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Brookside Crafts Alcohol Stove Set REVIEW

Product performance review of the Brookside Crafts Alcohol Stove, a lightweight alcohol stove for backpacking.

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by Doug Johnson | 2005-03-22 03:00:00-07

Overview

Brookside Crafts     alcohol stove - 1
At less than $18, the Brookside Crafts alcohol stove kit is an outstanding value

The Brookside Crafts alcohol stove kit, sold exclusively on eBay under the seller name Tomsbus, is a gem of a stove at a fantastic price. For less than $18, you get an efficient soda can-style stove that boils water well, an effective simmer ring for simmering, an integrated windscreen/pot support that can easily handle pots up to 4 inches wide (such as an MSR titanium Kettle), a nicely made stainless steel cup, and a fuel bottle that is shaped to fit inside the cup (along with all the other items). Besides that, the stove is no ordinary pop-can stove - it is reinforced with heavier gauge aluminum on the inside, is beautifully constructed, and is quite durable.

Specifications

• Stove ID

Brookside Crafts "Tomsbus" Ultralight Alcohol Stove

• Stove Type

Open jet

• Components Tested

Alcohol burner, simmer ring, windscreen with pot supports, fuel bottle (3 fl oz/89 ml), steel cookpot/mug (18 fl oz/0.53 L)

• Dimensions, Weight

ComponentDimensions: height x diameter in (mm)Backpacking Light measured weight oz (g)Manufacturer claimed weight oz (g)
Stove1.3 x 2.6 (33 x 66) 0.5 (14)-
Simmer ring -0.2 (6)-
Windscreen2.5 x 4.5 (63 x 114) 0.9 (26)0.9 (26)
Support pegs (2) -0.6 (17)-
Fuel bottle-0.8 (23)-
Full Stove Setup (stove + windshield + simmer ring + 2 pegs)-2.9 (82)-
Stainless steel cup-3.1 (88)-
Total Cook Kit Weight (full stove set-up + Stainless Steel Cup)-6.0 (184)6.0 (184)

• MSRP

$10 to $18 Manufacturer's suggested retail price, depending on set-up and bidding (eBay sales only)

• Manufacturer Contact Information

Brookside Crafts (Tomsbus), jmgui@yahoo.com, sells on eBay under "Ultralight Backpacking Alcohol Stove" with seller name Tomsbus

Usable Features

Brookside Crafts     alcohol stove - 2
The Brookside Crafts kit fits nicely into the provided 18-fluid-ounce steel cup

The Brookside Crafts alcohol stove is a double wall aluminum alcohol stove made from soda cans, like many similar make-your-own designs available on the Internet. Available only on eBay, the alcohol burner can be purchased separately or in a variety of well thought-out integrated stove kits. Ours included a combination windscreen/pot support, fuel bottle, simmer ring, and 0.53-liter stainless-steel cup. The whole kit works nicely together and fits inside the provided cup.

The burner is beautifully manufactured with fire-resistant aluminum tape around the outside and an inner wall made of 0.012 gauge aluminum sheet. This burner is very strong, well built, and shows no signs of its soda can ancestry. It has 16 jets around the top.

The windscreen/pot support is a great design, quite similar to the Outdoor Equipment Supplier stove's support. It consists of a wide cylinder made of sheet aluminum flashing. Two steel pegs are inserted through four holes in the flashing to provide a pot support. This creates a very stable platform that is tight enough to block wind effectively. The windscreen is 4.5 inches wide, just wide enough for a mid-size kettle. Larger pots, such as 2-liter models, must sit on top of the windscreen. This configuration did not work well in tests. Another method of support is needed for larger pots.

The flame pattern is even and spreads across the bottom of the pot. There is a little flame spillage up the sides of the included stainless-steel cup but none when using a kettle.

At 3.1 ounces the 0.53-liter steel cup is no ultralight but is a nice inclusion in a set that costs less than $18. It is functional, well built with nice rounded corners, and is quite durable, not showing any of the discoloration of titanium after repeated use. It doesn't include a lid but a small piece of aluminum foil works just fine.

Ease of Use

Brookside Crafts     alcohol stove - 3
The windscreen is perfectly sized for an MSR Ti Kettle. (Note: one peg was lost in the field and replaced with a similar stake.)

This is a very easy stove to operate. Simply set up the windscreen/pot support, pour the alcohol into the burner (measured in the lid of the provided fuel bottle), light, and place your pot on the supports. Because this stove is slightly shorter than many similar stoves, it is easier to light the fuel in the bottom of the burner. In around 90 seconds, the jets flame up and the stove is going full blast. When the fuel runs out, the Brookside stops quickly and is cool enough to accept more fuel in about 30 to 40 seconds, if needed.

