Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Review: Esbit 5-Piece Trekking Cook Set

Alcohol makes a great fuel for small stoves because it can be used in extreme weather. The alcohol burners
Esbit 5-Piece Trekking Cook Set Product Link
are also simple and reliable. As long as you don't let the alcohol leak, there's not much short of smashing it that's going to leave you without a hot meal. I ordered this model because it also comes with a little tray so it can use solid fuel pellets or gel. Some of the reviews have even mentioned replacing the little screw-on plastic feet with metal feet, allowing the stove to use any combustible material like paper, twigs, etc.

My review sample was purchased from Amazon with Prime, and I even purchased a can of denatured alcohol for it. For some reason the alcohol took a day longer; maybe they ship it differently because it's combustible. The first stove I received had a ding on the top pot/lid and was missing part of the handle on the big pot, so I returned it. Amazon being as awesome as they are shipped me a new one which I had 2 days later.

NOTE: I also noticed after I purchased the can of Alcohol that a few reviewers were complaining about excess soot from the alcohol burner. The solution seems to be adding a small amount of water (teaspoon-ish) to the fuel in the burner.

Product Description


This is a camping stove which features an alcohol burner with snuffer and sealing cap, burner stand, pellet fuel tray and two little pots. The two pots fit together and everything else fits inside, with a mesh bag to hold it all together. The entire thing is made in China, but that's not really a negative, making this set a pretty good value for what you get.

Esbit 5-Piece Trekking Cook Set - Unboxed

Esbit 5-Piece Trekking Cook Set - Burner and Pellet Stand

Esbit 5-Piece Trekking Cook Set - Burner Inside Stove

Esbit 5-Piece Trekking Cook Set - Inside Mesh Bag
Mesh bag works but fits a little loose

Esbit 5-Piece Trekking Cook Set - Small Lid On Stove With Burner
Top pot mounted on stove with burner


Official Specs (From Amazon)


  • Complete cookset includes brass alcohol burner, two cook pots, stand , solid fuel base, and mesh carry bag
  • Cook pots constructed from extremely light, hard anodized aluminum
  • Small pot can be used as lid; large pot includes volume indicator in liters and ounces
  • Burner features a variable flame regulator, fold-away handle, and sealable screw top that holds fuel
  • Set nests compactly in large pot; total weight is 15 ounces


Initial Impressions


The first set had some issues which made me return it, so I won't really go into those issues. Quality control isn't really where it should be for Chinese made products, so it can be hit-and-miss sometimes.

The replacement set was much better. I twisted one of the little plastic feet and it unscrewed easily--a little too easily-- and sent the washer and screw flying, where I had to find them. But it was really nice seeing how easily this thing will be to mod into the "tri-fuel stove" I've been thinking of.

The alcohol burner looks really nice, and there doesn't seem to be any quality or fit and finish problems with it. Good, because it's the heart of the set. It has a sealable cap that screws on, and a snuffer/regulator that snaps on top of the cap.

I noticed with the replacement that one of the handles on the top pot doesn't line up perfectly and so doesn't really sit flush with the pot--a minor grievance. The handles work, and it fits in the mesh bag, so I'm calling it 'good enough'.

Pots


The pots in this kit are made of anodized Aluminum. The top pot is more of a cup, but it's a decent sized cup at just about 16 ounces. It has two little swing out arms to grab the cup while it's hot. The bigger pot is about double the size at 33 1/3 ounces. The first unit only one little swing out arm, but the replacement has both. The larger pot also has volume markings on the inside in both English and metric. The handles on both pots are rubber coated to make them cooler to pick up.

Both pots fit on the actual stove piece, and can be used to heat your food or drink. It's a nice little setup, and the large pot is definitely large enough for dinner for one. Dinner for two might be a stretch. But for my emergency bag it's a good size, even bordering on being a little bulky.

