Comparison of Trangia and Esbit Alcohol Stoves

I’ve owned a Trangia kit for a couple of years. In fact, I have the 25-5 HA. I really like the size of the kit and have cooked three-dish meals for three people on camping trips with it. However, it is quite bulky and heavy; close to 2 lbs.

A co-worker and I were recently planning a Grand Canyon hike and I wanted to slim down some of my biggest pieces of equipment for that. I stumbled upon the Esbit Alcohol Trekking kit. This kit is much smaller and weighs slightly less than 1 lb. I waited a couple of months to find a good deal and then pounced. Shortly after receiving it, a few of us went on a car camping trip to Mammoth Cave. I cooked a dinner of flavored rice with chicken for three of us and boiled water for oatmeal and coffee the next morning. In using the set, I felt like it wasn’t as quick/efficient as the Trangia.

Meanwhile, the Grand Canyon hike fell through since we were denied a permit, but we’ve substituted a bicycle tour of the gulf coast from Panama City Beach, FL to New Orleans, LA.

E.M. Smith recently posted about Trangia alcohol stoves and I mentioend in comments that I felt the Esbit took longer to bloom and boil than the Trangia. E.M. did a “bloom test” and posted about it the next day. He found that the two burners are very similar.

I did a couple of quick boil tests using my two kits because, while the two burners are very similar, the two kits are quite different. I decided to conduct my test in real-world conditions; 51F and an 8 mph wind at the time. I used water and alcohol at room temperature.

Here’s what the two kits look like side-by-side…

Trangia 25 and Esbit Alcohol Trekking side-by-side.

Trangia 25 and Esbit Alcohol Trekking side-by-side.

I filled both burners to halfway and installed them in their respective stands/windscreens. Since it was still daylight, I had a hard time seeing the bloom so I couldn’t accurately tell when they each bloomed. But I can say that they were not burning full until about 1:00. No matter, though, since E.M. had already done a good test of the bloom. I used the largest pots of the two kits and measured one cup of water into each. When I was sure both burners were going full, I placed the pots on the stoves uncovered. The Trangia was boiling at 4:40 and on full boil at 5:20…

Trangia boiling.

Trangia boiling.

Meanwhile, the Esbit was only steaming…

Esbit steaming.

Esbit steaming.

The Esbit came to a full boil at about 7:00.

I then tested each with two cups of water, but covered both this time. The Trangia had two cups boiling at 5:50 and fully at 6:30. The Esbit was boiling at 7:30 and fully engaged at 8:00.

They both seem to burn fuel at the same rate, but the Esbit has to burn longer to perform the same amount of work. The Esbit is less efficient because of two things. A) The Esbit is clearly affected by the wind. There is no side of the stand to turn into the wind and block it. It would certainly benefit from a wind screen. B) The smaller pot in the Esbit allows the flames to escape the sides and wastes energy. The design of the Trangia not only keeps the flames under the pot, but also vents the heat very close around the sides of the pot. Those Swedes certainly knew what they were doing.

Of course, here’s the big tradeoff…

Transgia 25 and Esbit Alcohol Trekking packed.

Transgia 25 and Esbit Alcohol Trekking packed.

I’ll probably take the Esbit on our bicycle tour due to the weight and bulk difference. But this is by no means a slam dunk. For multiple people, the Trangia is much more efficient.

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5 Responses to Comparison of Trangia and Esbit Alcohol Stoves

  1. E.M.Smith says:

    Nice test. I have the Esbit trekking kit and the Trangia burner, but only a pot stand for it. Might be nice to repeat that test, but with the two burners swapped. Find out how much is the burner (as the Esbit has two sized holes, every other hole being smaller) and how much is the wind screen. I could see a hypothetical where the Trangia burner in an Esbit kit might go a little faster to a full boil. (In my test, it looked like once at full speed, the Trangia was putting out bigger flames).

    It Esbit is my “just me” kit. I think it would be possible, but a bit complicated, to make “dinner for two” with it.

    I envy you the bike ride. That’s a great chunk of land to travel.

    FWIW, some while back I was hustling from California to Florida (by car) and managed to stop at a Florida beach near your proposed starting point. Choctaw Beach. It was substantially empty and I “took a bath” in the gulf there (as I’d been on the road a few days…)

    If you get a chance, you might want to ‘check it out’. They had a bathroom with water and some tables and such, but largely it looked like a “locals know about it” others don’t kind of place. Not a lot of “lay on the beach” area, more a ‘roadside pick nick and swimming’ spot. Still, it was mostly empty and very pleasant.

    My description of that bit of the trip is here:

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2010/11/05/ocean-baths-bag-ladies-and-truckers/

    There’s a road that runs right along that coast for miles and miles that would likely make a very nice route. Don’t remember if there was clearance for bikes, though. IIRC it was a ‘two lane highway’ but folks not going real fast.

  2. adventurepdx says:

    Nice test! I love my Trangia. But one thing to comment: comparing the two sets is more “apples-to-oranges” than a true “apples-to-apples”. The Trangia 25/27 with their integrated “stormcooker” windscreens work so much better and more efficiently than the Esbit set. I think a better comparison test would be between the Esbit set above and the Trangia backpacker kit (28), which I do have. Like the Esbit, it doesn’t have a true windscreen so an additional one is needed. I like the Trangia 28 for small one-person camping because not only does it have a small pot but a small non-stick frying pan that is surprisingly versatile. It doesn’t look like that Esbit set has that.

    • dellwilson says:

      I agree. The Trangia 25 is a luxury car while the Esbit is a compact. Watching them side-by-side in a modest wind showed me that I need a windscreen to get the most out of the Esbit. I’m planning to get my hands on an aluminum windscreen and test the Esbit again. That won’t add much weight, but it will hopefully increase the output noticeably.

      I’m glad to hear about the Trangia 28. I had not paid much attention to that, but now that you mention it, it looks pretty good. The Esbit set pairs a smaller pot/cup with the larger pot in lieu of the fry pan in the 28. But I generally carry a Sea to Summit X Cup, so the fry pan might be a more versatile combination.

      The weight comparison looks good: 11.6 oz. versus 14.7 oz. (claimed). Inexpensive, too: $32.30 with free shipping on Amazon. I may give that a try.

      • adventurepdx says:

        Yeah, I love the versatility of a frying pan. The Trangia 28 is also available from REI, too. The best place I’ve found for all things Trangia is campsaver.com

  3. Pingback: Review of Esbit Alcohol Trekking and Further Comparison with Trangia | Bike Lane Ends

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