M Performance Comparison Testing of Lightweight Alcohol Stoves
by Will Rietveld
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Alcohol fueled backpacking stoves are simpler, quieter, lighter, cheaper, and more reliable than canister and white gas stoves, but many people don't take them seriously! Sure alcohol fuel has half the energy of canister stove fuel or white gas, and alcohol stoves aren't blow torches with super fast boil times; but there's a lot to like about alcohol stoves, especially if you're concerned about pack weight, fuel availability, or your budget, and you don't need to melt snow.
Alcohol stoves are simple, but the heat transfer process is not. The complexity (and challenge) lies in getting complete combustion, directing the flames to the pot, getting efficient heat transfer to the pot, and minimizing the effects of wind and other heat losses. In this article, we report results and observations after conducting hundreds of standardized tests on 17 alcohol stoves. We tested commercially available stoves including representatives from each of the alcohol burner types - Open Flame, Open Jet, and Closed Jet. Some of our results were surprising, and others confirmed our hunches.
- Open Flame Alcohol Burner
- Open Jet Alcohol Burner
- Closed Jet Alcohol Burner
- Testing Goals
- Selection Criteria
- Stoves Tested
- Advanced Mountain Products Alumilite Stove Set
- AntiGravityGear Mama's Kitchen Deluxe Set
- Brasslite Turbo II-D
- Brookside Crafts
- Cat Stove
- Clikstand S-1
- Etowah Outfitters Etowah II
- Etowah Outfitters Solid Fuel Stove with Alcohol Burner
- Hike N’ Light
- Rhino Stove
- ThermoJet MicroLite
- Liberty Mountain Westwind
- Turbo V8
- Vargo Triad Titanium
- Stove Testing Procedure
- General Observations
- Supporting Data: Boil Time
- Table 1: Boil times with a windscreen under optimal and windy conditions
- Figure 1: Heating Rate – Optimal Conditions
- Figure 2: : Heating Rate – Windy Conditions
- Supporting Data: Fuel Consumption
- Table 2: Fuel Consumption under optimal and windy conditions
- Figure 3: Fuel Consumption in Calm and Windy Conditions
- Best Performing Stoves
- Table 3: Analysis of stove performance based on fast boil time and low fuel consumption
- Postscript: The Difference is in the Windscreen
- Table 4: Windscreen Effects: Test of three stoves with four different windscreens under windy conditions
WORD COUNT: 4,400
# PHOTOS: 5
# GRAPHS: 3
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