CAMPING & HIKING

Best Alcohol Stove: Cook It, Warm It, Enjoy It

Best Alcohol Stove
Dennis Owens
Written by Dennis Owens

Having a hot drink or a meal on top of a mountain or somewhere deep in the woods, can almost always feel so reassuring and cozy, wouldn’t you agree? We are sure that while camping, hiking or backpacking across the country, having the best alcohol stove to make yourself an encouraging steamy brew, will make you feel better in any situation.

We all know how difficult it is to pack for a longer hike, right? You got space for limited supplies and if you are able to reduce the size of your cooking gear, you got one thing less to worry. Finding a light, reliable and efficient alcohol stove can be quite a project. That’s why we decided to come up with this buying guide to help you find the exact type of stove for your needs.

Since there are multiple factors to pay attention to while deciding on a new alcohol stove, we did the research for you and compiled a list of quality stoves that in our opinion would cover most of those factors. Each offers its own advantages that will come in handy out in the wild.

Our Top Picks

ProductWeightMaterialSpecific featuresPrice
MSR Pocket Rocket 22.6 ouncesStainless steel, aluminumFoldable pot support, adjustable flameCheck price on Amazon
Trangia 28-T Mini11.6 ouncesAluminum, brassPan and lid with
O-ring included
Check price on Amazon
Trangia Spirit Burner3.8 ouncesBrassHas a screwcap so it can store fuelCheck price on Amazon
Vargo Triad XE1.6 ouncesTitaniumFoldable pot support and stand legsCheck price on Amazon
Forfar Camping12.3 ouncesStainless steelCompletely foldable, burns any type of fuelCheck price on Amazon
Toaks Titanium0.7 ouncesTitaniumVery efficient,
simple design
Check price on Amazon

Things to Consider Before Buying

As we already said, there are multiple factors to consider before making the final choice. Here are the most important ones.

Material

As usual, when it comes to outdoor equipment, the material it is made of, is a huge deciding factor. What you will look out for is the ratio between durability, weight and heat conduction. Aluminum, for example, is very light and a great heat conductor, but it is not the most durable of metals, so it scratches easily.

Alcohol Stove

Stainless steel, on the other hand, is much more durable, but heavier and a pretty lousy heat conductor, which will have a toll on the efficiency of your tool. Other available materials you can stumble upon are titanium or brass, which may drive the price up, but are very durable and conduct heat well.

Fuel

As you might have deduced from the title, these stoves are fueled by alcohol, but there are exceptions and we will get to them later. Some of the benefits of alcohol fuel are that it is an eco-friendly and renewable resource, so you won’t have to worry if you spill any on the ground or into water, as it will not cause damage.

It evaporates quickly without leaving an odor behind, so you won’t smell like a gas pump if you spill it on yourself. It is not explosive and is easily extinguishable which means you don’t need to carry it in a heavy metal container either.

Alcohol Stove Fuel

There are lots of options available either online or in the hardware stores. Buying online, you will pay a bit more for bottles of alcohol that are specifically sold for camping purposes. But we would actually recommend that option, since those are proven and tested fuels that work well with the stoves that are currently on the market.

You can also buy different types of alcohol from the hardware store such as denatured spirit, grain alcohol, methyl alcohol and other paint thinners. Just make sure you check the amount of methanol in the mix is low and avoid burning them in closed spaces.

Weight

Hiking for days with a loaded backpack can soon become a serious pain in the shoulders. So, as with any other gear you stuff in there, We are sure you want your stove to be as light as possible and also retain the quality you imagine a proper alcohol stove should have.

Aluminum is one of the lightest options, but it doesn’t do that well in the quality department. Drop your backpack on some rocks a bit too hard, and you might end up with a dent in the stove. Stainless steel works much better in that case, and is it’s also easier to clean it up, but it is noticeably heavier.

Stainless Steel Alcohol Stove

Titanium on the other hand, is really light and really sturdy, but they are slightly more expensive. Some might also be a bit harder to clean, depending on the coating.

Brass is somewhere in the middle. A bit heavier, sturdy and reasonably priced.

Boil and Burn Time

Both can be an important when you are out in the wild exposed to the elements and you just want to ingest something warm ASAP. Boil time is usually measured in how much time 1 L of water will start boiling and burn time is the amount of time the stove is burning continuously until it runs out of fuel.

Boil time is considered as very good if it is somewhere around 3 minutes. If the stove has a longer boil time it means its efficiency is not optimal. Burn time heavily depends on the size of the fuel container. If you decide to go with a smaller stove, take into account that the time it can burn continuously will most likely be shorter than 15 minutes.

