Toying with Titanium | Alcohol Stove

LogoI’ve always been curious about all of the titanium products that are on the market and targeted at ultralight backpackers like myself. Until now I’ve resisted the urge to buy any of them. However, armed with a recent REI gift card I decided to bite the bullet and see what Ti is all about.

I’ve also been wanting to try an alcohol stove for cooking/reheating food instead of my Snow Peak Giga Power GS-100A (which I love by the way!). I knew that there would be huge differences, the Snow Peak is a real stove with electric starter and adjustable flame whereas the alcohol stoves are pretty much one flame setting and about 10 – 15 minutes of burn time. The major advantage of an alcohol stove is reduced size and weight. My Snow Peak is small, don’t get me wrong, it weighs in at 4oz but when you add the gas canister and windshield it boosts the weight up to 12oz compared to less than 1oz for most alcohol stoves.

The stove I am testing for the first time is the Vargo Triad Titanium alcohol stove. It weighs in at less than 1oz and is small enough to pop inside a small pocket or the cup of my cooking kit. I’m not overly impressed with he finish quality and had to gently bend two of the spiky legs to get them straight – that may be a shipping/transportation issue, who knows? The instructions were minimal and so I decided to do a little Googling on how to prime and use alcohol stoves. I’ve used a WhiteBox stove before so knew the basic principle.

For fuel I used denatured alcohol which burns clean and is very easy to come by. Tip: you might want to keep a small squeezy bottle for use when hiking and add one or two drops of food coloring to make the alcohol easier to see :) My test was to bring two full cups of cold water to a rolling boil using my GSI Ultralight Soloist pot – the typical action I have to perform on the trail. My Snow Peak can handle this in about 4 minutes on a low flame, probably faster on high flame but I’m too frugal to waste gas.

To prime the Vargo I place a small metal bottle cap underneath it and put a few drops of alcohol inside. Then I filled the stove up per the instructions until there was a small pool of fuel puddling in the middle of the stove dimple (1.75floz). Note: It’s almost impossible to see the initial flame of an alcohol stove when you ignite it so be very careful – it lights easily! I used one match and lit the bottle cap primer first and immediately after the top of the stove. Both lit first time.

The stove took 1m 25s to fully flare up and start jetting properly. I placed my pot containing two cups of cold water on top, added the lid and reset the timer. I noticed that the flame pattern of the stove (60mm) is almost exactly the right width of the bottom of my pot making it very efficient. To my amazement the two cups of cold water came to a rolling boil after just 7m 34s – not too shabby considering the basic nature of the stove. After the water had boiled I was left with two options, snuff the flame out and save the remaining fuel or let it burn itself out. As I have plenty of fuel and this was a test I decided to see how long it would burn on a full amount of fuel. It took a total of just under 18 minutes to burn out since the time I first ignited the stove. The last few minutes had a low flame but that’s still pretty impressive.

I’ve yet to take this little beauty on the trail and give it a whirl outside, but with the addition of a small windscreen I’m confident I’ll get some pretty good results – I will let you know. I’m working on making some alcohol stoves of my own from empty aluminum bottles (just like the WhiteBox Stove). As and when I have a working version I’ll take some pictures and post the results here :)

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