Formerly known as the "eco-friendly bicycling photographer" of Long Beach. I've since traveled 10,000 miles through the US as PathLessPedaled.com. I now find myself in the US bike epicenter - Portland. Join me as I re-enter the working world to save for the next adventure.
I'm becoming a bit of a stove geek, I think. I find something utterly satisfying about small simple mechanisms that you can use to cook food with! Anyway, I picked up this Esbit Stove at an Adventure 16 in Oceanside, CA. The two guys that were there were just opening up and didn't have a problem with me rolling in my fully loaded Bilenky.
I have read about the Esbit and was always curious. It seems to be sold pretty widely (compared to the Trangia) and you can get it from Campmor, Riv and REI.
The stove itself is small and remarkably simple. Two pot supports unfold on rivets. It has two "settings", indents really, that keep the supports at either 45 or 90 degrees. I'm assuming this is to fine tune the supports to match the surface area of the pot you're using.
In use, all you do is put one of the individually wrapped fuel tablets in the center and light it. You can light it with a match or a lighter. I wanted a "matchless" experience on this trip, so what I did was put a little vaseline soaked cotton ball on the top and popped a few sparks on it with a ferro rod. Worked like a charm.
Stated burn times run from 9 to 15 minutes. I found that I got burns somewhere in the middle there. About 12 minutes seemed right. It took about 8-9 minutes to bring about 20oz to boil in my GSI kettle. It worked well for making boiling some water for tea and for my freeze dried dinner.
The Great GP really describes the stove's use well when he says "this is the perfect stove to bring when you're not sure you want to bring one, but aren't sure you want to do without, either." With a stove system this small and easy to use, it almost seems like a no-brainer to take along, if even just for emergencies (the fuel tabs can also double as fire starters). In fact, I'm considering getting another one just to put in our Post-Apocalypse Survival Bag.
Some things to consider. The Esbit seems to really do its one intended purpose really well, bring some water to a quick boil. If this is all you need a stove to do, then it's a good choice. However, because of the limited burn time of the tablets, it would make it difficult to cook anything that won't be done in about 10 minutes.
For example, Laura and I usually make a version of corned beef hash and potatoes when we go camping. We need constant burn times in the 30-40 minute range to soften and brown the potatoes. We can do this with the Trangia. However, this would be a difficult task for the Esbit.
Conclusion If you can accept the limitations of the Esbit, then you'll be happy. It's great for making a quick cup of coffee or tea in the morning, or boiling some water for your MRE. It's small, simple to use and really has little to break. I would consider taking one and 4 tablets along every trip just as an emergency stove when you're in between population centers.