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Alcohol stoves
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Chad Miller

Locale: Duluth, Minnesota
Alcohol stoves on 08/01/2007 10:12:16 MDT Print View

Well I've decided to take the plunge and start using an alcohol stove in order to lighten up my pack weight. I will primarily use the stove for weekend trips between 2-3 days.

I was hoping some of you could give me some recommendations on a few good alcohol stoves / pot combinations that you enjoy using. Thanks for you help!

Glenn Roberts
(garkjr) - F

Locale: Southwestern Ohio
Not the lightest alcohol stove, but... on 08/01/2007 10:25:35 MDT Print View

My favorite is the Trangia burner with a Clikstand base. It's not the lightest one out there (stove, plus base, plus a .9L Evernew pot, weighs 12 ounces.) However, it's very efficient (actually seems to burn hotter in a wind), very stable, and the Trangia burner can be blown out with the unburned fuel stored inside the stove (a lid to seal it). This makes it unnecessary to calculate and measure exactly the amount of fuel you need (or have to burn off the excess, wasting it.)

I wish Ursa Design made it in titanium instead of stainless steel - it would save a few ounces, at least. The manufacturer says you can also use other alcohol stoves inside the stand, but they might not fit just right.

All in all, I really like this kitchen.

Theodore Vidnovic
(vidnovic) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Alcohol Stoves on 08/01/2007 10:38:25 MDT Print View

Check out

Tinny makes alcohol stoves for just about all types of cooking, from esbit replacement to slow simmer stoves. For freezer bag cooking, I use the ssbit stove, hardware cloth pot stand, heiny can pot, and an aluminum wind screen (from a flimsy grocery store cookie sheet). Total weight ~3 oz. As far as cooking food in a pot, I use a nion #2, hardware cloth pot stand, walmart grease pot, and a similar aluminum wind screen. This kit is ~6 oz and with the addition of a very small (albeit heavy) spring form pan that nestles in the grease pot, I can even bake biscuits, pizza, cinnamon rolls, and the like.

John Kays
(johnk) - M

Locale: SoCal
Vargo Titanium Decagon Alcohol Stove on 08/01/2007 10:42:07 MDT Print View

Has anyone tried this one sold here at BPL? I would like to see a review of it and haven't found one yet in the local reveiws. It looks interesting and simple with the pot stand designed into the stove. I have never come up with a satisfactory stand to go with my soda and V-8 can stoves.

Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Super Cat Stove on 08/01/2007 10:52:34 MDT Print View

I went down this road a few years ago, and found this one to be very simple to build with excellent results.

I used it with an MSR Titan Kettle.

I have since gone to Wood Burning stoves (maybe something else for you to look into) as the "no fuel" weight savings is worth the longer wait time to boil water. My DIY wood stove weighs in at 1.9 oz.

Good luck!

Scott White
(sdwhitey) - F

Locale: Smoky Mountains
Alcohol stoves on 08/01/2007 11:03:28 MDT Print View


I like the Jim Wood's Super Cat Stove. It super cheap and super easy to make. All you need is an empty can of cat food and a simple paper hole punch. has a template for the holes that you can print off and tape to the can while you are making it.

Another advantage of the stove is that it serves as its own pot stand. That simplifies your kit and saves weight.

This stove works well with a snow peak trek 900 ti pot:

only 3.7 oz after replacing the stock fry pan/lid with a homemade foil lid

Or the snow peak ti bowl (my favorite option):

only 1.9 oz with homemade foil lid

Edited by sdwhitey on 08/01/2007 11:05:19 MDT.

Richard Matthews
(food) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Alcohol stoves on 08/01/2007 11:06:11 MDT Print View

Caldera Cone stove with 3 cup anodized antigravity gear pot. The carry problem is solved because this model will fit into a 4 cup ZipLock screw on top container. No scientific tests, but this stove is very fuel efficient in the real world. Very stable.

Steve .
(pappekak) - F

Locale: Tralfamadore
Re: Alcohol stoves on 08/01/2007 11:47:10 MDT Print View

If you just boil water then try the Tea Light stove. Cheap, light, and works well.

Gail Lusk
(AlohaTink) - F

Locale: In the Middle of No Where!
Caldera Cone Stove System on 08/01/2007 12:49:57 MDT Print View

I have made a few Alcohol stoves and my Super Cat is fine but cannot begin to compare to the Caldera Cone Stove.
I have a true hot rolling boil with 2 1/2 to 3 cups of water on only 1/2 ounce of alcohol and it never fails.

Most of my other alcohol stoves are always failing on me, either running out of fuel too soon, cook too hot, problems with the windscreens, or they just heat the water.
Of course this could all be operator

Caldera Cone 2.9 oz for the large 2 qt pot, remember you order this system to fit your cooking pot :D

Chad Miller

Locale: Duluth, Minnesota
Bushbuddy or Caldera Cone? on 08/01/2007 13:48:13 MDT Print View

Thanks for all your input on the stoves. Right now I'm leaning for the Caldera Cone and stove.

