Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Esbit or Alcohol Stove?
Display Avatars Sort By:
Joe Westing
(pedro87) - F
Busbuddy under spinnaker tarp on 01/23/2008 13:23:17 MST Print View

Does anyone have any experience using the Bushbuddy under a spinnaker tarp? Is the spinnaker cloth sensitive to sparks?

Nigel Parrish
(nigelp) - F
under a tarp on 01/23/2008 14:09:01 MST Print View

The saw was made from aluminium sheet simply bent over to create a space for the width of the top of the saw blade with another piece with bent the other way to accomodate the base and create a box the blade slides in. The blade is for a hobby/Stanley knife and the tent peg simply stops the blade from coming out in use. It was a bit clunky and a bit if a prototype.
I think that with care Bushbuddy could be used under any tarp carefully. The main 'flare' up occurs when the Buddy is initially lit once in operation it is no worse than any other stove. The main concern would be smoke! It can smoke a bit when getting going particulary with damp wood. A few esbits as a back up for the rainy days with the tarp pitched low.

David Long

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Re: Esbit or Alcohol or Bush Buddy? on 01/24/2008 14:53:44 MST Print View

Ken, you wondered about a windscreen for the BushBuddy. Here's what I carry. Not quite as light as titanium, but very environmentally sound.

BushBuddy with ultralight windscreen

Seriously, though, here's my take on the Alcohol/Esbit/BushBuddy trilemma, since I've used all 3 systems. I agree with the answers provided so far, and add the following observations:

ESBIT: In spite of what you may have heard, Esbit fuel tabs can be extinguished when the cooking is done, and the remainder used for future cooking. Esbit also has a sweet "feature" which is that it burns hot for the first 5 minutes, then simmers for the next 5. This is useful for bringing water to a boil, adding pasta & sauce, then simmering for 5 minutes without scorching. Alcohol tends to burn 100% then almost instantly extinguishes.

ALCOHOL: my favorite aspect of alcohol is that you can get it almost anywhere. For long through-hikes, Esbit requires careful pack-at-home planning of all fuel use. If you decide mid-trek to add a weeklong detour loop, you just buy more alcohol. With Esbit you're kinda screwed at that point. I also like how cleanly alcohol burns - no sticky pot bottom from Esbits or woodfire.

BUSHBUDDY: My current go-to stove. For me the BB is all about aesthetics and flexibility rather than efficiency. I consistently find that cooking with the BB takes much longer than white gas, alcohol, or Esbit, so if you're a high-mileage maximum-efficiency freak, I don't recommend it. I love the process of gathering wood, breaking it into small pieces, laying and lighting the fire, and stoking it later for a second cuppa after dinner. I love that it continues to simmer for hours so you can warm your hands over it. I love that fuel planning is a non-issue so you can drink as many cups of hot tea as you want without worrying that you won't be able to cook tomorrow's dinner.

Happy Cooking,
David Longwalker

David Long

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Re: Esbit or Alcohol or Bush Buddy? on 01/24/2008 15:10:40 MST Print View

Ken, one other thing about cooking under a tarp: I used a Gatewood Cape poncho-tarp this summer with my BushBuddy and never had problems cooking. I just set the BB outside the door while I sit inside under the cover of the tarp. No flame problems at all on my 500 mile Colorado Trail hike with this gear combo. In heavy rain it would've been more problematic as I'd want to close the door but that would make it hard to access the stove. In this case, I'd hope for natural tree cover to partially shield the rain, and pitch the tarp close to tree trunk for easy access to stove while staying under the tarp.

Richard Nisley
(richard295) - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Re: Re: Re: Esbit or Alcohol or Bush Buddy? on 01/24/2008 16:35:59 MST Print View

Wouldn’t the Ti-Tri Caldera System, in wood burning mode, provide equivalent functionality to the Bush Buddy plus add alcohol and Esbit modes?

I am in the process of planning a multi-week pack raft / fishing trip for this summer. I would like to bake over wood and prepare freezer bag meals over alcohol. For baking, in wood mode, I would use three marble sized river rocks as bottom spacers between two titanium pots for the 20 minutes to 1/2 hour cook times required for large fish and bread. For freezer bag meals or morning coffee I would just use the alcohol mode.

Edited by richard295 on 01/25/2008 09:01:22 MST.

Kenneth Reppart
(kreppart) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Re: Re: Esbit or Alcohol or Bush Buddy? on 01/24/2008 17:55:09 MST Print View

That's a pretty sweet wind screen. How do you carry it?

It's good to know that the Bushbuddy will work near a tarp. I really like the idea of rolling over and lighting a stove to heat water while I'm still in my bag. I don't think the Bushbuddy is good for that since you have to stoke the fire.

Does the pot holder piece on the Bushbuddy play a role in combustion? If not it seems like you could make a big caldera cone to go over the bushbuddy. Then you would have a windscreen for both wood and esbit modes plus a stable potholder.

