CAMPING & HIKING

Best Alcohol Stove: Eating Well on The Trail

Best Alcohol Stoves
Jerry Mueller
Written by Jerry Mueller

Alcohol stoves have become a popular accessory for backpackers and campers who prefer to travel light, yet still enjoy a warm meal or a hot cup of coffee at the end of the day.

There are DIY instructions available with a only a few mouse clicks, but for those looking for something a little stronger and more lasting than a weak pop can stove, we have compiled a list of products so you can find the best alcohol stove on the market today.

These handy stoves will meet the needs of everyone, from the average outdoorsman to the more rugged minimalist.

The Good and The Bad of Alcohol Stoves

There are several great reasons to add an alcohol stove to your list when packing for whatever outdoor activity you have in mind, but there are also a few things to consider before purchasing one.

Alcohol Stoves

The bad may not outweigh the good, but it is always important to know the flaws of any product before putting it into use.

Advantages:

  • They are compact and lightweight, taking up very little room in a pack or car.
  • They are easy to use, usually only needing a bit of fuel and a lighter to ignite.
  • There are rarely moving parts on these types of stoves, which means little to no maintenance.
  • The burners and stoves are usually lower cost than other larger models, as is the fuel.
  • They can be used safely, with minimal risk of injury, and usually include the proper tool for extinguishing the flames.
  • The recommended fuels for these stoves are eco-friendly and renewable, and can be found in most hardware stores, sporting goods stores, and gas stations.
  • Fuel can also be transported easily, in a small plastic bottle, or in any burner that includes a screw top, leak-proof lid.
  • They are quiet, due to a lack of pressurization, which means all you will hear while you cook are the sounds of nature, which is why you’re there in the first place.
  • Store bought alcohol stoves are usually made of sturdy metals, from aluminum to titanium, and are built to last through years of use.

Disadvantages:

  • When lighting and cooking with these stoves, you may not be able to see the flame. This may make you think it is not lit, and may tempt you to put your hand close to the invisible flame or onto the burner or stove itself.
  • You can’t add more fuel when it starts to run low, as you could with a wood burning stove.
  • The fuel used in these stoves doesn’t burn as hot as some other liquid fuels, such as butane or propane, so cooking times, even when just boiling water for a freeze-dried meal, will take a little longer.
  • Small alcohol stoves may not work as well in colder temperatures than other types of stoves, because of a lack of vaporization.
  • They can be knocked over if you aren’t careful, spilling the burning fuel out onto the ground, and perhaps into a great deal of kindling in heavily wooded, or even grassy areas.

Different Types of Alcohol Stoves

With a few different types of alcohol stoves available, it is best to consider what characteristics, and limitations, each comes with.

Type of alcohol stove

So you can choose the right stove for the type of cooking you plan to do while on trail.

  • Open Flame: These are simple stoves, where the burner is shaped like a shallow cup, with no frills. The fuel is added, lit, and sends a large flame up to the pan or pot above it.
  • Chimney: These look like the name suggests, with a wider base that thins out into a smaller opening at the top. The burning fuel creates an updraft, which then sucks more air in, because of the lower pressure.  This helps to create a more controlled burn and better heating.
  • Jets: These come in two types. The first is an open jet design, with an open center for adding the fuel, and jets around the opening that actually release the flames once the fuel is burning.
    The pot or pan is placed on a stand over the flames.  Side jet designs are similar to these, except the small jet holes are around the sides of the burner, with the opening capped off with your cooking pot, creating a pressurized burner.

Alcohol Stove Accessories

There a few accessories to look for when buying your alcohol stove, some included in a set, while others may need to be purchased separately.

  • Burners: This is what holds the fuel and creates the necessary heating.
  • Screw top lids: Though not necessary for cooking, these are handy for sealing the burner with the fuel inside, eliminating the need for extra containers.
  • Flame regulators/Snuffers: These are usually dual-purpose, giving you the ability to control the size of the flame and the temperature you’re cooking with, as well as providing you with a safe way to extinguish the flames when finished cooking.
  • Bases: These are sturdy stands to hold the burner, making it safer to use because there is less chance of knocking it over and spilling the burning fuel.
  • Stands: It may not be easy to hold a pan over the flaming burner for even the few minutes it will take to boil a bit of water, which is where the stands come in. They hold the pan over the heat, leaving your hands free to cook, or allowing you to sit back and relax while you’re waiting to eat.
  • Windscreens: On calm days, these are not necessary, but if a wind springs up when you’re trying to cook, they are a necessity. They will save on wasted fuel, and allow your flames to reach your pan without interruption, for a more efficient and faster cook time.

