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Alcohol Stoves

Alcohol stoves are relatively simple, single-burner designs that are most popular with the ultralight, thru-hiking, and DIY crowd. At their most basic, they consist of a small metal fuel chamber or reservoir, which holds the alcohol. The alcohol vapors are burned via burner holes. Commercial models offer a range of more advanced options though, including the ability to simmer, an on/off ability, windscreens for improved fuel efficiency, and the ability to save unused fuel in the stove for your next use.

Alcohol stoves are best for solo or duo lightweight backpackers who simply want to boil water in above freezing temps, or as an emergency backup stove.

Top Picks

Trangia 25-3 UL

user rating: 5 of 5 (5 reviews)

These stoves are easy to use and maintain. They are incredibly durable and work in all weather conditions.

Reasons to Buy

  • Durability
  • Ease of use
  • Low maintenance
  • Low cost fuel
  • Run silent
  • Consistent performance

Reasons to Avoid

  • Bulky
  • Heat regulation

I have been using Trangia stoves in my Duke of Edinburgh programme for over 10 years. The stoves are easy to use and the learning curve is very short for those who are new to camping. All of the parts of the stoves pack down into a nested set consisting of a stand, a wind shield, two pots, and a frying pan. The actual "stove" or burner is basically a brass cup that holds methylated-spirits.  The Trangia burners are very easy to light. I generally use a a ferro rod which gives immediate results.

Read more: Trangia 25-3 UL reviews (5)

Trangia 27-8 UL/HA

user rating: 5 of 5 (3 reviews)

An ideal, reasonably lightweight cooking system for those who are willing to carry a bit of extra weight in order to have everything, but the kitchen sink! Well-suited for back country individuals focused more on comfort camping than long-distance backpacking.

Reasons to Buy

  • Offers a variety of cooking options for fuller menu choices
  • Entire cookset with stove—30.34oz.
  • Virtually maintenance free

Reasons to Avoid

  • Takes up a fair amount of pack space
  • Expect to use (and carry) much more fuel for gourmet meals
  • Slower cook time than with a white gas stove
  • Frying pan was teflon (this was not listed when ordered)

BACKGROUND OF REVIEW: On a 7-day September backpacking trip to Isle Royale National Park, three adult males used the Trangia 27-8 UL/HA as their sole cooking system. Our focus was more camping than hiking. We only averaged 6-8 miles per day, and our 45-50lb packs carried nearly all the comforts of home (including, books to read, cameras, and one guy had an 8lb tent!). Food was a significant focus on our trip. We had a hot breakfast every morning and a hot dinner every night. Lunch was on the trail, snacking along the way.

Read more: Trangia 27-8 UL/HA reviews (3)

Trangia 27-5 UL

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (5 reviews)

A complete cook system that is quiet and efficient. Always a pleasure to be around.

Reasons to Buy

  • Ease of use
  • Ease of maintenance
  • Well made

Reasons to Avoid

  • Slightly slower cooking times
  • Poor high altitutde (>14K feet) performance

I'm an "Outdoor Professional" having worked as an Outward Bound instructor, Park Service Backcountry Ranger and program logistician since 1985. I've been using the Trangia Stove System as my only backpacking and expedition sea kayaking now for more than six years. In other words, this is NOT a "I just unpacked the product and it rocks!" type of review.Pros: Very easy to use. No pumping, no toxic fuel spills, no clogging. The most quiet stove system I've ever used. I really appreciate being able to hear the sounds of the beautiful places I get to visit and work in.

Read more: Trangia 27-5 UL reviews (5)

Esbit Alchohol Burner

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (5 reviews)

The Esbit Spirit Burner (Alcohol Burner) is a nice alcohol stove with simmer control. It is lighter than the comparable Trangia and comes with a handle on the simmer-control-plate / snuffer.

Reasons to Buy

  • Lightweight
  • Fuel is cheap and easily available
  • Burns clean (no soot)
  • Comes with simmer-control lid with handle
  • Screw-top seals in unused fuel

Reasons to Avoid

  • Flame is invisible in daylight
  • Cooks slowly
  • Requires windscreen
  • Requires pot stand
  • Doesn't work well in cold environments (below ~14 F)
  • Methanol fuels are toxic

I picked up the Esbit Spirit Burner (alcohol burner) as an add-on when I got my Emberlit FireAnt wood-burning stove. In my mind, it was (and still is) more of a novelty item. My thinking here had been that it's a pain to go hunting for dry fuel on a wet day. Why not simply pick up an alcohol stove for those rainy-day (or post rainy-day) hikes? While I'm still not likely to give up my wood-burning stove in favor of an alcohol stove, this little Esbit stove has performed admirably both in tests and on the trail.

