Thursday, April 9, 2009

Mini Review: Esbit Stove

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.

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.

Highly Recommend


Loganenator said...

The function of the esbit is good given its simplicity however I quit carrying mine. The smell of the fuel pellets is awful if the foil breaks inside your bag. It has a bit of a chemically/metallic dead fish aroma! I'll never carry one again because of this smell and a bad experience on one tragic camping trip.

Cheers, :)

Jack and Raquel said...

Thanks for the review. I share your stove addiction, having tried almost every style and fuel over the years and I have quite a collection.

My favorite so far is a simple homemade pepsi can alcohol stove thats free and easy to make and weighs next to nothing. Cooking with twigs is a cool way go also, but a pain in the rain.

I've not tried esbit tabs yet, but plan to soon. The trouble I have with alcohol (aside from the invisible those fingers!) is I always seem to take too much or too little fuel. I'm thinking with esbit will be a simple no-brainer way to boil water for couscous dinners and a cup of coffee and oatmeal in the morning.

Perhaps I'll put up pictures of my homemade stove and windscreen/pot stand on my blog soon. But if not, there is plenty examples to google out there.

Thanks, Jack

Bike Girl said...

I'd love to see a post on your Post-Apocalypse Survival Bag.

Scott said...

I usually gather up a small pile of twigs when I use the stove. Then when the flame starts to shrink, I start feeding the twigs in and get a pretty good little fire going that way. A little smoky, and the ashes are a bit dirtier than the tablets, but more cooking time for sure. I once saw a couple of guys using pine cones in theirs to make pasta.

Zack said...

i cosign on the interest in the post apocolyptic bag contents. would be an interesting post.

Unknown said...


Surprised you haven't come across the Bushbuddy!

MTBMaven said...


I was talking with a buddy at The Path Bike Shop in Tustin today about your site and stoves. He mentioned the Vargo Triad Ti stove. You might want to take a look at it.

Sold out on that site but they have a great write up on the stove. Search elsewhere for available stock.

David said...

If you're geeking out on stoves, you might want to check these ones out, if you haven't already...