playing around with Esbit

Discussion in 'Backpacking' started by mtwarden, Apr 12, 2019.

  1. mtwarden

    mtwarden roaming the Big Sky Supporter

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    I've used a variety of Esbit stoves over the years, but have gone back to canister stoves exclusively, just due to the convenience. With this year's Bob Marshall coming up soon, I thought I'd break out my Esbit stoves and see how they compare to the canister.

    The reason I'm even considering Esbit is due to the weight savings. While the Esbit stoves are certainly lighter (0.4-0.6 oz vs 3.1 oz), the real savings for a 3-ish day trip is in the fuel. A 100 gram (the amount of fuel) canister is 7.8 oz, with Esbit for a three day (two nights) trip you're looking at 3.0 oz (six Esbit cubes). All told, close to a 1/2 lb.

    [​IMG]

    I used 12 oz of water for my tests, as this is what I typical need for my supper (boil in a bag) and breakfast (hot cereal & coffee). I got the water out of my refrigerator, probably 40-ish degrees, to keep everything the same. Also I didn't want to bring the water to a full rolling boil (212F) as I don't in the field- takes longer and wastes fuel. Instead I brought it up to 180 degrees, small bubbles and steam coming off, which is plenty sufficient for my needs.

    The pot is a titanium 650 ml from Snow Peak (w/ a custom lid)

    First up was the little three legged stove, titanium and made by Esbit (0.4 oz). It took 8 minutes to get the temp up to 180 degrees.

    The other little stove has a little platform and a base that goes over it (0.6 oz), titanium as well. This stove was quicker at 7 minutes, probably due to the base focusing the flame more.

    The canister stove (Snow Peak Giga) was a blistering 3 minutes!

    I have some titanium foil and going to fashion a small windscreen (maybe 0.5 oz) and see if that further impacts the boil times.

    Clearly the canister stove is simpler and quicker, the reason I've gone back to it, but maybe a few minutes extra time is worth the weight savings????
     
  2. backlasher

    backlasher nothing to do and all day to do it in Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    This is what I use all the time now. https://www.amazon.com/Esbit-Stainl...&s=gateway&sprefix=Esbit+stove,aps,202&sr=8-6
    I have a cup of coffee and a pack of instant oatmeal for breakfast and a MH meal for dinner. I do it for convenience but the weight savings is nice too. It works very well most of the time (still need a wind break if it's stormy). This outfit includes the pot which makes it a winner over my Zebra pot. Good luck on your trek across the Bob.
     
  3. UAHiker

    UAHiker Supporter Supporter

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    I always struggle with that myself, the balance of weight vs convenience..... to me if you want to get on trail fast to get in miles then speed and convenience will probably win but then again you could use those extra minutes it takes to boil water to use setting up shelter and do the multitaskers thing and if you do that I'd probably lean towards weight saving.... each has their own pros and cons
     
  4. squishware

    squishware Troubleshooter

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    I tried real hard to like alcohol stoves when I first found BPL. If it is cold I want a reliably HOT blue flame and I am willing to take the weight hit for the MSR Pocket Rocket. Coffee is important.
     
  5. mtwarden

    mtwarden roaming the Big Sky Supporter

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    yeah there is something to be said about screwing on a canister, hitting the piezo and hearing the roaring of the stove knowing that in a few minutes you have hot water

    I've tried alcohol, wood (and Esbit) and have always gone back to gas :)

    we usually eat supper on the trail (6-ish) for a sit down break and much needed calories, a couple of minutes here wouldn't make much of a difference; in the morning like you said, a guy could be breaking down camp as the water heats

    I just read an interesting piece on Esbit, he evidently tested breaking the tab in half and turning them on their side (more surface area) and said it shaved a full minute over "boil" times- maybe that and a small windscreen could shave some additional time; going to experiment and see
     
  6. Gii shi kan dug

    Gii shi kan dug Guide

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    Not sure of effectiveness, but putting the square esbit tabs in a tea candle tin extends the burn time to almost 20 minutes
    Something to consider
     
  7. mtwarden

    mtwarden roaming the Big Sky Supporter

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    I've heard of folks being able to use a 1/2 square (0.25 oz) for a meal, my square were turned on their sides (but not broken in half)- I think that might have hastened the "boil" a little, but didn't do much for longevity- my squares were almost completely consumed (maybe a minute or two left).