Richard I said before I think the Titanium Caldera is the most flexible option but the Bushbuddy is fully contained so it's non-scarring and is also a gassifier stove which means it burns hotter and more efficiently than an open fire. Unless someone comes up with a better way to integrate alcohol or Esbit burning into a Bushbuddy setup I'm waiting for the titanium caldera to come back into stock.

David Laurie
(bushwalker) - F

Locale: NSW Australia
Esbit or Alcohol ?? on 01/24/2008 23:39:13 MST Print View

I have both here - a couple of Esbits (which are cheap enough for everyone to have one..), and a Trangia metho' stove..

The Esbit is probably better for shorter and quicker trips; but I would prefer to take the Trangia for longer trips (though the Esbit could be small and light enough to take anywhere as a 'backup'..). The alcohol stove would be quicker to cook with, and cheaper to fuel over a few days - making up for any inconvenience from extra weight, or time setting up.

[ I also have an MSR multi-fuel stove, as well, which could be better for higher altitudes, colder temperatures, or international travel - but that's not part of this discussion..].

Joshua Mitchell
(jdmitch) - F

Locale: Kansas
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Esbit or Alcohol or Bush Buddy? on 01/25/2008 08:09:34 MST Print View

"Wouldn’t the Ti-Tri Caldera System, in wood burning mode, provide equivalent functionality to the Bush Buddy plus add alcohol and Esbit modes?"

Yup. I have it, and love it.

Oh, and to the next guy in line (BPL doesn't do multi-replies easy), there are a number of things you can do to prevent / reduce scarring with the Tri-Ti. I've listed them in order of lowest added weight to highest...

1) Only use the woodburning mode in previously established fire rings (TT won't add to an already scarred spot unlike a roaring bonfire)
2) Find a large-ish loose rock, flip it over put the TT on it, flip it back.
3) Put something under the TT. A SP Ti Plate seems about the right size and is cheap. One or two layers of ti (or SS if you can find it) would be lighter but more expensive (however is the way I intend on going).

The cat's meow would be doing #3 in conjuction with one of the other two...

Monty Montana
(TarasBulba) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Esbit or Alcohol? on 01/25/2008 12:07:14 MST Print View

I have several different stoves (esbit, alcohol, gas canister, multi-fuel & wood gassifier) and I find that I don't really have a favorite, because I let the hike determine the stove that I take. On a warm, lazy summer weekend I don't mind the slower esbit, alcohol or gassifier (homemade from a Heineken beer can), and enjoy the light weight. On the other hand, when the weather is going to be dicy or I'm going to high elevation I prefer the heavier gas stoves and enjoy the reliability.

Mark Daskilewicz
(markdask) - F

Locale: South Jersey
Esbit on 01/25/2008 17:58:04 MST Print View

How do you guys get the Esbit to boil water so fast? Are you using several tabs at a time?
It takes me about 15 minutes (or almost the entire tab) to boil 1.5 cups of H2O for a Mountain House meal.
My tin can stove, i.e., esbit and pot holder, aluminum windscreen and small metal tongs (to hold the esbit while lighting) weighs 5 oz.
Esbit stove & MSR Ti pot
10 Esbit tabs also weigh 5 oz.
If you blow hard enough you can extinguish the esbit like blowing out a candle.

Monty Montana
(TarasBulba) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: Esbit on 01/28/2008 23:01:32 MST Print View

Hi, Mark. The intensity of the Esbit burn can be increased by breaking up the tab, which increases the surface area. There are a couple of downsides to this , however. One is that to do so you'll have to handle the tab, and they have been known to cause a skin irritation. Another is that the level of CO produced goes up, so you don't want to do this in an enclosed space.

Looking at your stove with its few and small air inlets, I'm guessing that part of the reason for your 15 minute boil time is just plain lack of air. I use the BPL Ti "spider" stove (with a windscreen) and achieve a 10 minute boil for my two cups of water using an unbroken tab. Check out the thread: Stoves, Tents and Carbon Monoxide, Pt 5: solid fuels.

Gustav Bostrom
(gusbo) - MLife

Locale: Scandinavia
Bushbuddy as an Esbit stove using alfoil under potholder on 05/15/2008 14:31:09 MDT Print View

I posted a question on a Swedish outdoor forum (
to see if anyone had used the Bushbuddy in the Scandinavian mountains. A Norwegian gentleman (Harald) responded that he had used the Bushbuddy as his only stove for two years now. He also provided the following useful information:

He uses the Bushbuddy with Esbit tablets as a backup using aluminuimfoil under the potholder. He reported that the efficiency was decreased and he needed four esbits to boil a liter of water. This might be because the distance to the pot was too large. Still, this could be acceptable as a backup solution.

I'm thinking that it should be an easy project to construct a wire esbit grate or holder that could be used with the bushbuddy with more efficiency.
Has anybody tried?

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Esbit in BushBuddy on 05/18/2008 13:55:51 MDT Print View

The Gram Cracker Esbit stand by Trail Designs works perfectly in the BushBuddy. You don't really even need the extra 'wings' so it only adds ~1.5 grams weight and makes a perfect backup.