Outdoor Skills and Advice: The Ultralight, Eco-Friendly Backcountry Boiler

Text and photo by Ryan Hutchins-Cabibi, Senior Field Instructor and Lightweight Backpacking Pro at the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS)

As a tinkerer of gear, I get really excited when someone decides to build something they want that doesn’t exist. In the case of engineer Devin Montgomery, that something was a wood-fired boiler small and light enough to take backpacking in an ultralight style. For people cooking one-pot meals, “just add water” meals, or “boil in a bag” food, the ability to travel without fuel is an unquestionable advantage in the field. The Backcountry Boiler is an efficient, eco-friendly (it burns renewable fuels!) stove system that evolves the lightweight kit to the next level.

The Backcountry Boiler is elegant in design and function. It allows a backpacker to travel without lugging petrochemical-based fuels by burning natural renewable fuels they find along the way. Weighing in at 8.8 ounces, the boiler is heavier than some alcohol stoves but is comparable to many other wood burners. But unlike other wood burners, the boiler can also be used as a water bottle with the included stopper! 

The boiler functions on the simple chimney effect. A small fire is built in the burner base using tinder. It’s easier to light the fire and then place the boiler on the base. Be sure that the stopper is not plugging the water fill hole, or the vessel could explode.

The Backcountry Boiler proves to be surprisingly fast. Boiling two cups (16oz./500ml) of water multiple times per day over six days on a NOLS Lightweight Backpacking Course, I consistently had boil times of five minutes or less at altitudes between 8,000-10,000 feet, often using frigid water. This volume of water is ideal for “boil in a bag” type meals.

It’s important to note that the boiler doesn’t actually boil your food in the boiler its self, but boils the water to be added to your dehydrated meal in either a bag designed for this, or another container, perhaps your titanium mug.


  1. Jezreel Ricafort
    December 30, 2011, 7:49 pm

    This is a great idea and eco-friendly invention.

  2. Dresses
    December 30, 2011, 7:51 pm

    This post is interesting teaching travellers and adventurers to become eco friendly. Thanks for sharing.

  3. H Tabe
    December 31, 2011, 11:26 am

    Forget boilerworks get a mkettle 😉 mkettle.com/iwantmymkettle

  4. Sparky Millikin
    January 1, 2012, 7:03 pm

    Forget mkettle. They ripped off Devin Montgomerry’s design. Google it to read the discussion threads.

  5. Žogi
    January 2, 2012, 4:12 am

    No more gas, thet’s the right way 🙂

  6. Sonia Chetan
    January 2, 2012, 4:16 am

    i like the idea of this boiler I donno I how much effective it is still idea is great.http://kalkatoshimla.com/

  7. Bronson Harrington
    January 3, 2012, 5:46 am

    Wow, this looks like a very clever little cooker that checks-off all the right boxes.

  8. maldives honeymoon packages
    January 3, 2012, 8:27 am

    Thank you for making this site very interesting! Keep going! You’re doing very well!

  9. Tkg0909
    January 3, 2012, 12:40 pm

    The Backcountry Boiler is a whole new concept for me. but I like it all together. And yes its eco friendly too! http://delhitoshimla.net/

  10. Henrik Strömblad
    January 5, 2012, 11:07 am

    Back when I was in the Army, we made do with bunsen-burner-esque field kitchens, none of this fancy stuff with boilers ‘n stuff. My opinion is, the more high-tech or advanced or cool it is, the more likely it is to break down when you need it the most. 😉 Also, I like to travel lightly.
    Then again, it IS nice to have something that is eco-friendly. We only have one Earth after all. Might have to keep my eyes peeled for a mini-version. 😀

  11. Rea Sapra
    January 5, 2012, 11:31 pm

    This is really a good idea. Can you tell me where to get this in India? http://www.jobsonacruiseship.org

  12. phần mềm nhân sự
    January 9, 2012, 9:44 pm

    thanks for the sharing

  13. Andy@MicrolightAircraftEnthusiast.com
    January 19, 2012, 9:50 am

    Awesome product. Thanks for sharing!

  14. Distribution companies in Pakistan
    February 27, 2012, 3:27 am

    You got a really useful blog. I have been here reading for about an hour. I am a newbie and your success is very much an inspiration for me.

  15. Trace M.
    October 11, 2012, 1:26 pm

    I got an M Kettle and really enjoy it, this was available and works great. Thanks.