How to cook during high wildfire danger? – Your guide to cooking without a campfire

A campfire is a no-go when the forest fire danger is high. But how do you cook in the wilderness? Discover my best tips for cooking without a campfire or hobos.

from Martin Gebhardt | Bushcraft | reading time 7 Min
Updated on 12 August 2023 3.791 views 100% found this guide helpful
How to cook during high wildfire danger? – Your guide to cooking without a campfire

Martin Gebhardt

From Martin Gebhardt. Check out my “About me” page.


👉 The key facts from this guide

  • Avoid open fire during high forest fire danger, instead use a camping stove with gas.
  • Select the cooking area carefully, it should be free of flammable materials.
  • Choose simple and quickly prepared dishes to minimize cooking time.
  • Always have water or a fire extinguisher ready to quickly respond in case of an emergency.
  • For group cooking, use a large camping stove and plan communal meals.
  • Create an emergency plan and communicate safety rules to all group members.

How to cook during forest fire danger level 5?

You have probably noticed the hot weather and many outdoor enthusiasts are then wondering how to cook at forest fire level 4 or higher - if you previously did it over a campfire or in a hobo stove?

The same question I asked myself when we met for the Wildimpuls annual meeting.

There, we had forest fire danger level 5. A campfire was out of the question.

It would have been so nice to sit together by the fire in the evening.

What to do and how to prepare when the forest fire danger level is high?

I assume that you are allowed to make a fire at the location in the woods, for example on your private property or at a campsite.

And I assume that you have already tried some cold dishes and finally need something warm. 😛

And…

Ideally, you should not make any fire at all during high forest fire danger - not even with the gas stove.

If there is no other way, here is my approach to cooking a warm meal.

Below, I will list various camping stoves for you, what alternative cooking options there are in general, and then you will find 3 recipe ideas.

Cooking for yourself during high forest fire danger:

Avoid open flames at all costs

When the forest fire danger level is high, the risk of an uncontrolled fire is enormous.

A spark can be enough to trigger a forest fire.

Therefore, it is important not to make an open fire. This means that you should not use a grill or campfire for cooking.

It is not only a matter of safety, but also of respect for the nature that we all love and want to protect.

Use a camping stove with gas

A camping stove with gas is a safer and more efficient alternative to an open fire.

He offers a controlled heat source that you can use for cooking without endangering the surroundings.

You can turn off the gas stove immediately and it also does not produce any sparks.

Furthermore, get yourself a good set of pots, like the Primus Trek Pot Set.

Make sure that the stove is stable and cannot tip over. A tipped over stove can start a fire or injure you.

primus trek pot set auf dem gaskocher

Choice of place

The choice of the right location for your gas stove is crucial.

You should search for a place that is free of flammable materials.

Clear dry leaves, branches, and grass out of the way and make sure that no flammable materials are hanging over the stove.

Look up and make sure that there are no branches or leaves hanging over the stove that could be ignited by the heat.

Simple Dishes

When the forest fire danger is high, you should choose dishes that can be prepared quickly and easily.

This minimizes cooking time and reduces the risk of fire. Think of dishes that you can prepare with few ingredients and in a short amount of time, such as sautéed vegetables or a can of beans.

Avoid boiling potatoes or rice for 20 minutes.

Keep water ready

It is always important to have a bucket of water or a fire extinguisher on hand when cooking.

In the case of a fire, you need to be able to react quickly. A bucket of water can quickly extinguish a small fire, and you should always have a fire extinguisher with you when cooking in the wilderness.

It is better to be prepared for the worst and not need it, than to need it and not be prepared.

Bucket full of water
Bucket full of water

Cooking for groups during high forest fire danger

Cooking Together

If you are traveling with a group, it's a good idea for one person to cook for everyone.

By avoiding multiple small fire pits, you minimize the risk of fire. Additionally, it is a great way to strengthen the community and work together.

Large Camping Stove

A large camping stove or a camping kitchen are ideal for cooking for a group.

They offer enough space to prepare larger quantities of food and are more efficient than several small cookers. In addition, they are safer because they are more stable and less likely to tip over.

Cooking with gas stove setup
Cooking with gas stove setup

Communicating Safety Rules

It is important that all group members know the dangers and know how to react in case of an emergency.

Discuss the safety rules and make sure everyone understands them. Everyone should know how to operate the stove safely, how to extinguish a fire, and what to do in case of a fire.

Shared Meals

By planning meals together, you can reduce the number of cooking processes.

This minimizes the time during which a fire or stove is in operation, thereby reducing the risk of fire.

Furthermore, it is a great opportunity to sit together and enjoy the community.

Wilderness group eating
Wilderness group eating

Emergency Plan

Despite all precautions, a fire can still occur.

Therefore, it is essential to have an emergency plan.

Everyone should know what to do, where to find the nearest firefighting measures, and how to get help. A good emergency plan can save lives in case of an emergency.

Keep water ready

Always keep several buckets of water or a fire extinguisher ready to be able to react quickly in case of an emergency.

Water is the most effective means to extinguish a small fire, and a fire extinguisher is essential for larger fires.