When testing this stove with gloves on, it was still very easy to set up and operate. It was a consistent performer in all conditions.

Alcohol stoves aren't known for their simmering ability, instead offering simple on/off performance. With the included simmer ring, however, the Brookside provides good simmering performance. Two rivets attached to the side of the simmer ring (shaped from the top of an old-style beer can) make placing the ring on an operating burner quite simple. With the ring on, the stove's heat output is decreased considerably to allow for simmering, although further adjustment is difficult.

Cooking Performance

Brookside Crafts     alcohol stove - 4 Brookside Crafts     alcohol stove - 5
The included simmering ring (left) decreases the full heat output (right) of the Brookside Crafts stove considerably.

Cooking with this stove is straightforward and simple. It boils water well and can also simmer reasonably well. In simmer mode, the heat output is not only lower, but the flame is smaller and more directed as well; you'll want to be careful to move the pot around when simmering.

All soda can stoves similar to this require warm-up periods before the jets are ignited. At just over a minute for warm-up, the Brookside Crafts alcohol stove was right in the average range compared to similar stoves; my AntiGravityGear Tin Man burner routinely warmed up faster, but only by 10 seconds or so.

Wind can greatly reduce performance for all alcohol stoves. In the Backpacking Light lab tests, most of the stoves consumed twice as much fuel under windy conditions. In the lab, the Brookside Crafts stove took about 60% longer to boil water in windy conditions. In the field I found that the stove boiled water faster when using an MSR Ti Kettle because it butted right against the side of the windscreen, helping to block wind from entering from the top.

The Brookside Crafts stove lights easily even in the wind and once lit it shows no tendency to blow out. The stove base does not get too hot and cools quickly after burning out. However, the steel pot supports stay hot long after cooking is done. Be careful to move the pot support using its aluminum sides, which cool much more quickly than the cross supports.

Heating Efficiency

The Brookside Crafts alcohol stove was among the fastest boilers in our lab tests at 5 minutes 38 seconds for 1 pint of water. Under calm conditions, fuel efficiency was in the average range when compared to other stoves we tested.

In windy conditions, the short windscreen allowed wind to enter through the top, increasing its boil time to 9 minutes 50 seconds and increasing its fuel consumption by 131%. As mentioned above, this performance can be improved by using a pot that fits tightly in the windscreen. Using a higher windscreen also helped to decrease boil times in windy conditions.

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)
Brookside Crafts "Tomsbus" 5:3816.59:5038.2
Average of All Stoves Reviewed6:0915.78:2032.8

Durability

The Brookside Crafts is one of the toughest alcohol stoves I've seen. While other soda can burners I've used are dented and show obvious wear, this burner is nearly indestructible through normal use. It still looks just like the day I got it, despite many nights on the trail and my tendency to be very hard on gear.

The windscreen/pot support looks a bit worse for wear after several weeks in the field. This is mainly due to the cross supports being overheated and causing the aluminum sides to bend and deform. However, this only occurred after intense testing in my kitchen. No similar problems occurred in the field, and the windscreen bent back into place quite easily. I could not get the cross supports to bend due to heat; they are quite durable. Overall, the windscreen proved quite durable (far more than my normal aluminum foil setups) and is my current favorite for use with soda can stoves.

Value

The Brookside Crafts alcohol stove performs well, is super-durable, has a good windscreen/pot support, and includes a nicely made steel cup; at less than $18 on eBay, this is an excellent value. Further, the manufacturer offers a money back guarantee and has 100% positive feedback after over 150 sales on eBay, making it even more worth the effort to take a look at this stove.

Tips and Tricks

Beware: the cross supports stay hot long after the rest of the stove has cooled. Be careful to not block the bottom vents when setting the windscreen up in the dirt - the vents are needed for good stove performance. The steel cup is well made but doesn't include a lid - pack some aluminum foil to decrease boil times.

Recommendations for Improvement

The Brookside Crafts alcohol stove is well designed and a good performer. I offer the following suggestions for further improvements:

  • The windscreen could be made more effective with a slight increase in height. A height increase of 1 inch (while keeping the pot supports the same height above the burner) would make a noticeable difference in wind performance.
  • Offer a titanium cup and titanium cross-supports for weight fanatics.
  • Make available a kit option with a larger capacity cook pot and lid that is optimized for the stove.

Citation

"Brookside Crafts Alcohol Stove Set REVIEW," by Doug Johnson. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/brookside_crafts_alcohol_stove_review.html, 2005-03-22 03:00:00-07.

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