Alcohol pack stove ... small!

I am thinking of getting an alochol stove for a BWCA trip. Something real simple, like a Vargo Triad, or an Etowah II. I will use it to make coffee, hot chocolate, or steel cut oats. I can park nearly anywere and get a warm drink, or quick meal. IT will NOT likely be my main heat sorce for cooking. Any experience or comments. Lastly, can a guy cook up a fish or two with a small alcohol stove if he had to (time not being an issue)?


I use a homemade pepsi can stove. A few years ago I purchased a regular Trangia cookset with stove, pot, fry pan lid and windscreen. The stove has a simmer ring and a lid. I have yet to use the whole set as it is heavier than my regular billy pot.

But in answer to your question yes, you can do regular cooking on an alcohol stove IF you can load enough fuel and control the simmer.

Can stoves
I fooled around making “pepsi can” stoves last fall. The advantage of such stoves are light weight, not such a big deal in boating.

My benchmark was taking 2 cups of water from 60 degrees to boiling, which my best stove attempt did in about eight minutes. Can-stove geeks have figured out ways to regulate these stoves, but practically speaking, they just have one setting, which is full burn. Okay for boiling water, but difficult to truly cook on 'em.

You can find all kinds of info on building can stoves on the net. Two most common terms to search for are pepsi can and heinekin, which are too favorite cans for building stoves. They are easy to make, small, and light.

I was told you must get proper stove fuel from a marine store. They sell alcohol marked as stove fuel. However, I had best result with hardware store variety denatured alcohol, and it is about 25% of the price of marine stove fuel. I was surprised that REI sells the hardware store variety for their stoves. Good choice.

~~Chip Walsh, Gambrills MD

I like my Trangia
I got the Mini Trangia at REI a number of years ago for just that purpose. It takes a little longer to heat things than a butane/propane or gasoline stove, but it’s small and very convenient. It also simmers a lot better than my Whisperlite, which is its other use for me.

Using the simmer ring takes a little practrice, but it’s no biggie.

And definitely use the hardware store alcohol – it works fine, and costs less. Nalgene plastic fuel bottles work great for storing it securely.

Can Stoves
Why buy when you can make one for under $10. I’ve made a bunch of different alcohol stoves and my fav is a photon stove that I made out of red bull cans. It’s super fast at heating and using very little fuel – and it’s so light, you won’t know that you’re carrying it. In my book, lighter is better, because you don’t have to spend as much energy pushing it around the water.

The best resource that I’ve found online about making stoves is at: The site shows how to make a bunch of different stoves.

I’ve used pop can stoves on a good number of trip, but I like the option better for one to two people trips or bigger trips if everyone is doing their own cooking.

Alcohol Stove
I think the alcohol stove will work well for your lunches/breaks. Heating water is what it does best, so tea, coffee, cup-o-soups are ideal.

However, I use the esbit stove. I like the solid pellets better, but it is the same basic thing -an ultralight stove that heats water.

You can cook a fish with one provided you’re poaching it (ie hot water cooking). I doubt that it will fry. BTW - I like poached fish. Mostly I “bake” fish in foil, but poaching is second.

Speaking of heating water…
poached fish…I think I like it. It got me to thinking about a fish soup of sorts. Do you guys ever take along a boullion qube and dehydrated veggies? Peas, corn, taters etc? I wounder if a quick soup break would be nice in Early June on a cool day?

Ditto on the photon
I’ve made a half dozen photon stoves tweaking the design. I have a really nice 24 hole burner one that will boil 2 cups of water in about 5 minutes with less than an ouce of alcohol. Total system pot, stove, windscreen, pot support, priming pan, pot lifter and empty fuel bottle weighs in about 6 ounces.

As far as meals that can be made by boiling water, check out Tons of nice meals that you make generally with boiling water and a freezerbag. I use an insulated lunchbag (wally world for $.99) to keep it warm to “simmer”.

A friend of mine has the rei trangia, and she likes it since she can buy fuel anywhere. I have an msr superfly, which is super quick and light and great for a quick cup of coffee or a quick meal. But I have gotten stuck at times when I couldn’t find fuel for it in town,and I was backpacking in a national park (Crater Lake) that didn’t allow fires. (That was a winter snowshoe trip, and boy was I hungry by the end of it).

Fish Chowder
Bear Creek makes a chowder mix that you add your fish. That is a creamy base. For a clear base I like Knorr Vegetable Soup mix and some minute rice. Cook as directed and add the fish for the last 10 minutes.

Both of these are long cook, ie not cup-o-soups.

Alcohol stove
I bought a small Trangia with a collapsible cooking platform for under $20 from I tried to make the Pepsi can type but couldn’t get it to work as well. The Trangia works very well heating water, soup, etc. and it is quite windproof. I use denatured alcohol from the hardware store. I like the fact that the fuel is eco-friendly if spilled on the ground.

agreed that weight/size are
not such an issue with paddle camping, but if you do want to use an alcohol stove and want to minimize the amount of fuel used (think 2-3cups boiling on 15ml’s of alchol) look at the Caldera Cone, this is the JetBoil system for alcohol stoves. The Caldera Cone weighs a wee bit over an ounce and stores flat…many times I’m just dumping the contents of my backpack into the rear hatch but when I remember I’ll take the state park camper type coleman burner/small propane tank which is awesome for baking.