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Etowah Outfitters Solid Fuel Stove with Alcohol Burner REVIEW

Product performance review of the Etowah Outfitters Solid Fuel Stove with Alcohol Burner, a lightweight alcohol stove for backpacking.

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by Carol Crooker | 2005-03-29 03:00:00-07

Overview

Etowah Outfitters Solid Fuel Stove with Alcohol Burner - 1
Etowah Outfitters Solid Fuel Stove with Alcohol Burner: top lid, burner, and pot support fitted into pre-heat pan/bottom lid with MSR LiteLifter (not included) for size perspective.

The Etowah Outfitters Solid Fuel Stove with Alcohol Burner is a tough little stove consisting of a small burner, a round pot support of stiff screen material, and two lids which fit onto the ends of the pot support for storage, one serving as a pre-heat pan during cooking. The stove takes a relatively long time (6 minutes 53 seconds) to boil 2 cups of water in optimal conditions. In most windy and/or cold conditions it heats water hot enough to re-hydrate dried food, but not to boiling. It weighs 2.2 ounces configured for storage (burner stowed inside the container formed by the pot support and two lids); one lid can be left at home, saving 0.5 ounce, without affecting cooking performance. The Etowah fits inside a Snow Peak 600 titanium cup and larger pots. Although eggs fry up nicely with the stove, it is basically a one-person/three-season stove for someone who prepares meals by adding hot water to dried food.

Specifications

• Stove ID

Etowah Outfitters Solid Fuel Stove with Alcohol Burner

• Stove Type

Closed jet

• Components Reviewed

Pot stand, base (pre-heat pan) and cover, carry sack

• Dimensions, Weight

Component Dimensions: height x diameter in (mm) Backpacking Light measured oz (g) Manufacturer claim oz (g)
Burner 1.1 x 1.6 (3 x 4) 0.5 oz (14 g) -
Pot support 2.0 x 3.3 (5 x 8) 0.7 oz (20 g) -
Base (pre-heat pan) 0.4 x 3.3 (1 x 8) 0.5 oz (14 g) -
Lid 0.4 x 3.3 (1 x 8) 0.5 oz (14 g) -
Carry sack - 0.3 oz (9 g) -
Complete set (burner + pot support + base and lid) 2.0 x 3.3 (5 x 8) (Set up for cooking or packed) 2.2 oz (62 g) 2.2 oz (62 g)

• MSRP

$16.00 Manufacturer's suggested retail price

• Manufacturer Contact Information

Etowah Outfitters

Usable Features

Etowah Outfitters Solid Fuel Stove with Alcohol Burner - 2
Etowah Outfitters Solid Fuel Stove with Alcohol Burner ready to light.

Design - The burner is a small metal tin with eight holes punched into the lid. The pre-heat pan (base) and top are larger metal lids that fit onto the pot support. The pot support is a section of 2-inch high screen that has been formed into a rigid cylinder by interlocking the ends and bending them back. Distance from the burner to a pot is 0.8 inches. When ready for stowing, the burner sits inside the cylinder of mesh capped by a lid at each end. The carry sack is a silnylon sack with bungee and toggle closure.

In its stowed configuration, with base and cover on the pot support and burner stowed inside, the stove is very rugged. The pot stand provides a stable base for pots up to 2 liters. The burner holds about 0.5 fluid ounces of fuel so cooking time is very limited.

Weight - The Etowah Outfitters Solid Fuel Stove with Alcohol Burner weighs 2.2 ounces without the carry sack. The packed weight can be reduced by 0.5 ounce by leaving the cover at home without affecting stove performance. The stowed stove is less crush-proof without the cover, but still much stronger than a typical soda can alcohol stove. Stove weight could be further reduced, without affecting stove cooking performance, by using a smaller/lighter pre-heat pan. Leave the carry sack at home to save a few more grams.

Flame Control - None, burn time is controlled by measuring the amount of fuel used.

