Stove Review

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Stove Review

New postby British Red on Thu 10 Aug 2006 17:31

Introduction

On my "home" site, one of the guys wanted an opinion on a reliable, fairly cheap stove for home backup and camping. Given my forum title is "Quartermaster", it fell to me to help out. He didn't want to spend too much so the choice is limited to under £40 (no fancyMSRs etc.) In . I attempted a slightly improved approach from my normal subjective musings. In other words I actually attempted to try some form of objective measurement of performance!!

Now there aren’t quite as many stoves on the market as there are knives or multi-tools, however there are still far, far more than I will ever get an opportunity to review. I have therefore tried to pick one or two stoves from each of the major “types” in order to give some opportunity to form an opinion. In order to try to compare apples with apples, I stuck to single burner, portable stoves. If you fancy self-contained multi burner stoves, you can choose from gas or petrol. If you want grills, ovens etc. – its Calor gas – right up to a replacement for your domestic cooker with a huge propane cylinder outside.

Types of Stoves / Review Criteria / Conclusions
I looked at 4 fuel types in this review:

· Gas
· Petrol
· Alcohol
· Solid fuel

The criteria I reviewed against were:

· Size
· Weight
· Speed to boil 500ml of water (outdoors on a very windy day)
· Cost to buy

Extrapolating from this, there are some conclusions for each stove (all personal opinions) and some “recommended” awards. I thought it might interest someone here too so I have copied the review over

Type Australian Barbecue
Fuel Gas Cartridge
Width (cm) 35
Depth (cm) 28
Height (cm) 10
Time to Boil (mm:ss) 03.50
Weight (g inc Fuel) 2,000
Approx Purchase Price £10 - £20


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“Barbecue Stove”
My choice (and most importantly Fiona’s) for “Best home backup” . A wide, stable stove that is fairly cheap, has a very adjustable flame, piezo electric ignition and is fairly cheap to buy. Gas canisters are about £1.50 each and last about an hour. Will take all your normal pots and pans. We use ours to act as a gas ring for barbecues, picnic stove for longer shooting days and general power outage back up. In fact we like it so much we just bought a spare for a tenner. Downside is that its large and relatively heavy.

Type Coleman Gas
Fuel Gas Cartridge
Width (cm) 16
Depth (cm) 16
Height (cm) 10 (+canister)
Time to Boil (mm:ss) 03.45
Weight (g inc Fuel) 680g
Approx Purchase Price £15

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“Coleman Gas Cartridge”
Screws into self sealing gas cartridge stoves and cost me about £15. Small, light and low bulk. A good entry level backpacking stove. Great for camping but the gas canisters are relatively expensive.

Type Coleman Sportster
Fuel Unleaded Petrol (or Coleman Fuel)
Width (cm) 15
Depth (cm) 15
Height (cm) 15
Time to Boil (mm:ss) 04:21
Weight (g inc Fuel) 1,100g
Approx Purchase Price £35

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“Coleman Sportster Petrol”
At around 1kg when empty (and more when full), this is not a lightweight stove. However, it boils water nearly as fast as a gas stove and the fuel (even at current petrol prices) is the cheapest of anything featured here. Not cheap to buy but as cheap as anything to run. If you use a stove a lot, will work out far cheaper in the end. Best buy for cheap international fuel availability.

Type Crusader Cup
Fuel Alcohol Gel
Width (cm) 13
Depth (cm) 11
Height (cm) 6
Time to Boil (mm:ss) 16:32
Weight (g inc Fuel) 450g (inc cup)
Approx Purchase Price £12

Image

“Crusader Cup”
Heavily touted metal cup that fits 58 pattern water bottles. Stove fits the metal cup and uses alcohol gel. However its stupidly slow to boil. Buy the cup – forget the stove!

