great stove for backpacking
this stove is perfect for what it is supposed to be. a light weight backpacking stove to heat food/drink for those on the move. it was designed to be used by soldiers during wwII. today it is used by the lightweight and ultra light backpackers. it's primary use is to boil water for a hot beverage and to add to the dehydrated food such as the mountain house dinners. car campers and chefs may want a different stove with greater capabilities. for backpackers on the go this is the ultimate stove and its design is over 60 years old.
some of the negative reviews are entertaining. perhaps these users did not understand the above mentioned design features of the esbit stove.
performance of "all hiking stoves" require the use of some common sense. they all require a wind screen. to increase efficiency, all pots must be sized properly for the stoves used and when used to boil water the pots should have a lid.
my experience with the esbit stove has been nothing but positive. i mate the gsi aluminum teapot to it. it holds a liter/quart of water. it is about 5" in diameter and has a lid. i get rolling boils for 2 cups of water in, between 6 and 8 minutes, depending on environmental conditions. a tablet lasts 13 minutes. the unused portions of the tablets can be conserved by simply blowing them out like a birthday candle. 2 cups of water are good for oatmeal and coffee/tea for breakfast, or, to rehydrate a mountain house dinner and a hot drink. ultralight backpackers get by on <2 tablets per day.
the fuel tablets weigh 1/2 oz each. the stove weighs 3.5 oz with the aluminum wind screen windscreen. it fits in your pocket or in your pot. for those worried about scorching the ground below the stove fold over a piece of aluminum foil and set it below it. the foil will reflect the heat up to the pot.
my white gas stove (svea123) is over 19 oz's. then you have to add fuel and worry about leaks. white gas flares and smells. it is also very flammable when all over your gear.
the pop can and trangia stoves use alcohol which can also leak and require a container to carry the fuel in. these stoves do no more cooking than the esbit stove.
when you have the lindel valve on a canister stove leak, leaving you with no fuel you will swear off these too.
after having a liquid fuel container leak all over my pack i no longer use liquid fuel stoves. for me now, it's solid fuel only. and the most convenient solid fuel is esbit followed by wood. the tablets also make great wood fire starters in an emergency.
a popular complaint is that solid fuel blackens pots. the esbit residue is easily washed off. much easer than the wood residue. some prefer the blackened pot as a black pot heats faster than a non blackened stainless, aluminum or titanium pot. use a plastic grocery bag to keep your gear from getting sooty. another complaint is that the tabs smell. well white gas, kerosene and alcohol smell too. the esbit smell is very faint. only noticeable when you stick your nose to it.
lighting a fire is a mandatory skill that needs to be learned before going in the woods. those who have trouble lighting the esbit tablet (or feel compelled to eat raw chicken) have no business being in the woods. they will be a hazard to themselves and those who have to rescue them. the tablets easily light with a match, lighter or blast match. one should practice with their gear before needing to rely on it for survival. they will then know the limits of their gear and themselves.
the esbit stove is a great light weight backing stove for it's intended purpose.
Perfect for its intended uses.
I was first made aware of this style of stove while reading the "SAS Survival Handbook" where it was recommended as part of a survival kit. Much later, while looking for ways to minimize bulk and weight in my pack I revisited the Esbit stove as an alternative to an isobutane/propane canister. At half the size of a 220g canister it nests easily in any cook kit and adds almost nothing to the overall weight.
This stove is intended for people on the move. I make a distinction between hikers and campers, with hikers being focused on the hike and campers focused on their camp.
For trips where the plan is to make a moderate hike to a campsite and remain there for several days, a more robust stove than this is called for. Persons transporting fresh meats, eggs, bacon and other "luxury" foods will find this stove unsuitable.
For the packer who plans on covering large distances each day and eating freeze-dried meals at a new campsite each night, this handy little thing will be ideal for boiling water and warming up tea.
On a calm day at 60 degrees Fahrenheit one tablet should be more than sufficient to bring 2 cups (1 pint) of covered water to a boil. It is essential to cover the water pot, with this stove or any other. Naturally altitude, wind and freezing temperatures will extend the time required and it is always important to prepare based on your destination and the time of year.
Although simple, the Esbit stove is far from idiot-proof. To get the most utility from the stove, it's necessary to use it properly.