    The gentlemen that suggested breaking the tabs in half for a quicker boil, also stated that Esbit burns hotter in the beginning and less so as times goes on- less fuel burning
     
  8. hidden_lion

    hidden_lion Supporter Supporter

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    I go to the woods to slow down and take it easy. Plenty of speed and rush in daily. I dont worry about an extra 5 mins to boil water. That said, I have just started messing with the cubes myself and find they are pretty decent. They dont spill, they dont make noise, and they cook for about 15-20 mins each. They so have a smell and leave a sooty residue, but that seems to wash off easy. They dont take up much space which I think is more of an advantage then weight savings. Another plus is the cubes are great for starting fires when its wet. Gas is convenient, that is why gas is used at home. The canisters also make a spectacular explosion when thrown into a fire, if you are into dangerous shenanigans. Looks awesome on video, but does throw shrapnel.
     
  9. J. Pierce

    J. Pierce Perpetually Off Topic, Sorry. Supporter

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    I've never used them, but I read that those Dragon Fire tablets things have a much faster boil time, but I don't know if they'll fit in that tray/pot support.
    And being bigger I would assume they may weigh more.
    But it might be another option if the time thing becomes a deal breaker, also I read they don't smell like sun baked salmon carcasses, so..... that's a plus, one would assume.
     
  10. DKR

    DKR Scout

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    The commercial (folding) type have a lot of problems as well. As this photos shows, most 'camping cups' will only work if the stove is partially folded - and thus very unstable. It only took losing one cup of irreplaceable coffee (in the field) to decide changes were in order.

    Please note the 'extra' items below the stove - this is the mod kit. The blue bag in the background is a folding wind screen for those times I am out on the hillside.
    [​IMG]


    A set of common bicycle spokes - cut and bent to shape will fit nicely in the little grooves found in the stove.
    [​IMG]

    A small "roofing repair square' from the local Home Depot was cut to fit as shown - additional support and also (Ta-Da) a rudimentary wind screen
    [​IMG]

    A canteen cup and a GSI 18 oz cup now sit in a very stable position - no more lost coffee.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    These modifications also help 'focus' the heat into the pot - here you can see the spokes glowing red-hot.
    [​IMG]


    Here is one of the rigs I use - a GSI Soloist pot 1.1 liter. It comes with a 'cup' that works well for oatmeal. More on this in a bit

    Please note the Esbit (14gr) tab in the stove. There are several (gross) ways to control the heat generated by the Esbit stove.
    1) Burn the tab standing on one 'end' This allows max air exposure and produces the highest heat output. Down side, the tab burns out in under 8 mins, but will bring 2 cups of even fairly cold water to a roiling boil.

    2) Burn the tab standing on one 'side' Almost as hot, tab burns out in about 10 to 11 min.

    3) Burn the tab laying on one 'side' - this is how most folks use these and your burn time should be about 12 min.

    4) As shown in the photo, I made a 'stretcher'. I got the initial idea from a fellow's 'Gram Cracker' stove on a UL hiking site.

    Now the tab is limited as to burn area and I have gotten 15 min or more from a single tab. Use one tab to boil your water/spaghetti - and a second tab for simmer and adding the sauce for example.
    .
    This version shown works because the windscreens keep the heat focused on the pot. A GSI 1 liter pot will boil most of a qt of water with one tab using this setup. Mt House Entree and big cup of hot tea for the win.
    [​IMG]
     
  11. WhisperInThePine

    WhisperInThePine Wubba lubba dub dub Supporter

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    Following with interest. I used a knock off esbit stove when doing trail work, but only to heat water for tea and coffee.

    I have the titanium fire ant which has a platform for esbit tabs. Been thinking of experimenting again.
     
  12. MrFixIt

    MrFixIt Old Jarhead LB#42 Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    I love them. Sure, they are more expensive but the fuel cubes burn cleaner and without the smell.
    I’ve been thinking of trying out just half of the gel cube but have yet to do it. Thinking that half a cube should get 16 oz of water hot enough for coffee.
     
  13. woodsranger

    woodsranger Solitude Seeker Supporter

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    I prefer the Dragon Fire fuel too, for what it's worth.
     
  14. mtwarden

    mtwarden roaming the Big Sky Supporter

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    I see the Dragon Fire is double the weight of Esbit- 1.0 oz vs 0.5 oz

    can a 1/2 cube of Dragon Fire boil 2 cups of water? anyone test these by chance?
     
  15. zelph

    zelph Guide

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    With the right set-up, 1 large esbit can bring 3 cups of water to 205 degrees repeatedly.
     
