On my 2005 Hermit-Boucher hike, I started using an Esbit pocket stove instead of the propane stove I had been using. My old propane stove was bulky and the propane canisters were heavy. The total weight of my old stove and canisters on a five day or longer hike was around three pounds. I saw the Esbit stove while looking for ways to reduce my pack weight.
The Esbit stove measures a scant 3" x 4" x 3/4" and weighs only 3.25 ounces. The fuel tablets weigh 1/2 ounce each. The stove costs around $7 and the fuel tablets cost fifty cents each. The stove can open half way (45 degrees) to an indent or fully (90 degrees) to another indent. A fuel tablet is placed inside the stove and lighted to begin heating. The open stove has prongs to support your cooking pot. I made two modifications to the stove. I cut some galvanized roof flashing into rectangles that can be inserted on the two long sides of the unfolded stove to better direct the flame upward and can be stored inside the stove when closed. I then made a circular wind guard out of aluminum flashing and punched holes in the bottom to allow some combustion air in. The wind guard is just slightly larger around than the bottom of my pot. I use a small bolt and nut to bolt the two ends of the wind guard together for use. When traveling, I unbolt the wind guard, store the bolt inside the stove, and then pack the flat piece of aluminum in my pack.
Click here for a nine picture photo gallery shown in the order listed below of my Esbit stove with additional fabrications as described above:
1. Esbit stove
folded with a quarter beside it for size perspective.
The stove will heat two cups of water to boiling in about 6-8 minutes. Each fuel tablet burns about 12-14 minutes. I use a charcoal grill type of propane lighter to ignite the fuel tablets. As you can see from the photo gallery, the stove and fuel tablets are very compact and have saved me at least two pounds and a lot of room in my pack. An Esbit stove offers a viable alternative to propane stoves.