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

Ginny & Jim Owen spiritbear2k at hotmail.com
Wed Dec 27 00:14:56 CST 2006

Karen -
I'm puzzled - I think you're missing something - so allow me to recap and 
see where it takes us -

We never had a 12 day section - and we were taking our time.  No 30 mile 
days this time - max mileage was 28 and we only did that once.  I think 
average for the trail was somewhere around 15 or 16. We were out there for a 
6 month hike not minimum time-on-trail.. Most hikers (including you?) are 
faster than us - and therefore take less time between resupply.

Max time between resupply was 9 days.  That was between Lander and Dubois 
(150 miles?).
Steamboat to Rawlins was about 165 miles /8 days. We had a maildrop at Big 
Sandy, but didn't include fuel.

We were 9 days between East Glacier and Lincoln (~150 miles), but we sent a 
maildrop to Benchmark.

Those were the longest carries on the trail - for us.  YMMV

Remember - generally, days of fuel = (days on trail) minus 1. (Since you 
don't cook dinner on your last day into town.)

We (read "I") carried a 20 oz Mt Dew bottle of fuel.  No more - ever.  We 
did not run out at any time during the hike.  Nor did we ever have to 
replace the Mt Dew bottle.  I finally got rid of it in Phoenix cause we 
couldn't take it on the plane. Don't know what it weighed, but it wasn't 4 
oz. <g>

Mmm - yep - there are two of us.  I counted again to make sure.  And we both 
ate out of the same pot - except for coffee in the morning, which I don't 
drink - ever.  <G>

Now, what we did was dependent on the fuel consumption of our stove (read - 
efficiency).  If we'd used the other, faster burning stove our numbers would 
probably have been different.  If we'd cooked more - or had tea for 
breakfast or coffee at noon or soup and hot chocolate every night, our fuel 
consumption would have been different.  But we avoided things that would 
increase fuel consumption.

If necessary, we could have carried the same capacity for the shorter 
sections and just added an unopened bottle of Heet to the pack for the 
longer sections - but it was never necessary.  In the long carry sections we 
forego the extras - like hot chocolate or soup with dinner or tea in the 
morning or long cooking tortolini.  It makes a difference.

We never paid more than $1.49 (+ tax) for a bottle of Heet - usually less.  
We only once bought two bottles of Heet.  And one of those went to 
Benchmark.  The short sections always left us with enough fuel left over to 
fill the fuel bottle with only one bottle of Heet.

So - using your format , but changing the numbers to fit "our" hike for 
"our" stove and "our" usage -

1, 2-L titanium pot:  8 oz
20 oz. Heet + 1 oz bottle = 21 oz
Stove:  1 oz

Total:  30 oz (1.8 lbs) for no more than 3 specific sections.  All other 
sections would be less.

Mmm - make sure you have a wind screen - or you might eat cold some nights 
no matter what stove you use.

Thoughts on Esbit - we tried them prior to our '99 hike.  They stink.  Don't 
care what anyone says - to me they still stink. And they blackened the pot.  
And they were more expensive. And most times one tab didn't do the job.  I 
know people who used them on the AT - they don't use them anymore.

But, as always - it's your decision to make - not mine.  (Gee - can you tell 
I don't like them? <G>)

In '99 we carried a Whisperlite International and a 20 oz fuel bottle.  
Don't remember the weight, but it was entirely satisfactory.  Still have 2  
Internationals buried in storage someplace  - one of them brand new, never 
been lit. No - not trying to sell it. <g>

We didn't convert to alcohol until about 4 years ago.  It took Ginny a while 
to become a believer (me too).

Suggestion - before you make a decision - try Esbit - in cold field 

And if you do go with alcohol, make sure you know what the consumption 
numbers are for the stove you're using.  That takes some testing .  Not just 
the boiling 2 cups of water in X minutes thing, but under real field 
conditions - like a 2 or 3 (or more) day backpacking trip.   That's how we 
test things - not in lab conditions, but in field conditions where if it 
doesn't work, we don't eat.  And if we don't eat, then we don't do that 
again.  That's how Esbit got thrown out of the pool.  We gave away a gaggle 
of those things at a Ruck after our '99 hike.

The alcohol stove is not very efficient either in high wind conditions - but 
we generally were able to find a sheltered spot to cook, and used our packs 
and our bodies to increase the protection on really windy days.  The only 
times we didn't cook as planned were when it was snowing on us or raining 
really hard - but that would have been true no matter which stove we used.  
I love Oreos for dinner.

Walk softly,


Fixing up the home? Live Search can help 

More information about the Cdt-l mailing list