Jan 10, 2006 at 3:38 pm #1217509
One of the heavier gear choices I made previously was to get a Brunton Optimus Nova stove w/ GSI Hard Anodized Extreme cookset.
a) this needs to work internationally – and I’m willing to bet that I can’t find esbit or canisters or white gas everywhere, but kerosene I can
b) I’m at least slightly a gourmet, and want to be able to simmer / fry things short of “jet blast” setting.
Likewise, for the pots – I’d prefer something that’s at least somewhat non-stick and distributes heat well. Also, I like the dual-usage of GSI’s fry pan / lids.
Of course, I’d like to have good fuel-efficiency etc, low noise, etc also.
However, I’m suspecting that there may be a better/lighter way that still meets those requirements. Could someone comment on this?
I’ve not used alcohol stoves before. Are they comparable in usability? In ability to simmer? (I wasn’t aware that they had *any* simmer ability but it seems some do.) Etc?
Ditto for pots/pans: anyone else make something that would give me a ~1qt pot + lid + pan, with good conductivity and pref non-stick-ness?
(To be clear: I’m looking for both general advice and specific brands/models.)
Edit: I haven’t yet bought anything on this – that is just the choice I made when I was previously researching this.Jan 10, 2006 at 3:50 pm #1348258
@ryanfLocale: Mid atlantic, No. Cal
when it comes to alcohol stoves , there is not alot for simmering. you can make/ buy stoves with simmer rings, but there is not alot of flame adjustment, it is just two settings, high and low. When I need to simmer I bring a canister stove but that dose not seem to be an option for international travel
mabey Bill F will start a new post
modifying a white gas stove
:-)Jan 10, 2006 at 4:21 pm #1348263
There are now non-stick variations of Ti Pots available.
REI offers the Evernew brand and I see that Vargo Outdoors is offering the same pots in their branding as well now. I have not tried them personally; but the reviews seem to be good and I may invest in a set for those times where I dont just plan on boiling water.
Vargo here –>
http://vargooutdoors.safeshopper.com/181/cat181.htm?800Jan 10, 2006 at 4:26 pm #1348265
I notice one difference at least: the Vargo pots need a separate gripper ’cause they don’t have the folding handles.
Edit: Pity they don’t sell the pot+pan-lid combos separately (’cause the japanese site lists them – http://www.evernew.co.jp/outdoor/06titan/ECA417.html ). 200/230/300g for the .9/1.3/1.9L sets respectively.Jan 11, 2006 at 12:17 am #1348302
Simmering with an alcohol stove.
Try the Trangia stove which is available with several combinations of windscreens and a full cook kit. The entire stove and all untensils, including a pot grabber, stows inside of the cook-pot whose lid doubles as a fry-pan.
The Trangia stove is made of brass and so is heavy by alcohol stove standards. Unlike other alcohol stoves, it’s simmer ring is “infinitely” adjustable. My guess is that it should do a better job simmering. Give Glenn Roberts, a regular on these Forums, a shout. He uses the Trangia on a regular basis and could be a good first-hand source of information.
The simmer ring cap, when fully closed, also functions as a “snuffer”. This is necessary because the Trangia also has a sealed cap which allows you to fill the stove full with several ounces of alcohol and snuff it out and put the seal cap on and carry the stove with alcohol in it. Don’t use the “seal” cap for snuffing because it has a soft “seal” material inside of it which gives a good seal and prevents leaking. It will melt if you use the seal cap for snuffing.
The Trangia is an old “tried and true” design. It burns denatured alcohol.
Price, even for a full mini-Trangia cookset is about half, or less, the price of your BO Nova stove.
Also, as a very lightweight backup alcohol stove, check out the Mini Bull Designs Iso stove. It has been designed to burn ANY KIND of alcohol, even 70% isopropyl It comes with lightweight fuel bottles and a windscreen. I am unfamilar with the availability of both denatured and isopropyl alcohol in foreign countries, but MBD Iso stove should also burn “rot gut” and Wadka. Not sure of its simmering ability – if it has any at all.Jan 11, 2006 at 12:41 am #1348306
Hm. Fairly heavy compared to the lighter alchohol stoves (eg ~3oz).