Just out of curiosity those of you who have used the Bushbuddy Ultra, how did you like it? The website says you have to use completely dry wood and while thin sticks will work it performs best with larger pieces of wood (1" diam). It sounds like the stove could be a bit finicky to use, it that so?

Kathleen B

Locale: Pacific Northwest
alcohol stoves on 08/01/2007 13:54:24 MDT Print View

Interesting you should ask this question today. I spent yesterday evening testing 4 stoves while listening to the final cd disks of the latest Harry Potter book. My test water for all 4 stoves had been in the refrigerator all day to simulate cold mountain streams. I used 2 cups in an antigravity gear 3 cup anodized aluminum pot. I used 1 oz. of HEET - yellow bottle - for the fuel. I have used the MBD Elite for several years and really like it. It's bare bones and no moving parts. Pour alcohol in, put on pot, and wait. If the flames go out right after putting the pot on, I've learned to hold the pot (usually full of very cold water from a glacier-melt stream) above the stove a few seconds to take off the chill. I have successfully baked biscuits with the Elite. Boil time was about 7 minutes. Next I tried the MiniSith. It seemed to have more oomph with the same amount of fuel and boiled the water quicker (5 minutes). Neither stove needs a potstand. Then I moved on to the SSbit with a potstand and Heinekin pot. It's slower than the other 2 by a few minutes, but, as Tinny says, what's the hurry? It's main feature is it can use a narrow pot like the Heinekin, whereas the other 2 need a broader pot for the side-jetted flames. Then lastly I tried Tinny's new Blackfly. It is a different animal altogether. Check his website for a description and short video. It took a half hour to boil water on its high setting. The Blackfly has its place for adjustable temperatures and slow cooking. My reaction to the stoves is that I will continue to use the Elite in the summer (12 g) and use the MiniSith in the winter (23 g), because it seems like it will tolerate cold conditions better. Why don't I just go with the MiniSith year 'round? I don't know!

Richard Matthews
(food) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Bushbuddy or Caldera Cone? on 08/01/2007 14:52:30 MDT Print View

I have a Bushbuddy and have used it for day hikes.

Finally there is a way to maintain fire building skills without scorching the planet.

No carried fuel, but I still carry enough ESBIT tablets for emergencies.


Needs nearly continous tending.

Difficult to break wood the right length to fit into the chamber.

It will not burn green wood very well.

It does burn wet wood, but the wood is too limber to break well.


A fun stove, but does not fit my style.

Rand Lindsly
(randlindsly) - MLife

Locale: Yosemite
Re: Bushbuddy or Caldera Cone? on 08/01/2007 20:29:03 MDT Print View


First....thanks again for all the support for the Caldera System. It does not go unnoticed!

Second.....I try not to jump into the threads too often unless there is a specific question that Trail Designs needs to answer. I definitely don't like dropping in and pushing our gear.....just feels tacky.....however...I need to make an exception this one time. I beg your indulgence.


I wanted to contact you directly, but it doesn't appear that there's an email address linked to your profile so I was unsure how other than posting here. You mentioned that you were leaning toward the Caldera System....but were also interested in a wood burner. Well....Trail Designs has been working with the good folks at Titanium Goat to put together a titanium cone system we will be calling the Ti-Tri (titanium + 3 fuel (alcohol, esbit, wood)). We have the blanks cut now, and should be finishing them up shortly. The first offering will have the normal Caldera gear plus an esbit kit, stakes to hold the pot up and turn it into a wood burner, a titanium cone, bag and a 900ml titanium pot. It's going to be a little pricier, and we are going to have limited quantities this first time out in order to test the market. But...just in case it made a difference, I thought I would bring it to your attention. Here are a couple of the product shots.

Rand :-)

Caldera Ti-Tri Kit
Caldera Ti-Tri in Wood Burner Mode

Edited by randlindsly on 08/02/2007 00:34:50 MDT.

Brett .
(Brett1234) - F

Locale: CA
Chad; Alcohol for a short trip? Caldera Cone on 08/01/2007 20:59:08 MDT Print View

Chad, This is a repeat of a post on another subject, but consider the Caldera Cones for an integreated pot support and windscreen. I gave up on the 'Jenga stack' of alcohol components like beer cans and mesh holders; the Cone is only one piece, and very stable.

For short trips, the low weight of the alcohol hardware items keep the total weight down. But at some point the larger volume of fuel will make it actually heavier than competitors. My alcohol setup is a Trail Designs soda can stove/Snowpeak Trek900pot&cup/Caldera Cone/BPL long handled Ti spoon x2

Which setup I consider depends on the number of meals, since the fuel x efficiency leads to different starting weights, as shown here:
cook system weights

You can read the 'base weight' of each system at the left hand side of each line (I forgot to say on the graph title, weights are in grams) Since esbit is the weight equivalent of alcohol I do not carry it except as a backup, due to the residue.

