Brunton GreenHeat Backpacking Stove REVIEW

Product performance review of the Brunton GreenHeat gelled alcohol stove including comparisons to alcohol and Esbit tablet stoves.

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by Will Rietveld | 2005-04-19 03:00:00-06

Introduction

Brunton GreenHeat Backpacking Stove - 1
Brunton GreenHeat comes in two sizes, each with a pot stand/windscreen. The larger canister (left) is re-sealable (like Sterno), while the smaller "GreenHeat Fastpack" (right) has a pull-tab lid that is not re-sealable. A full windscreen is necessary in addition to the provided pot stand.

Brunton GreenHeat is a gelled alcohol fuel that comes in a can (like Sterno), along with a pot stand/windscreen, for use as a backpacking or emergency stove. The "Eco-Friendly" moniker means that the alcohol is derived from plant sources rather than petroleum. I evaluated the GreenHeat stove by comparing it with Esbit solid fuel tablet and alcohol stoves in the lab and field.

Specifications

Packaged Weight (container plus fuel) oz (g)Net Weight of Fuel oz (g)Weight of Pot stand/ Windscreen oz (g)MSRP
GreenHeat FastPack3.1 (88)1.8 (51)*Included 2.9 (82)$10/3-pack
GreenHeat Stove9.4 (266)7.2 (204)Included 1.3 (37)$19/2-pack
Esbit, 1 tab0.5 (15)0.5 (14)Not included$6/box of 12
* The GreenHeat Fastpack can is labeled as containing 90 grams of fuel, but the measured fuel weight is 51 grams. The GreenHeat Stove contains 204 grams of fuel as measured, although it is labeled as containing 200 grams of fuel.

What's Good

  • Very convenient to use
  • Comes with a pot stand/windscreen
  • Easy to light, blow out, and reuse
  • Boils 1 pint of water in a reasonable amount of time

What's Not So Good

  • Twice the weight of GreenHeat is required to boil 1 pint of water as compared to Esbit tablets
  • Cost per pint of water boiled is very high
  • Carry weight is very high compared to Esbit tablets and alcohol fuel

Performance

Brunton GreenHeat Backpacking Stove - 2
Testing setup to evaluate GreenHeat and Esbit stoves in the lab. The same cook pot and windscreen were used for field testing.

I measured the time and fuel consumption for GreenHeat, Esbit tabs (hexamine), and an alcohol stove to boil 1 pint of water under optimum (70 °F air and water, calm), cold (40 °F air and water, calm), and windy (70 °F air and water, 12 mph wind using a box fan) conditions. Tests were conducted at 6,650 feet elevation. Boiling was measured with a signaling digital thermometer at 199 °F (to account for altitude and to avoid the latent heat of vaporization) with the temperature sensor placed in the same position each time. I used the same pot and aluminum windscreen (with 0.25 inch clearance around the pot) for all tests. Each test was repeated three times. Fuel consumption was measured by weighing the stove plus fuel before and after each test. Data for alcohol fuel are from the Advanced Mountain Products 16-jet burner, the most fuel efficient stove in my alcohol stove comparison tests. From these data I calculated the fuel mileage and cost per pint of water boiled for each fuel.


Brunton GreenHeat Backpacking Stove - 3
Figure 1: GreenHeat boiled 1 pint of water faster than Esbit, but not as fast as liquid alcohol.

Brunton GreenHeat Backpacking Stove - 4
Figure 2: Approximately twice as much GreenHeat fuel (by weight) was consumed to boil 1 pint of water compared to Esbit and alcohol.

Tables: Comparative Boil Times, Fuel Consumption, Fuel Mileage, and Cost per pint of water boiled for GreenHeat versus Esbit and alcohol under optimal, cold, and windy conditions.
Boil Time (minutes:seconds)
OptimalColdWindAverage
GreenHeat8:2511:0812:4710:46
Esbit10:1312:5115:0012:41
Alcohol6:047:107:286:44
Fuel Consumption (grams of fuel to boil 1 pint of water)
GreenHeat20.323.634.126.0
Esbit8.910.914.111.3
Alcohol10.813.522.615.6
Fuel Mileage (pints of water boiled per can of GreenHeat or Esbit tab)
GreenHeat FastPack2.62.21.52.0
GreenHeat Stove10.18.76.08.3
Esbit1.61.31.0*1.2
Cost Per Pint of Water Boiled
GreenHeat FastPack$1.29$1.50$2.16$1.65
GreenHeat Stove$0.94$1.09$1.58$1.20
Esbit$0.31$0.38$0.50$0.40
Alcohol$0.05$0.07$0.11$0.08
*Water temperature raised 112 degrees F, did not boil
  • GreenHeat (gelled alcohol) boiled water faster than Esbit, but not as fast as liquid alcohol.
  • Approximately twice the weight of GreenHeat fuel was required to boil 1 pint of water compared to Esbit or liquid alcohol
  • The average number of pints of water boiled per can of GreenHeat was 2.0 and 8.3 for the small and large cans, respectively. Under field conditions I was only able to boil 7 pints of water from one large can.
  • The average cost to boil 1 pint of water was much higher for GreenHeat compared to Esbit and alcohol.
  • GreenHeat is easy to light and blow out.
  • The larger GreenHeat can is resealable, making it more convenient and suitable for backpacking.
  • A full windscreen is required in addition to the pot stand/windscreen provided with GreenHeat for best heating efficiency.
  • GreenHeat has a high carry weight.

What's Unique

Gelled alcohol is not a new product. It has been around awhile (aka Sterno and various hand sanitizers). You can make it yourself by adding calcium acetate to ethanol. What is new is packaging gelled alcohol with a pot stand/windscreen for use as a backpacking stove.

Suggestions for Improvement

The appeal of GreenHeat is its convenience. For an overnight trip it provides a simple and easy way to boil water for beverages and meals. To make it more suitable for backpacking, I suggest the following:

  • Package it in lightweight aluminum cans with a re-sealable lid
  • Provide lightweight pot stands (to replace the current heavy ones)
  • Provide a separate windscreen to increase the efficiency of the stove

Citation

"Brunton GreenHeat Backpacking Stove REVIEW," by Will Rietveld. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/brunton_greenheat_backpacking_stove_review.html, 2005-04-19 03:00:00-06.

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