Before lighting the fuel tablet, the water pot should already be on the pot stands, filled with water and covered with a lid. The Esbit opens in two positions; typically the half open (angled) position is stable enough for a quart pot and should be used. This position directs the airflow over the fuel tablet better, generates more heat and focuses that heat to the bottom of the pot.
If needed a windscreen can be fashioned from aluminum foil, but it must be placed in a way that does not prevent air from flowing beneath the stove.
Lighting the fuel tablet is best accomplished by striking a match and holding the flame near one corner of the tab. Because of the narrow space inside the stove and the angle it would have to be held at, using a lighter is not recommended and will result in burned thumbs.
With proper use, 2 cups of water can be brought to a boil before the tablet is fully consumed. The remaining tab can be extinguished like a candle and it will be stuck to the depression in the stove. The stove can be folded up over the used tablet without worry of it rattling around inside, and that remaining fuel can later be used to warm up some coffee, cocoa or tea. It is worth noting that the heat output from the fuel tablets is highest at the start and drops off sharply in the last few minutes of burn time. It is unlikely that a second pot of water can be boiled on one tablet, but a fresh tablet can be placed on top the remnant of the first before relighting.
Partially- or mostly-consumed fuel tablets can also be used as an excellent firestarter.
The Esbit fuel will leave a tacky black residue on the bottom of your pot. This easily washes off with biodegradable soap, water, and a fingertip rubbed in a circular motion. Sand or dirt can be used to scour stubborn patches, but if cleaning is done shortly after cooking it should not be necessary. I have even found that cleaning off the Esbit residue also pulls off blackening from old wood fires which I had not been able to remove.
A Practical Gift
This Esbit stove was given to me as a gift last fall. The guy who gave me the stove, used one on a 45 mile trip we did together in June 2010 in the Sierra's over Forrester Pass in Snow Conditions. He had hot water the whole trip even at one 11,000 foot camp in below freezing temps. My canister stove was a little hesitant until I warmed the canister in my jacket.
I have been winter camping/hiking/backpacking/skiing for 35 years now, and never owned one of these stoves till now. I own/have owned a Coleman Peak 1, Hank Roberts Mini-Stove(my first gas stove 31 years ago), a Svea 123, an Optimus 8R Hunter, a MSR Whisperlite International, a MSR Simmerlite, an MSR XGK, a propane Scout stove, a Crisco can wood stove(my first stove ever), 4 different alcohol stoves, a Sterno stove(junk) and a Markill Hotshot(butane/propane mix).
With that said to show I have used many stoves: I would like to say the ESBIT is impressive for what it was made for--to boil water or minor cooking(heating MRE's etc.)I used the stove several times in the Sierras this past winter day X-C skiing, on several hiking trips and a couple of lightweight backpacking trips on the Coast this late winter and Spring.
When I did a 3 day snowshoeing trip in February 2010 on Mt. Whitney.CA with my girlfriend, I brought the MSR XGK with .22 oz of fuel and we brought the Esbit stove with 6 oz. of Fuel(that's 12 cubes) that's enough to make 12 2-3 cup pots of boiling water as a backup. We never used the Esbit on that trip. But I was confident that if the XGK failed, or we ran out of fuel,we would have at least had a sure heat source to have hot food and drinks to get us out of there if necessary.
I would not depend on the Esbit to melt snow unless an emergency, but if the water is liquid, it works well.
A windscreen is important(I use Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil in a complete 360 degree shield). Using a small pot is important. I have experimented and the Esbit stove with a 1/2 oz. fuel cube and proper wind protection will bring 3 full cups to a very low boil at about 9.5 min. and bubble for about 2 minutes more. It will bring 2.5 cups to a roiling boil in about 8 min.
I would say that for real lightweight trips these are very light and very dependable. I find alcohol stoves hotter and easier to use though, which I also have been experimenting with a lot lately. However, the Esbit wins over the alcohol for colder weather and high altitude though. The Esbit is lighter too for the amount of water boiled for the weight of the fuel.
I think I like this stove most for its reliability and very light weight fuel.
Amazingly compact & light stove.