  16. NevadaBlue

    NevadaBlue —- Roughian #7 -— --- Graybeard -— Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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  17. woodsranger

    woodsranger Solitude Seeker Supporter

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    I kind of doubt it, but I'll see if I can test it today. You want me to use a canteen cup or a Mors pot? It would probably boil faster in the Mors pot because it's dark and aluminum. The canteen cup is stainless steel.

    I prefer my Pocket Rocket. No mess, no fuss. :)
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2019 at 10:03 AM
  18. gohammergo

    gohammergo I like sharp things.... Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    I love this cooking talk. :)

    Weight for me has never been an issue in my yravetr as of yet. I have had a couple of esbit cube setups but I don't think I have ever used one. I am pretty certain I would remember the smell and the soot.

    My go to heater right now is the Trangia alcohol stove with the evernew titanium cross pieces for the container. I have no idea what it weighs though. I can heat up several containers of water on one filling though. It rides in my EDC pack these days.
     
  19. woodsranger

    woodsranger Solitude Seeker Supporter

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    What's an yraveter? :18:
     
  20. travis.winegar

    travis.winegar Nearly a Bushcrafter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    I have a couple Vargo Triad XE that I use with ebit tabs. If I lived in a windless environment I'd probably use them exclusively, but I find that my tiny canister stove's performance outweighs (see what I did their) the triad/esbit weight savings pretty much always.

    There are tons of clones but this is the one I use: BRS-3000T Ultra-Light Titanium Alloy Camping Stove
     
  21. crewhead05

    crewhead05 caffeine, nicotine, knives and nature. Lifetime Supporter Supporter

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    I echo the response about preferring fire dragon cubes far more than esbit due to the clean burn and use as a hand sanitizer. I am curious to see if half a cube would work as well. If I have time ill give it a shot.

    Let me know if you want to test a few out @mtwarden and ill send them your way.
     
  22. FreudianSlip

    FreudianSlip Guide

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    747E41D9-811E-4766-84D6-D3046FBBEB04.jpeg I’ve tried all 3 types and I keep going back to my evernew with DX stand alcohol stove. I have to admit I’m not sure how it weighs in compared for the esbit. I enjoy using it and the versatility of having alcohol for cleaning wounds is a nice bonus.
     
  23. mtwarden

    mtwarden roaming the Big Sky Supporter

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    @NevadaBlue I'll get caught up :)

    if someone wants to give a 1/2 tab Dragon Fire a go (would be more apples to apples that way) that would be great, if not @crewhead05 I'd take you up on the offer and give it a go
     
  24. NevadaBlue

    NevadaBlue —- Roughian #7 -— --- Graybeard -— Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    “Weight for me has never been an issue in my yravetr as of yet.” Me neither... :9:
     
  25. arleigh

    arleigh Guide

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    I use a gasoline stove for a few reasons .
    Gasoline is still plentiful even if it is $4.00 a gallon
    I can syphon it off the truck for the stove if needed or vise versa .
    There are few places that allow open fires here in southern california so a gas stove is the more practical option.
    I can use it for exactly the time necessary so I don't waste fuel unnecessarily .
    Though it is a roughly 4"X 4" box and weighs about a lb ,it is worth the weight and space .completely reliable no matter the weather.
     
  26. woodsranger

    woodsranger Solitude Seeker Supporter

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    Ok! The answer I found @mtwarden is...no and yes. :4:

    NO, a half cube of the Fire Dragon fuel did not bring my 2 cups of water to a boil.

    BUT...it came reeeeally close! It brought the water to over 200 degrees, steamed, and had little bubbles on the bottom.

    The thing is, it was very windy, I was using an aluminum Mors pot, and no wind screen to speak of. IF it hadn't been windy, or IF you used a smaller titanium cup, or IF you used a good wind screen, then I would say YES, it would have brought the 2 cups to a full boil. And a full cube definitely would have. For the slight weight difference I'd say just go ahead and use one cube. The other nice things are that the cubes don't smell, it doesn't leave much, if any, of a residue, and being alcohol-based, it's waterproof and lights instantly. The esbits stink, they leave a residue, they are moisture-phobic (if they get damp they won't work), and they are harder to light.

    Just my opinion, of course. :)

    Here you can see the steam:

    1.JPG

    2.JPG

    3.JPG
     
  27. Pharmer

    Pharmer Supporter Supporter

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    Good stuff. I really like my caldera cone with an alcohol burner a kojin or starlyte stove. I have several different cone setups and pot configurations but my preferred one is the shallow evernew 900mL and the sidewinder configuration so it nests inside. It came with a gram cracker stove and esbit, but I’ve not tested it. It’s a very efficient system for alcohol I’m sure it would be for esbit too.

