SNCTOOL Universal Alcohol Stove Kit

SNC Tool Alcohol Stove Kit

I first heard about SNCTOOL gear through a comment that was left last year on a blog post teaser of the Kupilka 21 cup giveaway. Curious about this new manufacturer I followed up via email to find out more about the gear and the person behind it. I’m so glad that I did.

I discovered that SNCTOOL Outdoor Products was the brainchild of experienced machinist and avid outdoorsman Steve Carothers. For years Steve has been following the lightweight backpacking trends and watching with interest the evolution of backpacking alcohol stoves until he reach that inevitable tipping point where he thought he had a better idea and could make something every bit as good as those other cottage manufacturers – or better. I personally think he’s pulled it off.

SNCTOOL Universal Alcohol Stove Kit
The very first thing I noticed about the SNCTOOL stove kit was the amazing quality and finish. It was immediately clear that Steve knows how to do exceptional machining work. The stove kit comes in a high density white polyethylene container with bright red screw down lid designed to protect the contents and keep them dry.

SNC Tool Alcohol Stove Kit

Despite the size of the container, the contents are a tight fit and require a little practice to put back in once taken out. There’s definitely a right way or order to putting the stove back into the container, so pay attention to the order when you first take it out :)

SNC Tool Alcohol Stove Kit

What’s Included
The SNCTOOL Universal Alcohol Stove Kit includes the following components:

  • Machined aluminum top-jetted stove – 32.2g
  • Three-piece aluminum pot stand – 50.9g
  • Stainless steel windscreen – 57.2g
  • Primer pan – 15.8g
  • Simmer ring (aluminum) – 3.7g
  • Snuffing cap (also waterproofs burner) – 11.8g
  • High density polyethylene container with lid – 73.2g
  • Fuel bottle with flip-top – 16.3g
  • Hair pin (to use as a tool) – 4.9g
  • Instructions (not weighed)
  • Total weight: 266g (9.38 ounces)
  • Weight without container: 192.8g (6.8 ounces)

SNC Tool Alcohol Stove Kit

SNC Tool Alcohol Stove Kit

Just look at the main alcohol stove. It’s constructed from three separate pieces of Bud Light beer bottles, that are assembled in Apple-like fit perfection, it’s a thing of beauty – no rough edges of sharp burrs to be seen anywhere. The same is true of all of the pieces of the stove set.

SNC Tool Alcohol Stove Kit

The three-piece triangular pot stand has precise notches cut into each side that allow the stove to sit securely into place. It puts me in mind of the Trangia stove system. Despite being well made, the three-piece pot stand and combined stove holder is one of the heaviest components to the set and would be my first target for making lighter. This is one of my few criticisms of this system. There’s definitely room for reducing the overall weight of the pot stand, either by drilling holes, using thinner gauge aluminum, or by switching to titanium – any of which may impact the cost.

Measurements:

  • Top of pot stand: 85mm (3 5/16″)
  • Top of stove: 55mm (2 3/16″)
  • Top of simmer ring: 72mm (2 13/16″)
  • Stove clearance from ground: 10mm (6/16″)

There is no wiggle or movement of any kind once the stove is inserted into the pot stand, it fits perfectly. This provides additional stability to the stove, no more blowing over in high winds or tipping over accidentally as you try to fill it with fuel, or light it. The snug fit also guarantees an optimum and consistent height from the base of your cooking pot or cup. The stove is held slightly off the ground making this a completely “cool touch” (to the ground) alcohol cooking system when you are not using the primer pan.

SNC Tool Alcohol Stove Kit

The wide double-wall construction of the stove body allows you to add quite a lot of fuel without over filling it. I thought it would barely hold one full fluid ounce, but after pouring in two ounces it was only about two thirds full. I tend to measure my fuel before I fill the stove, but if you were to fill it up and not use all of the fuel while cooking you can empty this stove once it has been snuffed out and cooled down. An advantage of the placement of the fuel jets. And talking of jets, this is a top-jetted pressurized alcohol stove, not a side jetted one like just about every other version like this. The flame pattern is narrow enough for my SP600 and doesn’t wrap around the sides like other Bud Light stoves.