I ususally use commercial cook in a bag type meals, supplimented with cans of meat, couscous, and spices.

And the Titanium cone shown above looks even more versitile. I'd like to try it but I think my aluminum cones would melt!

Edited by Brett1234 on 08/02/2007 21:26:57 MDT.

Tony Beasley
(tbeasley) - MLife

Locale: Pigeon House Mt from the Castle
re: Re: Bushbuddy or Caldera Cone? on 08/01/2007 21:52:13 MDT Print View

Hi Rand,

What is the weight of the Ti cone in the picture compared to the same size Aluminium cone version.


Kathleen B

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Fuel Comparison Chart on 08/01/2007 22:23:17 MDT Print View

Brett - if I'm reading your chart correctly, it looks like the break-even point for carrying alcohol fuel v. a gigapower cannister is about 11 or 12 uses of the system. Or did I get it wrong? The alcohol stoves are extremely light, but using 1 oz. of fuel for each cooking session can really detract from the weight savings at some point, which I've never figured out.

Rand Lindsly
(randlindsly) - MLife

Locale: Yosemite
Re: re: Re: Bushbuddy or Caldera Cone? on 08/01/2007 23:29:28 MDT Print View


You gotta figure that the weights are the same. The Ti-Tri cone weighs 1.4oz and is made from .005" titanium while the aluminum we use is .0075" thick. Aluminum is lighter than titanium...but there is more of it. When we build the aluminum version I'll let you know exactly.

The real win is the weight savings realized by having wood as a fuel option. You'll make up any al vs ti weight difference in one burn.


As for the alcohol might want to figure closer to 1/2 oz...or more like 14 grams for each event.....assuming you are using the Caldera that is!

Rand :-)

Edited by randlindsly on 08/02/2007 16:19:10 MDT.

Joshua Mitchell
(jdmitch) - F

Locale: Kansas
Ti Caldera? WOOHOO *happy dance* on 08/02/2007 07:36:38 MDT Print View


First - Check you're email... I want one...

Second - Is that 900 mL pot similar to the one offered by brasslite?

Third - Have you guys found any 'minimum' size that makes it hard to maintain a woodfire? Is there another reason why you started with the 900 mL size?

Fourth - So, this initial offering will be the entire kit?

Fifth - uhh... I got so excited, I forgot what I was gonna say... oooh... I rememberd... That pic appears to have it with more air holes than the 'updated' calderas, is that true?

Sixth - How well that that whole kit nest together (or does it)?

Last - Check your email, I want one...

Edited by jdmitch on 08/02/2007 07:39:17 MDT.

Chad Miller

Locale: Duluth, Minnesota
Caldera wood burnig stove on 08/02/2007 07:52:47 MDT Print View


Thanks for the information about the stove Rand! I am definitely going with a Caldera stove. Right now I think I'll just go with an alcohol stove and cone (900ml pot). Once you get the wood burning option up and running I'll look into that one.

Thank you so much for your help!

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Weight isn't everything :-o on 08/02/2007 08:10:12 MDT Print View

Let me commit a sacrilege and say that weight isn't everything. Convenience, reliablity, and fuel availabilty have to ummm... weigh in somewhere. Looking at that chart, there are no huge differences, particularly for a weekend trip. I can see where thru-hikers would be looking closer.

I love the quick heat from a butane stove, especially when cooking for a group and you need large amounts of hot water. The cannisters make it easy for everyone to carry a share of the fuel too. The old cans are an environmental concern.

Esbit stoves are so simple-- and slow, and smelly, and the residue, and the fuel is a little harder to find. It's stable and doesn't leak in your pack. You can build a stove with some aluminum flashing and a couple tent stakes and a cat food can. Or you can buy the Esbit 3oz folding stove for a few dollars (BPL has a bunch). You can even fake it with a few rocks and some tin foil. Best of all, Esbit tabs are great fire starters in an emergency. I carry a couple regardless of the stove/fuel combo I'm using.

Alcohol is pretty good for short solo trips. The stoves are light and reliable and you can build your own too. Just about every hardware store in the US has fuel. Alcohol can be used for emergency fire starting, but it won't get wet wood going the way an Esbit tab will. Alcohol can leak, but it dries fast and doesn't do much if any damage (other than having no fuel). You do need to watch the flames as they can't be seen well in daylight.

BTW, I got one of the Brasslite Turbo II F stoves on sale with one of the 600ml pots and made my own windscreen/pot stand/Esbit combo to go with it and I'm delighted. The stove works better than any of the other alcohol stives I've tried-- several pop can rigs and the Trangia burner.

My $0.02!

Edited by dwambaugh on 08/02/2007 08:14:02 MDT.