When camping, you can’t always rely on the tried and tested method of our cavemen forebears by scratching rocks against other rocks and hoping for a spark, especially when everything around you is damper than a family reunion no one wants to be at. This doesn’t mean the end of your trip, though, and fitting your camping gear with the best alcohol stoves ensures you can enjoy your hot dogs warm and have your morning coffee without fail. If this sounds like the thing that’ll get you back out into the wilderness, we’d advise you keep reading.
The Best Alcohol Stove
Our top pick of the best alcohol stoves Esbit 5-Piece Lightweight Trekking Cook Set which comes with two pots, a brass burner, stand, and fuel base with a mesh carry bag to keep everything together. At less than 15 ounces, it’s lightweight enough for easy carrying on long treks.
The special design also allows you to keep everything compact and together and easy to assemble, while the produced flame is both large and hot, which is exactly what you need when you start to see your trekking mates as legs of chicken. Make sure you also check our guide to the best camping stoves.
985ml pot with volume indicator
Lightweight anodized aluminum construction
Includes brass alcohol burner, two cook pots, stand, solid fuel base and mesh carry bag
470ml additional pot also serves as lid
- Weight14.7 ounces
The simple to set up and simple to use Vargo Decagon Alcohol Stove is a single-piece design for easy storage and packing, while also delivering durable functionality for all manner of adventures into the wild. The large center hole makes it easy to ignite, and despite its size and minimal weight, it produces a strong flame for all your boiling needs.
There’s no heat adjustment, which means this is maybe better for fast boiling water, but you can still fry up breakfast if you keep a close eye to stop your food burning. The wide base also prevents fuel spillage, and while you’ll need a windscreen, its simplicity will make this a small price to pay. Be sure to also check out our list of the best solo camping tents for more great items like this.
One-piece titanium construction is durable and lightweight
Large center hole for easy ignition
Bottom stability plate prevents stove slipping
No moveable parts ensure consistent performance in outdoor scenarios
- Weight8 ounces
The Solo Stove Solo Alcohol Burner is great for hikers who want more control over their cooking. It comes with a simmer lid to better control the flame, while the twist on cap is ideal for saving unused fuel for next time.
Weighing just 3.5 ounces, it’s an alcohol burner that won’t take up much space in your pack, nor will it feel like it’s weighing you down as you hit that tortuous 8 hour mark. The flame is also safe, so it won’t burn the bottom of your pans, which will save you scrubbing when you get home. Our handy guide to the best camping blankets features more great products like this.
Simmer lid with foldout handle to adjust flame from full to simmer
Twist-on cap with o-ring seals burner to save fuel and prevent evaporation
Compact size is easy to transport and store
Easy operation for experts and beginners
- BrandSolo Stove
- Weight3.52 ounces
For a top of the range option, the EVERNEW TI Stove DX Set is the perfect pick for those who need a flame large and hot enough to cook for a whole trekking group. It uses a bi-level jet system for a stable and safe flame, and the DX stand works with a variety of fuel types besides alcohol fuel, which is ideal should you run out.
It boasts a great design with substantial wind protection and also heats within 8 minutes at the most, and often more so long you’re not too high up. Whether you want to boil water or cook your dinner, this is the stove for the experienced woodsman. Love this product? Check out our review of the best tent heaters for our top picks.
Stand also works as pot stand and protects from wind
Bi-level jet system creates stable flame
70ml fuel capacity
DX stand allows for multi-fuel versatility including wood, solid fuel, and alcohol
- Weight2.4 ounces
The Trangia Spirit Burner is our pick for the best value of the best alcohol stoves available. It comes with a fast boil time and is massively reliable in any situation. It’s also lightweight, which makes it easily portable throughout long treks, and its design ensures it can withstand the worse weather imaginable.
It combines the frypan and lid to conserve whatever fuel you don’t use, and it’s also stable enough to not topple over, even on ground that’s not as flat as you’d like. The internal wick helps it heat quicker than similarly priced options, and also safe to extinguish, too. Find more great products like this by checking out our guide to the best camping chairs.
8 minute boil time with 1 liter of fuel
Storm-proof stove system
Stable construction prevents pot toppling
Combined frypan and lid helps save fuel
- Weight3.84 ounces
Alcohol Stove Buying Guide
Features To Look For In An Alcohol Stove
Before deciding on your alcohol stove, look at these different features to find out which stove best suits your needs when on the trail or at the campsite.
