Vargo Titanium Triad Alcohol Stove

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I have had the Vargo Titanium Stove for a little over a year now and as a back up to my wood burning stove it is proven its worth.  Small, light and efficient; it is everything that I have required when I go camping and pull into camp with no time or bad weather to be bothered with the wood stove.

There has been one nagging problem though, sometimes the stove seems to burn all of its fuel in record time without boiling the requisite 2 cups of water that I need for my meal so I decided to do some testing and came up with a few things of note:

Vargo Claims/Description: http://www.vargooutdoors.com/Titanium-Triad-Alcohol-Backpacking-Stove

  • Weight:    1.0 oz.    (28 grams)
  • Burner Diameter: 60mm
  • Diameter when pot support is open: 85mm
  • Fuel Capacity: 1.75 oz.
  • Collapsed height:    27mm

My Stove Specs:

  • Weight:    31 grams
  • Burner Diameter: 60mm
  • Diameter when pot support is open: 85mm
  • Fuel Capacity: 1.35 oz (40 ml), 1.5 oz (45 ml)
  • Collapsed height:    31mm

Overall, negligible except the fuel rating.  I specifically want to point this out since it might be technically possible for the stove to hold 1.75 fl oz of fuel, but after doing some testing this is unlikely to be possible in the field.  For the most part the likely capacity will be 1.35 fl oz, with a possible maximum of 1.5 fl oz.  The reason this is specifically a concern is that this directly impacts burn time and 45 ml of fuel will get you about 18:30 of burn time in ideal conditions.

In my testing I generally have been getting a boil time for 2 cups of water in about 8 – 8:30 including the 1:15 bloom time that happens during initial stove start up. I include this since I put the pot on the stove as soon as it is lit.  This however brings me back to the initial point of this post, why doesn’t the Triad always have a similar boil and burn time.  First off I did a series of fuel tests to see what the results would be and they were exactly as you would expect.

Fuel Blossom Boil Burn Time
30 ml 1:15 8:25 14:27
35 ml 1:07 8:30 16:15
40 ml 1:10 8:00 17:40
45 ml 1:10 7:30 18:42

Reasonably consistent especially considering that this isn’t any kind of scientific test.  However some initial thoughts that I had that the reduced efficiency of the might be related to over filling the stove with fuel were proven incorrect.

Next I decided to add the only other option that really comes into play and that is the wind screen. I refueled the stove with 30 ml and wrapped the wind screen as tightly as possible around my pot and stove after lighting it.  This time the results showed up right away.  All of the fuel was spent in 8:30 without even coming close to achieving the boil.  I did a little investigation about this and only found a few people commenting on it, however it is a pretty common problem with alcohol stoves.  Apparently if the alcohol stove overheats then it will over-consume the fuel without achieving the desired boil.  As such, proper use of your wind screen is extremely important since that is the common reason for overheating (the wind screen is trapping the heat around the stove).

Some other comments on this phenomenon:

Wood burning stoves

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I recently purchased a Vargo wood burning stove for back country camping, mainly to have the benefit of not needing to carry as much fuel with me when I camp.  The main expectation I have is that I will be have to carry enough alcohol and a stove to get me through the tough times of either it being too wet, windy or possibly tired to be bothered with the wood on a given day.  I did my first trip with the stove a couple of weeks ago and I was quite impressed with how well it worked for me.  Anyway today I came across a post where somebody was complaining that they didn’t like the wood burning stoves for a few reasons, so I thought I would add to that thread. http://sectionhiker.com/wood-gas-stoves-second-thoughts/

From my view here are the main points:

Good:

  • Less fuel to carry:  as the old saying goes ounces in the morning are pounds at night, so even if I can carry 1/2 as much fuel that is always good.
  • Easy to use: wood stoves are very simple to use and I have generally found it easier to light a fire in the stove than in the fire pit, which is always good.
  • Naturally “Eco”: the fact that I am getting fuel from the forest around me rather than lugging it from a store it was trucked to makes me feel better about the world 😛
  • Gives me something to do: although as is mentioned in the other article you do need to watch the stove, I have generally found this better rather than worse.  I usually am sitting there waiting for my water to boil anyway so tending a little fire is cheap entertainment.

Bad:

  • Pot soot: This is pretty well documented, and I would highly recommend if you are going to start carrying a wood burner you will probably want to start carrying pot cozies too.  Personally I didn’t find this to be an issue and I don’t carry a camp towel either.
  • More Stoves: I did save overall weight, but now I effectively carry 2 stoves, a small alcohol backup and the primary wood one.  I am sure I could probably move to the wood only, but I am just not there yet.
  • Limited Temperature and Control: I find the wood is similar to trying to cook with a small alcohol stove, there is pretty much just an on/off.  Technically I could probably get it to simmer, but it would require some serious effort.  If you like to really cook things on the trail that are more than rehydrating foods, then this probably isn’t for you.

Just my thoughts so far, but I do like it and this is the one I have:

http://www.mec.ca/AST/ShopMEC/HikingCamping/StovesFuel/Stoves/PRD~5024-197/vargo-titanium-hexagon-backpacking-wood-stove.jsp