Dec 10, 2019 at 5:37 am #3622229lisa rBPL Member
Continuing my quest to reduce my base weight, I’m now looking at stoves. Since the last time I bought my MSR pocket rocket stove options have changed dramatically (this seems to be the trend of the last 5 or so years). All I need is to boil 10 oz of water once per day (maybe twice if it’s cold and I want hot tea). I have a Toaks titanium 550ml pot that I use so looking for a stove that will accommodate that pot.
I have little experience with alcohol stoves and feel kind of baffled by them, but it appears those are among the better options. If anyone can help explain these systems and give me any leads on good ones to consider, I’d be grateful. The one experience I have was with a friend 10 years ago who poured too much alcohol in his cut off soda can and had to let it burn off for quite a while (and nearly started a brush fire). It appears systems have improved much since then – I’m looking for a little more control than that old DIY version.
Thanks!Dec 10, 2019 at 6:32 am #3622231Mark VerberBPL Member
@verberLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
For solo trips I transitions from iso butane to alcohol stoves… and then GVP got me to try esbits. I haven’t looked back. I have been using the ul caldera cone with the gram cracker esbits burner (and a MLD 850 pot) on all my solo trips since 2009. No hassle, no risk of spillage and planning is easy… I count number of heated meals and pack that number of esbits. Alcohol can work well. Once again caldera cone would be my recommendation. I haven’t used it, but the kojin-stove seems like a nice alcohol burner
Here is what I wrote on my https://verber.com/stoves page:
Typically I bring around 12 ounces of water to boil for my dinner… blow out the esbits. Eat. Relight the esbits, and have enough fuel to 8oz cup of tea. I then use the tea bag is as sponge… I knock off any food particles on the inside of the mug before drinking. The tanic acid in the tea seems to help cut through an oily remnants of dinner so a quick rinse takes care of the inside, and then use the tea bag to remove the esbits residue from the outside of the pot (before it hardens) when I am finished drinking the tea. One downside that is still true… the fuel cost is more expensive that many of the other options.Dec 10, 2019 at 11:53 am #3622235dirtbagBPL Member
Check out Traildesigns. Kojin stove.
I have been using the Trail Designs 600 ml sidewinder and love it.. I also use their 400 ml when going solo and only need to boil a cup cup and half of water at most. the top pic is the 600 ml using wood. Then second picture is the 400 ml using the kojin alchy stove. The 3rd picture is the weight of the 600ml all packed with everything inside it ( esbit tabs and kojin stove and a few quick tinder tabs and mini bic lighter) the 4 th pic is the 400 ml packed with 4 esbit tabs , there is also a mini bic lighter and a few quick tinder tabs inside the cone. I can remove 2 of the esbit tabs and fit the kojin stove in there if needed.
Plenty of options and pretty light weight. Though I will admit.. Nothing compares to the ease and quickness and convenience of the pocket rocket 2. If you don’t mind waiting 5 or 10 minutes for water to boil.. Then these set ups are hard to beat.
on that note.. Then kojin stove should work with your 550 pot. It’s nice because you can snuff it out with the lid when water boils, you don’t have to wait for it to burn out. You can also add some alcohol to it and put lid on it and carry on for later use. Check out a good review on you tube .. Timothy Wentzell .. Trail Designs Ti-Tri sidewinder Kojin – close up.Dec 10, 2019 at 12:01 pm #3622236dirtbagBPL Member
Ps.. You would need some sort of support though as I can not just sit your pot on top of it..pretty sure Trail Designs sells a set up for Toaks 650 pot.. Not sure about a 550.. But you can inquire if interested..Dec 10, 2019 at 6:00 pm #3622255.BPL Member
I have this kit minus the spork from when Lite Trail was still in business. You can now buy it directly from Toaks.
I prefer Coghlan tablets to Esbit. They’re cheaper ounce for ounce and are portioned smaller. Two Coghlan tablets = 1 Esbit. I find a single tablet gets 500ml of water hot enough for coffee or to rehydrate a meal. No half burned Esbit tablets to pack and I don’t have to worry about how far the tablet has burned down for trips where I budgeted my fuel pretty tight. Just let the Coghlan burn out and doneDec 10, 2019 at 7:26 pm #3622266Dan YBPL Member
Lisa, this one piece Fancee Feest stove will fit your pot, weighs only 1/2oz:Dec 10, 2019 at 8:00 pm #3622269Dean F.BPL Member
@acrosomeLocale: Back in the Front Range
The Trail Designs products are sort of a darling, here on BPL. The Caldera Cone is liked because it is one of the more efficient alcohol setups. Also, a lot of people just think that it is inherently cool to have a windscreen that doubles as a pot support. The Ti versions are also incredibly versatile, burning alcohol, Esbit, or wood.
