vest in some of my dad's old stuff when I was about 7. Thinking it was a toy, or at the very least degraded, I ended up putting it on...and you know it...I pulled the cords. The CO2 canisters immediately inflated the vest which trapped my little head under one of the straps and started to choke me. Were it not for my pissed off father in the next room who was reminding himself that my brother was the smart one, I probably would still be wearing that vest.

Eric B. said...

My second backpacking trip ever, almost 40 years ago now, I was using an old brass Svea stove. Cooking dinner well after dark, the stove is now going REALLY well and I'm getting ready to put a pot of water on for tea. Suddenly the flame spreader, red hot, pops free of the stove and shoots into the air. Without thinking, vaguely aware that the flame spreader would be lost in the dark, my hand shot out and I caught it in the middle of my palm on its way back down. I had a beautiful imprint of a flame spreader on my palm for months after.

Unfortunately, this isn't my only disastrous story involving backpacking stoves, but it was certainly the most painful.

Shadow said...

Three weeks ago I hiked the AT the length of Shenandoah National Park starting from Rockfish Gap. 40 miles later during a noon break at Hightop Hut, I noticed the soles of my LL Bean boots beginning to delaminate. I made it to the Lewis campground camp store where I bought duct tape to wrap around the toes and heels of the boots. This worked for the next 65 miles. I swear, within two miles of my terminus at Front Royal, I had total separation failure where I had to stop twice to wrap more duct tape so it looked like silver slippers. It was like the boots knew exactly how far I needed to go and they weren't going to take me any further!

Chris said...

When I was a boy scout my dad sent me on a backpacking trip with his old Swiss stove. Before letting me use it, he carefully demonstrated how to pressurize it. It was a peculiar model that worked off of fuel heat alone. To get it started he poured some fuel on the gas tank, lit it, let it burn off, and then turned the small metal gas key a quarter turn to let some of the now-pressurized fuel spray out toward his pre-lit match. The process was very slick, and we practiced it together a few times before I left.

Our troop arrived very late at the campsite, so it was dark by the time I was setting up the Swiss stove to boil my water. We were all circled up around a weak little fire, trying to get our dinners ready.

I to prep my stove, but when I gave the little metal key a quarter turn, the gas didn't come out with nearly enough pressure. The solution clear in my mind, I closed off the valve, removed the key from it's slot to avoid heating it along with the fuel tank, and started over again with much more fuel.

This second attempt was much more effective. I'd poured on plenty of fuel. In fact, some of the burning fuel had soaked into the earth below the stove, providing conuing heat to the gas chamber. I grabbed a stick from the fire, leaned over the stove to reattach the key, gave it a half turn this time just to be safe, and turned Dad's Swiss stove into a flame thrower. The ball of fire reached about four feet in the air, lighting up our entire campground and attracting instant attention from all of the boys and leaders.

Fortunately I was fast on my feet. I had to get that key out before it got too hot to touch and the expanding metal stuck it there for good. I quickly ducked under the flame and pried out the key, turning off the flaming stove in the process.

I got the stove running correctly on the third try. I fell asleep that night with a full stomach and bits of burnt eyebrow and hair falling off in my bag. I still remember how bad that smelled and how thankful I was that I hadn't murdered myself or any other campers with shrapnel from my nearly exploding stove.

Chris said...

That was a svea stove. I'd heard the name a hundred times, but the earlier comment just taught me how to spell it.

Anonymous said...

Okay, not a horrific story, but the closest thing I’ve got.

My first stove was a Coleman multi-fuel I picked up somewhere when I was a teenager. It would burn unleaded gas and had a little pump on the side to pressurize the tank. All the elements for a proper disaster were in place.

Teenager? Check. Gasoline? Check. Matches? Check. Device to spray gasoline into the air? Check.

To this day the hair on my left hand grows in thicker than the hair on my right. Much of my first attempt to light it is a blur, but I do remember kicking the little metal fireball away from my camp-site and into the woods then spending some time stomping out the fire. But I still used it for a few years with only the occasional mini-inferno.


Larry said...

Around 1979, My climbing partner and I did our first big Wall. We used an old US mail bag for a haul bag, and gathered up a minimal list of camping gear for our bivouacs.

We decided to do a harder wall next year and invested a couple thousand dollars in the latest state of the art gear to ease our trials, so we got the latest in high volume haul bag, a two man portaledge, new sewn etriers to replace our knotted webbing ones, and some of the new Gore-Tex rain gear in case it rained, among a long list of climbing related gear. The portaledge was a relatively new concept then, and we set the thing up in Camp 4 in Yosemite and showed it off to a bunch of envious rock rats.