Alcohol Stove Boiling Time

Fuel type also plays a role here. Some fuels burn faster than others. There is a difference between alcohol and hard fuels. In some cases, when hard fuels such as wood and leaves are really dry, they burn even faster than alcohol ones. If you are planning to eat things that take a bit longer to cook, or you need to make a meal for the whole group, make sure you have a stove that is easy to refill with fuel.

Size

Size matters with this type of stoves. They are made so they can be stored in small compartments or inside other camping gear for a reason. We need them on the go!

We have selected the smallest stoves we could find. Some can be stacked together to reduce the carrying size, and some are so simplistically made that you won’t even notice them among other gear. Foldable parts are always welcome to reduce their size, but only if they are well made, of course.

Small Alcohol Stove

It all depends on your type of activity. Sometimes smaller stoves won’t be the best option for you. They obviously have smaller standing and cooking surfaces, so if you know beforehand that the terrain won’t be suitable for tiny stoves that can easily tip over, you might want to go with something bigger.

And we’ve got you covered with those options too. You can check the descriptions below, to get an idea which one would best fit your needs.

Best Products on Today’s Market

As promised, here are some of the best models on the market, so that you make sure the model you pick, is really perfect for your needs.

MSR PocketRocket 2 Stove

Price: $35 – $45MSR PocketRocket 2 Stove

Dimensions: 5 x 4 x 7.2 inches

Weight: 2.6 ounces

Specific features: Foldable pot support, adjustable flame

Best use: Camping, hiking

If you are a camping and hiking enthusiast, you probably already encountered the MSR brand, since they have been producing quality outdoor gear for over 40 years. The MSR PocketRocket 2 Stove is quite user-friendly, meaning it has few movable parts you need to worry about, is easy to maintain and allows you to adjust the flame from simmer to boil even if you are wearing gloves. This is a feature not many alcohol stoves have.

For an optimum ratio between weight and durability, this product has parts made from aluminum, stainless steel, and brass, depending on their function. The major disadvantage of this product that it only runs on fuel from special canisters from the same brand.

An 8 oz MSR canister will set you back for about $10. With it, you will be able to boil about 16 L (4.22 gallons) of water in ideal conditions. It will take you about 3.5 minutes to boil 1 L of water.

This stove comes with an attached wind clip which will boost efficiency in breezy conditions, though do not expect wonders if a strong and constant wind picks up. With this new version of the Pocket Rocket you will get a foldable pot support, which means the whole thing can be packed really neatly. It also comes with a triangular hard shell carry case, which will make it easier to carry and protect the product from any damage.

PROS:

  • Lightweight and compact
  • Comes with foldable pot support and a carry case
  • Easy to adjust the flame (even with gloves on)
  • Easy to ignite
 CONS:

  • Runs on special fuel canisters from the same brand
  • Doesn’t have a built in igniter

Related: To use the Pocket Rocket you will also need its designated fuel. MSR is selling their 8 and 16 oz IsoPro Canister Fuel.

Check the price on Amazon

Trangia 28-T Mini Stove

Price: Approx. $35Trangia 28-T Mini Stove

Dimensions: 6 x 2.5 x 2.5 inches

Weight: 11.6 ounces

Specific features: Pan and lid with O-ring included

Best use: Lone trekking, mountain marathons, hiking

The Trangia 28-T Mini was specially designed for the Karrimor International Mountain Marathon multi-sport competition and, as such, focuses on being compact and efficient. Note that this product is a full set, meaning that aside from the stove itself, it also comes with a 0.8 L pan and a non-stick 9-inch lid/frying pan.

All you need to add is the fuel, which can be of your choosing, though methyl alcohol or gas-line antifreeze will probably work best. You will be able to boil 1 L of water in about 8 minutes. The stove has a small windshield for the burner against breezes and has a simmer ring with which you can extinguish the flame or adjust the flame, though to a far lesser degree than the previous entry.

The burner also has a lid with an O-ring, so you can safely carry some fuel inside it, meaning you can go on short trips without additional fuel. A great advantage is that the whole set fits within the aluminum pan which is then covered by the lid, so you can store the whole set in small to medium compartments in your backpack.

PROS:

  • The whole thing can easily fit in any type of backpack.
  • Comes with a 0.8 L aluminum pan in which you can store the whole stove
  • Multiple fuel options
  • Non-stick fry pan that also serves as a lid included
 CONS:

  • Doesn’t do well in stronger winds
  • Has a small standing surface
  • Might be unstable if not placed well

Related: Trangia sells its own fuel bottles that we think are a good addition to the stove since they are quite light. The Trangia Fuel Bottles come in 0.3, 0.5 and 1.0-liter versions and they have an easy to use nozzle as a cap.

