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How to Cook on a Trangia Stove with the Kids

8 September 2020
How to use a Trangia Stove

I fall into the trap occasionally of thinking that “getting outside”, as we’re encouraged to do so often, means a long trudgey hike, typically bad British weather and moany cold kids. Getting outside however isn’t just hiking (hiking is usually absolutely lovely, Matt!). It’s worth remembering that there are many, many other motivators to get you and the family outside. One is food! We went to our local forest to try and cook on a Trangia stove with the kids. For the extra motivation we decided to cook pancakes, super easy and delicious, plus the kids (I) can add their own (my own) toppings (Nutella forever).

I filmed it below, I went originally to cook over a wood burning stove which I couldn’t get to work because I’m rubbish at bushcraft. The Trangia I packed as a safety net and it worked a dream, totally saved the day.

What’s the difference between the Trangia 25 and Trangia 27?

I love my Trangia, I bought the non-stick Trangia 27 in 1995 and hand on heart it works flawlessly still. I’m not one to particularly treasure or look after my kit very well either. All my stuff generally gets pretty beat up but the Trangia hasn’t. I bought it when I was a kid and now my kids are using it. A Trangia is an investment. The beauty of Trangia’s lies in their simplicity. A simple liquid fuel burner, storm / windproof shielding and durable, Swedish made cookware (they’re made of ultralight aluminium or hardanodized) There’s really nothing to go wrong with them (and if something does, then every single part is replaceable).

Choosing the right Trangia is simple. The difference between the Trangia 27 and the Trangia 25 is size. The Trangia 25 is the bigger of the two sets. I thought that was a little confusing at first, being the larger number is the smaller stove so be aware.

The Trangia 25 is designed for 3-4 people and the Trangia 27 is designed for 1-2 people. Also if you’re a solo hiker/camper there is the Mini Trangia too.

Both the Trangia 25 and Trangia 27 consist of a stormshield, liquid fuel burner, 2 saucepans, 1 frying pan with handle and a kettle. (though you can get gas burner, multifuel burner and gel burner alternatives seperately now)

I’d like to point out that I have the smaller one, actually, I’ll be picking up the Trangia 25 for future trips.

Cook on a Trangia Stove

How does a Trangia work?

I made a little video to show you exactly how to assemble the Trangia. It’s very straight forward.

  • Unpack the Trangia.
  • Remove cap from burner and fill with methylated spirits (or Denatured Ethanol if you’re in the US) to just under the cap line.
  • Place the burner in the hole of the base shield.
  • Light the burner with a lighter/match/flint
  • Place windshield over top and twist to secure it to the base. (Line up the notches)
  • You can then place the clips/pan supports down into the windshield for supporting pans and the kettle or use the tongs to flick them up and support the frying pan.
  • If you need to control the heat, place the movable “simmer ring” over the top of the burner with the tongs.

That’s it, the base shield of the burner is super stable so it feels WAY more secure than some of the gas alternatives that are available currently. Pour fuel into burner, light burner, place burner in base. Ta-dah!

What is the Best Fuel for a Trangia?

The standard spirit burner uses Methylated Spirits (Meths) or Denatured Ethanol or something at least 70% alcohol. Depending on what you use it can cause more soot to form on the bottom of the pans. Meths is generally the most efficient a clean burning, its what we use too. It’s also the cleanest burning alcohol. You can pick it up from any hardware store like B&Q etc. It’s worth noting that Meths doesn’t really like harsh cold, so keeping it in a backpack near your body is a hot tip, literally.

There are three other alternatives too.

Trangia Gas Burner

The Trangia Gas Burner enables you to use Propane/Butane mix gas canisters that are freely available in most camping stores and online all over the world. Gas is the cleanest and high energy but marginally more expensive. It’s generally the fastest to heat water too (Approx 4mins).
One slight caveat is that it doesn’t fit in the Trangia 27 kettle to pack down, so you’ll need to carry it seperately.

Trangia Gel Burner

I’m pretty new to the Gel burning thing, I’ve not used it. It does strike me as being pretty handy if I was solo hiking like on the Anglesey Coastal Path. There’s no way I’d use it for cooking family meals or prolonged use however. I like the neat little cheap converter you can use for it too.