    Does the other solid fuel mentioned above also stink like esbit?Thats one thing that turns me off to esbit. I used trioxane in the field when I was in the military and don’t remember it stinking that bad.

    It’s hard to beat the speed and convenience of a canister. I find myself reaching for them quite often even though I’m not usually in a big hurry. I use an msr windburner and various other canister stoves most often the Soto windmaster.
     
  28. MrFixIt

    MrFixIt Old Jarhead LB#42 Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    @Pharmer the Dragon cubes have an alcohol smell, but not overpowering. You can rub one on your hands as a sanitizer.
    I hated the trioxane bars...maybe I’m sensitive but they had a cloying chemical smell.
     
  29. woodsranger

    woodsranger Solitude Seeker Supporter

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    Nope, nothing like esbit. Just a minor alcohol odor if you hold it close and smell it.
     
  30. mtwarden

    mtwarden roaming the Big Sky Supporter

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    @woodsranger - thanks for doing that- 180 degrees is all I need :)

    if the fuel (full cube) was double the weight, it really wouldn't be worth it to me, but at the same weight it definitely worth giving it a shot
     
  31. Kenneth

    Kenneth Scout

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    Here is a question if I cut a dragon cube in half, being the fact it is alcohol, how do you store the other half that you do not use so it does not evaporate away?

    GOD Bless you and your family

    Kenneth
     
  32. woodsranger

    woodsranger Solitude Seeker Supporter

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    Good question. Once I remove the cube from its packaging, I just use it. I wouldn't try to keep it. If you cut it in half I'm sure it would keep for the short term in a ziplock bag, but I wouldn't expect to store it long term once it's been opened.
     
  33. Pharmer

    Pharmer Supporter Supporter

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    I think you’re right. It’s been a while I just didn’t remember them smelling fishy or however you describe that nasty esbit smell lol.
     
  34. Pharmer

    Pharmer Supporter Supporter

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    Cool I’ll have to check those out. First I’d heard of them.

    I have a ton of heet to use so if I’m not using a canister or wood stove I usually use a zelph fancy feast stove or starlyte/ kojin depending on what system I’m using. Occasionally a trangia stove in my Titanium Nano folding firebox. Guess I’m a stove/ cook kit junkie lol.
     
  35. MrFixIt

    MrFixIt Old Jarhead LB#42 Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    You can use your Esbit stove with Dragon file cubes. I cut the bottom of a soda can just talk enough so that it would close.
    Place the cube in the upturned can bottom.
    When the cubes are lit they will melt so you’d want something to contain it while burning.

    4966C9AC-9770-4E52-A7A5-101F914D213E.jpeg

    I used hand sanitizer in the pic above.
     
  36. woodsranger

    woodsranger Solitude Seeker Supporter

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    Decent comparison video showing the Esbit vs the Fire Dragon fuel. I prefer the BCB stove over the Esbit stove as well. It has a contained center section that holds the fuel cube and a side wind-block panel. For best results with either an Esbit or the Fire Dragon, USE A FULL WIND SCREEN! Wind will greatly decrease the efficiency of either fuel.

     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2019 at 4:17 PM
  37. mtwarden

    mtwarden roaming the Big Sky Supporter

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    good video, but he ignores the fact the Dragon Fire has twice the fuel (and twice the weight)- not exactly apples to apples; obviously lights a lot easier than Esbit- which is a plus
     
  38. woodsranger

    woodsranger Solitude Seeker Supporter

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    Hard to say it has twice the fuel though. The esbit actually burns longer. I think the Fire Dragon is just larger because of it being gelled alcohol or something. Not really apples to apples. One is hexamine and one is alcohol.

    Was I wrong about the Baddest Bees fuses being better that the Tinder Quik tabs? HMMMMMMM??? Fire Dragon kicks Esbit's butt! :)

    Listen to your elders, young man! :11:
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2019 at 7:26 PM
  39. mtwarden

    mtwarden roaming the Big Sky Supporter

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    the Esbit cube weighs 0.5 oz, the Fire Dragon 1.0 oz- I would expect twice the performance out of the Fire Dragon; if I have to carry six Fire Dragon cubes (6 oz)- it makes it really easy to choose a canister as the weight savings just aren't there vs Esbit

    if the performance (time to reach 180 degrees) is on par with Esbit (weight for weight) or even better, then the Fire Dragon wins hands down- lights easier, doesn't smell, etc

    you were right on the Bad Ass Bees :)
     
  40. woodsranger

    woodsranger Solitude Seeker Supporter

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    I would think that with your smaller titanium cup and a wind screen, half a FD cube would get it to a boil, or very close. You'd have to test it to be sure.