Weight - When trekking, the weight of your portable stove can shave (or add) important ounces to your pack. If you’re someone who likes to pack light, a lightweight stove is preferred, especially if you’re trekking alone, as those in groups can at least share the load for a break.
Size - Much like the weight, a small stove is preferred to reduce bulk in your backpack. However, a stove that’s too small, especially for a group, may not be able to achieve the desired hotness to cook or boil adequately.
Depending on the size of your group, consider if a large stove is an acceptable tradeoff for the extra space it will take up in your backpack. You may also feel a small stove is sufficient for what you want to cook if the group isn’t too big. Conversely, investing in multiple stoves can solve this.
Simplicity - Trying to set up and use a stove that’s too complicated at the end of a long day of trekking can ruin the entire trip, especially if you’ve never used your new stove before getting out onto the trail (although that’s more on you).
A stove with a simple setup will fill those growling stomachs more efficiently and ensure everyone gets to bed comfortable and happily fed, so consider the ease of use before making your purchase.
Stands - Campsites often have uneven ground, so a stable stand will prevent you spilling your breakfast, lunch, and dinner all over the grass. This will also prevent loss of fuel, which could come in useful if someone (not you) takes you down a wrong turn.
Types Of Alcohol Stoves
Side Flame - These work like your gas burner at home and have holes around the rim of the stove to push the flame out of the stove. It doesn’t need a separate stand, and you can place your pan or pot on top without the risk of extinguishing the flame.
Open Flame - The most simple stove type you’ll find, a side flame design works like a bowl full of fire and are easy to use. However, they spill much easier than other types, but some types come with the ability to store fuel you don’t use during your cook.
Vertical Flame - These use a chimney design to better concentrate the flame to the center of your pot. It uses two cans with vent holes to create updraft to direct the flame upwards. They don’t spill as easily, but as also a little harder to use and are heavier.
Pressure Flame - Pressure flame stoves are the hardest to work and uses vapor pressure to ignite a strong flame to help you cook or boil. There is a center fuel reservoir for you to fill and light along with an internal chamber that has burner holes. The flame they create is of similar strength and efficiency to home gas burners but they take longer to ignite, which isn’t great if your party is starving.
Types Of Alcohol Fuel
Depending on the stove you buy, figure out what alcohol stove fuel you need for it to work properly. You can use:
HEET - Also known as methanol, HEET comes in a yellow bottle for easy identification. You’ll need to pour more HEET into your stove than other options because it has fewer calories per gram compared to denatured alcohol. It’s widely available, though, and generally safer, but we’d advise you to be aware of which way the wind is blowing and where you’re standing
Denatured alcohol - Consisting mostly of ethanol, denatured alcohol is a more popular option for stove fuel. However, in the US, there are few regulations for the correct amount of ethanol, and it’s sometimes mixed with more dangerous substances. Your best bet is to look for green denatured alcohol with as much ethanol content as possible as this will burn better.
Grain - With more fuel than water (often around a 95% to 5% split) grain fuel provides more heat and a more reliable flame. It still has some of the same additives as HEET, but this is unavoidable. It’s also typically more expensive than other options, but this is a minor trade off when on the trail, and its performance will make you forget about those extra cents.
How To Use An Alcohol Stove
While an alcohol heater isn’t the hardest thing in the world to use, you should still make sure you know what you’re doing to avoid spilled fuel and disaster.
- Unpack the stove while remembering how to put it back together to minimize bulk
- Find somewhere flat to place it on and attach windshields
- Put the burner together and fill it no more than ¾ full
- Immediately put the lid back on and reattach windshields
- Use a flame (match or lighter) to ignite the fuel
- Place pan on top allowing windshield to support it
- Let it cook or boil whatever you’ve got a hankering for
- If possible, adjust the flame while cooking using handle attachment
- Finish cooking and remove pan
Place closed burner on top to kill the flame through lack of oxygen and save any leftover fuel for next time
- Alcohol Stoves 101 - Greenbelly
- What’s the Best Alcohol for Stove Fuel? - Adventures in Stoving
- How to Use a Trangia Camping Stove - WikiHow