The Stick-Fire Grate, June 2017

Paul Mobbs & MEIR:

‘The Stick-Fire Cooking Grate’

Cooking outdoors is a fun skill to learn to expand your ecological awareness and personal resilience. Problem is, where do you find the ‘ecologically sound’/fossil-fuel free kit to do it? The Free Range Stick-Fire Cooking Grate is a small, light-weight, cooking trivet designed to burn small sticks which, with a few tools and components, you can easily build yourself.

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Camp cook at the Free Range
Weekend, Wales, 2008

Every now and again I get to combine work with my favourite past-time: being outdoors in the countryside. This project went one better as I was also able to employ my engineering design skills too!

The ‘The Stick-Fire Cooking Grate’ project, produced with the Free Range Network, arose out of discussion on eliminating fossil fuels from camping. In particular at festivals, which I often spend time at during the Summer giving workshops.

It is possible to buy wood-fuelled fire grates, but as a ‘rare’ kind of item they can be expensive. This project sought to find a cheaper way of solving the problem of eliminating fossil-fuels from camping.

I stopped gas and petrol in my own camping activities almost a decade ago, using stick-fires and a home-made trivet. The Free Range Network asked if I could make one for them; I believed we could think a little more strategically than that.

The project began by working-out how to produce a set of instructions for making a similar design, using either bought materials or – preferably – scrap materials. Either way, the aim was to get people to ‘do it themselves’ in order to teach some practical skills of ‘making’, in addition to the central aim of using fires.

The project began in 2016 with the production of two grates: A light-weight, one person grate, suitable for camping and backpacking, which would take two small saucepans (pictured at the top of the page/below); and, a heavier grate suitable for group camping at a festival which would take larger saucepans (this part of the project has not been documented yet).

The outputs from the project were:

Thus far the project has proved quite successful, with some good feedback. As a result the Free Range Network are going ahead and promoting it as part of a wider ‘Wild Camping’ initiative, combining the use of lightweight backpacking with ecopsychology to teach low impact living skills.