Stoves have come a long way since I started backpacking…or maybe I’ve come a long way. Regardless, I now have a system that far outshines the whisperlite stove I started with. When thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail in 2002 I often started the picnic table on fire when there was too much fuel in the line, finding and filling the bottle with white gas wasn’t too hard, but the weight and hassle (cleaning it…don’t get me started) of it all seems hilarious when I think back on it.
I started using alcohol stoves for my next thru-hike on the Pacific Crest Trail. My homemade beer can stove worked, but this time I started myself and my sleeping bag on fire, had the jb-weld that I used to fuse it together fail on me half way through the trail, and watched the top of my stove pop into the air when it finally failed…I was truly a danger to myself and the forest around me.
Now, I have the TOAKS Titanium Siphon Alcohol Stove, and it’s astonishingly easy to use, efficient, safe, lightweight, and yes, I might even say sexy.
Some of the things I love about the TOAKS alcohol stove?
You can turn it off. The big problem with most alcohol stoves is that once you pour the fuel in and light it, you have to wait until the fuel is all burned off to either add more fuel, or put the stove away. You definitely do not want to put a stove in your pack that still has traces of denatured alcohol in it only to have it run over the food in your food bag or over your gear. You REALLY do not want to try and add more fuel to the stove if it’s still lit. Yes, I’ve made that mistake, and yes I burned myself. The TOAKS stove has an open reservoir that you pour the fuel into which includes a barely perceptible double wall design that helps to pressurize the fuel into hot jets of fire so you can cook your meal, but once your water is boiling, or you dinner is ready, you can take the lid from your pot, cover the stove, and extinguish the flame. Once the stove has cooled off a few minutes, you can pour the extra fuel back into your bottle. This alone would make me use the stove, but there are some other very fine features:
It is efficient. I told a friend about this stove last summer, and being the gear-head he is, decided we should do a stove-off and test the TOAKS stove against a few other alcohol stoves on the market (and one of my old homemade versions) to see how they performed. Bill has been using the Trail Design Kojin stove, and the Trail Designs 12-10 stove, and in his words, “The TOAKS kicked my ass for boil time.”
We used 300ml of 50 degree water for each test, One ounce of 190 proof Everclear grain alcohol, and the same pot and windscreen to keep things equal.
The results to a rolling boil were:
TOAKS: 3 m 50 s
Trail Designs Kojin: 4 m 20 s
Trail Designs 12-10: 5 m 20 s
Renee’s homemade stove: big fail
The flame the TOAKS version pumps out is impressive. I was demoing the stove for some folks at the OR Show last summer in front of several gear-jaded hikers, and I was able to knock them out of their trade-show daze by setting the stove alight and boiling some water…to gasps and awes. Yes, it’s powerful.
I even took it on a ski tour trip recently and melted snow for water. I never would have taken an alcohol stove in cold temps when I needed a workhorse of a stove to melt water, boil water, and cook my dinner, but I was able to accomplish all three tasks with fuel to spare.
At .7 oz (20g) it’s incredibly lightweight, and fits into any pot or cup you may want to use. The new TOAKS TiStand Titanium Alcohol Duel Stand and Windscreen far surpasses the previous stand and windscreen they offered. I often will use the 550ml pot with this set-up as it fits just enough water to make a dinner or cup of coffee for one, and most of my trips are solo anyway.
I made a little video about how to put it together and use it:
So in conclusion:
- It’s light: Stove – .7 oz, TiStand – 2.5 oz, 550ml Pot 2.6 oz, equals a total of 5.8 oz for your entire cook system. (the whisperlite stove ALONE weighs 15.2oz)
- It’s efficient: 300ml of water boils in under 4 minutes
- It can turn off: the lid snuffs out the flame
- It’s sexy: the clean and simple lines and look of titanium are very visually appealing to this designer 🙂
- It’s affordable: The stove retails at $39.95, the TiStand at $24.95, and the 550ml pot at $33.95
I’ll be using this stove most of the year on the backpacking and packrafting trips I have planned. It’s important to note that in fire restriction conditions you need a stove that can be turned off. This version would not qualify for an actual off-switch even though you can easily extinguish the flame, but above all else, please don’t start a fire with whatever stove you are using. For most conditions this will be my go-to stove.