An alcohol stove is a popular choice for camping because they can be very small and compact, and make a solid alternative if you don’t want to lug around a large propane camping stove or if you don’t want to cook over your campfire.
There are guides out there that show you how to make a basic alcohol stove out of a drink can, and they definitely work, although they’re made from thin aluminum and can become damaged easily. If you’d rather opt for something sturdier right off the shelf, we’ve got you covered.
Top 5 Alcohol Stoves of 2017
|Esbit 5-Piece Lightweight Trekking Cook||985 ml||Brass;Aluminium||0.92 lbs|
|Vargo Decagon||59 ml||Titanium||0.5 lbs|
|Out-d Stainless Steel Camping Stove||100 ml||Stainless Steel||0.55 lbs|
|Trangia Spirit Burner||88.7 ml||Brass||0.26 lbs|
|Solo Stove’s Complete Set||Not detailed.||304 Stainless Steel, Nichrome wire||0.56 lbs|
Pros and Cons of Using an Alcohol burner for Camping
The pros for alcohol stoves are that fuel is easy to come by, they’re very lightweight, and the book Long-Distance Hiking reports that after speaking to many hikers, this is the only type of camping stove that had a zero percent failure rate overall. The fuel is very inexpensive, there aren’t any essential moving parts, they’re durable, and dead-simple to cook with.
Cons include things like the fact that it doesn’t quite get as hot as other fuel sources so you might need to carry around more of that affordable fuel, although an oz or two of fuel should be plenty to cook a meal, so one 16oz water bottle will keep you going for days and days. If a gas stove takes about three and a half minutes to boil some water, the alcohol stove may take about five or six minutes instead.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, it’s time to reveal our top 5 choices. Each stove on this list could be considered the best backpacking stove in its own right, so there really aren’t any wrong choices here. As usual, it comes back to finding the best value stove for your budget – and that’s exactly what we’re here to do.
Esbit 5-Piece Lightweight Trekking Cook
This set includes the burner itself, along with a ‘stand’ for it (in other words, the stove.) You usually can’t put your pots or pans directly onto the burner, so in most cases you’ll need to purchase your burner and the actual stove separately. We’ll be taking a look at a great choice for a burner, and some stove options as well, including one that folds up into practically nothing. This one, on the other hand, doesn’t fold up but that doesn’t matter because it can all nest inside of the pot (which is going to take up the same amount of space either way), and only weighs 15 ounces.
Vargo Decagon Alcohol Stove
Here’s a really simple option that is akin to the homemade pop can stoves we mentioned earlier. The difference is that it’s stronger, you can even step on it without breaking it. It also has a stability plate along the bottom to prevent tipping or spills, and you can put your pot right on top of it. It’s simple, classic, durable, and it does the job.
Out-d Stainless Steel Camping Stove
This one is semi-foldable, and has longer arms that extend out for holding larger pots and pans than the Vargo Decagon is able to. It’s very affordable, and you’ll just need to add the fuel and something to cook inside of.
Trangia Spirit Burner
This simple little burner and something to hold your pot is all you need. You can pop it inside of a windscreen like this (click here to learn more) for a much more fuel and heat efficient experience. The nice thing about this little burner in particular is the fact that it has the screw-top so that you can toss it into your pack when you’re done with it and not worry about getting leftover alcohol on anything.
Solo Stove’s Complete Set
This is the priciest item on our list, but it includes everything you’ll need except for a really nice pot, which you can grab here (click here to learn more). You’ll get the solo stove, a very useful and big foldable windscreen, one of the best little alcohol burners, the Light My Fire Swedish firesteel, and a tinderstick to make starting your fire, and keeping it burning efficiently, a pain-free process.
As you can probably tell, the core idea for all of these is essentially the same. You need a little reservoir to put the alcohol to light, and you need something to put your pots or pans on to absorb the heat of the flame while holding it steady and secure over the burner.
While it’s a simple idea, there are some key differences between these various products, but it’s all pretty clear and self-evident what those are just by looking at them. So, all that’s left is to check them out, and pick the one that makes the most sense to you now that you’re armed with knowledge from your research.