Remember: Safety comes first!

Bucket full of water forest fire level
Bucket full of water forest fire level

The details about the cooking equipment and other products, such as the goulash kettle, can be found in my equipment list.

👉 Equipment for wilderness seminars, groups, family camping and car camping

Using a camping stove with gas

Imagine the camping stove as your personal chef in the wilderness. It is small, light, and incredibly versatile.

You can cook anything with it, from a simple stew to a gourmet meal. And the best part? It doesn't require an "open" flame.

Instead, he uses gas, a safe and controllable heat source, which is much safer than a campfire during high wildfire danger.

What models are available?

There are different types of camping stoves, from simple single-burner models to sophisticated multi-burner kitchens.

Which one you choose depends on your needs.

Are you a solo hiker who only requires a cup of tea and a can of beans? Then a small, lightweight stove is just right for you.

Here is my recommendation:

Campingaz 40470 206 S Campingkocher, Gaskocher 1-flammig für Camping, Festivals oder Wanderungen, 20 x 15 x 40 cm

Angebot

-34 %
4,6 (3469)

Daten aktualisiert vor 11 Stunden

Campingaz 40470 206 S Campingkocher, Gaskocher 1-flammig für Camping, Festivals oder Wanderungen, 20 x 15 x 40 cm

  • Kompakt und leistungsstark: Einfacher zu verwendender Einflammkocher (1250 W); robustes Design; großes Topfkreuz für maximale Stabilität beim kochen
  • Einfache Handhabung: Die Stechgaskartusche lässt sich mühelos in den Kocher stecken, anschließend wird das Gehäuse zugeschraubt, die Kunststoffglocke sorgt für Stabilität und schützt die Kartusche
  • Optimiertes Design: Kompakt und leicht, super einfacher Transport, kann überall eingesetzt werden wo der Kocher benötigt wird, ob beim Campen, Picknicken oder auf Festivals
  • Weltweite Verfügbarkeit: Betrieb mit unseren Campingaz C206 GLS Stechgaskartuschen - globales Vertriebsnetz für Gaskartuschen (in über 50 Ländern), Händlerübersicht auf campingaz.com/gasfinder
  • Leistung: 1.250 W; Siedezeit: 5 min 20 sek (1 Liter); Gasverbrauch: 90 g/h; Gewicht: 280g; Gaskartusche separat erhältlich

24,95 €
UVP: 37,99 €

View Product

Are you the cook in a group of hungry Bushcrafters?

Then maybe you require something bigger, with more burners and more power.

Here is my recommendation:

Bituxx Hockerkocher 7KW Gaskocher Campingkocher Gasbrenner Kocher Gasschlauch 1,5 M Druckregler
4,2 (35)

Daten aktualisiert vor 11 Stunden

Bituxx Hockerkocher 7KW Gaskocher Campingkocher Gasbrenner Kocher Gasschlauch 1,5 M Druckregler

  • Leistung 7 kW bei 50 mbar – ohne Zündsicherung - stufenlos regelbar
  • Druckregler - Druckminderer 50 mbar
  • Stufenlos regelbar
  • Schlauch - Propangasschlauch - 150 cm
  • Aufbaumaße (LxBxH): 40 x 40 x 16,5 cm

54,90 €

View Product

And if you are only traveling with your family or a few people, then a smaller stove like this one is sufficient:

Campingaz Camp'Bistro DLX Gaskocher, Campingkocher 1-flammig, 2.200 Watt Leistung, kompakter 1-Brenner Outdoor-Gaskartuschenkocher mit Tragekoffer

Angebot

-24 %
4,5 (1115)

Daten aktualisiert vor 11 Stunden

Campingaz Camp'Bistro DLX Gaskocher, Campingkocher 1-flammig, 2.200 Watt Leistung, kompakter 1-Brenner Outdoor-Gaskartuschenkocher mit Tragekoffer

  • Kompakt und Leistungsstark: einfach zu bedienender Tischkocher (2. 200 W) mit Piezozündung; die Flamme ist individuell regulierbar; robuster Edelstahl-Topfträger inklusive
  • Maximale Sicherheit: dank der Kartuschensicherung (Hebel neben dem Gasregler) kann die Gaszufuhr unterbrochen/wiederhergestellt werden; zuverlässiger Überhitzungsschutz
  • Praktisches Design und Schutz: Betrieb mit Campingaz Gaskartusche CP 250, die während des Betriebs im integrierten Kartuschenfach verschwindet; inkl. praktischem Transportcase
  • Flächendeckende Gasversorgung: Campingaz besitzt ein globales Vertriebsnetz für Gaskartuschen (in über 50 Ländern), Händlerübersicht auf campingaz/gasfinder
  • Maße: 37 x 29 x 13 cm; Gasverbrauch 160 g/h; Laufzeit 1 h 25 Min; Gewicht 1, 8 kg; passend für Pfannen/Topfgrößen 12 - 26 cm; nicht für den Einsatz in geschlossenen Räumen geeignet

34,85 €
UVP: 45,99 €

View Product

Tips for safe use of a camping stove

But regardless of which stove you decide on, one thing is certain: safety comes first.