Burn Tests and Results
I’ve been using this alcohol set during many of my day hikes and short overnighters for a few months now and the results have been surprisingly consistent. I have only tested the simmering capabilities a handful of times, so that’s an area that I’m going to continue to play with and something I’m looking forward to.

SNC Tool Alcohol Stove Kit

The wide base of the pot stand causes the windscreen to be very wide in diameter. As such, this would be a superb set for anyone using a wider pot like an Evernew Titanium 0.6L because there would be less open space between the windscreen and the base of the pot, trapping in more heat and making the stove more efficient. I’ve actually been using this set with my favorite Snow Peak 600 Ti cup and it still works extremely well even if it does make my cup look tiny in comparison to the pot stand and windscreen.

The windscreen itself is made from stainless steel foil and as you can see in the photo above, has a simple double fold method for joining the two end together. Simple but very effective. About one third of the bottom edge of the windscreen has V-shaped notches cut into it to allow just the right amont of air flow underneath. Obviously air flow was not problem using my SP600 cup, but with a larger pot or even a shallow pan, those air notches will become critical to providing air to the stove inside the windscreen.

SNC Tool Alcohol Stove Kit

I’ve been very pleased with my boil times on the trail, but didn’t keep very accurate records of how long it took to plume or come to a rolling boil, so I decided to run similar tests at home to validate the times and confirm by means of my trusty notepad and stopwatch. Stove testing at home in the NC heat can be thirsty work, but someone has to do it! All test results were using 2oz of fuel (denatured alcohol) and my Snow Peak 600 Ti cup.

The stove takes approximately 1:40 minutes to plume from cold. It takes about a third of that (35 seconds) if you use the primer pan underneath the body of the stove. I get consistent burn/run times for 2oz of fuel in the range of 19:43 minutes – 22:15 minutes  Those times are taken from when the stove has fully plumed. The best time achieved for a full roiling boil for 2 cups of cold water was 5:18 minutes with the slowest being a whopping 6:38 minutes.

  • Plume time: 1:40 minutes (35 secs with primer pan)
  • Burn time for 2oz fuel: 19 – 22 minutes
  • Rolling boil for 2 cups cold water: 5 – 6 minutes

The times above are in line with just about every other good alcohol stove on the market, so nothing especially exceptional there. Yet there is one thing that stands the SNCTOOL alcohol stove apart from many others and that is its ability to simmer effectively.

SNC Tool Alcohol Stove Kit

The separate simmer ring fits perfectly into the rolled edge of the stove and encompasses all of the fuel jets inside it cone shape. I’m not science expert, but this seems to concentrate the flame pattern, close the gap between the underneath of the pot and the top edge of the simmer ring, and reduce the amount of air getting to the stove resulting in a slow burn that lasts for well over an hour using 2oz of fuel. that’s right, over an hour of simmering for 2oz of alcohol.

Just imagine the possibilities that you would have with this capability! Baking, slow cooking, frying, and just about any form of real cooking, that is not just boiling water as fast as possible, becomes a reality. I’ve tested Esbit stoves that can simmer for long times, but this is my first simmering alcohol stove.

SNC Tool Alcohol Stove Kit

Finally there’s the snuffing cap. As with all of the other components, the snuff cap fits perfectly over the top of the stove and slots into the three notches in the pot stand. There is a small wire loop that can be used with the supplied long hair grip to pick up and place the lid over the hot stove without burning your fingers. For those of you that prefer to eyeball filling up your stove with fuel and who typically end up with fuel in the stove long after your water has come to a boil, you now have the option of snuffing it out, waiting for the stove to cool (I recommend 10 minutes to be safe) and pouring the excess fuel back into your fuel container – waste not want not.