Top Alcohol Stoves for 2017

White Box Alcohol Stove

White Box Alcohol Stove

Weight: 1.1 oz

Dimensions: Stove is 2.25” in height and diameter, windscreen is 24.3 x 3.75 inches

Specific Features: Made from recycled heavy duty aluminum bottles

Best Use: Backpacking, hiking, hunting, camping, cycling

Description: These lightweight White Box Alcohol Stove were the very first open top stove manufactured using recycled aluminum drink bottles, designed by Bill Ballowe in 2006.  These stoves revolutionized the way those traveling light could prepare their daily meals.

With a 2.5 ounce fuel capacity, these compact and portable stoves can burn for about 20 minutes, though with their high heat, it will take less than 5 to boil the water you need for a freeze-dried meal or a few cups of coffee.

They come with a handy windscreen for those blustery days.  The only issue with the White Box stove is that it needs to be placed on a flat surface, like a rock or a piece of board, because it lacks a base.

Be sure to let the stove burn out completely, since the metal will become extremely hot and must be allowed to cool before handling.

Related: White Box has another alcohol stove available, but it is only for single person use. It holds less fuel, has a shorter burn time and cooks smaller portions.

Solo travelers may find the smaller stove useful, but for those out in the wild with their significant other or a couple of friends, the larger original stove is the best choice.

Evernew Titanium Alcohol Stove

Evernew Titanium Alcohol Stove

Weight: 1.2 oz

Dimensions: 2.81 x 1.65 inches

Specific Features: Titanium body

Best Use: Hiking, camping, backpacking, hunting, cycling

Description: With a capacity to hold 2.3 ounces of denatured alcohol, this compact stove keeps your pack light without having to sacrifice hot food and drinks. Evernew Titanium Alcohol Stove bi-level jet system gives you extreme heating, without affecting the integrity of the titanium stove.

And when your meal is finished and eaten, there is no long waiting time to pack up your gear, thanks to the metal’s ability to cool quickly.  There is no lid for the Evernew alcohol stove, so you can’t travel with fuel inside it, and you must carry your fuel separately.

It is also difficult to snuff out the flame, because there is nothing included for this purpose, but with a bit of ingenuity, you could create your own snuffer with a large pot or another similar sized object.

This stove can also burn wood or other solid fuels if you run out of alcohol on your trip, though they may not burn as hot as the alcohol would, and cooking times may be extended.  This durable titanium stove will last through years of outdoor use.

Related: Though they manufacture numerous lightweight travel items, the Titanium model is the only alcohol stove that Evernew has produced.

OUTAD Alcohol Stove

OUTAD Alcohol Stove

Weight: 4.59 oz

Dimensions: Base is 3.86 x 3.86 x 2.29 inches, stove is 2.68 x 2.68 x 1.74 inches

Specific Features: Aluminum base, brass stove, mesh carry bag

Best Use: Backpacking, hiking, camping, hunting, cycling

Description: The base of this OUTAD Alcohol Stove is incredibly stable, holding your pots and pans with ease while wind proofing your flame.  This allows your fuel to burn much more efficiently, so you can carry less and still stay well-fed.

There are also four ventilation holes in the base, keeping the airflow at its optimum level.  Included with the stove is a foldable ring that can be used to control the size and temperature of your flame, and when your finished cooking, it also doubles as a snuffer.

The OUTAD alcohol stove also comes with an O-ring cap which seals it perfectly, so you can pack it filled with fuel, reducing the need to carry extra bottles, and when you’re finished cooking, just close it up tight, saving the leftover alcohol for your next meal.

Related: OUTAD has a couple of outdoor stoves available, but this is the most compact model, and the only one that uses alcohol.

The others all use butane, which means carrying extra tanks on every trip.  The alcohol stove’s size and convenience make it a much better choice for those who prefer traveling light.