Pot Support - The pot support is a 2-inch high, 3-1/8 inch diameter circle of mesh that is easily strong enough to support a 2-liter pot full of water. Its relatively wide base provides very good stability for a 0.75-liter pot and good stability for a 2-liter pot. Stability would be even better if the pot support mesh was trimmed more evenly. The point where the two ends of the mesh are bent together is slightly higher than the rest of the edge and prevents a pot from being in contact with the full circle of the pot support.

Wind Protection - None provided.

Ease of Use

Setup - The burner cover must be removed to fill the burner with fuel and then replaced. Additionally, Etowah Outfitters instructs that the bottom of the pre-heat pan should be covered with fuel before slipping the pot support into it and lighting the stove. Set up time from stow bag to lighting averaged about 45 seconds in warm conditions and about 1 minute 20 seconds with gloves on. Set up time can be reduced slightly by using a fuel bottle with a squirt nozzle to squirt fuel into the pre-heat pan with the pot support in place.

Fueling - It requires some care not to spill fuel while replacing the lid after filling the burner. The pre-heat pan has a wide opening and it's easy to squirt or pour a little fuel into it for stove priming.

Priming and Ignition - It is easy to light the pre-heat fuel with a match but difficult to hold a lighter flame to the fuel since the pot support gets in the way.

Once the pre-heat fuel is lit, the burner heats and starts a stable burn (eight jets of blue flame from the burner holes) in as little as 15 seconds in calm conditions. The higher the wind speed, the longer the burner takes to ignite. In moderate winds, the burner does not catch at all on the first try, but in the windy and cold conditions I encountered, it did catch on the second try after refilling the pre-heat pan and relighting.

Flame Adjustment - None.

Cold Weather Ergonomics - The most difficult parts of operating the stove with gloves on are getting the burner cap off, and keeping fuel off the gloves when replacing the cap. The burner cap fits very tightly after each burn. I got into the habit of loosening the cap just before storing the stove each time, which made removing the cap for fueling much quicker on subsequent stove firings. Since I used a squeeze bottle for fuel, I did not follow the manufacturer instructions to remove the pot support from the base/pre-heat pan before putting fuel into the pan. This simplified the stove lighting process. These minor adjustments made cold weather lighting of the Etowah Outfitters Solid Fuel Stove with Alcohol Burner easier but still not the one-step process needed for some of the stoves in the Backpacking Light review suite.

Cooking Performance

Capacity - Although the pot stand easily and stably supports pots up to 2 liters, this stove is not suitable for two people because of the small fuel capacity of the burner (less than 0.5 fluid ounce).

Versatility - The Etowah Outfitters Solid Fuel Stove with Alcohol Burner is suited for the "boil" and set method of cooking that simply requires that water be heated. I also successfully fried eggs (both real and powdered) over the stove by stirring constantly and holding the pot above the pot stand with a pot lifter when the flames were too hot. The fact that the stove doesn't burn hot enough to boil water in all conditions is an asset for cooking dishes that require simmering. I prepared a rice dish meant to require 7 minutes of simmering by placing the pot and ingredients on the lit stove and leaving it for 20 minutes. Outside temperature was 57 °F with gusting winds up to about 25 mph. I did not disturb the stove during this experiment to check to see when the flames died out, but under the same conditions in previous burns the stove stayed lit about 7 minutes.

This stove is a great muffin steamer! I used a bent strip of aluminum from a soda can to raise a muffin foil filled with dough off the bottom of the pot. An aluminum foil lid and a small amount of water in the bottom of the pot completed the setup. Just as with the rice dish, I left the pot on the stove while the alcohol burned out and for some time after to allow the muffin to continue to bake. Perfect muffins every time! I've tried the same method with other alcohol stoves and had the water boil up over the top of the muffin foil because the stove burned too hot.

The Etowah Outfitters Solid Fuel Stove with Alcohol Burner is designed to use solid fuel tabs as well as alcohol as the name implies.

