Do You Need A Cook Partner Stove?
First off, I realize you don't NEED anything to go on an adventure. Pack up the car with sandwiches, snacks and enough water in case you're out longer than you planned.
But let's be honest, most of us have just as much fun prepping and tinkering before our next trip as we do on the actual trip itself. But we also learn along the way certain items that are not just "nice to haves" and actually add a lot of value while off the beaten path.
When we bring multiple vehicles, we will usually pack up my parents trusty Coleman stove, my brother's DIY skottle, and our small single burner Camp Chef. So we have plenty of options when trying to prepare food at the campsite. The Coleman has always been reliable, but it's a bit awkwardly shaped and takes up a decent amount of room. There's not much in the way of mounting options and requires a large surface to place it on. My brother built his own skottle. Which, again, takes up a ton of room in a vehicle but also cooks a lot of food all at once and is incredibly versatile. The taste is also similar to cooking on strictly cast iron. In the FJ we like to keep things compact and with so many other stoves floating around we have made do with the inexpensive camp chef.
We took a short afternoon trip down to meet friends and do a bit of exploring in the Capitol Forest. Not technical by any means, but it was a great time hanging out with new friends. We planned on staying till sunset and grilling up a few burgers before heading out. This was in late April, temperatures were around 50-60 degrees and there was a light 5-10mph wind at the top of the ridge we stopped at. We broke out the camp chef and set it on top of our wolf packs. It lit quickly and you could see the burner was lit. We threw on a couple of burgers and hung out for a bit knowing they were going to take a little while to cook. After a few minutes, I looked down because the burner sounded a bit different and realised it had blown out!
Frustrated I relit the stove and cranked it up thinking that the wind took it down. A few minutes later, the burgers were still not cooking and felt cold. Maybe even colder. The wind was just too much for this burner, and even with some wind protection from the FJ, it just couldn't handle it.
Rewind a year ago and you would find me frustrated and puzzled by this stove once again while on our long trip through Oregon. The grill simply would not stay lit on a perfectly warm and windless day as if the fuel was empty. But even after swapping the cans, the same issue was there. We used the grill a few times after that successfully so we know it wasn't just a bad can.
When you have been on the trail all day, digging yourself out, navigating, braving a storm or just enjoying the scenery, you should never have to struggle to cook a nice meal and get some good rest. This just wasn't acceptable.
This is where the gears started to turn for the idea of a new higher quality stove for the FJ kit.
Meet the Cook Partner
Partner stoves are made by Partner Steel in Pocatello, Idaho. Despite being known for steel fabrication since the 1940's, their stoves are actually made from Aluminum. Weird right? But it makes sense for heat transfer, cleaning and weight. The cook partner stoves were brought about after an extra request from a customer and were eventually added to their lineup of products.
You won't find anything fancy about this stove. No electric starter, no gauges, no fancy paint or shapes. Just a high quality burner in a perfectly square or rectangle box.
But that is exactly what is so nice about it. The shape allows it to be mounted or packed easily. The knobs for the burners are mounted inboard so they won't take up more room or break off. The entire burner and grill removes by hand with no tools. So when you are done cooking you can easily wipe out the inside instead of trying to reach your fingers underneath it all. The propane connection can be on either the left or right side. It's a simple reliable solution that could easily be the last stove you ever buy.
There are several sizes to choose from. From a compact 9" folding two-burner, all the way up to a 26" 6 burner. Not all of the models come with a built-in windscreen, but some do fold in half to make storage even easier.
All of this does not come cheap though. And when I say "all of this" you really are not getting a lot for your money in terms of physical items. Prices range from about $250 for their smaller units all the way up to $650. Depending on the model you get and what you plan on doing wiith it. You may still need a propane tank, stand, windscreen, storage bag or a drawer system to mount it to. Once again you don't need anything, but keep that in mind when looking at your kitchen setup. This is just the stove we are talking about.
So what are you paying for? You can get a great deal on a 2 burner Coleman and depending on the style, it too could last a lifetime.
Simplicity and reliability so that you never have to worry about cooking a nice meal. Even in the harshest conditions, your cook partner will never leave you feeling cold and hungry. The box design and ease of use are incredibly welcoming in this day and age of over-complicating or styling of products. Unfortunately, it's difficult to find something that just works. That is exactly what this stove is, it's a classic design that is thoughtfully though out in a way to prove less is more.
After so many frustrations and disappointments, we decided to pull the trigger on one of these stoves. We could’ve just done a slight upgrade and got a middle of the line grill for much less. And we most likely would be just fine and enjoy it. But I wanted to be sure this was never going to happen again.
We chose the 22" 2-burner. This one has smaller distances in the grill over the burners so it's easy to place a kettle or coffee pot on. It can also hold 2 large pans side by side. With the adjustable windscreen built-in, you can swing the wings out and fit two 12" pans easily. We also picked up a 10lb propane tank that mounts to the outside of the FJ.
After it's first test through the Utah BDR, Overland Rally and an overnight dirtbike event, the tank is more than half full still. At about $6 dollars to refill, this is far more economical than using the small 1lb tanks and much better than carrying a bunch of them everywhere you go.
The stove has performed flawlessly, even when we camped at high elevation and high winds in Utah. It never left us frustrated or hungry. Which was the goal in this purchase. There are plenty of reviews and videos out there showing exactly how they work so I won't go into that.
So do you need a Cook Partner stove?
The answer is, no. No one needs anything to get out of the concrete jungle and explore life a little. But if you want your best option for eliminating camp kitchen frustrations, stove storage problems or you just want to look cool with your expensive fancy aluminum box...the Cook Partner is for you. Anyone willing to budget a bit more for something that can be passed down through generation of campers, this is definitely for you and I highly recommend it.
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