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alcohol stoves, are they worth it

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alcohol stoves, are they worth it

Postby Markr » Thu Aug 27, 2009 12:35 pm

With my ever aging body I am trying to lighten up even more. One consideration is an alcohol burning stove. Currently I have a titanium Primus canister stove. That is about as light as you can get with butane, or gas, so the next step would seem to be to try alcohol.

Does anyone have any experience with this type of stove. I know they are slow, but just how slow? Is there much difference in the performance between different types. The stoves are certainly light, but how much lighter is the fuel.

Thanks,



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Re: alcohol stoves, are they worth it

Postby rlown » Thu Aug 27, 2009 1:14 pm

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Re: alcohol stoves, are they worth it

Postby copeg » Thu Aug 27, 2009 1:47 pm

Lots of difference between alcohol and other stove fuels. Its not a stove you fire up to "blow-torch" level and in a few minutes have a rolling boil, it can take several more minutes to reach that point with alcohol, especially if it is cold (they don't work too well below freezing). Also, its far from a simmering type stove to make complex meals. All this being said I almost exclusively use an alcohol stove for 3-season camping. A personal preference though: I don't mind the extra wait and I mostly eat 'just add boiling water' type meals, although I have cooked trout and pancakes on it. The stove itself cost about $2 to make and 20 minutes of time, and I've been using the same one going on four years now.
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Re: alcohol stoves, are they worth it

Postby paul » Wed Sep 09, 2009 8:44 pm

I have played around with alcohol stoves - made a few variations on the "cat stove" and boiled varying amounts of water with and without windscreens. I've also used an Esbit stove in the past. After my experiments, I decided to stick with canister stoves or Esbit. Two main reasons: first, I find I fairly often end up heating a little more water for another drink or to wash with - which is a piece of cake with a canister stove but not with an alky or an Esbit stove. Secondly, I didn't like the stability of the cat stove rig, and was concerned about possible spills of burning alcohol. Just my opinion. It's true an alcohol stove is lighter, at least for short trips - though take a look at this excellent analysis of relative weights for different length trips: http://thru-hiker.com/articles/stovewei ... 14days.php

If I was looking for the absolute lightest for myself, I'd get a really light Esbit stove, as I've had good luck with that in the past, as long as it's just boiling water for one or two people. The fuel is more expensive, though. But for most trips, I prefer the minimum fiddle factor and ease of relighting I get with a canister stove.

And with any of the options, get or make a good windscreen. Makes a big difference with any stove. I made one using several layers of aluminum foil for my Esbit, and got a heavier foil unit from Antigravitygear for my canister. Both really help, wind or no wind they improve efficiency.
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Re: alcohol stoves, are they worth it

Postby Markr » Thu Sep 10, 2009 1:22 pm

Thanks for all your input. I have decided to stick with a canister stove. After reading all the tests here and on other forums I calculated that a Sno Peak MaxLite would be a bit heavier for a two nighter but I figure it is a wash at four. This assumes I use a small canister for two nights but would need a large one for 3 to 4 nights.

I was generous when figuring the efficiency of the alcohol. But to get that efficiency you probably have to have windscreen that would add weight that I did not account for. I have never needed a windscreen for a canister stove.

Figure in the convience, speed, simmering capability and better performance in the wind and the canister stove come out the clear winner in my opinion. Of course I have still to try an alcohol stove. That will have to wait a couple of weeks when I am at elevation again.
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Re: alcohol stoves, are they worth it

Postby frediver » Fri Sep 11, 2009 1:43 am

Try making a small pot stand/candle holder to keep stuff warm.
I made one with a 1/2 size soda can, wt < 1oz with a tub candle.
I use it as a combination lantern and pot warmer.
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Re: alcohol stoves, are they worth it

Postby fishmonger » Fri Sep 11, 2009 9:58 am

Markr wrote:This assumes I use a small canister for two nights but would need a large one for 3 to 4 nights.


what and how much are you cooking?

My experience with a Vargo canister stove (similar to my older Snow Peak): 3 hikers, about 1.3 liters of hot water in the morning, and another 1 liter at night to a boil, plus a little simmer or tortilla heatup once in a while, easily was 3 1/2 to 4 days with a small canister. Next week I am going for 8 1/2 days with a large canister solo, and I expect to have left over fuel when I resupply at VVR
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Re: alcohol stoves, are they worth it

Postby rayfound » Fri Sep 11, 2009 11:03 am

My experience with my jetboil is that I use about 90g of fuel for 3 people for 3 days. 2 dinners for 3, 2 breakfast/coffee for 3. I could easily go a week feeding just me with a jetboil 100g can of fuel.

I chose the jetboil for the sure simplicity of everything - how it packs, how its used, etc... its a bit of weight penalty (though not much once pans, lids, fuel efficiency, cooking utensils are included).
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