Wind Effects - The burner does not hold enough fuel to boil 2 cups of water in even mild winds. The water is normally steaming and hot enough to re-hydrate food, but does not reach boiling. The pre-heat pan is easy to light with a match even in windy conditions but when it is also cold, the burner doesn't always light from the burning pre-heat fuel the first time.

Cold Effects - In cool conditions (50 °F) the burner does not hold enough fuel to boil 2 cups of water. I simulated cold weather by putting the stove and fuel in a freezer, and water in a refrigerator. Once everything was cold, I quickly set up the stove outside and lit it. I had no problem getting fuel in the pre-heat pan to ignite and the burner lit (blue flames out of all eight holes) in about 45 seconds. When I added wind to the scenario (in the form of a fan), the burner often did not catch on the first lighting of the pre-heat fuel. The burner did ignite every time after a second priming.

In the field at 45 °F and winds gusting to about 25 mph, the burner ignited on average in less than 30 seconds, but did not heat the water to boiling.

Heating Efficiency

The Etowah Outfitters Solid Fuel Stove with Alcohol Burner had a higher than average boil time and average fuel consumption under optimal conditions in the Backpacking Light stove tests. The burner cup is small and only holds about 15 grams of fuel, which was not enough to boil 2 cups of water in standardized testing (the water temperature was raised to 164 °F).

I used several cook pots (Snow Peak 600 titanium cup, 3-cup and 2-liter Antigravity Gear aluminum pots) with 2 cups of water under various conditions in field-testing. The stove only brought the water to a full boil in warm, calm conditions. In windy conditions, the Etowah stove won't boil water. It does, however, heat water to the point that dried food can be re-hydrated.

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)
Etowah Solid Fuel Stove with Alcohol Burner 6:53 15.2 +94 degrees
(did not boil)
-
Average of All Stoves Reviewed 6:09 15.7 8:20 32.8

Durability

Etowah Outfitters Solid Fuel Stove with Alcohol Burner - 3
Etowah Outfitters Solid Fuel Stove with Alcohol Burner in stowed configuration (burner cup is wrapped in a piece of paper towel to keep it from rattling around) - strong enough to stand on!

Packability - The stove packs very neatly into a small can that fits nicely inside a Snow Peak 600 titanium cup or a larger pot. It is larger than some alcohol stoves and fills up almost half the height of the Snow Peak cup.

Durability - In its stowed configuration, with base and cover on the pot support and burner stowed inside, the stove is very rugged. I stood on the stove without causing any damage. Even unpacked, the stove components are sturdy. The pot support can be bent out of shape but it requires some effort. I was not able to deform the sides of the burner by squeezing it with the lid on. The stove is much sturdier than a soda can stove and it won't blow away in a light breeze.

Maintenance - Maintenance is not required on this stove. The components are sturdy and simple. The burner cup in particular is very strong and unlikely to be damaged.

Value

The Etowah Outfitters Solid Fuel Stove with Alcohol Burner is an inexpensive stove that does not have to be handled carefully and is not failure prone. It is simple to use and doesn't require maintenance. However, it is a poor value because it does not heat water to boiling in cool and/or windy conditions. (It does heat water enough to re-hydrate food in most three-season conditions.)

Tips and Tricks

Wrap the burner in a bit of paper towel to keep it from rattling around inside the pot support. The cap on the burner can get quite tight after a burn; loosening it after it cools down saves time during the next use. Leave the cover at home to save 0.5 ounce without affecting cooking performance. Plan on using matches to light pre-heat fuel.

Recommendations for Improvement

A larger burner tin that holds enough fuel to boil 2 cups of water in a wider range of conditions would be a huge improvement for this stove.


Citation

"Etowah Outfitters Solid Fuel Stove with Alcohol Burner REVIEW," by Carol Crooker. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/etowah_solid_fuel_stove_review.html, 2005-03-29 03:00:00-07.

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