Of all my stoves, this is the lightest one I own. I also have a Jetboil stove and a Stratus TrailStove, and I typically use my Jetboil the most. However, I am very impressed with this Esbit stove! Today I took this stove with me on a hike in the snow. I used this stove to boil two and a quarter cups of water to make a dehydrated meal. It was 32 degrees and snowing, but there was no wind. The most stable place I could find to set the stove was a picnic bench with about a quarter inch of ice on top of it. The Esbit fuel tab lit easily with a REI storm proof match and I placed my GSI Minimalist cup (with the 2 1/4 cups of water) on top of the stove. It took about one and a half Esbit fuel tabs to get the water to boil. When the first tab was almost gone, I simply put another tab on top of the one that was already burning, and it caught fire within seconds. I wasn't in a hurry to boil the water so I am not sure how long it took to boil, but it wasn't very long. I do plan on keeping a bit of foil with this stove to use as a wind screen... just incase I have to us it when it is windy. For the weight and space savings that this stove offers, I love it! I usually don't do anything more than boil water with my stoves when I camp or hike, so this stove does the trick for me. I also think the Esbit fuel tabs would make great fire starters in a pinch. As I mentioned before, when I carry this Esbit stove, I have a GSI Minimalist cook kit and I can place four fuel tabs inside the stove and then store the stove inside the cook kit. It is very compact! Some people complain that the fuel tabs have a fishy smell... and they do. However, I double bag them in two ziplock sandwich bags, and no smell gets out. I am very impressed with this stove and I will continue to take it with me on hiking and camping trips... especially day hikes.
My husband and I bought this stove a few weeks ago to go with our GSI soloist cookset, and LOVE it! It fits just as well into our pot as any other compact stove and we can keep all our fuel in there in just a plastic bag. No more worrying about fuel leaking into my pot and I never have to worry about the extra weight or if I have space in my pack for extra fuel.
We recently took this out on a day hike for a wet weather test of some of our newer gear and it did very well. It took two cubes to get a full liter of water to boiling in moderate rain and brisk winds, but just like any stove, it does better in good conditions. One cube got it hot enough for two cups of hot chocolate, so I'm guessing the one cube would have got a half liter boiling. Even with two of us I really can't see needing a whole liter of boiling water realistically at any point. It really works best with a windscreen and in the picture you'll see I've made a homemade windscreen out of tin foil that works just as well as the kind you buy and if it blows away I'm not broken up about it. Using it in the "A" frame position works best with our stove for stability.
The only issue at all is that for us it did take a lighter like you'd use on a grill to get it going and it took about 30 seconds to light, but of all the issues that a stove can have that is one I'm definitely willing to live with. Especially since it is a fraction of the cost of the next cheapest stove I found and is able to work anywhere in the world without any issues due to altitude or temperature issues.
I bought this stove about 6 years ago for an emergency earthquake kit. I already use a campming gaz stove for backpacking and never really thought about bringing this stove.
Just got back from a 3 day 2 night backpacking trip on the Rincon trail in Sequoia National Forest.
I brought this along as a backup just in case because my friend didn't have a stove and we were going to share mine.
I took it out while he was using my stove and started frying up dinner.
Wow!. It heated up oil so quick that I used it for the whole trip to cook breakfast and dinner.
It did take a while to boil water but I was trying to boil a lot of water. (think cheap mess kit pot full)
I used my gaz stove for that.
Keep in mind that we love food and don't pack ultralight. I brought a bag of Jimmy Dean Skillets for breakfast that is chopped potatoes bellpeppers onions and sausage. Dinner 1st night was 1 lb pre-cooked bbq ribs from fresh & easy and second night I had 2 hormel roast beef & mashed potatoes ready meals just heat package in boiling water)
We were so impressed by the performance that he is going to buy one also and might use it as his primary stove.
This thing is so small I can keep it in the little bag my stove came in with my gaz stove or inside my mess kit.
The fuel cubes work great for starting fires also.
No need for kindling just pile larger sticks in your pit and light a fuel cube under them.
Less work and you get warm real quick.
Lightweight, easy to use.
This little stove has served me well. The stove and fuel are lightweight and cheap. It provides a more stable cooking surface than some other types of backpacking stoves.
When the stove is closed it holds 4 fuel tablets. One fuel tab only weighs 1/2 oz. The stove weighs 4 oz. Each fuel tab is good for cooking 1 meal. The fuel tabs are also great for emergency tinder and work when wet! The stove itself is indestructible. And there's no worries about spilling fuel. No heavy fuel bottles to lug in. Exchange that weight (and money) for something more fun, like a nice comfy trail chair to spoil your back at the end of a long days hike.
