Rhino Alcohol Stove REVIEW

Product performance review of the Rhino Alcohol Stove, a lightweight alcohol stove for backpacking.

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by Will Rietveld | 2005-03-29 03:00:00-07

Overview

Rhino Alcohol Stove - 1

The Rhino alcohol stove is a minimalist, inexpensive alcohol stove. It comes with a simple hardware mesh pot stand and an aluminum foil windscreen. Although I had some problems with the windscreen interfering with stove performance and efficiency, this stove will perform adequately for simple cooking for one person. A sturdier and more functional windscreen would improve performance significantly.

Specifications

• Stove ID

Rhino Alcohol Stove

• Stove Type

Open jet

• Components Reviewed

Alcohol burner, pot stand, windscreen

• Dimensions, Weight

ComponentDimensions: height x diameter in (cm)Backpacking Light measured oz (g)Manufacturer claim oz (g)
Stove2.5 x 1.5 (6 x 4)0.36 (10)0.35 (10)
Pot stand3.0 x 2.6 (8 x 7)0.6 (17)-
Windscreen 6 H x 11.5 L (15 x 29)0.3 (9)-
Complete setup: burner + windscreen + pot stand-1.3 (38)-

• MSRP

$6 Manufacturer's suggested retail price

• Manufacturer Contact Information

Brian Cox, brian@big-rhino.com; sells on eBay under Backpacking Stoves category

Usable Features

Design - The Rhino alcohol stove is based on the Scott Henderson design. It uses an aluminum soda can burner with 32 irregular medium sized jets on the top edge. There is a taped joint on the side of the stove. The pot stand is made from 0.5-inch hardware cloth that hooks together at the ends. The windscreen is made from heavy-duty aluminum foil and measures 6 inches high x 15.5 inches long. Using a 5.5-inch diameter pot, the windscreen extends to the top of the pot and does not completely encircle it. Since there are no air intake holes in the windscreen, combustion air must enter from the open side of the windscreen and exit around the pot.

Weight - The entire Rhino alcohol stove setup weighs 1.3 ounces - very light!

Flame Control - None. Use a pre-measured amount of alcohol and let it burn out.

Pot Support - The hardware cloth pot stand is simple, light, sturdy, and stable. Distance from the top of the burner to the bottom of the pot is 1.2 inches.

Wind Protection - The aluminum foil windscreen is very light and functional, but it does not completely enclose the stove and provide access for combustion air from the bottom of the windscreen.

Ease of Use

Setup - Setting up the stove involves fueling the alcohol burner, setting the pot stand over the burner, lighting the burner, placing the cookpot on the pot stand, and setting the windscreen in place. Time required is about 1-2 minutes.

Fueling - This open jet stove is very easy to fuel - simply pour alcohol into the open well.

Priming and Ignition - No priming is needed, just light a match and hold it over the stove. It lights with a "puff" and stays lit. Warm up time depends on air and fuel temperature.

Flame Adjustment - No simmer ring or extinguishing ring is provided, so there is no control over the flame. The best approach is to estimate and measure the amount of fuel needed and let the stove burn out.

Cold Weather Ergonomics - This stove is very simple, and easy to set up with gloved hands.

Cooking Systems - The Rhino alcohol stove is a simple, bare bones cooking system, sans pot. Unfortunately, the components do not work very well together, and the problem seems to be with the windscreen. The windscreen surrounds about two-thirds of the stove, and if placed close to the stove, it causes crosscurrents and turbulence behind it that interfere with stove performance and efficiency.

Cooking Performance

I used the Rhino alcohol stove on three backpacking trips in the Southern Colorado Rockies under cool, breezy conditions.

Capacity - The stove easily cooked for one person using a 0.9-liter cookpot. The alcohol burner itself has enough fuel capacity to cook for two people, but using a larger pot on the Rhino's narrow pot stand is a balancing act.

Rhino Alcohol Stove - 2
The Rhino alcohol stove cooking cereal on a calm morning

Versatility - The Rhino alcohol stove melts snow and boils the melt water, but it is not an easy task for this stove. The Rhino is more suitable for boiling water and simple boil and set meals. There is no simmer ring to lower the flame level for more complex cooking.

Wind Effects - The Rhino alcohol stove did not perform well in our lab wind tests, with strong lateral wind currents and turbulence behind the windscreen. In breezy conditions in the field, I found that locating the windscreen 6-8 inches away from the stove helped to reduce the crosscurrents and turbulence.

Cold Effects - On a 37 °F morning in the field, I needed to warm the stove (with fuel) in my hands for 30 seconds before it would light. Once lit, the stove took an extra minute to reach operating temperature, then performed normally.

Heating Efficiency

The Rhino alcohol stove was one of the worst performing stoves in the Backpacking Light lab tests. The problem seems to be with its windscreen, as explained above. Under optimal conditions, the stove has air flow problems with inadequate combustion air and cross currents carrying the heat away from the pot. In windy conditions, this problem was accentuated, with the flame bending sideways inside the windscreen!

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)
Rhino7:1318.013:3248.1
Average of All Stoves Reviewed6:0915.78:2032.8

Durability

Packability - The stove components compact to a small size and fit easily inside a small cookpot.

Durability - By itself the stove setup is susceptible to damage in a backpack, but packed inside a cookpot it will hold up well for long-term use. The aluminum foil windscreen is very lightweight, but not very durable.

Maintenance - None required.

Value

I like the Rhino alcohol stove's simplicity and low price, but the workmanship, while serviceable, does not evidence the pride in construction of many of the other stoves in our test. The Rhino did not perform well in our lab tests; with a better windscreen design, the Rhino Stove would probably perform similarly to the other stoves we reviewed.

Tips and Tricks

Ditch the windscreen and make your own. The best windscreen design seems to be one that encircles the pot with about a 0.5-inch gap around the pot with air intake ports near the bottom. This type of windscreen is lightweight and will roll up for easy packing.

Recommendations for Improvement

Backpacking Light supports the development of cooking systems - making available a complete system that is optimized for maximum efficiency. The Rhino Stove makes a good start, but needs some more R&D to improve its performance. My suggestions for improvement are:

  • Use fewer jets or smaller jets that are more uniform.
  • Develop a more efficient windscreen design.
  • Offer a complete cooking system that adds devices for flame control and a cookpot that will contain the entire system.

Citation

"Rhino Alcohol Stove REVIEW," by Will Rietveld. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/rhino_alcohol_stove_review.html, 2005-03-29 03:00:00-07.

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