My review of Travel Stoves

Lighting the Triad – Travel Stove Reviews

As I mentioned in a previous post, I haven’t had the most reliable record with homemade alcohol stoves. Actually, I have a terrible record with them and should probably be kept away from flammable materials in general.

All of that changed when I met this tiny little stove, the Vargo Triad. It would seem like my testing it out would be a dangerous idea, but after a weekend of using it, I still have all of my arm hair and haven’t lost an eyebrow.

Vargo Triad Stove

Specs of the Vargo Triad:

Weight: 1 oz

Material: Titanium

Burn time: Vargo says 24 minutes, not my experience, but I was still happy with it

Size: It’s a little baby stove. Height- 1.1 inches. Diameter- 2.4 inches

I have only good things to say about this stove, and here they are.

The Vargo Triad:

Has a simple, minimalist construction
Is extremely easy to prime
Uses very little fuel
Burned just the right amount of time for our meals
Produces a reliable, consistent flame

In short, I loved it. I’ve been wanting to make the switch to an alcohol stove for a while now. It’s harder to get the canisters for conventional stoves, and wasteful because it’s difficult to recycle them. Liquid fuel stoves don’t seem like a bad option, but I’m not enough of a cook to justify buying or using one. An alcohol stove is the right fit for me.

I’m not saying that I’m completely sold on using the Vargo Triad for my PCT trip, but it did win some major points this weekend with it’s ease of use and simplicity. Not creating an explosion was just icing on the cake.

Ultralight stove options we’re considering

I am always looking for way to lighten our load for our trip on the PCT, and am now working on the stove problem. Here are the options I’m considering:

AntiGravity Gear Pepsi Can Stove (.4 oz) 12$

Two of my favorite thru-hikers use this one, which is to say, I’m pretty impressionable and will do what all the cool kids are doing. But this stove is super light and, as I lack the fine motor skills necessary to make my own, buying this one for 12$ doesn’t seem so bad.

Making my own

This has not proved entirely successful for me in the past. I can create a stove that works successfully over weekend trips, but I wouldn’t trust it over the long haul. You might think that I could make my own pepsi can stove for cheaper than the Antigrav one, but then you have no idea how many root beers I burned through trying to fit my stove together.

If I do try it again, I will use one of the tutorials from Mungo Says Bah or Jurey Studios. Third time’s a charm, right?

Vargo Triad Titanium Stove (1 oz) 32$

I really like this one. It has built in top and bottom legs, and there is a video on the Vargo site that shows how you can make the stove pretty steady. And Section Hiker gives a pretty positive review of it (again with the following the cool kids).

This stove got mixed reviews on rei.com, but it seemed like those people were judging the Vargo Titanium against traditional backpacking stoves. They are two very different categories, and you have to have different expectations.

I’ve batted around the idea of getting the Evernew Titanium Stove (1.2 oz), but it costs 46$, which is a little too rich for my blood. (And I can get the Vargo at a discount because I work at an outdoor store now.Hooray!)

We still haven’t ruled out the Snow Peak Giga Stove, but it weighs in at 3.75 oz, and the canisters seem to add to much weight relative to the amount of fuel. Not to mention that finding canisters isn’t as convenient as finding alcohol. This is going to be a tough call.

Equipment Reviews

8 thoughts on “My review of Travel Stoves

  1. I had a Vargo Triad years ago but I replaced it with a homemade Guinness/Pepsi can stove. The Triad was a pain to prime but that was not the reason I replaced it. The stove started to leak fuel, so much so that on one trip the whole stove was engulfed in flames. I tried fixing it multiple times with the liquid metal epoxy used on automobiles (first JB Weld but that melted off and then finally with a product made for engine blocks) but eventually the stove started leaking again. I think they have redesigned the Triad now to overcome the leaking issue but I love the can stove so much I have stuck with it.

  2. It’s nice to hear from someone who has used the Vargo Triad. (And I love that your homemade stove is from Guinness cans. Put a new meaning to the alcohol stove. 🙂 )

    Where was it leaking? I’m moving away from the Triad after hearing from several people, but I am curious to know more about it.

  3. The Triad stove I have is made with two shallow “dishes”, the bottom one that holds the alcohol and the top one with the holes where the flames escape to cook the food. On mine the bottom dish has a smaller diameter than the top one. This creates a tiny gap between the two of them on the bottom of the stove where apparently the alcohol can leak when the stove is lit. The picture of the Triad you included in your post appears to have a wider bottom dish and a narrower top one and thus the gap between them is facing up to the sky. This probably prevents the problem I had with the stove.

    I liked this stove but given the leaking problem, the issue with priming it and the difficulty filling it (it was easy to spill fuel since the opening in the top for the fuel was so tiny), I decided to switch to the can alcohol stove.

  4. You should consider the Jetboil. It probably isn’t “ultralight” but it includes the fuel and cooking pot in it’s design and there is not only a saving in space and weight as a result but also an increase in efficiency.

  5. I have a Vargo Triad XE. It’s a nice little stove. The problem with it is that because the part that holds the fuel is enclosed, with just the little jet holes, it can be difficult to light. You basically have to prime it every time, which I think is kinda a waste of fuel. But other than that, it’s a good one!

    My favorite stove is the Trail Designs Ti-Tri Caldera Cone.

  6. I’m guessing then, because you’re looking at stoves, you’re not allowed to set up a small fire for cooking/keeping warm if needed? There are very few places in the UK that you can light a fire without someone getting apopleptic and reporting you for arson, even if you know what you’re doing. I dislike the idea of carrying any kind of stove, because you have to take the fuel too, or fill up at a gas station. The best I’ve found as a compromise is a Kelly Kettle but they are huge and cumbersome.

  7. I have thought about the jetboil and the people I know seem pretty happy with it. It just feels a little too bulky for what we are looking for, but I did see a lot of AT hikers using them. I’m kind of sold on the alcohol stove at the moment.

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