Rating: 5 / 5
I read about the Esbit stove system here at BPL and a few other ultra-light websites. Some raved about it but I was skeptical. I purchased an Esbit stove and several packs of the official Esbit brand fuel cartridges and tried to see if it would "really bring a pint of water to a rolling boil in eight minutes" as is advertised on the box.
I was HIGHLY skeptical of this claim! I admit I didnt believe it...I figured this system would bring the water to a hot simmer or a point right under the boiling point...a lot like Sterno.
Needless to say, I ended up eating crow. This system works well. I am impressed.
I first tried to boil 2 cups of water by doing something I read about here at BPL. Take an Esbit cartridge, flip a Vargo titanium alcohol stove upside down and place the cartridge on the flat side of the Vargo alcohol stove. Light it. Then I placed an aluminum GI issue canteen cup full of exactly two cups of cold water on the stove. The canteen cup was covered with aluminum foil to try to retain heat and speed boil time.
It didnt work. The Vargo alcohol stove/Esbit cartridge combo brought the water to a hot simmer. The water was hot and could have been used to make instant oatmeal, but it failed to bring the water to a rolling boil.
I then tried it with the official Esbit stove. I opened the lightweight steel stove all the way, placed an Esbit cartridge on the surface and lit. Then I placed my aluminum canteen cup, covered with aluminum foil to retain heat, on the Esbit stove.
After approximately eight or nine minutes, the water actually began to vigorously boil! I was very impressed.
I could see this stove system being used on lightweight and ultra-light trips. It is extremely simple, lightweight and reliable with nothing to screw in, no priming, no having to worry if its cold out, etc.
This is a KISS or Keep It Simple Stupid stove system that works if your cooking needs are simply to boil small amounts of water to add to dehydrated or freeze dried foods. Or make a cup of cowboy coffee on the trail on a wet, cold blustery day.
These Esbit cartridges could also easily double as emergency fire starters on rainy days in the backcountry.
The one thing I found out is that the water will not boil if you dont keep a lid on the pot. You have to do that in order to get a vigorous boil.
Also, stick to the German made official Esbit stove and avoid using the Esbit cartridges with the Vargo titanium aluminum stove system.
I tested this stove in cold weather by the way, not warm weather. All the more reason I was impressed.