Make sure that the stove is stable and cannot tip over.

Make sure that no flammable materials are nearby.

And don't forget to completely turn off the stove after use - also turning off the gas.

It doesn't always have to be warm - cold food can also be very delicious
It doesn't always have to be warm - cold food can also be very delicious

Alternative Methods for Cooking Without Fire

Here are some alternative methods for cooking without fire:

  • Gas stove: As mentioned before, gas stoves are one of the most popular alternatives for cooking without fire. They are lightweight, compact, and provide a controllable heat source.
  • Spirit stove: Spirit stoves are another suitable option. They are easy to use and the fuel (spirit) is easy to obtain. However, they are not as efficient as gas stoves and can be more difficult to use in windy conditions.
  • Solar cooker: Solar cookers use the energy of the sun to cook food. They are environmentally friendly and do not require fuel, but they depend on the weather and cannot be used in cloudy or bad weather.
  • Flameless cooking through chemistry: By a chemical reaction triggered by a heat pad, small dishes can be cooked without a flame. Here is my guide on this.
  • Cold meals: Another option is to completely forego cooking and instead plan cold meals. This can range from sandwiches to salads to energy bars and nuts. Read my guide "45 ideas and 7 recipes for camping meals without cooking for your next outdoor adventure".
  • Edible wild plants: If you are familiar with edible wild plants, you can also collect fresh plants, berries, and nuts and eat them raw or make a salad out of them. I have written more about this in the comprehensive guide here.

Each of these methods has its advantages and disadvantages, and the best choice depends on the specific conditions and your personal preferences.

Also read

Outdoor Stove - Which type of camping stove is right for you? - Which bushcraft stove suits you? The one with gas, petrol, alcohol or Esbit? Or the one with wood? Get an overview of all bushcraft stoves.

Simple dishes for the wilderness

Now, you may be wondering: "Simple dishes? In the wilderness?"

Yes, you heard right. With a little creativity and the right ingredients, you can prepare delicious meals without fire.

And the best part? You don't have to be a Michelin-starred chef to pull it off.

Think of dishes that you can prepare with a few ingredients.

A pack of instant noodles, a bag of quick-cooking rice, or a can of beans can become a hearty meal. Add a few gathered wild herbs and voilà, you have a feast in the middle of the wilderness.

It's not just about the food - it's also about minimizing cooking time

The less time you spend cooking, the less risk there is of something going wrong.

So choose dishes that can be prepared quickly. A stew that needs to simmer for hours may be delicious, but in the wilderness, speed is key.

I have collected some of my favorite recipes in my outdoor recipe database, so you can start well-prepared.

And please keep in mind, cooking should be fun.

It's a chance to test your skills, try new things, and experience nature in a whole new way.

So don't be discouraged by the high forest fire danger level.

See it as a challenge, as an adventure.

Because that's what wilderness is all about: it challenges us, pushes us to think outside the box, and shows us that we're capable of more than we think.

3 easy and quick dishes that you can prepare in one pot

One-Pot-Pasta

This dish is easy and quick to prepare. You only need noodles, a can of chopped tomatoes, garlic, onions, and spices of your choice. Put all the ingredients in the pot, add water and let it cook until the noodles are done. You can also add fresh vegetables or gathered wild herbs to spice up the dish.

Red Lentil Soup

Red lentils are nutritious, light, and easy to prepare. You only require red lentils (cooking time approx. 10 min, these for example), vegetable broth, onions, carrots, and spices. Put everything in the pot and let it simmer until the lentils are soft. You can also add bacon or sausage if you like.

Rice and Beans

This dish is a classic and very filling. You only require pre-cooked rice (like this Ben's Original), a can of beans, onions, garlic, and spices. Cook the rice, add the beans and spices, and let it simmer until everything is well mixed and hot. You can also add fresh vegetables or foraged wild herbs to vary the dish.

Cooking simple dishes for one pot outdoors
Cooking simple dishes for one pot outdoors

My conclusion on safe cooking during high forest fire danger

We have covered a lot, haven't we?

From avoiding open fires to choosing the perfect spot for your camping stove, from preparing simple dishes to the importance of water.

And, of course, how to cook in a group and ensure safety. There is a lot to consider, but believe me, it's worth it.

I know that it can be overwhelming at times.

The wilderness is a place full of challenges and unpredictability.

And that is what I want to leave you with.

The wilderness is not just a place to visit. It is a place to experience, to feel, to respect. It is a teacher, a friend, a home.

Moreover, pack your backpack, grab your camping stove and get ready for your next adventure. The wilderness is waiting for you.

Stay safe, stay curious, and above all: stay wild.

Take care, Martin
Martin Gebhardt

Author of the guide


Martin Gebhardt

Hey, I'm Martin. On my blog, you will learn the basics and numerous details about living in the wild. I think survival, bushcraft and the good life in nature are the keys to happiness. Find me here on Instagram or on YouTube. You can find more about my mission on the About Me page.

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