Conclusion
The SNCTOOL Universal Alcohol Stove Kit is hands down the best made alcohol stove system that I have ever seen. The precision of manufacturing and overall quality is second to none. The burn times are not that amazing compared to many of it competitors, but is has the huge advantage of being able to simmer for over an hour on 2oz of fuel. Each stove is hand made in USA by a one person cottage manufacturer who clearly takes enormous pride in his work. Priced at only $37 and available via the SNCTOOL website, I anticipate these becoming a very popular stove option for people who want to be able to “cook” in addition to just boil water.

Pros:

  • Immaculately constructed with attention to detail
  • Sturdy enough for large pots or small cups
  • Reasonable plume and boil times (5-6 minutes)
  • Can simmer for over an hour on 2oz of alcohol
  • Stove can be snuffed & emptied to save unused fuel
  • Comes with fuel bottle and waterproof container
  • Great value at only $37

Cons:

  • Three-piece pot stand could be lighter weight
  • Wide pot forces windscreen to have large diameter

Related Posts You Might Like:

Disclosure: Steve Carothers at SNCTOOL provided Brian’s Backpacking Blog with a complementary stove system for the purpose of this review.

Be Sociable, Share!
  • Pete

    what the rule when it comes to putting any unused fuel back into your bottle? Wait til it cools or put in seperate bottle?

    • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

      I typically wait until it has fully cooled (10 minutes is a safe guide) and then pour it back into the same container. I don’t know that there is a hard and fast rule, common sense prevails or should. Unused fuel is the same as any other fuel so there’s no need to keep it separate. Hope that helps.

  • Eric

    Brian thanks for the review. Getting a hour burn with the simmer ring is pretty dam good.

    • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

      Eric – no kidding. Even now I look back at my results and doubt them or worry that I did something wrong. Yet the numbers are right – pretty darn good :)

  • sygyzy

    Brian great job on a comprehensive review. I was wondering if you had any plans on comparing it to other stove setups out there? I know you posted the weights and price and I could do the comparison myself but it’d be a lot easier and useful if you discussed it in your review.

    • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

      That’s always a challenge. It would take me a lot of time to pull that together too. I’ve done it in the past for gear comparisons and never heard any feedback about whether of not it was even useful and determined that it may not be worth the effort – you’d be surprised how much work goes into a detailed gear review.

      If I get the time to update this post, or if anyone else has the time to help me pull together the data, I’ll add it to this review so that it is all in one place.

      • sygyzy

        That’s totally fair and understandable I know how much work a review takes. I just wasn’t sure if you were purposely avoiding comparisons in case it made this stove look less favorable (for whatever reason). That’s a strategic move that some people make.

        • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

          Not at all. I think that (good or bad) comparisons add value and help to inform and educate my readers. After all you would want to know if there were a better, cheaper, faster stove than this wouldn’t you? Of course. I just haven’t had the time to pull the data together. It’s a valid question/request so please don’t feel like I was dismissing it :)

  • http://sticksblog.com/ Chad “Stick” Poindexter

    Great write up Brian! Thanks for taking the time to present it. And at $37, I may have to pick one up sometime in the future to check out…

    I am just curious though, have you used the set-up with only 1 oz of fuel and if so, are the actual boil times comparable? How about burn out time on 1 oz? The only reason I ask is because I only allot for 1 oz of fuel per meal…and I know that as the fuel starts to get low, the flame also becomes less hot…In cold weather, I just wonder how long and how much fuel it will take for this system to get 2 cups of water to boil with only using 1 oz…

    Anyway, thanks again for sharing!

