I was quite pleased to be asked to provide a review of this innovative new product which claims to provide an extremely cheap and green alternative to propane and propane/butane mix gas and, effectively, using the equipment provided in the BG kit walkers and backpackers generate their own fuel supplies as they progress through the countryside.
The initial contacts were through by email and I did suspect quite strongly at first that this was a scam or, at best, a joke, but, having tested the equipment on various camping trips and one backpacking trip to Wales, I’ve come to appreciate not only the money I’ve saved by generating my own BG Fuel (BGF) , but also the convenience of not having to shop for gas canisters or to worry about re-supply on long trips. To give you a clue about this, the first contact was from a Mr Lee of Kunming in the People’s Republic of China although later discussions were held with his UK agents - individuals based here in County Durham, who appear to be close relatives of Mr Lee even down to sharing the same surname.
The entry level gear for lightweight backpackers and campers is the “Sxhizan qua” ( this is as close as I can get to the word, which roughly translates, rather romantically as “The Perfumed Breeze”.) This consists of a tube system, a non-return valve, something in a white plastic case which holds two AA batteries with some lights which, as a safety warning, glow green on detecting inflammable gasses and what looks at first sight as a balloon-like bladder. The idea is that the backpacker generates a certain amount of flammable gas within his gut – as well as non-flammable gasses such as carbon dioxide and this is collected via the tube system, filtered through the white box which removes the carbon dioxide, and stored in the bladder. At the end of a day’s walking, the nozzle of the bladder is connected to a standard lightweight camping stove and ignited for cooking.
The claim is that given an appropriate diet, sufficient flammable gas can be extracted sufficient to boil up to 3 litres of water on a walk of up to fifteen miles. On longer walks, it’s recommended that the trekker releases a safe amount of gas on an hourly basis, partly for comfort and partly for safety reasons. Further gas can be produced overnight for the breakfast brew, a pint of porridge and even a quick wash with water at a reasonably comfortable temperature.
Some practise is required in inserting the tube into the walker’s bowel and it’s quite a good idea to a) have a handy supply of vaseline or similar and b) a source of appropriately soothing music (Judy Garland is quite comforting) and, perhaps, some candlelight and a close friend.
Gas is produced reasonably painlessly throughout the day and is stored in the bladder which can be clipped into the walker’s base layer or underpants. Towards the end of the day, this does get a bit uncomfortable, it has to be said, and a tip from Mr Lee’s agent at the Lucky Rainflower takeaway in Spennymoor, another Mr Lee, as it happens, was to be very careful not to sit down too suddenly.
Removing the gas into the stove proved tricky at first and , whilst camping at Borrowdale , I did accidentally let go of the bladder which then flew around inside the tent, frightening the dog and also knocking over my tin of McEwan’s Export. However, I soon got the hang of it and was quickly brewing up cups of tea, coffee nd soup (pea and ham as it happens) quite happily. What was worst at the Borrowdale camp is that for some reason, the lads in the tent near to mine seemed to be regularly having some kind of hysterical fit which put me off trying to re-insert the tube quite a bit.
Another handy feature is the facility in emergencies, to dispense with the collection bladder with and link the stove directly. I can imagine that this would be very useful should the bladder suddenly fly off over a crag or into a fast-flowing stream or something… In this scenario you do have to squeeze a bit to get a good flame and this can have it’s own problems, as you might imagine. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’re really confident of producing only gas and nothing else.
A long backpacking trip in Wales did result in a certain amount of soreness and explaining how this happened to my GP and, indeed, to the wife was quite difficult and I have only felt a similar level of discomfort after I once drank twelve pints of mild in half an hour.
Mr Lee of the Lucky Rainflower says that certain foods can be more efficient than others, especially when taken with beer, preferably of the Real Ale variety although Home Brew had to be used with some significant caution. He produced the chart below – 300 grammes of each foodstuff providing a boiling time of 1 litre of water at 10C after 6 to 8 hours in the digestive system.
Baked Beans 6 minutes
Mushy Peas 4 Minutes
Boiled Cabbage 4.5 minutes
Sprouts 1.6 minutes
Beanfeast 3 minutes
Onion Bhargee 30 seconds
Lucky Rainflower Special Chicken Curry 25 seconds (caution!!)
Thus, it can be seen that beanfeast, being dehydrated, is probably the most efficient fuelfood for the BG system and this is what I’d recommend as carrying a huge great cabbage around seems to defeat the lightweight objective, really.
Other versions available are:
Den Xhoiping (Fragrant Gale) For small countryside sports events – grouse shoots, pheasant drives, small village shows etc. (insert into horse) will power a medium-sized cooking range for 3 hours or a scooter for up to 106 miles
Xhaisois Huchiong (Aromatic Typhoon) For use in rural industries and on-the-farm – will power a generator long enough for milking 24 cows or will drive a small caror an agricultural tractor for up to 26 miles. You need a fairly relaxed sort of bovine for this as the tube is quite large. Maybe a Belted Galloway or a Highland…
After a while, I managed to get over the initial difficulties, soreness etc I’ve come to the realisation that the first parts of the process can be quite good fun providing a sense of rhythm is maintained. But following a few embarrassing incidents involving firemen actually, my advice is that candlelight’s probably not such a good idea although I’d stick with Judy Garland…. or Dusty Springfield. Or Abba.
A BG kit is available for 35 Euros from Lucky Rainflower Takeaway and Home Deliveries, Bobbie Shafto Street, Spennymoor. Ask for Mr Lee. I’ll certainly be using mine on a regular basis on future backpacking and camping trips and on a daily basis in the home…. [koff]
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