    I still think that for ease of use, speed, guaranteed boil, the fact that you could probably boil 2 cups of water close to 100 times on one cannister, the ease of clean up, and that you can use a cannister stove to get a fire started even with wet wood, the pluses outweigh the minuses of the extra weight/bulk. BUT...I'm not the one who has to lug it. :)

    Let us know how whatever you decide to go with works out!
     
  41. Kenneth

    Kenneth Scout

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    freebirdfb, bacpacjac, hdbeav and 5 others like this.
  42. Woodsman Wannabe

    Woodsman Wannabe Scout

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  43. woodsranger

    woodsranger Solitude Seeker Supporter

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  44. MJGEGB

    MJGEGB Bushmaster

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    Stupid question, what advantage does esbit have over alcohol?
     
  45. MrFixIt

    MrFixIt Old Jarhead LB#42 Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Not stupid at all.
    I prefer alcohol over the Esbit (and other brands of chemical tablets) simply because I don't like the smell of them.
    The Dragon fuel cubes (at least for me) combine the best of both worlds.
     
  46. Seeker

    Seeker Woods Bum Supporter Bushclass I

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    I can't really say what you should use for the race... lighter usually makes faster... but I've used just about all the stoves, and my opinion is that they're like knives, saws, axes, and the nessmuk trio... use the right stove for the job.

    I have alcohol stoves for ultralight backpacking. I like Esbit for a noon brew up while hunting (though i use it in a small homemade stove-small soup can cut down to about 1.25" high, with 3 higher parts for holding the pot, and three lower parts for air flow). I have a niche for butane and white gas stoves. I also have a wood/twig burner. All have a place in my kit at times.

    I think I'd be very tempted to explore the 1/2 pound weight savings... i guess base on your tests, it depends on if the 3 minutes saved with the bigger stove is worth three minutes of sleep in that race.

    Any reason you don't just make a pile of twigs to boil water over? Would save a few more ounces. It's pretty simple, especially if you have rocks to act as a stove/pot stand. But I don't know you exact weather, terrain, and vegetation, and you've surely thought of that yourself.
     
  47. mtwarden

    mtwarden roaming the Big Sky Supporter

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    weather is really too iffy for depending on a fire exclusively; could do fires, but then would have to bring up a backup stove anyways

    supper in addition to being supper, is a much needed sit down break too- so a couple of minutes shouldn't make a huge difference, breakfast is a little more time critical- helps to get back on the trail as soon as possible, almost always in the dark- that's where a canister really shines
     
  48. Pinnah

    Pinnah Tracker

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    I don't understand the time issue but accept it will depend heavily on one's routine during the morning.

    I've moved from white gas (Svea) to alcohol (Batchstovez or Trangia) for 3+ season use. [1] For me, alcohol stoves are so safe that I don't hover over them like a nervous helicopter mom while they are cooking like I do with a Svea or a canister stove that might go boom if overheated. I treat them as set it and forget it type things, particularly if "cooking" really just means heating water (which is does for solo and 2 person trips for me).

    What this means is that I set up the stove and put on the water and then deal with other aspects of dressing, breaking down camp and packing up. The boil times may be longer but that doesn't delay me in any way.

    The other thing I value about the alcohol stoves is their simplicity and reliability, which is a plus for me if solo and I've gone a bit too far and am a bit too cold and tired. Of the three types of common stoves, I trust canisters the least.



    [1] - I've done several boil test and have a good idea of fuel needed per day for each system and total weight per system (including pots and windscreens). For solo trips and 2 person trips, the Batchstovez works best for me (although the convenience of the Trangia often wins out for 2 person trips). The Svea becomes lighter for 4 person trips pretty quickly.
     
  49. ezra45

    ezra45 Supporter Supporter Bushclass I

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    image.jpeg Lunch on the after-market large Esbit-type stove with modded grill top for small base containers...
    It is about the size of two real Esbit stoves.
    Regards,

    ezra
     
  50. optrixs

    optrixs Tracker

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    Is that a BBQ rack.That's been clipped ? that's on top of your faux Esbit.
     

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