    ~Stick~

    • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

      My knee jerk response was “well just take more fuel”, but I know you too well. Yes, I ran the same tests using just 1 oz of denatured alcohol and the results were as follows:

      Plume time: Same ~1:30 minutes
      Burn time (after pluming): 8:38 – 9:36 minutes
      Rolling boil (2 cups water): 5:18 – 6:20 minutes

      The full burn time (started after the stove had plumed) for 1oz of fuel was more than sufficient for bringing two cups of cold water to a rolling boil every time. In fact you could snuff it out and save a small portion of your fuel each time rather than let if burn out :) ^BG

      • http://sticksblog.com/ Chad “Stick” Poindexter

        Haha… too funny! :)

        Thanks for the info, and that does sound pretty good. Unless I have one, the next time we meet for a hike I will have to check this system out…

        Speaking of which, are you free around the middle of January?

        • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

          Middle of January? Hmm, I might be able to swing it – what do you have in mind? TXT or email me if you prefer. You have my contact info :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/steven.w.wilgus Steven W. Wilgus

    just bought 2 of them: on return, going BACK to the Gila National Forest in Dec/Jan w/ my sons so we will test these at some altitude [like 6000 elevation I am remembering? but not sure]. LOOKS promising. NOW: what type of Fuel Bottle do you all recommend? thanks!

    • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

      Steven, the SNCTOOL ste comes with a plastic fuel bottle so you don’t have to worry about it. If you want to buy extra bottles let me know and I’ll point you to a few great US cottage gear shops that sell the small stuff like that.

  • http://twitter.com/ATKory Kory

    so this begs the question– SNCTOOL Universal Kit for Flat Cat Snow Leopard?

    • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

      I hate that you are going to make me choose. I really don’t want to give a vague response or avoid the questions so I’ll say, that the Flat Cat system still has the edge over the SNCTOOL set via weight and compactness. The SNCTOOL set is a solid performer and beats a lot of systems I have used, but it’s Steve’s first attempt at this and I know (based on conversations we have already had) that he will improve upon this original design in the not too distant future. Bottom line: Both are excellent systems and you would be happy with either.

  • Verners

    Hi Steve,

    Can you please tell me if it fits in the Trangia kit? I love my Trangia, it works just great for me and my girl friend, I just want some lighter aluminum stove that fits in the kit like the original.

    • Snctool

      No… it does not fit in the Trangia kit. The slots are machined in a different location and the steps which hold the stove are different. The Trangia is a larger diameter.

  • Sean Dziedzic

    Looks like I’ll be retiring my pocket boil stove of whatever the things from MSR is called. The stove weighs 3oz but the fuel canisters weigh far more! Only question I have is what do you do about fuel when ya run out, I didn’t see any on their site. Keep in mind I know literally nothing about alcohol stoves please(:

    • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

      Sean, these (and most) alcohol stoves run on denatured alcohol. It’s readily available at home improvement stores like Home Depot and Lowes as well as big box stores like Walmart. Buy the large bottles to get a better price. I typically carry a few ounces more than I need and calculate that by the number of times I need to use the stove x the amount of alcohol I use for each burn. Four times would be 8oz (4 x 2oz per burn).

      The beauty of the SNC alky stove is that if you don’t use up all of the fuel in one of your burns, you can snuff it out and once it’s cooled down, pour that fule back into your container rather than waste it. Very efficient.

  • http://www.facebook.com/titanickaram Titanickaram Copy N Right

    Hi Sir
    I would like to know, if you don’t mind, how long it takes to boil 2 cups of water (1 oz fuel) using “simmer ring”. Just want to know how big/hot the fire in that mode. Many thanks.

    • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

      Sir? C’mon there’s no need for that :) I’ve never timed a boil on the simmer setting because I usually only boil under the fastest configuration, which the simmer ring is not. If I get time I’ll run a test for you and report back, but can I ask why you would want to boil using the simmer?

  • Stefan Mifsud

    Can you use a Gauze wire pot stand to reduce weight instead of the stock stand

    • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

      Stefan, you can always use a different pot stand and a gauze wire stand would certainly be a lot lighter. It just wouldn’t be quite as well integrated or cool looking. But yes, it would work.