But probably most importantly, the Trail Designs skunkworks put a lot of R&D time into their 12-10 stove to ensure that it would work well in the widest possible spectrum of conditions, elevations, fuels, wind, etc. You can’t really say that of a Fancy Feast stove that you punched out in two minutes in your garage. And they now have the Kojin stove as an option but I’m not sure if they did as extensive of testing with it- they sort of marketed it quickly when everyone was clamoring for a Caldera Cone kit using the Staryte stove (to which some think the Kojin is suspiciously similar). EDIT– Russ says there was indeed a fair bit of R&D involved.
But the Caldera Cones are actually some of the heavier alcohol stove options out there. (The thing I find most intriguing about them is the multi-fuel wood burning option with the expensive titanium cones.) A Starlyte and a bit of aluminum for a windscreen would be quite user-friendly and a lighter option. The Starlyte (and Kojin) are also reasonably spill-proof.
BUT BEWARE! Everyone who starts using alcohol stoves eventually gets sucked into the black hole vortex of making their own. It gets addictive. I’m currently using a Fancy Feast stove with a bit of aluminum gutter flashing as a windscreen. Heck, I can make one almost anywhere by dumpster-diving, and it’s simple.
But where do you hike? If you’re out west then there will often be burn bans where you are hiking, so you may as well just optimize a light canister stove since you’ll be forced to use one most of the time anyway, in which case the MSR Pocket Rocket and the Kovea Spider are darlings here (for different uses). Despite what I said in the last paragraph, truth be told I’m actually usually using a canister stove for this exact reason.Dec 10, 2019 at 8:11 pm #3622270Dan YBPL Member
Another good choice ultralight canister stove is the BRS3000TDec 10, 2019 at 8:22 pm #3622274David ThomasBPL Member
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
The super easy and cheap weight reduction is a $15 BRS-3000T. 1/3 the weight of the Pocket Rocket. Packs much smaller. No new skills.
The people I see do well with alcohol are very consistent – same amount of alcohol to boil the same amount of water each time, like MarkW above. Once you’ve got that dialed in, there’s a set-it-and-forget-it advantage to an alcohol stove. It’ll take 5-8 minutes to boil and you can be doing other tasks then without the risk of wasting fuel.
Alcohol (and Esbit) really shine on short trips: really low stove weight and the heavier fuel (per heat content) isn’t much of a factor. Canister stoves have the overhead of the metal canister, but the fuel itself has more BTUs per ounce. BPL has articles on when that trade-off happens – in how many person-nights.
Cooking style is important to consider: If you want to simmer or heat, let steep and then reheat, that’s easier with a canister stove. But if you just need to boil 1-1/2 cups of water, canister, alcohol, or Esbit can all work.Dec 10, 2019 at 8:54 pm #3622277Renais ABPL Member
I have several of the Trail Designs cone systems, and find that they work very well for my different pots. If you want the flexibility of using different fuels, they ae hard to beat. The kojin stove works with ease, is well-built and quite efficient in the system. I love being able to have a wood fire in the inferno both to cook dinner, and to have ambience at the campsite. The TD parts are very well constructed, and take all the rigors of extended backpacking.
If you are not interested in having wood fires, I’d highly recommend looking at the systems at Flat Cat gear. Both the bobcat and snow leopard systems have an excellent selection of efficient and sturdy alcohol and esbit stoves to use. If you want to also use a canister stove from time to time, you can buy the systems with the ability to use the Kovea spider remote canister stove.