Read more: Esbit Alchohol Burner reviews (5)

Esbit Alcohol Stove & Trekking Cookset CS985HA

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (3 reviews)

Esbit cs985h-ex cookset, very well made hard anodised with a 930 mil pot and lid.

Reasons to Buy

  • Strong
  • Quick to boil when using a windscreen
  • Pot is fitted with a heat exchanger

Reasons to Avoid

  • Not as light as a Caldera Cone or White Box

Here is a photo of the esbit cookset in its stuffsack next to my Optimus Heat Pouch (a perfect partnership!). The cookset weighs 430grams with out the Optimus Heat Pouch. It is a very durable well made cookset and the heat exchanger fitted to the 930mil pot is a very nice touch. As you can see in the picture the cookset is really quite compact and if you use the Optimus Heat Pouch it fits in with room to spare. I did two boil tests, each with 500 mil of cold water. The first test was without a windscreen.

Read more: Esbit Alcohol Stove & Trekking Cookset CS985HA reviews (3)

Toaks Titanium Siphon Alcohol Stove

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1 review)

Very lightweight and small (about 4 cm high) and 44 grams (that's the weight of the stove and the steel mesh pot stand).

Reasons to Buy

  • Quite good, with very small pots (ie 400mil titanium mug) 8.45 boil time

Reasons to Avoid

  • Needs a windscreen

This photo shows the actual weight of the Toaks stove and the other photo shows the stove with a 10 cm windscreen and the Toaks storage bag. So the Toaks stove is 44 grams with steel pot stand and storage bag, put a 10 cm windscreen and the total weight is 70 grams. The pot I did my first boil test with was a 400 mil titanium mug/pot with lid. I filled it with 350 mil of cold water (enough for a freeze-dried meal or a nice cup of coffee or loose leaf tea). This is the setup I used for the first boil test, an Alpkit 400 mil pot/mug with lid.

Read more: Toaks Titanium Siphon Alcohol Stove review (1)

Evernew Ti Alcohol Stove

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1 review)

This stove does not put itself at the top of the alcohol burner class unless you combine it with the Evernew Titanium wind stand. It does not have a screw cap, is difficult to put out, and it throws a very hot flame mainly straight up (instead of out the sides like a white box side burner). It does cool much quicker than a heavy Trangia and is miserly on fuel if you simmer a pot directly on top only using the side burners. Now when you combine it with the Evernew Titantium DX stand, then this little burner really starts to shine. If you need a lot of heat the DX stand uses a power plate to reflect heat back toward the burner and superheat the fuel. This should never be attempted with any other stove that is not designed for it. Reflected heat is extremely dangerous and will lead to fuel boil over with heavier metal stoves like the Trangia. This comment is for use of the power plate use only. In summary, the Evernew Ti stove works great. I recommend the use of a heat exchanger pot to cut fuel consumption by 30 percent and the use of the DX stand to go along with it.

Reasons to Buy

  • Blooms quickly with a blue flame
  • Uses very little fuel on simmer (with a pot on top)
  • Cools quickly
  • Lightweight but not fragile
  • Has a tighter flame pattern than a side burner (which can throw flames up the side of small pots)
  • Fits the DX stand like a hand in a glove with options to use just the base, just the windscreen to simmer, both base and windscreen, and the power plate
  • Does not have a burnable wick as some Trangia look alike stoves do
  • Easy to figure out exactly how much fuel is needed. I need only enough to wet the bottom of the stove to make coffee. Two minute burn is all that is needed.

Reasons to Avoid

  • No screw cap
  • No simmer ring
  • Uses a little more fuel at high burn than some other stoves (although this high burn is not wasted when using a heat exchanger pot)

Have used this stove alone and with the DX stand. As stated above, alone it does not shine and I could not see spending the money if you are using a cat can stove now and it fits your pot exactly. In that case, this stove would not offer any advantage. If you have varying needs like boiling a lot of water faster than most stoves out there and simmering a very small pot or espresso maker, then I recommend this stove with the DX stand. To me that combination can not be beat by any system I have test. The main objective is to get out and go camping, not sit home and obsess about our gear. Let's go backpacking!

Read more: Evernew Ti Alcohol Stove review (1)

Trangia 27-3 UL

user rating: 4 of 5 (2 reviews)

To summarize, this is a great stove if you like simple and ultra-reliable things, like to eat well no matter the weather, and maybe don’t mind a little extra weight of stove and fuel.

