Advanced Mountain Products Alumilite Stove Set Alcohol Stove REVIEW

Product performance review of the Advanced Mountain Products Alumilite Stove Set Alcohol Stove, a lightweight alcohol stove for backpacking.

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by Jay Ham | 2005-04-06 03:00:00-06

Overview

Advanced Mountain Products Alumilite Stove Set - 1
Advanced Mountain Products Alumilite Stove Set alcohol stove, showing one stove and priming pan (the aluminum ground shield and titanium stakes are not included in the set)

The Advanced Mountain Products Alumilite Stove Set alcohol stove has prodigious heat output and minimal weight. The closed jet burner can boil 1 pint of water in less than 5 minutes under optimal conditions. It was one of the top four performing stoves in our lab tests of 17 alcohol stoves. Advanced Mountain Products provides two stoves (one for boiling, one for simmering), a windscreen/pot support, and a fuel bottle for a very competitive price of $15.95. On the downside, the stove is difficult to fill through the small hole in the top, and the two-piece windscreen/pot stand is unstable resulting in an overall average rating for the Advanced Mountain Products Alumilite Stove Set.

Specifications

• Stove ID

Advanced Mountain Products Alumilite Stove Set

• Stove Type

Closed jet

• Components Reviewed

Two stoves, combination windscreen/pot stand, two priming cups, fuel bottle

• Dimensions

Burner is 1.4 in (35 mm) high by 2.6 in (65 mm) diameter; windscreen/pot support is 2.6 in (65 mm) high by 5.9 in (150 mm) diameter; packed size is 2.6 in (65 mm) high by 2.8 in (70 mm) diameter

• Weight

Backpacking Light measured weights are: burner 0.5 oz (14 g) with priming cup, windscreen/pot stand 0.8 oz (23 g), fuel bottle 0.9 oz (26 g). Total measured weight: 2.7 oz (77 g). Manufacturer claimed weight is 3.0 oz (85 g).

• MSRP

$15.95 Manufacturer's suggested retail price

• Manufacturer Contact Information

Advanced Mountain Products

Usable Features

Design - The Advanced Mountain Products Alumilite Stove Set alcohol stove comes with two closed-jet alcohol burners. One burner has 32 jets and is intended for fast boiling, the second has 16 jets and is intended for simmering. The reality - from the Backpacking Light lab tests - is that the two stove configurations perform similarly. If only one burner is carried at a time, the burner itself will easily nest inside any cookpot. Likewise, the windscreen/pot support comes apart and can be rolled tightly to the diameter of the burner. If the second burner is also carried, it nests on the top of the other burner. The combined height of the two burners is slightly less than the windscreen/pot support.

Weight - Each individual burner is extremely lightweight because it is made from the bottom of two aluminum soda cans, a small metal screw, and a bit of heat resistant tape. The windscreen/pot support is heavier than a purpose-built windscreen, but given its dual role as a pot support the extra weight is necessary. The windscreen/pot support separates into two pieces and could lose a few grams (and gain some convenience and strength) if it were built as a single piece.

Flame Control - Flame control is achieved by switching between the two burners. There are 32 jets in the high output burner and 16 in the other. The manufacturer claims the 16-jet burner is to be used for simmering, but we found its output is about the same as the fast burner.

Advanced Mountain Products Alumilite Stove Set - 2
The type of tent stake used affects the pot support. Shown here, two short titanium skewer stakes kept the cookpot at a slight angle

Pot Support - On the top edge of the windscreen are four notches in two pairs that accept tent stakes for pot support. To work well, the tent stakes need to be at least 6.5 inches long. The pot sits about 1.4 inches above the top of the burner. The stability of the pot is somewhat dependent on the type of tent stakes used. I used 6-inch titanium skewer stakes, which barely worked, and the pot sat at an angle due to the shape of the skewer stakes.

Wind Protection - The combination windscreen/pot support is 2.6 inches high. The bottom of the pot is at approximately the same height as the top of the windscreen, so the overlap between the two is minimal. The bottom of the windscreen has cutouts to provide intake air for the burner. There are two seams in the windscreen that allow it to be separated into two pieces (an unnecessary and undesirable design).

Ease of Use

Setup - Because the pot support design relies on the user's tent stakes for pot support, the amount of time and difficulty in setup is directly dependant on how quickly one can locate the tent stakes. To use the stove, you fuel the burner (preferably using a squeeze bottle), place the burner upon a priming cup on the ground, ignite the burner, place the assembled windscreen/pot stand over the burner, and then place two tent stakes in the notches on the windscreen. This entire process can be accomplished in less than a minute.

Fueling - Fueling the Advanced Mountain Products Alumilite alcohol stoves can be incredibly frustrating if attempted without a squeeze bottle. Each burner has a small screw in the center (don't lose it!) that is removed to provide a small, 3-millimeter hole to fill the stove. It requires a squeeze bottle with a small spout to prevent massive fuel spillage. The manufacturer suggests about 1 ounce of fuel for 10 minutes of burn time.

Priming and Ignition - The Advanced Mountain Products Alumilite alcohol stove requires priming prior to ignition. To prime the stove, add fuel to a priming cup below the burner. Burning the fuel in the priming cup pre-heats the burner, causing the alcohol within the stove to boil. This forces vaporized alcohol through the jets. Generally, the flame from the priming cup will ignite the burner's jets. In my experience, the priming cup fits so closely under the bottom of the burner that the priming fuel beneath the burner does not burn. I found that tipping the burner at a slight angle allows the priming fuel to burn (first photo). Once the stove was lit, I pushed it squarely onto the priming cup with one of the tent stakes.

