Hike N' Light Alcohol Stove REVIEW

Product performance review of the Hike N' Light Alcohol Stove, a lightweight alcohol stove for backpacking.

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by Ralph Thornton | 2005-03-22 03:00:00-07

Overview

Hike N Lite Alcohol Stove - 1
The Hike N' Light alcohol stove assembled and ready to light. The scratches on top are from removing and replacing the three pot support clips.

The Hike N' Light alcohol stove is simple and boils a small amount of water quickly. There are no adjustments, it's either on or off, and burn time is controlled by how much fuel is added prior to ignition. The clips that hold the stove together and form the pot stand extend under the stove and make this stove very wobbly. It worked OK with small/light pots, but when heating a 1.5-liter pot of water, the pot fell off the stove! With its large burner and large jets, this stove produces a mini-bonfire without a windscreen. With some practice, a windscreen can be used to control combustion air and damper it down. Overall, this stove is suitable for solo use, but lacks the stability needed to handle larger/heavier pots.

Specifications

• Stove ID

Hike N' Light

• Stove Type

Closed jet

• Components Reviewed

Alcohol burner, preheat pan, pot stand (3 clips)

• Dimensions

Preheat pan: 5 in (13 cm) diameter, burner: 4 in diameter x 1.25 in high (10 x 3 cm)

• Weight

Backpacking Light measured and manufacturer claimed weight: 4.0 oz (113 g)

• MSRP

$14.99 Manufacturer's suggested retail price

• Manufacturer Contact Information

Hike N' Light Inc.

Usable Features

Hike N Lite Alcohol Stove - 2

The Hike N' Light alcohol stove works fine with smaller pots, but is unstable with larger pots.

Hike N Lite Alcohol Stove - 3
The pot support clips extend under the burner, making it very unstable.

Design - The Hike N' Light alcohol burner is a 4-inch tin with holes in the lid. The two halves of the tin are held together with steel clips that form the pot stand. The burner sits on a 5-inch base that serves as a pre-heating tray. Once the bottom of the burner is filled with fuel, the lid is replaced and the three clips are installed to create the pot support. The assembled stove is placed on the base and 2 tablespoons of fuel are added to the base and ignited. This heats the stove's fuel reservoir and vaporizes the fuel, which flows out of the stove's nine jets under pressure and burns as it exits.

Weight - This stove is heavy by alcohol stove standards. Total weight is 4.0 ounces. It is definitely a minimalist stove and the only way to make it lighter would be to use a smaller tin or lighter metals.

Flame Control - None provided. Once pre-heated and ignited, this stove burns until all of the fuel is consumed.

Pot Support - The pot support consists of three steel clips. Unfortunately, the design of these clips does not produce a stable pot stand. A small 0.75-liter pot was noticeably tipsy on this stove. When I tried a larger 1.5-liter pot it was so unstable that it fell off the pot stand while heating. I could not find a way to eliminate the stove's tendency to wobble. The stove was always wobbly and every pot wiggled on the pot stand. This stove is definitely suitable for small pots only.

Wind Protection - I followed the Hike N' Light instructions, which say to "wrap the stove and pot with a windscreen (not included) to minimize heat loss. Leave a small opening near the bottom of the foil for fresh air inlet." I constructed a simple aluminum foil windscreen and used it as per the stove's instructions.

Ease of Use

Setup - Setup time is a little longer than other alcohol stoves we reviewed. I did not like the process of removing the lid of the burner to pour alcohol inside, and then assembling the clips before the burner could be ignited. The clips do not attach smoothly and require some fiddling to get them arranged properly.

Fueling - It is more cumbersome to fuel this stove compared to an open jet alcohol stove. The burner's lid must be removed, the base filled with alcohol, then the pot support clips installed.

Priming and Ignition - Typical of closed jet stoves, the Hike N' Light requires priming - a lot of it. The instructions say to place 2 tablespoons of fuel in the priming pan. That's a lot of priming fuel; other stoves can boil a cup of water with that amount of fuel. I found the stove easy to prime in calm conditions, but susceptible to snuffing out in windy conditions.