The Swedish made Trangia 27-3 “ultralight” is a true classic and one of the very best cook kits on the market. This kit consists of the wonderful brass Trangia alcohol burner with simmer and storage caps, an elaborate two part stand / windscreen, two decent sized lightweight aluminum pots, a non-stick aluminum frying pan, an aluminum pot gripper, a thin plastic disc intended to prevent abrasion of the non-stick surface of the fry pan when packed, a nylon strap with metal buckle to hold everything together when packed for travel and a yellow plastic bag intended to wrap the brass burner when packed up inside the kit, thus preventing rattle and the corrosion caused by the contact of dissimilar metals when stored for long periods of time.

Read more: Trangia 27-3 UL reviews (2)

Trangia Hard Anodized Stove Kit

user rating: 4 of 5 (2 reviews)

I am a fan of Tragia cook sets. I own this set in the 27 and also own the Mini-T 28. Both are great and have different uses. This one, the 27 series size, is especially nice. Makes a nice camp kitchen set or base-camp trail kitchen set. Very easy to use. Can buy fuel anywhere.

Reasons to Buy

  • Does what it is designed to do and does it well.
  • Super easy to use, bullet proof cooking.
  • Serves up more than you would think it would for its size.
  • Can cook whole meals on the trails, not just trail foods.
  • Simple and timeless styling.
  • Packs easy for day/weekend hikes or tent camping.
  • Easy to light. Self contained system, space saver.
  • No parts to break. Works when others often fail.

Reasons to Avoid

  • Some people think it is too heavy for backpacks, I don't.
  • Pack in a dry/waterproof bag because of soot deposits.
  • You need an extra wrap-around windscreen.

I pretty much agree with all the 5 star reviews for this and the other Trangia cooksets. Setup is a breeze! No parts to break and it does what it was designed to do...deliver fully cooked foods in a self contained set for the Trekker or Roadie.   Easy to use and you can buy fuel anywhere, here in the U.S. and other countries! One of the few cooking stove systems you can take on an airplane (without fuel, of course).  And you can enter into most every country with it (without fuel, of course).   BTW, that reminds me, the Trangia cook sets are very popular outside of the U.S. That said, take two if possible. Someone will always want yours and giving it or trading it can come in handy in a pinch! :)

Read more: Trangia Hard Anodized Stove Kit reviews (2)

Trangia 25-8 UL/HA

user rating: 4 of 5 (1 review)

Lightweight, packable enough to take even when you won't use it.

Reasons to Buy

  • Weight
  • Reliable in calm or wind
  • Nested
  • Durable

Reasons to Avoid

  • Slow
  • Can rattle if not careful

I am a volunteer for an international boys group ages 11-18. I mention that because while I am doing this review based on my PERSONAL experience, I want you to understand the context of that experience. I camp a bunch. I camp with youth. While that means that I try to help each boy to become more self-reliant, it also means that I am ultimately responsible to ensure dry, warm, fed youths. Over the years that I have been doing this I have developed an "Emergency" BOX. It fits in my truck and can handle most problems.

Read more: Trangia 25-8 UL/HA review (1)

More Alcohol Stoves

Trailspace reviewers have shared 178 reviews of 56 different alcohol stoves.

Browse & Filter All Alcohol Stove Reviews »

All about Alcohol Backpacking Stoves

What should I consider when choosing an alcohol stove?

What are the advantages of an alcohol stove?

What are the downsides?

Can I make my own alcohol stove?

If you're a handy DIY-er, you can make your own alcohol stoves from aluminum soda cans (aka a Pepsi, beverage-can, or pop-can stove,) or from a cat food can (such as Fancy Feast), among other materials and designs. Building plans abound on the internet.

Is there a difference between DIY and commercial alcohol stoves?

"Yes," said Brian Vargo, founder of Vargo Designs, when we asked him.

"There is a big difference between the dependability of a soda can stove versus any of our stoves. A thin aluminum soda can is only so strong and wasn't intended to withstand any accidental pressure from a fall or bumping into something. Reliability is key. Our Decagon stove, for example, has no moving parts and has been run over by a car and still been fully functional."

What fuels are compatible with alcohol stoves?

Alcohol fuels include the following, though not all are recommended for all stoves:

Best Alcohol Stoves

Check out the top-rated alcohol stoves above for Trailspace reviewers' recommendations. Then review your own stoves and add to that expertise. 

When was the alcohol stove invented?

Alcohol Stove Safety

To prevent injury or damage, always consult and follow your stove manufacturer's instructions and fuel recommendations. Use stoves in a safe, well ventilated, outdoor area. Be aware of and adhere to any fire bans, ordinances, and other rules, and practice Leave No Trace outdoor ethics.

Other Types of Backpacking and Camp Stoves

Find more backpacking and camp stoves reviewed in these related categories:

Compressed Fuel Canister Stoves

Liquid Fuel Stoves

Multi-Fuel Stoves

+6 more types

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