Type Trangia
Fuel Methylated Spirits
Width (cm) 20
Depth (cm) 20
Height (cm) 10 (packed)19 (set up)
Time to Boil (mm:ss) 12:25
Weight (g inc Fuel) 800g (including 3 pans)
Approx Purchase Price £30

Image

“Trangia”
For backpacking – in my view – its “the daddy”. 800g, fuelled, including fry pan and two saucepans. Burns methylated spirits (meths) so cheap to run (use a proper fuel bottle though). Absolutely cannot go wrong under any circumstances but slow to boil. Not the cheapest to buy but actually good value when you consider it includes a full set of pans.

Type Esbit Micro
Fuel Solid Fuel
Width (cm) 12 (Unfolded)8 (Set Up)
Depth (cm) 12 (Unfolded)8 (Set Up)
Height (cm) 0 (Unfolded)5 (set Up)
Time to Boil (mm:ss) 15:12
Weight (g inc Fuel) 100g including 6 tablets of fuel
Approx Purchase Price 99p

Image

“Esbit Micro”
Cost me 99p – wasn’t worth it nuff said

Type Hexamine Stove
Fuel Solid Fuel
Width (cm) 12
Depth (cm) 10
Height (cm) 3 (folded)7 (Unfolded)
Time to Boil (mm:ss) 5:22
Weight (g inc Fuel) 375g (inc 8 tablets of fuel)
Approx Purchase Price £1

Image

“Hexamine Stove”
Ludicrously simple and effective stove used by British forces. About 99p to buy and the same for a pack of fuel. Must be used in a well ventilated area. Throw in a couple of mess tins and a spare pack of fuel and expect to pay just over a fiver. One for the car and one for the BoB in my case!

Conclusion

Depending on simplicity, weight, bulk, fuel cost and availability, there are a few to choose from here, but £35 buys you your choice and a fiver gets you started including pans. If on a tight budget, start with a hexi, buy a Barbecue next and then your choice of a Trangia or Coleman – for £60 you have 3 stoves and all your bases covered – home, camping and BOB.

Bear in mind, I would use nothing but Gas indoors - hexi or petrol will probably poison you and I don't fancy meths much either. Always use in a well ventilated area regardless - generally all these stoves are designed for outdoor use, though I believe if one was forced to use one in the house or tent, then I would use the Barbecue type as it is wide, stable and uses full size pans. Ventilate well though.

Hope that helps someone

Red
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New postby bushwacker bob on Thu 10 Aug 2006 17:50

Very interesting Red, I have the barbeque job which is exellent for home and car camping.I also use a kelly kettle for car camping as there is usually enough heat left after boiling the kettle to grill some bacon for breakfast.
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New postby kolekojot on Thu 10 Aug 2006 18:23

Just one warning. Petrol stoves using unleaded petrol are extremly dangerous, according to Optimus data. Unleaded petrol is designed to burn on wery high temperatures, and than rests will be burned on even higher temperature in catalysator, and when burned on open flame, it produce a lott of cancerogene compositions.

IF you have any way, get simple leaded petrol for stoves, and leave unleaded to the car. Leaded petrol burned on open flame is much cleaner and safer..

Strange, but true..
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New postby British Red on Thu 10 Aug 2006 18:39

kolekojot wrote:Just one warning. Petrol stoves using unleaded petrol are extremly dangerous, according to Optimus data. Unleaded petrol is designed to burn on wery high temperatures, and than rests will be burned on even higher temperature in catalysator, and when burned on open flame, it produce a lott of cancerogene compositions.

IF you have any way, get simple leaded petrol for stoves, and leave unleaded to the car. Leaded petrol burned on open flame is much cleaner and safer..

Strange, but true..



No chance of leaded over here though - not anymore. Is this true of Coleman fuel too (I guess it must be) ?

Red
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New postby kolekojot on Thu 10 Aug 2006 18:52

Well, there are some advantages of living in out of EU country :D average age of a car here is 19 years, and we will have unlimited suply of leaded gasoline for ages.

Don't know about coleman fuel, but I think Coleman fuel is white gas, or petroleum, how it is called here. It is lower destilate of naophta than petrol, and it doesn't need to have aditives for a octane number to be raised, so I think it is safe to presume that it is the same as in last centry..

So, use uleaded gasoline as a fuel in completly open space, and try to stay away and upwind from it while it is burning.. And pots need to be covered, always.

