by Will Rietveld | 2005-07-05 03:00:00-06
Super-ultralight backpackers and thru hikers take notice - the Ion Stove at 0.83 ounce (my measurement) is quite likely the lightest alcohol stove available for purchase. The kit includes the burner, pot stand, heat reflector, and windscreen. It is a complete cooking system (sans pot) at less than one ounce!
The Ion stove is strictly a solo stove intended for boiling water to make simple meals. So don’t expect it to cook for two people or prepare complex meals.
The Ion is a miser beyond its weight. To my knowledge, it is the most fuel efficient stove available. The Ion is claimed to boil a pint of water with as little as 0.3 to 0.4 ounce (10-12 ml) of alcohol, which I verified at 0.37 ounce (10.4 grams). At that rate a few ounces of alcohol will go a long way on a thru hike!
The downside of the Ion’s superb fuel efficiency is its extended boil time. Although the Ion has a claimed boil time under optimal conditions of 8:30 (minutes:seconds), my test time was 15:48. It should be emphasized that the Ion was designed to maximize fuel efficiency, and the longer boil time is the tradeoff for fuel savings. This factor should be taken into account when considering the Ion Stove. Personally, I light my alcohol stove, then go about camp chores until my water is boiling. So boil time does not matter that much to me.
Besides its low weight and high fuel efficiency, another notable feature of the Ion Stove is its “TiPod” pot stand. As the name implies, the 3-piece assembly is made of sheet titanium. That’s right, a titanium pot stand that is very strong and weighs only 0.2 ounce.
The 3 inch x 24 inch windscreen is made of thin aluminum, the type that is used for disposable roaster pans. It is a bit stiff, but durable. A nice feature of the windscreen is that it is adjustable for pot diameter, just open it to the desired diameter and secure it with a paper clip. The heat reflector is simple aluminum foil.
I field tested the Ion Stove on a 5-day backpacking trip in Northern Arizona with fellow BPL editors Jay Ham and Carol Crooker. We were impressed with the Ion’s miniscule size and weight, and the TiPod pot stand. However, we noted two issues with the Ion. The first is the extended boil time. The stove starts out slowly, then speeds up. In a strong breeze I recorded boil times in the 20 minute range. We all felt that the Ion is slower than we would like, especially in the morning when we are anxious to get on the trail.
Our second issue was the lack of support from the thin aluminum foil heat reflector on sandy soils. The weight of a filled cook pot punched the foil into the sand and created an unstable situation. I would prefer a heat reflector made of the same sheet aluminum as the windscreen.
My reasons for liking the Ion Stove are its extreme light weight, excellent fuel efficiency, and innovative titanium pot stand. The downside is its extended boil time. The latter is an issue for some people and moot for others. I understand the manufacturer is working on another version of the Ion that balances boil time and fuel efficiency.
"Ion Alcohol Stove SPOTLITE REVIEW ," by Will Rietveld. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/sgt_rock_ion_alcohol_stove_spotlite_review.html, 2005-07-05 03:00:00-06.