Towards the end of last week I popped over to Malvern to stock upon last minute gear and to generally have a good on chin-wag (as we say around here) about new developments and new kit (we all like to talk about kit …).
Mostly we chatted about stoves and lucky people can hear us talking about them on a forthcoming podcast. Oh yes, life doesn’t get more exciting than this
Wood Burning Stoves Take Centre Stage
More and more wood burning stoves are making their way onto the market. There’s the great Bushbuddy of course, which will appear in titanium sometime soon. Bob’s own design Honey Stove has captured not only the imagination of backpackers but of bushcraft folk. The Honey Stove has been set up to support not only wood but alcohol burners and esbit stoves and is about as flexible as you can get for a backpacking stove. Bushfolk fanatics will be delighted with the Hive â€” a larger version of the Honey Stove. this should really do the business when you are in a static camp. Coupled with a grill you could cook a whole fish on one of these. (However, I had to point out to Bob that we’ve never actually managed to catch a damn fish on one of our trips!). But there’s more.
Brian Vargo has jumped on the wooden train and produced hi Titanium Wood Stove which Bob is selling for a little under Â£50. It has to be said that Vargo don’t often set a foot wrong and this is a very interesting piece of kit.
What you get is a strong titanium product consisting of a hexagon shaped base and a hinged side panel arrangement that creates a cone arrangement. Your pot sits on top of the cone and the fire is stoked via a very neat side door. This is very professionally made and pretty tough. In many ways you have something that works a bit like a Caldera Cone although the metal sides are far more robust and the whole thing packs flat for ease of storage. It slips into its own dedicated pouch with Velcro fastening. You could easily use this as a windshield for an alcohol stove. We’ve assumed that this will work well with the Vargo Triad although we’ve not tried it yet. This stove weighs about 120 grams.
The Evernew Ultralight Titanium Stove
But the stove that interested me the most was the Evernew titanium stove which is quite ingenious and which might be the best combination stove to take on a mountain trek.
The Evernew comes in two parts, a titanium alcohol burner and a DX stand, which is in effect a base unit and a separate wind shield.
This combination is incredibly light and is made of very high grade titanium. The workmanship here was quite impressive. The whole combination would easily slip into a solo kettle and so the whole stove would be adequately protected while in your pack.
Bob says the whole stove is shockingly small and he’s right. The base unit and the windshield are both the size of one of those chef-y rings that you see a lot on the telly, about the diameter of a small drainpipe section.
Without the burner the stove can be powered on wood â€” small twigs. Adding the alcohol burner turns this into a very swish stove. The base section now drops on top of the burner creating a kind of grill affair which apparently spreads heat most efficiently. The upper section is a pretty good wind shield although Bob adds a piece of foil to protect the stove into the wind (you can see this on the photos).
The alcohol burner is a particularly impressive piece of kit which weighs only 34 grams. The inside of the burner is calibrated with three measurements to help you get the optimum use of fuel no matter how much water you want to burn. Add the shield and base (weight together 52 grams) and you have a very effective system.
There is a lot of information on this system on backpackinglight.co.uk and it is worth checking out. I reckon this is about as light as a dual system can go while retaining its effectiveness.
Playing with this I was reminded of my last trip to the Pyrenees when I took both a wood burning Bushbuddy and a White Box meths stove (there were two of us). In the main we relied on wood but on a few bad days â€” and on mornings when we wanted to get going quickly â€” I was glad that we had meths capacity. For this kind of arrangement the Evernew might be ideal. Although the arrangement is not cheap (about Â£70 I think) this would compare well to importing a Bushbuddy and buying an alcohol stove. The Bushbuddy is a magnificent design and very efficient due to its turbo charge design. But in warm climates you don’t really need to worry too much about this as your wood will burn without much effort.
Stoves combos like this provide even more competition to canister stoves. Canisters may be convenient but they are not environmentally sound and cause all kinds of waste/disposal problems. In high mountains the supply of such canisters can often be a problem, but you can always find wood and alcohol is cheap and easily found in most hardware stores (in France/Spain, etc.)
Anyone looking for lightweight but versatile kit could do worse than having a look at this combination.