Halfway up our first wall one of the closure straps tore off the bag, the Portaledge frame collapsed the first night and left us hanging like the filling in a pita pocket, an etrier loop broke at the stitching, and to this day we call any of the "breathable " fabrics "leak-tex". To this day neither of us will use the stuff if our lives will depend on it.

Computers were pretty new then, but I had one and we actually composed a form letter we sent to the manufacturers of those products that started out "Dear _________, your_________ sucks."

Bless 'em, all those manufacturers made the purchases good in the end, but that didn't help us on the wall. I've been told by an employee of one of those places that the letter they got is framed on the wall of the product development office as a reminder.

mcraw4d said...

Valentine's Weekend 1984 - two High school buddies and I decided it would be a great idea for a single guys weekend camping trip. All of us being 16, our over-protective single-moms agreed we could camp out on David's grandparents' 60 acres; help being not too far away. Texas winters can range from 0 - 70 degrees. It had been mild all week so being young and dumb, we set out with Kmart summer bags, a tent, fall clothing, and a Coleman Catalytic heater. Weather report, what's that?

About 7PM a cold front started moving through FAST!! We had a fire built and figured we would fuel up the catalytic heater for the tent later. We made sure we were 15 yards away from the fire. Here's where the problem starts. We forget to put the cap back onto the gallon can of Coleman fuel and You have to pour a little fuel on the top batting. We light the heater to test it out. A bit of fuel on the ground lights up along with the nice 3 inches of dried Oak leaves and makes a beeline straight to the fuel can 5 feet away. In a panic to grab the can before it lights, one of us (not me) grabs it but ends up dropping it. We now have flames 6 feet high, getting higher and wider with each glug-glug of the overturned can. We're scrambling around trying to figure out how to get the can back upright and petrified the can is going to explode. The three inches of leaves is hiding the fact that fuel and gravity are in league together heading for the fire. It reaches the fire and now we have a fire line 15 yards long and three idiots raking leaves and digging dirt with a frisbee like monkeys on crack and praying to God David's grandparents 1 mile away cannot see the "bonfire".

We finally get it permanently out around 11PM. Bushed we go to bed but wake up shivering uncontrollably about 2AM. The heater is out of fuel and no extra. Pride would not allow us to walk the mile back to the house. We end up spending the next 4 hours shivering and huddled next to the fire. The next morning looked like a UFO had landed. We spent the next two hours shuttling leaves from as far as hundred yards away to cover our stupidity. We found out later that day it had dropped to 24 degrees -- 17 degrees with windchill. Still have the heater and we laugh our butts off about it to this day, but never did tell any of the adults.

Larry said...

Not fair.
Jason said he was going to give points for singed eyebrows, and you went straight to it.

No shame.

Brig said...

A few years ago, I made myself a Pepsi-G soda can stove and found it to be not too complex. For some reason, I was taken with temporary insanity and decided that I'd make some with my Scout Troop. It's not a very large Troop--usually only about 8-10 boys show up on any given week. Somehow, I had double that number show up on stove week.

I was able to give one-on-one attention to a few of the boys that I thought might need it, but found out towards the end of the evening that I had missed one of them.

The idea is that you use a very sharp razor knife to make light cuts in the can, then go progressively deeper until the can cuts cleanly. I think this particular Scout had a hacksaw in his pocket, because it was the most ragged, sloppy cut I have ever seen. When he told me he was ready to put his two halves together, I shook my head and said, "Umm, I think you're going to have to start from scratch, and be a bit more careful in your cuts next time. Please don't ever light that stove."

I sincerely hope I didn't turn him off from DIY gear...but if I did, maybe it's for the best.

Tagiam said...

About 7 years ago, during my last personal economic downturn, I decided to hike the Long Trail in Vermont. I started at the southern end and headed north. After the AT splits off, I had the trail almost to myself. After 3 days of rain, the clouds broke and I was enjoying a night at the Eliza Brook lean-to. I was doing long days, so when it got dark, I retired for the night. In the morning, I rolled out of my sleeping bag and looked right into the eyes of the larges porcupine I had ever seen. I was able to convince the porcupine to leave without incident and started packing to leave feeling very proud of myself. That is, until I went to put on my boots. It seems that while I slept soundly, mr. porcupine had spent the night chewing the salty leather from the top of my right boot. Luckily, I had my trusty duct tape. I taped my boots closed and set out. For the rest of the hike, I taped up my boots in the morning and cut my foot free in the evening. It was frustrating when it happened, but I'll never forget the trip.

Jason Klass said...


Thanks for all your stories everyone. They were great. The winner is Chris for his story of Scorpian stove. I love the fact that the hose wasn't on. Very Benny Hill. Chris, send me your address and I'll get the stove out to you. be careful out there!

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