I wonder how easy the “simmer ring” is to use. Given that it’s directly on the flames, my guess is that you have to set it before you cook, and wait for it to cool if you want to adjust. That’d be a pain.
I suspect that any alcohol stove can burn any kind of alcohol – it shouldn’t particularly make a difference design-wise; of course using higher BTU fuel would be more efficient.
The ThermoJet stove looks nice; I wonder how it compares to a ‘traditional’ compressed-fuel stove in usability and etc. Ditto for practical fuel usage – how much alcohol would I use over four days, vs the same amount of cooking with a Whisperlite et al in liquid fuel?
Of course, the guy making ’em seems to be very backlogged… could potentially make one myself, since it’s not all that difficult a design. I wonder how the burner cup is made…Jan 11, 2006 at 3:48 am #1348316
The Trangia is my preferred stove when used with the Clikstand base/windscreen. I don’t know all the whys and wherefores, but that base helps the stove perform better than the base that comes with the Trangia Mini or Westwind.
I’ve only tried the simmer ring once or twice (my suppers are almost always add-boiling-water-and-wait.) But, you know how it is, it’s a toy and you have to play with it. It works, but you can’t make a fine adjustment to it. In fact, my limited experience has been that, once you put it on the flame, it’s difficult going on impossible to reach in, get it out, and adjust the simmer – unless you enjoy the smell of scorched hand-hair. I mostly use the simmer ring to extinguish the stove, but someone recently suggested that a piece of aluminum foil might also work. I’ll probably give that a try soon.
The best part of the stove is being able to fill it, use it, extinguish it, and not drain the fuel to prevent spills. Eliminating the “I’m boiling 3 cups so I need 1.2 ounces of alcohol” drill simplifies my life, and is worth the weight to me. I won’t try to downplay the weight of the Trangia, or of the Clikstand. The combination weighs 5 or 6 ounces. I’ve contacted the maker, encouraging him to try a titanium version, and he said he was considering it, if he can work out some technical details. (He has one pre-order for it, naturally.)
However, keep the extra three ounces in perspective. You get remarkable performance. I’ve not done any tests, but my gut feeling is that the Clikstand/Trangia combination would save enough fuel on a trip of, say, a week or 10 days to cover the extra weight of the stove. There may be some data in some BPL reviews you can use to tell me how wrong I am; however, when you do, consider that those were controlled tests. I’ve tried the pepsi-can stoves (I’m currently playing with the MoGo Gear Go Torch), and found that in real-life camping I tend to add a little more than I need to boil the amount of water, under the “one to grow on” theory. Then, I end up letting it burn off. If this wastage, amounts to quarter to half ounce a day, that’s a couple of ounces a week. The Trangia avoids this waste; if it also uses fuel more efficiently like it seems to, that could amount to another couple of ounces a week. The combination of efficiency and no waste is how I justify the stove’s heavier weight. (Ain’t rationalization a grand human ability – right up there with opposable thumbs!)Jan 11, 2006 at 5:01 am #1348318
Efficiency: You could test it pretty easily: check the detailed article about how they did tests, and do the same for your combination. Would require yhou to have a good scale, and maybe a thermometer, but that’s about it.
Smell of scorched hand-hair: what, the feel of scorched hand-meat isn’t the first thing that bothers you? :-P
Also: wouldn’t it be possible to re-fill the fuel canister with the alcohol? Use something hard and flexible as a funnel – a Orikaso plate perhaps.
Have you used “normal” (pressurized-fuel) stoves also? How does using the alcohol stove compare in real-world terms?Jan 11, 2006 at 2:22 pm #1348371
1) I could duplicate the tests. That would be a lot like work. I think I’ll take a nap, instead. But, you’re right; I put that comment in there simply to indicate that I wasn’t basing my response on anything more than perceptions and reactions.
2) I try to keep a Boy Scout handy when the charred-meat syndrome is a possibility:)
3) I’ve actually tried re-filling the bottle. The results seem to be: bottle receives 20%, hands and clothes receive 40%, and ground receives 30%. Yes, that’s only 90% – the other 10% remains between the walls of the stove, so it can slowly leak out into the pot while I walk.