The way the pots fit together leave lots of room for small, kitchen related stuff like bullion cubes, lighter/matches, salt/pepper or whatever. Putting extra goodies in it should also fix the problem of it having a bit of a rattle when it's all inside the mesh bag.

Esbit 5-Piece Trekking Cook Set - All The Pieces In Kit

Esbit 5-Piece Trekking Cook Set - Markings On Big Pot
Here you can see the volume markings on the inside of the large pot

Burner


The alcohol burner is solid brass and seems well made. The technology behind these stoves predates most of the technology we take for granted today. It's an idiot-proof design, and pretty efficient. This model has a sealable cap which uses a rubber o-ring to seal the fuel in for storage. The burner carries about 2 ounces of fuel, which is about enough for a good meal, maybe two.

Esbit 5-Piece Trekking Cook Set - Burner Assembly View 1

Esbit 5-Piece Trekking Cook Set - Burner Assembly View 2

Esbit 5-Piece Trekking Cook Set - Burner Assembly View 3

Esbit 5-Piece Trekking Cook Set - Burner Assembly View 4

Esbit 5-Piece Trekking Cook Set - Burner Assembly View 5

Esbit 5-Piece Trekking Cook Set - Burner Assembly Lid Showing O-Ring

Stove


The stove is a single piece of Aluminum with 4 little plastic feet. Each foot screws on with a screw and a washer. The design of the stove allows for airflow into your fuel source, but it doesn't look ideal for windy conditions. I've read where some people are carrying a small amount of Aluminum foil to wrap around it when it's windy. Seems like a good idea because there's plenty of room to carry it inside the kit. I haven't decided how much it concerns me yet. Even in an emergency it wouldn't be that hard to build some sort of makeshift wind barrier.

There's a little "window" on one size where you can extend the handle on the burner and use it to control the size of the flame.

This is going to be the piece to modify for a tri-fuel configuration. What I plan on doing is buying a thin nut/bolt set and cutting the bolt to size. I'll probably smooth it down with a rotary tool so it doesn't snag when inside a pack--I haven't decided.

Esbit 5-Piece Trekking Cook Set - View Of Stove: Top

Esbit 5-Piece Trekking Cook Set - View Of Stove: Bottom
The stove has plastic feet on the bottom

Pellet Stand


This model includes a stand which lets you use solid fuel pellets (usually Hexamine) or gel instead of the alcohol burner. It's the main reason why I bought this model in the first place. Under normal conditions, a single fuel cube should bring the big pot of water to a boil (or mostly to a boil) in about 15 minutes. So therefor each pellet is good for about one meal.

Esbit 5-Piece Trekking Cook Set - Closeup Of Pellet Stand


Usability


Since it is winter here in the Northwest, I figured that colder temperatures would be a good test of the stove, since alcohol burns just fine in the cold. In an emergency, a hot meal is even more important in extremely cold weather. I was hoping for a little colder, but I went ahead and ran my test at 45 degrees Fahrenheit.

The test was conducted on the top of my portable grill using just shy of 2 ounces of alcohol in the stove and just shy of a full pot of water--about 32 ounces, which is 4 cups of water. The water sat outside with the whole unit for the 10-15 minutes it took to find a working lighter, so everything was good and cold when I lit the burner. There was also a small amount of wind, but not enough to really skew the results.

The test results were close to what I expected. I was expecting the burner to run flat out for about 20 minutes without the regulator cap, and barely boil the large pot of water. In reality it burned 17 minutes and stopped just short of boiling. There was some steam coming off the top and it was just starting to come to a boil when the fuel ran out. Cold weather is hard on any camp stove, and some types of stove won't even work right in the cold.

So, my test results were good. The unit worked perfectly, but showed me that in cold weather I probably want to budget a little extra fuel. But the burner still functioned well, giving me a nice authoritative flame.

