I just got a new stove (Vargo Titanium) and got curious about how efficient that little thing really is. On long hikes, the weight of the fuel is much more than that of that stove, possibly negating all the weight savings on the stove.
The comparison stove I have is my "luxury" Snow Peak Gigapower BF stove , which worked very well last summer, however, it weighs 3.5 times as much as the Vargo...
first test was to see how fast each would boil 1 Liter of water. Water temp was out of the faucet, pot was a Montbell Titanium 1.5L, wich is pretty large diameter. Conditions - outside 40F, slight breeze, both stoves shielded from the wind with some carboard. Fuel - started with a fresh 110g Snow Peak canister. To measure fuel use, I put the canister on a small postal scale between runs.
Results 1 Liter, 100% output
Snow Peak: 5 min 30 sec fuel not measured
Vargo: 6 min 10 sec fuel not measured
this is when I got curious about how many meals I can make with either for each canister of fuel carried. My usual meals are about 20oz of fluid (3 eaters, larger than the usual 2 person freeze dried meals taking 16oz). Also, 20oz makes about three cups of warm coffee or hot chocloate.
Test 1 at FULL throttle on each stove
Snow Peak: 3 min 15 sec 8.6g fuel
Vargo: 3 min 50 sec 9.7g fuel
Given both stoves were sputtering pretty wildly, I figured this may not be as efficient as turning down the flame to a medium level. So another run at half throttle:
Gigapower: 5 min 0 sec 8.9g fuel
Vargo: 6 min 5 sec, 8.8g of fuel
Bottom line - the Vargo works about 10% more efficiently at my current settings and water temp if used at a lower setting. The gigapower is efficient either way, but the weight difference between the two units (220g) gets me a full extra fuel canister into the pack, which allows for twelve extra 20oz pots to be heated on the Vargo. The efficiency differences are minor.
The Snow Peak shines in stability (the pot support is 4-pronged and almost twice as wide as the Vargo, plus the center of gravity is very low. Spills are virtually impossible unless you are a total klutz. It also is more resistant to wind if used without a shield, and it's simmer mode can be adjusted better. However, if you don't simmer anything, this is unimportant.
I think the Snow Peak will become my camping stove for now, and only go on a big hike if there's a really large pot involved.
Regarding fuel use of the Vargo, the difference between full blast output and a lower setting is minor, while the cook time increases significantly. I guess I'll just be running it on high, now that I know I won't really be saving any fuel by bringing water to a boil more slowly.