March 23, 2012

Alcohol Stoves for Ultralight Backpacking

Alcohol Stoves for backpacking and hiking are available in a variety of styles. There are DIY homemade alcohol stoves made from Cat food, Soda, or Beer cans. You can buy commercially available alcohol stoves made from brass, aluminum, or titanium. With so many different choices what Alcohol Stove do I like the best?

Well I certainly have not used all the various lightweight alcohol stoves available! Homemade alcohol stoves alone are endless in their design ranging from simplistic to engineering marvels.

Here is a good look at 6 basic types of homemade alcohol stoves.

I've built my fair share of  lightweight Alcohol Stoves over the years. All of them seemed to work OK but the two stoves I use the most, the ones I keep going back to, are the Trangia Spirit and the Caldera Cone.

Trangia Spirit Alcohol Stove

This was the first Alcohol Stove I owned. I purchased it in 1998 and have cooked hundreds of meals on it. This is my most traveled alcohol stove!

The stove weighs 3.5oz including the screw on cover, but without the simmer ring (which I do not use). In addition I use a 1.3oz homemade windscreen and a 0.1oz homemade pot stand. Total weight is 5.2oz.

I like that this stoves holds fuel when not in use. For an overnight-er I simply fill up the stove and go. No need to guess at the amount of fuel you need to cook a meal with. Leave the fuel bottle at home. When your done cooking just extinguish the flame and screw on the cover. It's certainly not the lightest, but the Trangia Spirit Alcohol Stove is my first choice based on durability, dependability, and convenience.

Caldera Cone
I purchased this stove last year on a whim. You see, I'm really not a gear junkie and having a base pack weight of less than 10 pounds for the last 13 years there really was no reason to purchase this stove...  other than I wanted one!

I suppose it was the reviews of this stove that sold me. It's an enclosed system that's very fuel efficient. The cone is a combination pot stand / wind screen. Your cooking pot slides down into the cone from the top. The stove is lightweight aluminum. together they weigh 1.7oz. Very lightweight!

The only downside to this stove is storing the cone in your pack. Caldera does supply a plastic caddy that holds both the stove and cone but it weighs another 2.5oz. Still for a total of 4.2 oz (depending on what size cone fits your cooking pot) the Caldera Cone is a real well designed system.

Video's of both the Trangia Spirit, & Caldera Cone

Do you use a lightweight alcohol stove? Thinking of buying or making one? Leave a comment below!

More information on Ultralight Backpacking Gear, Tips, and Techniques can be found at Onestep's Ultralight Backpacking Resource  “section hiking the Appalachian Trail with a 10 pound pack”.


  1. The caldera stoves are of poor quality. I was very disappointed with mine. Try Tinny's alcohol stoves or make your own.

    1. I've only had my Caldora stove for a year. I haven't had any problems. Sorry to hear you did. I do like the "cone" aspect of their system. Best combination pot stand / windscreen I've tried. Thanks for the Tinny's heads-up. I'll check them out!

  2. If you need to go light, you can't go wrong going with either one of these selections by Onestep. They're durable, lightweight, and affordable, pretty much everything you want in a backpacking stove.