Making Hot Water in a Camper

Hot water, pretty straightforward right?  Well yeah, all these methods obviously produce the same end result.  It’s all about how much room you’ve got in your camper and what energy source you want to use.  After considering lots of options we’re taking the top 3 below in our truck camper.  What about you?

  • We’re Bringing: 2 Cheap Backpacking Stoves ultra light hot water
    • We plan on leaving the truck camper behind and spending some nights out backpacking.  On those camping trips we’ll be packing both of our Pocket Rocket knock offs and one 100 gram canister.
      • Why 2?
        • Always have a backup source of heat if your food depends on it. Especially if you’re cheeping out like us and not buying the actual pocket rocket stove.  We live in the PNW, so finding dry wood isn’t something you want to rely on as your backup for hot water.
      • Why the Rocket Stove?
        • Everybody we know that backpacks (including us) has an MSR or a rocket-stove, everybody loves their rocket-stove these days, I only know what i’ve seen on youtube).  It makes sense, the chemical blocks stink like rotten fish and white gas stoves can be generally finicky.  The Pocket Rocket stove is super light, super durable, and the knock-offs are very inexpensive at $12.  Belle, My brother, and I all have knock offs from amazon purchased from two different sellers.  They were some slight differences in the feet, but functionally identical.  This is the one i bought, you’re probably fine with any of them though.
      • Why 100g canister?
        • The amount of fuel it takes one of these stoves to get water up to temp varies based on the container, temp of water, elevation, etc. But according to Jetboil’s site, one 100 gram canister should boil 10-12 liters of water (that’s 28x 12oz cups of boiling water).  In my experience you always get more life out of the canister than you expect, but it’s best to have too much fuel than too little.  I hate packing an almost empty canister, so i prefer carrying two smaller 100g canisters, that way (properly) discarding a canister with fuel in it isn’t as painful.
    • Backpacking Pots and Pans – the options are pretty amazing these days.  I use this super cheap one, but if you’re serious about going ultralight there are some titanium options under $40. The problem with all of these is that they’re better hand warmers than mugs.  In other words, they’re pretty great at conducting heat and terrible at keeping your coffee warm.  They also tend to be wider than a typical mug, more surface area means faster cooling.  We just compensate by each having a 1/2 cup of coffee at a time and will even preheat the mugs if we have an excess of fuel and water.
  • We’re Bringing: A 1000W Electric Kettle hot water via 1000W AC
    • We’re taking the 2 burner coleman, but we’ve decided that we’re also going to bring a 1000W electric kettle to plug into our 1500W AC inverter (why 1500W? See our post). This will allow us to heat water in the close confines of the truck bed for times when we don’t want to “deploy” the chuck box.  We might regret it, but it seemed cheaper and simpler to buy a new, smaller kettle than size up our inverter+wiring for the 1500W kettle we already own.
    • We also spent a good deal of time looking at 12V DC kettles on amazon.  These things are great because you don’t need an expensive AC inverter to run them, but i couldn’t find any that took < 30 mins to get a single cup of water hot.  We’re trying to simplify and life a less cushy life, but 1 hour for 2 cups of hot water is not a recipe for #trucktramping bliss.
  • We’re Not Bringing: Hot water faucets or showershot water via 1000W AC choice #2
    • We thought about a 12V inline water heater / water pump for taking showers, but we’re just going bring our 20 year old solar shower bag.  I don’t think that inline 12V thing would get water remotely hot enough for coffee, but it’s a good segway to the thing we came even closer to buying….
    • Molecularity is one of our primary design goals, so rather than get an inline pump heater like above, we looked at buying a pump that we could either drop into our fresh water source for cooking/drinking or into a bucket of hot water for showers/cleaning.  To get the bucket of hot water hot we were going to buy a 12V Submersible Water Heating Element and wiring one up from scratch.  This was only because we didn’t want to size up our inverter to handle the pre-built 120V AC products available like this one. I would think one of these heating elements would be manageable for heating up water for coffee in the morning, but maybe only in a large pot.  Great for a crowd, but you’d also want to do the math on power draw.  We might still do this down the road, but for now Belle has told me showering isn’t a priority.  I love this woman.

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