No matter how it sounds, but big can and wood sticks are much more ecoologivcal than any other stove.
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New postby James on Wed 23 Aug 2006 21:42

Ever tried the sierra type ?

From the one I built for myself in titanium, I do think that they are the almost perfect solution, at least in terms of fuel availability vs heating power.

Image

But you need one AA battery every 24 hours cooking (I also have a crank light plug on it now).
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New postby British Red on Wed 23 Aug 2006 23:12

Nope, never tried one of them....need more info though...that looks like an electric element. Surely not though ...I've read somewhere about using small fans to suck air through like a blast furnace...is that how it works? Love to hear more. I have just traded for a really neat hobo stove to fit into a Zebra Billy - I'll show you a picc when it turns up

Red
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New postby Taky on Wed 23 Aug 2006 23:43

Is like a furnace, the fan blasting hot air into the burning wood. There are awsome, by far the best stove I've ever ussed. Same diference as when you cook on a fire wood and an electric kitchen: what tastes better? and this reminded me I have one halve done to finish.

The fact you have no fuel limitations makes a hudge diference on your diet... rice, beans, dried meats and other long cooking products can be useed.
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New postby British Red on Thu 24 Aug 2006 00:10

Interesting.

Are they available to buy or is it only make it yourself stuff?

Red
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New postby Taky on Thu 24 Aug 2006 00:22

Sierra designs does the commercial version. An internet sarch should give you a local distributor.

The brain storming sesion: http://outdoors.magazine.free.fr/forums/vie ... php?t=8871

This is James in action :bow: : http://outdoors.magazine.free.fr/forums/vie ... php?t=8886
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New postby British Red on Thu 24 Aug 2006 12:22

Taky,

So when is James making them for the rest of us :)

Red
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New postby James on Thu 24 Aug 2006 13:19

Sorry mate,

I am now out of titanium, and it takes too much time to make these. I made 5 in total, one proto, and 4 titanium versions, and that will be enough stove making for me for the next few years...
The plans however can be published... and it is relatively easy to reproduce in steel or titanium.


The only down on these, is that you need a battery to activate the fan's engine. a AA rechargeable battery lasts 28 hours on the sierra designs, and 20 on mine. I have tried solar, but it is not as good as being able to plug a small crank powered led lamp, which can serve when the battery is flat, to refill it, or to directely power the engine.

After that, it burns almost everything. Preference for hard woods, as you need to add it less often, but soft woods works, just have to keep filling it, pine cones also, or even thick straw I have tried, and charcoal is amazingly effective in terms of weight per power ratio. Once hot, even wet wood or some green woods will burn, producing some smoke but burning quite well (it is even a choice fuel, as it regulates the combustion better than drier woods).

The output power is excellent, just slightly under a proper multifuel MSR running on gazoline. 7 to 10 mn for a liter of boiling water.

The good thing is that it is also a mini barbecue, and allows to make real yummy food ;-)

The down side is that indeed all recipients get blackened bottoms, nothing that would deter a Bushcrafter, though ;-)

Having made my own models, and having owned a (normal) Sierra, I confirm the Sierra are sold at reasonable price, and I only did marginally lighter than their titanium (TT) version.

http://www.zzstove.com/sierra.html.
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New postby British Red on Thu 24 Aug 2006 14:08

:)

I'll look into one sometime James - I mean - I can't get by on just six stoves afetr all!

Red
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New postby Stew on Fri 25 Aug 2006 06:09

How strange - I was looking into Sierra stoves the other day!

I use a petrol stove as it's easier to top my fuel botle up than if using a gas cannister. I used to acquire lots of part used cannisters as I didn't want to take too many away with me but also wanted to be sure there was sufficient for the trip.
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New postby James on Fri 25 Aug 2006 08:05

Funny Stew,

The Sierra is really very interesting in terms of weight to carry (even if you carry your own coal!) I bought the original steel version, 600 grammes, and found it excellent. Now indeed, the titanium version is 350 grammes, so, even better, though the burning chamber is smaller. I made mine with burning chambers the same size as the sierra titanium, and it is sufficient to cook.