Trangia Multi Fuel Burner

The Trangia multi-fuel burner isn’t cheap but it’s useful if you’re not entirely sure what fuel you’re going to have access too at a given point. It’s similar to the Trangia Gas Burner except it also can use liquid fuels such as Coleman fuel, Pure Benzine and Primus Power Fuel using the pressurised fuel bottle. It has a EN417 connection thread on it for connecting to external fuel canisters.
It’s also possible to use JET 28 Diesel / Kerosene as an emergency fuel with it too.

Get a Fuel Bottle and a Reliable Lighter

You could probably get away with just carrying the small plastic bottle of Meths with you as bought from the store. However, they’re not the most durable and certaintly won’t last multiple trips being taken out and about. You can pick up a Trangia fuel bottle from here. They’re bright red too so to make it clear that it isn’t water and definitely don’t accidentally drink it!

We pack one of these little storm lighters too as I’m forever burning my thumb on the traditional Clipper / Zippo.

Don’t forget…

  • We actually haven’t got a “picnic set” at the moment. Typically we buy a set and lose or break parts of it and end up with a mishmash of different sets. The most important thing is weight and durability though. Plastic melamine sets are great, cheap and hardwearing.
  • Grab a knife, spatula, wooden spoon from the kitchen draw to take too. (Though you could always just carry a pocket knife and use sticks from surrounding areas for stirring etc). We pack a chopping board (fits snugly down the back of my backpack) too, really convenient.
  • We pack a cheap small tarp for sitting on and occasionally we’ll pack our lovely DD tarp for shelter too. 
  • You can either decant some oil into a small bottle (an empty minature?) or pack some Fry-Lite / Spray Oil for cooking on the frying pan. Salt, pepper, sugar, ketchup, the other things kids ask for, don’t forget ’em.
  • You can do without, but I’ve just grabbed an ultralight backpacking table that is unbelievably useful for keeping things out of grubby dirt.
All gone, cooking outside on a Trangia Stove was worth the effort for full tummies and smiles.

Find a spot

Find a good location for cooking. You’re going to be sat down for a little while, so find somewhere out of the wind. If you’re in the rain then strapping a tarp up amongst trees or making a little tarp shelter with a walking pole can be a super easy and fun little task of its own. Our kids love making shelters and you can rain seal them with a tarp.

Prepping 

Make sure the cook area is clear of debris and hazards. Clear rocks / logs out of the way, the last thing you’ll need is a little ‘un flying into your cooking bacon. Keep your Trangia / stove on a flat surface away from potential fire hazards too, it makes cooking on a Trangia much safer.

#PROTIP – grab a cheap lightweight chopping board from a pound / dollar store or Ikea. They slide right into your backpack and can be hugely handy for prepping food and keeping food off the floor. It’s good to get everything you need out and visible.

Cooking

I try to get the kids involved as much as possible, let them pour things in, stir, make sure the fuel is still burning. They can help get the plates together and the cutlery. Depending on what you’re cooking and how long it takes you should be able to hold their attention.

We jammed a Vango gas burner into the Trangia and it worked pretty well too. :)

Treats

I think eating something a bit different or a treat is a good idea for keeping the kids attention. Something sweet like pancakes with loads of different fillings is super easy also you can make the mix at home beforehand. They always go down well with the kids. I’d quite happily cart a can of squirty cream out with me too. After eating we love to put a pan of hot milk on for a hot chocolate (and even take an Aeropress out to make an awesome coffee for the grown ups).

Cleaning

Our Trangia gets stowed in an old tote bag, those ones that you get free at a conference or given away at a trade show. They’re great for stashing the Trangia in because even if its dirty you can simply wash the bag in the washing machine afterwards. Alternatively Trangia have their own bags available in a rather lovely orange colour. We pack a j-cloth, scourer and a hand sanitiser. A rag can be useful to have too for spills and handling

#PROTIPS

It’s worth getting the stove on as fast as you can, Trangia and meths takes a little time to warm up. It’s worth keeping the fuel as warm as you can too. Maybe in your backpack close to your back. This makes ignition much easier.

Make sure your Trangia is on a flat surface, ideally on a rock too to avoid damaging any of the earth/grass.

For cleaning you can grab a big piece of moss/grass and scrub the soot from the bottom before tackling with the cloth, gets the worst off.

Check out the video above and if you’ve got any favourites for cooking whilst out and about let me know on Twitter, Instagram or YouTube.

Any thoughts on this piece? I'd love to hear them :)

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