A hobo stove is a style of improvised heat-producing and cooking device frequently used by hobos, tramps, bums, the homeless, and backpackers. It is constructed out of a discarded can or tin of any size by removing the top of the can, punching a number of holes near the upper edge, and punching corresponding holes in the opposite base. Fuel is placed in the can an ignited. Convection draws air in through the bottom holes and expels smoke from the top holes. Improved heating is encouraged by placing the bottom holes facing the wind. Food preparation is often performed on the top of the stove on a cooking surface that also acts as a lid, however many variations exist where cooking is performed on the inverted base of the can.
The main benefit of the hobo stove is its ease of construction and versatility. The stove itself can be constructed out of nearly anything; paint cans, food tins, buckets, and large drums being most often put to that purpose. Further flexibility lies in the fact that anything combustible can be used as a fuel source.
At the hobo meeting grounds, hobo stoves were spread out as far as the eye could see.