[cdt-l] An alcohol stove for two - Jim's take

Karen Somers kborski at yahoo.com
Wed Dec 27 12:25:49 CST 2006


Jim, 

My original post (with the weight comparisons) was in
response to Alistair's information about how long
their longest stretch was (she reported 12 days
through the Winds) and how much HEET they used for
their two-person alcohol stove.  I just used her
figures for the sake of comparison and discussion.

Alistair later wrote back to say that they used a lot
more fuel (maybe twice as much) as other hikers.  So,
then I went back and revised the HEET/alcohol numbers
to be more in line with cooking once per day instead
of 2-3 times per day.  I think the majority of hikers
are conservative with fuel.

I left the 12 day stretch in there....really it
doesn't matter that much when comparing weights across
the board.  If  Esbits are a lot lighter for 12 days,
then they'll still be lighter for 5 days, etc.  

Bald Eagle and I started the PCT five days behind you
and we never came close to catching you and Ginny in
'00 (although we did have to get off in the Sierra).

My philosophy is that the person with the longest
thru-hike "wins," so I tend to be pretty slow on the
trails.  I finished the AT Nov 6 and finished the PCT
on Oct 21, for some idea of that.  

Anyway, 8 or 9 days max between resupply sounds
reasonable, but I would like to be able to go between
fuel resupply for a bit longer in case we can't get
fuel somewhere or in case we just want to be out for
an extra long stretch in the Winds, like Alistair.  

It looks like Eagle and I are convinced that Esbit is
the way to go for us.  It's light and we only have to
stock up on tablets every two or three weeks, which is
about the time we will be wanting our bump box anyhow.

(BTW....My calculation of 4 oz for bottle weight for
alcohol is based on carrying two, 20 oz Gatorade
bottles (for a total of 30 oz of fuel on the longest
carry; I realize typically we would only need one 20
oz bottle).  Each Gatorade or coke bottle weighs 2 oz)

I did not count the wind screen weight because you
need that no matter what stove you carry -- I use a
small piece of heavy duty aluminum foil whose weight
does not register on my scale (it must be less than 1
oz).  Obviously, we would need two of these for two
pots/stoves, but it should be negligible.

Another quick point:  Ginny said you and her rarely
cook two Liptons.  Eagle and I would not be able to do
that, since he eats 1.5 Liptons with meat and veggies
added to it.  He's 220 lbs after he loses his town
fat, so he just needs a lot of energy.  I get by on
1/2 Lipton with meat and veggies, and I still finish
my thru-hikes with plenty of fat on me!  We couldn't
cut back on the amount of food without a very unhappy
camper in camp.

I have hiked about a lot of solo miles (CT, LT, LST,
PT, OT, JMT, AT) and some couple miles using Esbits,
including snow and high wind conditions and have never
had any problems lighting them or having them fall
short of cooking a dinner.  They do stink, but no
worse than cheese.  If you just keep them in a Ziplock
bag inside your cookpot, it's not an issue.  I also
hang them with the food in bear country -- common
sense.  The pot blackening is actually good for heat
transfer, so I leave it alone.  It washes off easily
with soap and hot water if you get tired of it being
there.  

I'm certainly a fan of Esbits -- they are light, don't
break or spill, fire up under any conditions, don't
require a stove (that could break), non-toxic, won't
blow up in your face, safe to mail and carry on
planes, and they are light, really light!  You take
exactly how much fuel you need and end up with no
extra.  I've hiked with a few thru-hikers who love
them, but there are lot of people who don't even know
about them.  

The problem for two is that one tab doesn't generate
enough heat to boil a 2-L pot of water, even if the
pot only has one L of water in it.  The base of the
pot is too big.  Esbits really only work well with the
small pots -- hence my idea for us to carry two 0.9 L
pots.  

For most of my hiking miles, I have used alcohol or
white gas.....mostly gas.  It's fast and hot, and at
the end of the day, you really appreciate that.  All
of our attempts to use alcohol for two have just ended
up frustrating us with slow cook times and
inefficiency.  We are always on the lookout for some
new stove design that will work adequately.

I'm not trying to be down on alcohol at all -- we may
end up using it for cost reasons.  But if we want to
cut back on weight, using Esbits seems like a good way
to go.  However, it's good to know that HEET and
alcohol are easy to come by on the CDT.  

Anyway, thanks for all the thoughts and concern.

Fun stuff!

 Nocona


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