Check the price on Amazon

Trangia Spirit Burner Stove

Price: Approx. $15Trangia Spirit Burner Stove

Dimensions: 4.7 x 4.7 x 1.2 inches

Weight: 3.8 ounces

Specific features: Has a screwcap so it can store fuel

Best use: Cycling, hiking

If the whole Trangia Mini set is unnecessarily more than you are looking for or too expensive, you can always just get the Trangia Spirit Burner itself, for less than half the price. It is much lighter and even more compact, but it still retains advantages such as working with several types of liquid fuel and having a screw lid, so you can carry the remaining fuel in the burner.

This brass burner works with any of the Trangia alcohol stoves and is potentially compatible with other brands as well. These burners are quite durable, so you shouldn’t worry about getting it damaged. The only two things that you might miss are a windshield in a bit stronger winds, and a pot/stove stands for uneven terrains.

You’ll be able to boil 1 L of water on a steady flame in about 8 minutes, which isn’t that fast, but since you are most likely spending time in nature, what’s the hurry, right?

All in all, we believe this stove is great for all types of activities, especially if you are traveling on a budget and lack space.

PROS:

  • Very compact and light
  • Multiple fuel options
  • Very sturdy and durable
  • Low price
  • Can be used in combination with other stoves
 CONS:

  • Doesn’t come with a stand or a windshield
  • Might be unstable if not placed well
  • Longer boil time

Related: If you only imagine stirring your meal in a bit larger pot while cooking on a tiny stove like this one, you can already feel a disaster is just around the corner. And since this little guy doesn’t have its own stand included, we would recommend you get yourself something simple and light. The Evernew Titanium Cross Stand is a 0.5 oz, 2-part stand that you won’t even notice you’re carrying it.

Check the price on Amazon

Vargo Triad XE Stove

Price: Approx. $35Vargo Triad XE Stove

Dimensions: 8 x 4.8 x 1.2 inches

Weight: 1.6 ounces

Specific features: Foldable pot support and stand legs

Best use: Camping, hiking

This titanium ultralight stove boasts with an all-season, all-terrain capability. And while Vargo Triad XE Stove brings some of its own advantages to the table, it does also present a few shortcomings when compared to other lightweight stoves.

With its three legs and three pan supports expanded the Triad looks like a small alien ship which has just landed, and “small” is the main word here, as this is one of the lightest models we have looked at. So, if you are looking at reducing weight in your backpack, this might be a good choice.

The Triad supports any type of fuel, not just the liquid kind. It has an interior chamber for alcohol based fuel, which can be removed if you want to use fuel tabs or fuel gel. Under optimum conditions, it will burn for about 15 minutes with alcohol, though burn time varies for other fuels. It also is pretty efficient, heating up 0.5 L of water in about 4-5 minutes.

One major disadvantage is that you need to let it burn out and cool down if you want to add more fuel, which is not at all useful if you need to use it for longer periods of time. Also, important to note is that for its price you only get the stove, without additional gear.

You also need to make sure that the three rather sharp legs have something solid to stand on, otherwise the whole thing might tip over. But with a bit of creative positioning and a good pot or pan choice, it can become a reliable cooking buddy.

PROS:

  • Very compact and light
  • Multiple fuel options
 CONS:

  • Hard to refill when hot
  • Has moving parts that can break. No extra parts included
  • Doesn’t do well in stronger winds
  • Has a small standing surface

Related: Obviously the smaller stoves can have some issues in stronger winds, since they are completely exposed most of the time. The nice looking, foldable Vargo Aluminum Windscreen can fix that problem. It can also be used as a support for larger pots.

Check the price on Amazon

Forfar Camping Stove

Price: Approx.$25Forfar Camping Stove

Dimensions: 5.11 x 5.9 x 5.9 inches

Weight: 12.3 ounces

Specific features: Completely foldable, burns any type of fuel

Best use: Camping, backpacking

This stove is by far the largest on our list, but don’t let the size scare you away. For the Forfar Camping Stove, size can actually be treated as an advantage. It all depends to which type of activity you are planning to bring it to. In the first place, we would absolutely recommend it for camping.

Imagine yourself on a road trip with your camper van and the weather is treating you well. I’m sure you would much rather cook your lunch outside, so you pop this guy out from storage, light it up and you’re all set. You save on propane and you don’t heat up your van in hot summer days.

We wouldn’t dismiss it as a part of backpacking gear as well. Because of its sturdy stainless steel body, it can be stashed anywhere without concerns that something will break.