4) For about 15 years, I used either a Whisperlite or Svea (I still have the Svea – we pause here for a moment of misty-eyed, Colin-Fletcherish sentimentality) and dismissed canister and alcohol stoves as foolishness. (Then came Snow Peak and Clikstand.) There really is no performance comparison between alcohol and either white gas or canister stoves: both produce more BTUs per unit, both are faster, and both allow you to cook without a windscreen by the overkill principle: If I only need 1,000 BTUs, I’ll supply 10,000 and the wind can blow the other 9,000 away. The advantage of the alcohol stove, to me, is simplicity: fill, light, cook. It’s pleasant. And, even though the Clikstand and Trangia weigh 8 – 10 ounces, they’re still a lot lighter than the Whisperlite and its fuel bottle. In terms of pleasure factor, alcohol stoves win, hands down. And, in the end, isn’t the pleasure factor one of the most important factors in gear selection?Jan 11, 2006 at 9:30 pm #1348394
4) “And, in the end, isn’t the pleasure factor one of the most important factors in gear selection?”
Indeed. What I’d like is something that lets me cook what I want in about the same time / fuel-efficiency as a pressurized stove, but if possible with the 12oz (+ repair kit) weight savings and lack of potential things to easily break or wear out.
Having not used any backpacking stoves before (aside from one of the big tabletop Chinese butane stoves, which doesn’t really count), I’m trying to get an idea of how they compare.
I understand that alcohol has way lower BTU than white gas et al, but the listed boil times for the efficient stoves appear to actually be very similar to those of regular stoves, and ditto for fuel consumption. So I’m curious whether that actually reflects real-world use – does it take longer / more fuel / more hassle to cook normal meals on an alcohol stove? How much? (Under the assumption of course that lighter generally = less convenient…)
I rather like the simplicity (and lightweight!) angle, and the fact that I’d be able to carry ’em easily fully contained within a cookpot and onboard planes. With at least some of them, I could still have my required simmering ability – which is what I’d previously thought ruled it out entirely.
Is the experience of cooking on an alcohol stove *qualitatively* different than on a traditional stove, & if so, how? (That is, not just wrt burn/boil/etc numbers.)Jan 12, 2006 at 6:21 am #1348410
Boil times: When you count in the set-up time for pressurized liquit fuel stoves, alcohol is just as fast and cannister stoves are much faster. Esbit takes about twice as long as many alcohol burners, but has other virtues (and disadvantages).
If you want to make a rational comparison between fuels and stove types, check out the
Gear Decision Matrix
You can discuss stoves back and forth until the cows come home and never reach a comfortable decision. But the Matrix can get you closer than anything else.
This BPL gear list spreadsheet contest submission lets you rank the factors you consider to be important, such as fuel availability, boil times, weight of stove, weight of fuel, simmering, whatever is important to you. Then you rate different fuels and stoves according to how they perform on those criteria. Then the matrix gives you a ranking of the different stove types.
Which stove or fuel comes out ahead will depend on what YOU think is important for the particular trip YOU are taking. It may vary from trip to trip or from season to season and so on.Jan 12, 2006 at 7:19 am #1348413
Heh. I already do something almost the same in my head when I make decisions, being the logical sort. :-P
One thing I don’t know is how available alcohol/meth/etc are internationally, esp. in 3rd-world countries. I have seen descriptions of availability of more mainstream fuels – eg kerosene, white gas (yeah right), jet fuel, etc, but IIRC they all overlook alcohol-fuels. Would you happen to know (or know someone/somewhere who knows)?
(And yes, international availability of fuel is a requirement for me – one reason why I quickly rule out canisters, white gas, and hexy.)Jan 12, 2006 at 2:02 pm #1348436
Alcohol stoves do cook a little slower than white gas or canister stoves by 2 or 3 minutes – and like Vick says, you save that much time in setup and by not having to prime. They do use a little more fuel (but not much.) In real world, practical terms, I’ve not found the difference to be irritating for solo cooking. (And remember, I loved my Svea almost as much as Colin Fletcher loves his!)