Flame Adjustment - Once lit, there is no means to adjust the flame.

Cold Weather Ergonomics - Most operations involved with the set up and use of the Alumilite burners can be achieved while wearing winter weight gloves in cold weather conditions. The one exception is removal and reinsertion of the small screw that covers the fill hole, which cannot be done with gloves on.

Cooking Performance

Capacity - I tested the Advanced Mountain Products Alumilite alcohol stoves' cooking performance in typical field conditions, with temperatures from freezing up to the low 50's °F. I also used the stove at elevations above 11,000 feet. The high heat output of the Alumilite stoves can boil 2 cups of water in just a few minutes. However, these stoves take more time and fuss than the average alcohol stove to fill and prime. I found the stove compatible with a variety of pots as long as they did not exceed the windscreen/pot stand's 6-inch diameter. A larger pot closes off the upper opening of the windscreen and reduces performance. The high heat output extends the use of the Advanced Mountain Products Alumilite stoves to accommodate two or more hikers; but may require an alternative or homemade windscreen/pot support to extend usability to larger pots.

Versatility - I found a nominal difference in burning time and heat output between the 32-jet and 16-jet burners. They both exhibited virtually uncontrollable, high heat output, making both stoves very well suited to boiling water. I found that simmering and frying required immense patience and dexterity. The process involved holding the pan over the burner long enough to get things sizzling, but just shy of burning, then removing the pan from the burner to let it cool a bit, and repeating until food is acceptably cooked.

Wind Effects - I found the Advanced Mountain Products Alumilite alcohol Stove Set to be adversely affected by wind, which I attribute to the windscreen design. The windscreen is only high enough to slightly overlap the bottom of the pot. Thus, wind easily enters through the top to cool and dissipate the stove's heat. A second windscreen (aluminum foil) wrapped around the first on the windward side greatly improves the stove's performance in wind.

Cold Effects - In sub-freezing conditions, the stove primes and ignites with little difficulty although it takes a little longer to prime.

Heating Efficiency

The closed jet burner design utilized in the Advanced Mountain Products Alumilite alcohol stoves is highly efficient, resulting in better than average performance (faster boil times and lower fuel consumption) under both optimal and windy conditions. It was one of the four best performing stoves in our lab tests. Although this stove is difficult to fuel through its small 3-millimeter fill hole, closing the small opening with the included screw creates a sealed chamber whereby the only escape for pressurized vapor is through the burner jets, thus optimizing heat output.

See performance results for all the stoves we tested in Performance Comparison Testing of Lightweight Alcohol Stoves.

Table 1: Boil Time and Fuel Consumption for Optimal and Windy Conditions
Optimum Conditions Boil Time for 1 pint of water (minutes:seconds)Optimum Conditions Fuel Consumption (g)Windy Conditions Boil Time for 1 pint of water (minutes:seconds)Windy Conditions Fuel Consumption (g)
Advanced Mountain Products 16-jet6:0410.87:2822.6
Advanced Mountain Products 32-jet4:4111.76:1726.5
Average of All Stoves Reviewed6:0915.78:2032.8

Durability

Packability - The small size of the Advanced Mountain Products Alumilite Stove Set allows it to nest in most small backpacking pots. I had no trouble stowing it in an Evernew 0.9-ounce titanium pot. The cylindrical shape proved compatible when nested inside a cookpot, and a safe fit when packed loosely among soft goods.

Durability - Being made from aluminum soda cans, the Advanced Mountain Products Alumilite stoves are only slightly stronger than their beverage counterparts. Care must be taken in camp to avoid stepping on them, and they must be packed properly, i.e. stowed in a cookpot, to prevent damage on the trail. With proper care, the stoves should hold up to repeated use quite well.

Maintenance - The minimal moving parts and clean burning nature of alcohol fuel requires little maintenance.

Value

For $15.95, the Advanced Mountain Products Alumilite alcohol Stove Set is a superb value since the price includes two stoves, a combination windscreen/pot stand, a fuel bottle, and complete and detailed instructions.

Recommendations for Improvement

The Advanced Mountain Products Alumilite windscreen/pot support is a major weakness in what would otherwise be a superb stove. I feel strongly that the present two-piece windscreen should be replaced by a one-piece design. Aluminum roof flashing can easily be used to fabricate a one-piece windscreen.

  • The windscreen should be higher, so it better overlaps the pot to provide improved wind protection. The tent stake pot supports could be inserted through holes in the windscreen, rather than setting them in notches at the top.
  • It is inconvenient to require the user to provide two tent stakes for the stove. (Stakes need to be at least 6.5 inches long, and aluminum stakes won't work because they easily bend from the heat of the stove.) I suggest providing two 1/8-inch steel rods for this purpose, or titanium tent stakes if the buyer is willing to pay extra for them (and have two spare tent stakes).
  • Though it may increase the cost of materials, the fill hole screw should be replaced with something impossible to lose.
  • The priming cups fit the bottom of the burner too closely, allowing fuel to become trapped beneath the burner and preventing its ignition. A priming cup with raised burner supports would lift the burner slightly allowing the fuel to move to the outside of the priming cup for combustion.


Citation

"Advanced Mountain Products Alumilite Stove Set Alcohol Stove REVIEW," by Jay Ham. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/amp_alcohol_stove_review.html, 2005-04-06 03:00:00-06.

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