For a good long time I was really into backpacking and camping and all of that. I still probably camp 5-10 weekends a year in some form or another but its not like it was a few years back. I think there are two schools of thought in regards to camping. The first is, "How much can I replicate the comforts of home and still be outside." The second is, "How little can I bring and not die of exposure." I am all about the second theory. I don't want to bring anything unnecessary but I also don't want to die. For me that means, things that do double duty, things that are durable, and things that solve problems in a creative and useful way. For years, to cook food (because one can not live on pop-tarts alone), I used a really great MSR simmerlite stove. Its a standard white gas stove that I really enjoyed because it was pretty dependable, well built, and entirely FIELD SERVICEABLE. I never had it break down or let me down...even in some pretty harsh conditions (think subzero, blizzard conditions). And yet, I wanted more.
The MSR stove is a great product but its heavy. The stove and a half bottle of fuel (smallest bottle they make) weighs in at 1.5 lbs. At one point, I could pack for a summer trip and have everything I was going to take (tent, sleeping bag, food, fuel, clothes, backpack, etc) weigh in at 20-25 lbs. That means that the stove was accounting for a whopping 6% of my total pack weight. NOT COOL.
Thats when I discovered my first alcohol stove in the gear inventory of an AT thru-hiker. I soon made my own and have now made 10-15 of them. They are constructed from two pepsi-can bottoms and some high-temp epoxy. When all is said and done...they often weight less than an ounce (1/50th of the MSR stove). Fuel is just ethanol which makes it a "greener" stove than the MSR (no foreign petrolium here). With boiling a cup or two of water they can easilly compete with the MSR in terms of speed (though their heat output is significantly less). For just one person they are perfect. I recently found that you can buy the same one that I make on ebay for more than $10 which is a pretty good turn around for a half hour of time and 45 cents worth of materials. If you camp and you want one...let me know. Patrick OUT!!!