There’s no more hassle involved in cooking a meal, either – at least for me. But remember, I add boiling water and wait. If you absolutely must simmer, you’ll be far happier with an MSR Simmerlite or a canister stove. (By the way, in the hands of an experienced user, the Svea simmers quite well, too.)
Having used all 3 (I forgot to mention I used a Snow Peak Gigapower happily for a year or two, before discovering the Clikstand), my first choice for pleasure, convenience, and ease of use would be my Clikstand. However, I’d very happily go back to my Snow Peak or my Svea if conditions warranted.
If I were cooking for a group (say, if I could get my wife, in a momentary lapse of sanity, to accompany me on a trip), the extra cooking time for two might start to get uncomfortably long. In the tear-in-the-universe case of having her along on a trip, I’d probably choose my canister stove. My only real dissatisfaction with it is that I can’t see how much fuel is left. (It violates my accountant’s innate desire to CONTROL all details!) I’ve never run out of fuel – but I could (note of panic)!
Vick gave you some excellent advice: let your trip conditions (including fuel availability) be your primary decision factor. All else being equal, I’ll take a Clikstand.Jan 12, 2006 at 2:11 pm #1348437
@ryanfLocale: Mid atlantic, No. Cal
I forgot to mention the anti gravity gear pot cozies. This almost eliminates the need for simmering, you just put your pot in it after the alcohol runs out, and all heat is traped inside so the food remains cooking after taken off the stove, creating a simmering effect instead of wasting fuel simmering, just put your pot in one of theseJan 12, 2006 at 4:50 pm #1348450
As I understand it, you will be vagabonding. Hitting lots of cities and backpacking/treking where it is available?
Doing the same thing, I’ve used both Esbit and alcohol. If there is one fuel you can find almost anywhere, it is alcohol. It may not be 200 proof (nearly 100%), and therefore may be less efficient for cooking, but what the heck, it may be drinkable, so who cares?
You should have no problem finding some form of alcohol, even in Islamic countries. Everyone needs lacquer thinner/solvent, so denatured ethyl, methyl, and isopropyl are still available.
Esbit was OK in the US, where I used it exclusively during 9 months of vagabonding.Jan 12, 2006 at 5:12 pm #1348453
“As I understand it, you will be vagabonding. Hitting lots of cities and backpacking/treking where it is available?”
Yup. Probably doing most transit the slow-and-scenic way, spending relatively little of the overall total of time in urban areas – though hey, I may settle down for a couple weeks (or months even) if I like an area.
“Doing the same thing, I’ve used both Esbit and alcohol. If there is one fuel you can find almost anywhere, it is alcohol. It may not be 200 proof (nearly 100%), and therefore may be less efficient for cooking, but what the heck, it may be drinkable, so who cares?”
Good. That’s what I’d figured, but wasn’t sure. Do you know if that’s true in 3rd-world countries too (eg most of Africa)?
I’m actually surprised you got Esbit easily in the US – isn’t it a sorta specialized item? It’s not AFAIK used in some mass-market thing like are cleaning solvents or medical alcohol or whatnot…Jan 12, 2006 at 5:40 pm #1348455
Ain’t been to Africa. Bet they got hooch, though. Where there is booze, there is alcohol fuel. In truth, refined, high count alcohol is so important for industrial and medical purposes that even really backwards places will have it.
Esbit can be found at almost any sporting goods store in the US. I never had any problem. You might occasionally have to resort to trioxane, found in olive drab foil packets in all military surplus emporia. I avoid it whenever possible because it is a polymer of formaldehyde and tends to give some embalming fluid fumes when burning. It also has lower hear output than hexamine (Esbit) or denatured alcohol. But it will work in a pinch. It doesn’t leave residue as Esbit will.Jan 16, 2006 at 10:18 am #1348687
I use a Trangia with the Clikstand quite a bit. About the only time I do not is when I need to melt snow, and then I too use the Brunton Optimus Nova (changed from the MSR Whisperlite for stability, output and multi-fuel capability). I only wish it used alcohol too :(
The Trangia and Clikstand w/ windscreen combination are designed for use with the Evernew Titanium .9L pot and works well with the Snow Peak 1400 Trek Ti. If all you do is boil water, you can also reduce weight by using Fosters beer cans (its wider base is a perfect fit) to make an aluminum can alcohol stove that fits the Clikstand.