BeGrit Portable Alcohol Spirit Stove

BeGrit Portable Alcohol Spirit Stove

Weight: 1.87 lbs

Dimensions: 7.3 inches in height

Specific Features: Stainless steel construction

Best Use: Camping, backpacking, hiking, hunting, kitchen use

Description: Not only is this handy alcohol stove perfect for those out in the wilderness, BeGrit Portable Alcohol Spirit Stove can also be used by those in need of a chaffing dish for at home gatherings, both indoor and out.

The burner itself looks similar to a can of Sterno, with a small chimney on the top and an included lid. Together these help to keep the fuel from evaporating, as well as for snuffing the flame when finished cooking, though it does not screw on to carry fuel when traveling.

The included stand will keep the burner steady when placed on a base’s flat surface, and also holds the pan firmly so you don’t have to.  The stand also has holes to increase the ventilation, so your flames will never lack the oxygen they need to burn evenly and efficiently.

The BeGrit alcohol spirit stove includes a large pan and lid, but can also be used with other Alocs cookware if needed.

Related: BeGrit also has an Outdoor Camping Furnace Alcohol Spirit Stove Set for sale that has similar functions to the Portable model, but it is larger and about twice the weight.

The furnace set also has no ventilation holes in the base, uses a much larger pot, and though it can cook for larger groups, it is not as convenient for the minimalist camper.

Solo Alcohol Burner – Spirit Alcohol Stove

Solo Alcohol Burner - Spirit Alcohol Stove

Weight: 3.5 oz

Dimensions: 2.9 x 2.9 x 1.8 inches

Specific Features: Brass body

Best Use: Camping, hiking, backpacking, hunting

Description: Though it could be used separately as a heating source for cooking, this Solo Alcohol Burner – Spirit Alcohol Stove is meant to be a companion to the Solo Stove.  The burner can be placed inside the stove as an alternate heating source when any wood in the area is too wet to burn.

When used with the stove, the air flow system gives the burner the proper ventilation to boil water quickly.  The burner comes with a flame regulator that helps you control the size of your flame, and even snuff it out safely using the attached handle.

Also included is a screw top cap that seals the burner with or without fuel inside, using a rubber gasket to prevent any leakage.  If using the burner and stove together, the burner can be stored directly inside the stove when traveling, conserving your pack space and giving your more room for other essentials.

The Solo burner uses all kinds of denatured alcohol, as well as methanol or other similar fuels, all of which can be purchased at numerous hardware stores or gas stations.

Related: Though Solo has numerous wood burning stoves, this is the only alcohol burner they have produced at this time.

Liberty Mountain Westwind Stove Set

Liberty Mountain Westwind Stove Set

Weight: 3.8 oz

Dimensions: Burner is 2.85 x 1.75 inches

Specific Features: Includes the Trangia Spirit Burner and the Olicamp Westwind stove

Best Use: Backpacking, hiking, camping, cyclists, hunting, backyard use

Description: This Liberty Mountain Westwind Stove Set includes the Trangia Spirit burner, complete with simmer ring and screw cap, and the pot stand.  Setup is simple, with the burner capable of storing fuel when traveling, so there is no need for separate containers.

The stand comes in three pieces that fit together easily, making a triangular pot stand that also doubles as a windscreen for more efficient heating and less wasted fuel.  The simmer ring gives you the maximum flame control, and can also extinguish the flame after cooking, so there is no need for a lengthy weight while the fire burns itself out.

The stand is versatile enough to support numerous different pot sizes, so if cooking for one or a group, you will always have the right cookware for the job.

Related: Liberty Mountain has another compact stove available, the Mini Trangia, which is extremely lightweight and includes an aluminum pan with a lid, and a windshield to block the burner.

Though small and easy to carry, this is only suitable for lone backpackers or campers, and does not have the capacity to cook larger meals or boil higher quantities of water when traveling in pairs or larger groups.

TOAKS Titanium Siphon Alcohol Stove

TOAKS Titanium Siphon Alcohol Stove

Weight: 0.7 oz

Dimensions: 2.125 x 1.5 inches

Specific Features: Titanium body

Best Use: Camping, backpacking, hiking, cycling, hunting

Description: This durable TOAKS Titanium Siphon Alcohol Stove holds up to 2.7 ounces of alcohol, though for the best performance it is best to use about half of that.

