We love making our own gear. Sometimes DIY hiking and backpacking gear saves us money, sometimes our projects don't turn out, and then sometimes we find a project that works so well we prefer it to our store bought gear. One such project is our cat food can alcohol stove. There are countless variations and tutorials for DIY alcohol stoves, and we have experimented with many of them over the years. This cat food can stove is one of the easiest to build, most durable, and efficient versions we have tested. It works so well and weighs so little, you may ditch your expensive backpacking stove in favor of a cat food can stove on your next adventure.
Open the cat food. Remove the contents and paper label, then wash with soap and hot water.
Pro-tip: If you don't have a cat, ask a friend to save a couple empty cat food cans for you.
To ensure you don't cut your fingers while working on this project or while using your cat food can backpacking stove in the backcountry, smooth the sharp edge with a file or course sand paper.
Wrap the measuring tape around the top rim of the can and mark every 1/2" as a guide for punching the first row of holes in your cat food can backpacking stove.
Using the marks you made in step 3 as a guide punch a row of holes just below the lip of the can. Aligning the outside edge of the hole punch with each mark will give you even distance between each hole. Don't worry if your holes aren't perfect, you can always grab another can and try again.
Next punch a second row of holes just below the first row. Align the second row of holes below and in between the first row of holes, as shown below.
To make your cat food can stove more efficient you can us a simple foil windscreen. Customize the size based on your cooking pot, ideally you want your screen to wrap around your pot with some space for airflow. Double Layer the foil and fold over the edges for durability and then use the hole punch to make holes along the bottom edge to provide airflow to your cat food can stove. If you're carful this windscreen will last for many trips, and if it starts to tear you can easily make a new one and put the old one in the recycle bin.
One of the great things about the cat food can stove is it can use several easy to find fuels including denatured alcohol, Heet gas line anti-freeze, and high proof grain alcohol so you can easily resupply your fuel no matter where your hiking and backpacking adventures take you.
Warning: Use caution and common sense when lighting and using your cat food can stove to avoid burns, or starting a forest fire.
Congratulations on building your own cat food can ultra light backpacking stove! You should have boiling water in about 5-10 minutes, and be ready to enjoy a delicious dehydrated backpacking meal!
CloudLine ambassadors Justin and Patrice Lavigne live a life less ordinary. They are constantly doing what they love and that involves adventures like thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail in 2011, living in their van for months at a time, spending the summer guiding kids on outdoor adventures at summer camps, writing for Backpacker's Magazine, and in 2015 they thru-hiked New Zealand's long trail, Te Araroa.
Beginning May 1st, 2017 the Lavigne's will be hitting the road in their camper van to speak about their thru-hike of Te Araroa at 31 events across the country.