Flame Adjustment - Stove burn time is regulated by the amount of fuel added prior to ignition. Without a windscreen, this stove produces a small bonfire, making it hazardous to reach a cookpot. I found that a windscreen (see photo) provides a way to limit combustion air and control the flame for more efficient cooking. Raise the windscreen to increase combustion air, and lower it (as shown) to reduce combustion air.

Cold Weather Ergonomics - The clips were hard to assemble under cold conditions while wearing gloves.

Cooking Systems - A windscreen (not included) is mandatory. While I made one of aluminum foil for testing purposes, a better windscreen for longer-term use could be made or purchased.

Cooking Performance

Hike N Lite Alcohol Stove - 4
Cooking setup for the Hike N' Light alcohol stove. This configuration (windscreen bottom resting on the ground) produces a lower flame level.

Capacity - The instability of the pot supports limits the capacity of this stove. The stove adequately heated 1 pint of water to boiling in a small titanium pot. It will heat larger volumes, but instability becomes a major issue with heavier pots. A larger pot containing 1.5 quarts of water was too heavy for this stove and tipped off the stand while heating.

If all you need to do is boil 2 cups of water, this stove will do the job. I would not recommend it for two or more people or for the more extreme conditions found in mountain environments. A windscreen is absolutely essential to obtain decent performance from the Hike N' Light stove.

Versatility - I found the Hike N' Light to burn too hot without a windscreen to restrict combustion air. With a little practice, a windscreen can be raised or lowered to provide some flame control. The configuration in the photo (minimal air intake) produces a low flame level. That said, I found it difficult to control the flame level enough to do anything but boil water. When attempting to simmer something as simple as macaroni, I had to hold the pot above the stove when the flame was hot.

Wind Effects - The stove is very susceptible to windy conditions; use of a good windscreen with this stove is mandatory.

Cold Effects - The stove's efficiently was reduced under cold conditions.

Heating Efficiency

The manufacturer claims the most efficient fuel for the Hike N' Light alcohol stove is methanol. We used Kleen Strip S-L-X denatured alcohol - which is about half ethanol and half methanol - so our fuel usage was consistent among all the stoves we tested. The manufacturer claims you can boil 2 cups of water in 4 minutes with 1 ounce of fuel. We verified that claim in our lab tests (see table below). The Hike N' Light boil times were the fastest of all the stoves we tested. Our boil times were longer in the field; to get water at 55 °F to boiling required 5 minutes 29 seconds on average. Fuel consumption (including priming fuel) for the Hike N' Light was the highest of all the stoves we tested under optimal conditions, and among the highest under windy conditions.

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)
Hike N' Light3:5426.94:2737.3
Average of All Stoves Reviewed6:0915.78:2032.8

Durability

Packability - This stove collapses down to a small neat package. The pot stand clips can be stored inside the stove, which nests in its base. The base is 5 inches in diameter and easily nests inside a small pot that is just larger in diameter than that.

Durability - The stove is simple and fairly durable. Hard knocks on rocks might dent the stove, making it hard to open and keep airtight.

Maintenance - The only maintenance needed is to wipe the stove periodically to remove carbon. The manufacturer claims the stove is disposable and recyclable.

Value

In spite of its low cost ($14.99), the Hike N' Light alcohol stove is a poor value because of it cumbersome fueling process, poor pot stability, excessive flame size, and high fuel consumption.

Tips and Tricks

A pot about 5.5 inches in diameter and about 2.5 to 3 inches deep with a lid would maximize this stove's efficiency and permit nesting the stove inside.

Recommendations for Improvement

I would suggest that the manufacturer improve the clip system that forms the pot supports for the Hike N' Light. I played with these clips a lot but was never satisfied with how they attached. Perhaps some indents on the stove to guide the clips and a better clip design would solve the problem.

Also, this stove needs a better provision for flame control. Without a windscreen, it produces a mini-bonfire that threatens to burn hands or clothing. With a windscreen, some measure of flame control is possible, although the output is still erratic.


Citation

"Hike N' Light Alcohol Stove REVIEW," by Ralph Thornton. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/hike_n_light_alcohol_stove_review.html, 2005-03-22 03:00:00-07.

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