Esbit 5-Piece Trekking Cook Set - 2 Ounces of Alcohol Measured
Just under 1/4 (2 ounces)

Esbit 5-Piece Trekking Cook Set - Test: On Grill

Esbit 5-Piece Trekking Cook Set - Test: Setup For Test

Esbit 5-Piece Trekking Cook Set - Full Flame From Burner

Esbit 5-Piece Trekking Cook Set - Windy Flame From Burner
The test had a little bit of wind

Esbit 5-Piece Trekking Cook Set - Test Done: Some Steam Coming Out
The test ran for 17 minutes before it ran out of fuel, with some steam coming from the large pot of water

Conclusions


This is definitely going in my emergency bag. Currently there's a small Bleuet "pocket stove" in there. The fuel pellets will stay and just the pocket stove will come out. Everything else in the small zip-loc "stove bag" will come out and end up living in this stove kit. Since the stove is a little bulky for an emergency bag, it's imperative not to waste any space.

Overall I think this is a nice little stove set. I really like that it can use fuel pellets, and I probably will end up modding it to use small countersunk bolts for feet, which will make it a "tri-fuel" stove by allowing pretty much any combustible material to fuel the stove.

As far as the quality of the product, it seems to have it where it counts: in the brass burner. The pots are of sufficient quality to get the job done. It's hard to get anodized Aluminum wrong. The handles seem sturdy enough not to fail from use. All things considered, this is a good addition to my disaster bag and may even see some coffee duty when I'm camping.

Disaster Bag


This stove is now neatly situated in my disaster bag. There was lots of room inside for extra stuff like:
  1. 4 solid fuel pellets
  2. 8 small candles ("tea lights")
  3. 2 packs of regular matches
  4. 1 pack of waterproof matches
  5. 1 disposable Bic lighter
  6. 2 fuel gel packs
  7. 1 army surplus Hexamine solid fuel bar
  8. 2 P-38 army surplus can openers
  9. 4 ounces of alcohol stored in the burner
  10. 1 pack of 10 tinder
Esbit 5-Piece Trekking Cook Set - Shown with extra fuel, matches, lighter, can openers and tinder

Esbit 5-Piece Trekking Cook Set - Shown with all the goodies packed into it


Gallery


Esbit 5-Piece Trekking Cook Set - In Box 1

Esbit 5-Piece Trekking Cook Set - In Box 2

Esbit 5-Piece Trekking Cook Set - In Box 3


Esbit 5-Piece Trekking Cook Set - In Box 4

Esbit 5-Piece Trekking Cook Set - In Box 5

Esbit 5-Piece Trekking Cook Set - Paper Instructions


2 comments:

  1. Great review, thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love mine. I just got it today to have on hand for indoor emergency power outage. I heated one cup of room temperature water in it. It took 2 minutes 46 seconds to come to a full rolling boil. I put in on an end table with tinfoil under it to protect my table. I made a cup of coffee with the boiling water. I have a one cup filter basket that fits right into my coffee cup to make perculated coffee. I had coffee done in about 3 minutes in total. The fumes were mild from the 91% alcohol. I used 1 ounce of it. I had just a few drops left in the bottom of the burner. I didn't leave it running. I snuffed it out when the water was boiled. I might have got another minute out of the few drops that were in the side of it when I tilted it to look inside. Possibly off of the fumes as well. I don't know. Next time I will leave it run until the flame dies out on it's own. Mind you this was indoors. My carbon dioxide/smoke detector a few feet away did not go off. I had no smoking. I did have some black soot on the bottom of the pot & on the inner rim of the stand. I just washed it with dish soap, and packed it away. I love it!! I think the company could make a 4 ounce canister for those that want to buy a taller canister. Though if they did you would not be able to reach in the side slot to snuff it out. Unless they made two slots above each other for a taller burner canister. I would imagine if I used 100% alcohol it would heat much faster. This was my first use of it. I plan on buying more as gifts for camping family members. Good quality set for the money. Amazon 49.00 before taxes and or delivery.

    ReplyDelete