Considering the size, it’s also not that heavy and if you’re backpacking or trekking in a group, try convincing the guy with the largest pack to find some extra space. But if by any chance that guy is you, no need to worry since the stove is foldable and it takes considerably less space that way.

The great advantage of this stove is that it runs on pretty much any type of fuel, be it alcohol, gel, tabs or firewood or tree leaves, which can save you the hassle of buying and carrying fuel. When filled with dry firewood it burns continuously for about 20 minutes.

Being of a larger size means that this stove will allow you to heat and cook more demanding stuff than a cup of water or an egg. You can even do a small barbecue on it.

Of course, you will have to bring all the other utensils, as the package only includes the stove. Still, considering the price, it is a very good deal, since you get a durable stainless steel stove with an ash box and a triangle folding hob for small and larger pans and pots.

One disadvantage is that this stove has five individual pieces which need assembly. Now, the assembly itself is pretty straightforward, however, if you do forget or lose one of the pieces, you might have a problem there. Luckily, the stove comes with a mesh bag for carrying and keeping.

PROS:

  • Compact (when stacked together)
  • Multiple fuel options
  • Very reasonable price
  • Sturdy and well built
  • Comes with a mesh bag
  • Works well in slightly stronger winds
 CONS:

  • It’s an assembled stove, pieces might get lost
  • Triangle folding hobs might break

Related: Since this camping stove has so many fuel options and we covered some of the alcohol ones already, another great option that can be used with this one are fuel tablets. The Esbit 1300-Degree Smokeless Fuel Tablets are easy to refill and easy to clean afterwards. One tablet can burn approx. 12 minutes at 1300 °F and they work really well at high altitudes.

Check the price on Amazon

Toaks Titanium Siphon Stove

Price: Approx. $35Toaks Titanium Siphon Stove

Dimensions: 2.08 x 1.5 inches

Weight: 0.7 ounces

Specific features: Very efficient, simple design

Best use: Trekking, hiking, backpacking

While at a first glance it might look like just a regular cup without a handle, the Toaks Titanium Siphon Stove might very well be the most efficient stove on our list, due to its simplicity and fuel consumption. Notice the small holes just inside the rim of the stove, your flame will jet up through these holes, making sure the energy of your fire is used in the best way possible.

Under ideal conditions, 30 ml of alcohol (about 1 oz) will burn for about 11 minutes and will heat about 500 ml of water, about two cups, in under 6 minutes. That is not bad at all, especially considering that the Toaks is tiny. It is made from durable titanium and weighs less than 1 oz.

On the other side, what you see is what you get. For a little over $30, you won’t get anything else but the stove for your money. Wind protector, wireframe, pan and other gear, you will need to get separately.

The stove is designed for alcohol fuel only, so you will have to carry that separately as well. While the stove will hold almost 3 oz of fuel while being used, it works best with only 1 oz, but, luckily, refueling is as simple with this stove as is its design.

A great tool if you are going on a mountain marathon, cycling, a long hike or backpacking across the country and need as little weight on you as possible.

PROS:

  • Simple design
  • Multiple alcohol fuel options
  • Ultra-light
  • Very durable
  • Easy to refill and very fuel efficient
 CONS:

  • A bit pricey
  • Has a small standing surface. Might be unstable if not placed well.
  • No extra gear included
  • Doesn’t work well when windy

Related: Toaks is offering some really appealing camping gear. Their simplistic design pops out even more with their titanium products. So if you are into matching gear and would like to drink your next cup of tea or coffee from a good looking cup, we recommend the Toaks Titanium 450ml Cup. It comes with a mesh sack for storing and has foldable handles.

Check the price on Amazon

Wrap up

When preparing for a trip in the wild, the thought of a portable stove will probably not take up a lot of space in your mind, after all, this is supposed to be a back to basics, get in touch with your rugged side type of affair, and a warm meal or a hot cup of coffee seems like unnecessary luxuries.

Alcohol Stove

However, you really should not underestimate the moral and physical boost a warm drink can give you after a long hike. It is always the small things that make a difference, and in this case, they just might be what gives you the energy to go on.

Even that can of beans will taste a helluva lot better if it is warm. Also, you never know when you need to melt some snow or boil creek water to get drinking water. As such, choosing the best alcohol stove for your trip is an important step in your preparation and you should not skip it. You will thank yourself later when the steam from your coffee warms your frozen face.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dennis Owens

Dennis Owens

Dennis Owens is a graduate of National Camping School and REI Outdoor School. He knows everything about what gear to take with you, how to plan your trip to stay safe and what to do if you get lost in the mountains. We are lucky to have Dennis with us as he is a ‘walking encyclopedia’ when it comes to the wilderness.