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Lightweight Backpacking Stove

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In the quest to cut the weight of my backpack load I’ve been looking at my cooking setup.  I have a number of nested pot sets that we use for camping and one that I bought for back packing, however as light as they are they are still bulky and rather heavy for what you are using them for.  Having done a lot of searching on the net for what has worked for others I came up the short list of things.

159231_633735806296920000-639015099First, what did I have before?  I was carrying a Campingaz Bluet Micro Plus Camping Stove, which takes a number of sizes of gas canisters.  The pros to this is fast boil time and nice adjustable flame if you want to simmer or cook for a number of people.  The cons, weight and having to carry canisters that you must take out with you and dispose of when you return.  When empty you can puncture and stomp them flat, but you still have to bring them back.


The way forward for most people is to use something that burns Alcohol (the more pure the better, 91%+ or at worse rubbing alcohol, but that’s dirty when it burns and makes a mess of your pots), denatured alcohol, Heet (gasoline antifreeze) or to use Methylated spirits.   I’ve settled on Meths as it’s easy to buy from hardware stores and camping shops. 

So, what can you use as a stove?  Well, there’s 100’s of possible options.  I’ve selected a Penny Stove / Pepsi Can Stove / Coke Can Stove, whatever name you want call it.  I’ve also decided to try the Super Cat stove.

There are pros and cons to these types of stoves as well.  

Pro:  Really accessible fuel – Efficient burning of the fuel to weight ratio

Con: Messy if it tips over – No flame control (really) – Wind really effects the performance

There are many more pros and cons for these, but for me these are most appropriate.  Others will argue about altitude, temps outside, etc, etc.

So what cooking kit have I decided to take solo hiking / wild camping?


Above is a Snow Peak – Trek 700 Titanium cup in it’s mesh bag.  This is great cut, big and light weight.  The lid hangs on the side of the cup and has a slot in it for draining water out of the cup, for example if you were making pasta.

Lets have a look inside the cup.


Inside the cup I have .. (left to right) tin foil for a wind screen, Swedish Firesteel, Super Cat Stove, empty tin to use as base or to extinguish the stove (never blow out an alcohol stove), the purple bottle has 150ml of Methylated Spirits, right of that is the lid of a sweets tin, that can be used as a base for the stove or as a priming pan for the penny stove.    The second photo above you can see the pot on top of the stove with the foil screen in place.


Here we have the 3 stoves I’ll likely carry with me (well, not at the same time).  The first photo from left to right .. the penny stove I bought from nikki.ikkin on Ebay, then one that I made myself and finally the Super Cat stove.

One problem with the penny stove is you need to use a pot stand for these (something else to carry, not that it has to be much).  I’ve not actually made a pot stand yet that will fit my Snow Peak 700.   The the penny stove from Ebay arrived I tried it out at home using a stand from my Compressed Hexamine Stove and just a normal pot from the kitchen, a rather heavy based pot as well.  The stove brought 500ml of cold tap water to a rolling boil in 6 mins, not bad at all. 

The Super Cat on the other hand IS the pot stand as well.  The penny stove I made myself (first ever attempt) does work and reasonably well too I think, but it is a bit bigger (taller) then the one I bought.  The height of the chamber does seem to have an effect on performance of these devices, also, the holes I made are too big, this is also a noticeable difference in it’s performance.  These stove really are pretty easy to make, took me about 10 mins to make it, minus the drying time for the sealing compound I used.

The Super Cat build time is much less, took me like 3 – 4 mins including the time to open the tin, dispose of the cat food inside, clean and punch the 32 holes in the tin with a paper punch.   This brought 500ml of cold tap water to a boil in about 8 mins using the Snow Peak 700, slower then the penny stove but I think over all it used less fuel.


These photos just give you a look down inside of the cup once it’s all loaded up.  In there is the foil screen folded up inside the Super Cat Stove, which is inside the empty tin you saw in another photo, that and the fuel bottle are inside the a ziplock bag to keep the fuel from spilling into my cup.  You can also see the firesteel used to light the stove.  At the bottom of the photo you can see a tube, that contains 8 reusable cloths – Wemmi Wipes (down near the bottom of the page), these just take a couple tea spoons of water to expand them from the small tablets they come as.

Now, I just need to get a chance to get out hiking to actually try out the stove(s) and make a brew on the trail.  I’ll blog again once I’ve had a chance to try them out in the wild.  The Campingaz stove I know works well as I’ve used it a few times already, but these are new to me.

I’d love to hear your comments and experiences with these types of stoves, including tips and tricks for using them.

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