Image


Image


Last winter, we did many tries with stoves under -10 to -15 C, and we found:

- Esbit just forget it, if you want to melt snow or boil water. you need some 10 tabs per liter !

- Home made beer can alcool like PRS: forget it, not enough fuel to boil even a cup, and refuel means restarting the stove, you'll hardly melt anything, and never boill. consumes too much alcool.

- Alcool swedish army mess kit: extremely difficult to light, slow, but works well enough, if you let it time to work.

- Gaz stove, hard to start, a bit faster than previous, but still deceiving.

-MSR multifuel with kerosen: flame thrower, hard to start, poor but sufficient output.

-MSR multifuel with gazoline: starts well, high power output , the best of all, works, and works well.

It is funny, because these stoves do all work well enough when temp is > 0 C, but some just wont be of any use in colder temps.

Between us, for 9 euro, the swedish mess kit based ond trangia /svea design is very good, and does work in all conditions, even if not optimal, but for the price, it is reasonably light, and VERY resistant.

I, unfornutately, did not have a Sierra type stove at the time, so I cannot compare it in similar winter conditions, to be tried this coming winter.
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New postby British Red on Fri 25 Aug 2006 23:40

Nice sandals James - you really do have dainty feet :D
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New postby kartoffel on Wed 13 Sep 2006 10:14

James is a delicate person anyway.

About the stoves we tested last winter, not to be manic but it was a MSR on kerosene, and an Optimus on white gas. Both have a totally different structure, the Optimus using a quite smart patented system which is way more efficient than the MSR in the cold ; therefore the comparison is not very relevant.

As for alcohol stove, the Trangia does not feel in a hurry but is quite fuel efficient as compared to other alcohol stoves. If you want to test an alcohol stove with big heat output, have a look at the "Cat Can stove", which uses a wick for a high throughput of alcohol and vents bringing air into a swirl for a good mix right under the pot, while being much easier to build and use than a PRS. I've not tried it in the winter yet, but looks promising.
And every alcohol stove needs a real wind shield.
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New postby joel on Thu 05 Oct 2006 06:13

I've been using the Coleman Peak 1 with the iso/butane (gas) cartridges from both MSR and Coleman and it's not a bad little stove. You definitely need a windscreen( I make one from aluminum foil). From what I read, the normal cartridges aren't very effiecient below the freezing mark. Coleman makes an "Extreme" fuel cartridge that is supposed to work better, but I haven't been able to find any locally.
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Re: Stove Review

New postby Edz on Tue 24 Jun 2008 00:17

British Red wrote:Introduction

Image

“Crusader Cup”
Heavily touted metal cup that fits 58 pattern water bottles. Stove fits the metal cup and uses alcohol gel. However its stupidly slow to boil. Buy the cup – forget the stove!


Red



Wow...exact opposite experience here.... I get it to boil water in about 7 mins using the gel fuel...
Nicest thing about it is that it can use just about ANY solid fuel. I have used denatured alcohol (the little circle fuel holder holds enough for one boil), I have used hexamine, trioxane, HEET, charcoal lighter fluid and esbit tabs. All work well. The cup is built like a tank and holds more than a US canteen cup. Works equally well on a fire. All nesting together.. perfect little package.....
My only complaint is that it is still a bit on the pricey side...

edz
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Re: Stove Review

New postby jest on Tue 24 Jun 2008 07:39

I'm a little surprised no one mentioned a second hand Optimus 8R (hunter), they aren't too expensive (I paid 30 euros for mine, it is old, but has been refurbished by a professional) and have a well-deserved reputation for being bombproof.

Image

Pros:
-Extremely robust
-Relatively cheap to purchase second hand
-Very common (still being made even), spare parts easy to find
-Sort of self-contained wind shield
-Quite controllable flame
-Easy to repair (unlike the complexities of more modern petrol stoves)

Cons:
-Fairly heavy
-Burns only petrol/gas or white gas, depending on the model
-Not extremely powerful
-Limited on board fuel supply
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