Only 1 ounce of alcohol will burn for 11 ½ minutes, more than enough time to boil 2 cups of water twice, and it only takes a few seconds after lighting for the flames to be hot enough for cooking.

Despite its efficiency, this little stove does not come with a base, and must be used on level surfaces, like flat ground or rocks, to ensure it will stay upright.  Though not included with the stove, TOAKS has an optional wire mesh frame that could be added on with the stove for use as a pot stand.

There are also numerous accessories for the Titanium Siphon stove that could be purchased separately, including a windscreen, a pot and a spoon, all of which are handy to have when out in the wilderness and needing a hot meal.

Related: Though they manufacture a couple of wood burning stoves for backpackers and campers, the Titanium Siphon is the only alcohol fueled stove that TOAKS has produced so far.

Esbit Brass Alcohol Burner Camping Stove

Esbit Brass Alcohol Burner Camping Stove

Weight: 3.25 oz

Dimensions: 1.8 x 2.9 inches

Specific Features: Brass body

Best Use: Backpacking, camping, kayaking, hiking, hunting, cycling

Description: The Esbit Brass burner is a handy cooking tool for heating up water or meals when traveling light out in the woods.  It comes with a flame regulator that can help you to control the size of your flame, or put it out when finished.

This can be accomplished safely using the fold-away handle, keeping your hands clear of the fire while still giving you complete control.  There is no base included with this burner, nor is there a pot stand, but Esbit has many accessories available to suit your needs.

With the leak-proof screw top, there is no need to carry extra bottles, or discard any unused fuel when finished cooking and ready to pack up.  This burner is best used with denatured alcohol, for a cleaner burn, as well as its availability and cheaper cost.

Keep in mind that the brass body will become hot with use, so be sure to let it cool completely before handling it.

Related: Though Esbit has 5 different models of cook stoves available, the Brass Alcohol model is the only burner available.  This burner can fit into any of these cooking sets, or by itself with a homemade pot stand and base.

Conclusion

Having an alcohol stove on a camping or backpacking trip is not a necessity, but can make a lengthy trip far from the comforts of home much more enjoyable.  They are convenient, easy to carry, simple to use, and don’t add a lot of weight to your pack.

Choose your Alcohol Stoves

Having a hot cup of coffee or tea to warm your hands on a cool night may just be the difference between an all right day and a great one.

Of course, with so many alcohol stoves on the market these days, there is no way we could fit them all on our list, but if you feel one should be included with our top brands, please let us know in the comments section.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jerry Mueller
Jerry Mueller

Jerry ‘Boy Scout’ Mueller spends 99% of his time camping or teaching others how to live in the wild. He became an Eagle Scout which is the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouting division when he was 17 and after that he still lives the scout life. Jerry always plans neatly every trip, takes leadership very seriously and if you listen to his tips and stories, you can learn tons of useful things.

  • Kendra Larson

    My personal favorite is the Solo. It has an excellent stove, is very easy to use and very quick to heat up 48 ounces of water (only took about 10 minutes). Not one single mishap with the seal leaking, which was my major concern when buying it. You will fall in love with little marvel of engineering!

  • Jerry Mueller

    The solo looked so simple – and it is, but the performance is at par with other more expensive stoves. It’s very safe to use and cooking is seamless and fast!

  • Rachel Mohan

    I can vouch for quite a few of those listed: the Esbit, Evernew and the Toaks. I also have a Trangia too. The Toaks and Evernew are the quickest to get going and seemingly burn hotter than the other two. I only really use the stoves to boil water or heat food up. I’ve not yet mastered the art of cooking with one. Something always ends up going wrong! The lack of flame control seems to play a big part in this…

  • Jerry Mueller

    My buddies and I swear by these alcohol stoves, especially when we have a lot of gear packed. They’re very compact and that’s why we love these babies. It takes a little bit longer to get some food cooked or the coffee boiling, but all in all, they’re just perfect for our needs.

  • JJOz

    Great article, but just one correction… for the Evernew Titanium alcohol stove, it says “With a capacity to hold 2.3 ounces of denatured gasoline”… this should say “…denatured alcohol”. I guess we all know gasoline (petrol) should never be used in alcohol stoves as it is a potentially explosive fuel. Cheers

    • Jerry Mueller

      Hi and thanks for this correction! I appreciated this and glad you stopped by!

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