I’ve been backpacking cooking since the 70’s and I’ve not found either DIY or commercial windscreens that are as efficient, lightweight and packable as the TD and Flat Cat systems. I don’t think you can go wrong with either setup.Dec 10, 2019 at 10:33 pm #3622295JStankyBPL Member
@jstankyLocale: SF Bay Area
If you just need to heat/boil water once per day you should really check out Esbit. The Toaks setup Ian posted earlier is a good setup. I use a setup from Dan at Zelph which is essentially a titanium cone wind screen for the Toaks 550ml pot. I don’t think he does these at this time though, but if you message him through his website maybe he’ll put one together. My windscreen/potstand/stove combo comes in at 19g. The Toaks pot is 71g with the lid I believe. I find I can heat water for dinner and coffee for breakfast with one 14g esbit tab.Dec 11, 2019 at 4:14 am #3622331lisa rBPL Member
Thanks for all the info. Lots to dig into (and still a little confused!). To clarify, I’m not interested in having options to burn multiple fuel types. Also, I’ll be using this typically in alpine and sub alpine areas from northern Sierras through PNW and definitely during fire season. Campfire bans are not something I want to have to worry about (I never do campfires so this isn’t typically a concern). It sounds like campfire bans may apply to alcohol stoves? How about these esbits? Thanks!Dec 11, 2019 at 4:31 am #3622337.BPL Member
When they post “no charcoal” during a ban, I presume they would include solid fuel. Other places have required stoves to have a way to shut it off, and some have interpreted a means to snuff an alcohol stove or solid fuel stove to meet that requirement. I think it’s a bit of a stretch, although I feel my solid fuel stoves are every bit as safe as isobutane. I don’t feel the same way about my alcohol stoves.
At any rate, in those conditions I’d stick with either an isobutane stove with an abundance of caution or just go with no cook recipes.
When in doubt, call the ranger station and ask for clarification.Dec 11, 2019 at 5:12 am #3622345Mark VerberBPL Member
@verberLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
Regulations vary, but in some locations a ban on fires includes alcohol and esbits. As has been observed, in those cases your choices are iso butane or no-cook meals.Dec 11, 2019 at 5:36 am #3622350rubmybelly!BPL Member
@sleepingLocale: The Cascades
I did esbit. I did alcohol. Went back to isobutane for the convenience and speed. And it’s not really that much heavier than the other stove choices.Dec 11, 2019 at 1:11 pm #3622361Erica RBPL Member
I use a canister stove. My fingers have been frosted, and it is easy for me to have to stop and thaw them out. I need a reliable stove to heat water in adverse conditions without fooling around.
The problem with canisters is the canister. It is made out of steel, and its heavy. You don’t want to carry two if you can just use one. I have made a windscreen which slips over the bottom of my pot. It improves the efficiency lots, though you do have to run the stove slower. I have another piece of aluminum shielding the canister from heat.
Somewhere on Backpacking light there is a table of carbon monoxide emissions from different canister stoves. I take this data seriously from a health standpoint (think vestibule cooking) and also from an efficiency (weight) standpoint. So, I purchased the stove with the lowest CO numbers, figuring more complete combustion means more efficiency. It is a Snowpeak stove. I was amazed to find out it can turn down all the way and simmer a dinner! Never had a backpack stove that could do that before.Dec 11, 2019 at 8:08 pm #3622420Roger CaffinModerator
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
The CO article for canister stoves is at
Yes, SnowPeak is a good brand, but a little heavy these days. The genuine BRS-3000T is a cult stove here at BPL at around 27 g in its little green bag, but watch out for clones and copies: some of them are very suspect.
I guess that low CO means better efficiency, but the difference won’t be much. The safety aspect is what I would emphasise.
ALL canister stoves can simmer. You will need a windscreen of course at low power.
CheersDec 12, 2019 at 6:15 pm #3622544Dean F.BPL Member
@acrosomeLocale: Back in the Front Range
Yes, in the US a lot of burn bans specify no “open flames”, which is not rigorously defined but apparently does not just mean campfires. Usually, the agencies involved consider that to include any stove system that lacks a shut-off valve, such as an alcohol stove or wood stove. Rarely they will specifically mention alcohol stoves but usually to disallow them, not to allow them. By far most commonly they don’t specify at all, which leaves you at the mercy of whatever ranger you come across and how they interpret the ban, what sort of mood they are in, if their girlfriend just dumped them, the position of Saturn, the phase of the moon, or anything else arbitrary.
Very, very rarely there will be a ban that does specify that it is only banning wood fires of any kind.Dec 12, 2019 at 10:56 pm #3622570Ben CBPL Member
The trail designs cone systems are really nice. I use an alcohol stove that retains any unused alcohol, so there are no worries about close measuring or letting them burn out. Just pour in a little fuel, burn the stove, extinguish it when done, and snap the top back on to retain the fuel.Dec 13, 2019 at 12:20 am #3622579
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