---------- UPDATE 3/20/17 -----------
I've discovered an on the market option for wood burning backpacking stoves! The Firebox Nano 3" is amazing. It folds flat to be only 1/4" thick and weighs only 6 oz for the steel version or 4 oz for the titanium version. It can boil a cup of water in under 4 minutes and it runs on twigs! And in keeping with our brand ethos, it's made in the U.S.A. I like it so much that I've decided to over it in our shop. Click here to check it out.
----------- Now back to the previous post -----------
I love backpacking. The unparalleled views, the lack of people, the dip in crisp mountain lakes, the lack of people. Even the barely passable food is somehow amazing. One of the ways to make backpacking better is to lighten the gear up. One piece of gear that can help is your cooking system. There are a lot of fancy stove systems out there, but I don't know much about them 'cuz they're expensive. Also I like to make things. If that sounds like you, here are a few options you might like.
Denatured alcohol stoves.
These are simple to make (with a little skill) and don't require any special materials. They are super light weight and the fuel is easily accessible, which is why through hikers like them. They are a bit on the dangerous side. If they tip over, they get exciting. Next time we hang out I'll tell you about why I don't use mine very much any more. Good times.
Here's a simpler design and an instructional video.
Wood burning stoves.
I have been working on a design for one of these off and on for a while. I've been trying to create one that is as compact as possible. I started really small, and it didn't work. I don't think there was enough heat build up to sustain itself. I have seen some that work really well. You have to make sure you get good air flow! That's key.
Here's a good link to a tutorial on making these:
Another design that's pretty cool is the mini rocket stove. They are less compact, but you still might be able to make them work for backpacking. This design has fuel feed tube where you add wood to the fire. It also creates an airflow moving up the chimney that sucks more air in and sort of works like a jet engine. I've not made one of these, but they seem pretty neat-o. It's certainly on my to-do list.
Hopefully you've found something here to tickle your DIY fancy. I know I'll be making one of these bad boys soon. I'll post the results when I do.