Some have complained about it not working well in wind. This is a common complaint with most stoves. I carry a square of aluminum foil for extra windy days to make a wind screen. This solves the problem fine for me.
Note: this stove is best for those of us that only need to boil/heat water. There is no temperature control, this will not be be able to handle evenly heating a large skillet. It will however boil a liter of water in your small pot suitable for 2 people.
Also-the fuel tabs are difficult to find if you're hiking the AT. You will have to have them shipped in your drop boxes or choose a different cooking method. Personally I'd rather deal with this little stove and have the fuel shipped in.
Great at 5 deg. weather
This thing is great I bought this to have a small stove to fit in my cookpot for day hikes. I also travel for work a great deal and wanted a little stove to heat water and soup. I like the simpleness of operation. You basically unwrap a fuel cube, put it in the center of the stove in the indentation. and light. If you are using a cigarette lighter or matches light the cube then put it in the stove. I burnt my thumb the first time using my lighter. I boiled 1 1/2 cup of water in roughly 5-6 min.. It is nice and compact so I can throw it in my backpack or cook pot. It also fits 4 fuel cubes in the folded stove. I recently used it for a overnight backpacking trip on the PA AT. temps. ranged from 10 deg. int the morning to 40 deg. in the afternoon. The fuel cubes can faintly smell of rotten fish but is not notifiable after a while. The stove is also very stable it hold my 2 cup aluminum pot very well. The stove also needs a windscreen, but you can easily fashion one out of a piece of heavy duty aluminum foil. Take a piece of foil that is about 3 in. bigger then your cook pot, fold over length wise once and secure around your pot with an alligator clip. All in all this is a great stove, it boils water quick is compact, cheap durable, and light.
Used on a couple of four-day backpacking trips this month. Temps were below freezing overnight, so in the morning, the stove boiled water from a temp that began at just above freezing. I needed about half a cube to boil 14 oz. Lighting the cube in such cold temps wasn't too difficult-I put a glob of hand sanitizer on a corner, put a lit match on top, voila.
My 16 oz Snowpeak cup didn't look secure on top, so I created a solution.(see pic) I cut a couple of 3" lengths of ½" wide aluminum strapping material, and folded them lengthwise. The strapping comes in a roll and has holes along the center. I just place them on the stove's top edges, and I have a level surface. I remove and stow them in the stove when done.
When opening the tablet package, I found that if I run a fingernail along the outer edges of the top, I can pull away a large rectangle of aluminum. When this is placed on the stove underneath the tablet, it keeps the black gunky stuff off the stove.
I keep the tablets and stove in a zip-lock bag so the slight smell won't transfer to other items in the backpack. The stove zip-lock stays with the food bag, when hanging from a high branch at night. I suspect some night animals might find the fishy smell yummy.
All in all, a small reliable lightweight stove to heat water.
good enough for antarctica
if you watch the bonus features on the MARCH OF THE PENGUINS dvd you'll notice a scene where the film crew make their meal in -40C weather using a fuel tablet stove (can't be certain it was esbit, but sure looked like it). this is probably the most inhospitable place & conditions & they opted to use a solid fuel tablet stove.
i tested esbit hexamine fuel tablets vs trioxane(army surplus) vs coghlan/hi-gear in a water boil test.
20 oz water / 2080' elevation / 78 degree weather.
esbit hexamine : 10 min usable burn time : boiled in 8 min
trioxane : 5 min burn time : never reached boiling
coghlan : 8 min spotty burn time (had to add another tablet )
overall, the esbit tablets worked the best. trioxane tablets, which you can buy at most army surplus stores, are poisonous & you are warned to keep the flaky powder away from your food. they are cheaper, but not worth the money. the coghlan tablets are round & smaller, so you'll have to carry at least 2 to match just 1 of the esbit.
although the coghlan & hi-gear fuel tablets are similar to esbit, their stoves are considerably heavier & larger. the esbit stoves are light, compact & can carry 4 tablets when closed. the fuel smells fishy so it may be a good idea to keep it in a resealable ziplock bag.