Camping Tech

Lamps
and
stoves
are so cool

I like technology. Anything designed for effective functioning has a special kind of beauty.
And this is no better illustrated in the technology we carry on our backs when we hike and camp.

Lamps

From the humble candle to the gas-powered lamp. Each item with its own brand of cool. Candles are quite fun but are less functional in camping because of the open flame.

I tried a candle holder with a glass screen. This created light successfully. However the required a rigid holder and I broke it on a hike. Still, it made a fun exercise to paint the light of the flame.

Oil candles are not a popular camping technology, as far as I know. But this simple flame provides ambience. These lamps also provide a pleasant watercolour challenge. In the second painting below I was just finishing my wash on the candle when I received a phone call that pulled the plug on the painting, and the pizza – forever a reminder of a particular phase in my history:

Paraffin Lamps

Paraffin lamps are another beautiful technology. Simple and functional they are another great topic for a watercolour painting.

Gas Lamps

Gas lamps are more traditional camping technology. Although they were high risk I remember using this little gas lamp in my tent when hiking.

Then the gas companies released canisters with shut-off valves. We could screw appliances on or off. Below is the screw-on lamp.

Here are two lamps I do NOT carry in a pack. The first is the big bottle lamp we used to use in family camping outings – now kept for those times when the grid goes down. The mining lamp was a wedding gift from the prof who supervised me through a masters degree in materials science.

Cookers

The Alpine Age of rock-climbing stimulated massive innovation in cooking technology. Gas cookers could not muster enough heat to cook above a conservative height on a mountain. Here is the first Coleman pressure burner I used for hiking:

At this time most hikers used a variant of the stove below. You would pour a little fuel into the burning cup which would be enough to warm up the system enough to create enough pressure to drive a jet of flame. This was a neat little stove that was popular with hikers and climbers for many years.

The rocket

The mountain tech designers then separated the fuel tank from the burner. They put a pump on the fuel tank. I used an excellent stove with a pump-up fuel bottle for many years. Here is a watercolour of this cooker and the pots I carried with me for decades. I did the painting in Spout Cave in the Cedarberg a while back. Sadly this kit was stolen from my bakkie.

Here are a couple of watercolours of my current setup:

My friend Hagen then told me about ‘Gram-weenies’ those obsessed with weight who shave off as many grams as possible from the weight they carry in the mountains. As a result I bought this little burner:

So there you have an abridged history of portable light and heat.

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