The simmer ring on the Trangia as previously mentioned can be used as the snuffer or points in between closed and full open. So it is not just a high or low setting, there is some middle ground. It takes a little trial and error to find just the right setting for what you want, but after some use, the rotating lid does move easier and can be easily adjusted with a stick or knife. One simmering problem with the Trangia is that it is more susceptible to wind, even with the Clikstand windscreen, so caution to ensure better wind protection is needed.
I define ‘simmer’ as enough heat to provide just a slow bubbling so the flavors blend together well. Thicker sauces take a little more heat (approximately 1/2 inch opening) than thinner sauces (approximately 1/4 inch opening). Any smaller than a ¼ inch opening you may as well turn it off. I make the approximate setting before placing the simmer ring on the stove and adjust appropriately.
Conditions and ring settings will vary, but it seems 1 ounce will burn full open for about 11 minutes, and I have found that simmering with the Trangia can burn that same 1 ounce for 25 to 40 minutes.Jan 17, 2006 at 7:45 am #1348768
I keep it simple. Put Liptons rice/pasta dry ingredents plus all the right spices to make it interesting in the pot with the right amount of water. Stir to mix. Light it. Stir once after 3 minutes. Let it burn out. Eat. Never burns and is always hot, hot hot.Jan 17, 2006 at 9:37 am #1348776
@pjLocale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
i too like to keep it simple, just like Lewis. in my case, i rarely use the salt laden spices that come with soup or noodles – just a little for flavoring (far less than 1/4 of a packet of salty flavoring) . bring your own dry spices to make up for this.
too much salt is NG and can actually cause dehydration by water leaving the blood and entering the intestines due to osmotic pressure.
a steady trail diet of several packages of soup or ramen noodles a day with their entire spice/seasoning packet for days on end can have a bad effect on one’s state of hydration, plus it increases your need to carry and drink more water.Aug 12, 2009 at 5:59 am #1520266
In over fourty years of camping I have used a variety of stoves. The early ones were gas (hated them) and heavy kerosine stoves (loved them for their ultra reliability, even in bad weather). In recent years I have tried to lighten my load (now cycle camping with young children, so you need many of the ultralight tricks). I got an Optimus Nova, and a Trangia 25 set to use it in. That is wonderfully efficient and powerful in cooking larger quantities. It is also more finicky than my earlier heavy kerosine stoves. So on a recent trip with my eleven year old son I decided to just take the Trangia, run on alcohol. I loved it. It was probably faster in real life than the multifuel stove, it did not use that much fuel, and it was very good at frying. For me frying is crucial, since on these bike rides I can buy fresh food, and can do real cooking (I don't go to France to eat boil in a bag meals…). I want to be able to fry fish, some chicken, or a steak. The beauty of the Trangia 25 and 27 is that for frying you raise the level of the pan, so the meat/fish does not get scorched. At about 900 grams for the larger Trangia 25 set of stove, two cooking pots, a frying pan and windscreen, all in the new ultralight aluminium, I am quite happy, even for two (let alone three, four is a bit tight). My problem arises when I want to make a solo trip. The smaller Trangia 27 is some 700 gram (or some 600 gram if you leave one pot at home), and that is suddenly rather a lot. Here the Clikstand comes to the rescue, as its stand and windscreen are much lighter than the bottom and top part of the Trangia windscreen. The drawback is that if I want to fry, I can only really do that without the windscreen. Maximum diameter for any pan is 150mm and that is really rather small for a frying pan. I would also need to make a cut out for the pan handle (not a big deal, of course. So the Clikstand's weight saving (more interesting now with the new Ti version) is partly achieved by sacrificing frying convenience. The same also applies to many other stoves, and pots, of course.
I wonder if I am the only one who sometimes wants to eat real meals.
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