Review of Esbit Alcohol Trekking and Further Comparison with Trangia

In my previous post comparing the Esbit with the Trangia stoves, I compared the entire systems. Since that review, I completed my Emerald Coast Bicycle Tour, so I wanted to post my thoughts on the Esbit and that leads me back to a comparison with the Trangia.

So, I took the Esbit Alcohol Trekking Kit on the tour. I packed it in one of my front panniers along with my sleeping back and two 8 oz. bottles of alcohol. My front panniers are Ortlieb Front Roller City, which no longer appears on the Ortlieb web site. They are small panniers, at least in comparison to my Backroller Classics, but the sleeping bag, stove, and fuel fit with room to spare. There is room in the kit for a few small items so I packed within my collapsable cup and a fabric water bucket.

I cooked two meals per day. For breakfast, I would boil water for cocoa and coffee at the very least. On some mornings, I would also boil water for instant oatmeal. My dinners ranged from instant soup to Rice-A-Roni dishes to heating up ravioli to browning ground beef for tacos. In all, I cooked 12 meals over the 6 days and I used 14 ounces of alcohol. I simmered the taco meat for over an hour so I thought the fuel usage over the week was fine.

All in all, I’m happy with the performance of the Esbit. I had a bit of trouble getting the simmer down low enough on the taco meat and ended up scorching some of the beef onto the pan, which took a little extra elbow grease to clean up. That might have something to do with my gripes on the simmer ring (below), but more likely can be chalked up to lack of experience.

I love the fold-out, wire handle on the simmer ring of the Esbit. This comes in very handy to place or remove the simmer ring. However, the simmer ring on the Esbit is much looser than on the Trangia. The next two photos shows a comparison of the simmer rings; the Esbit is on the left and the Trangia the right.

Esbit (left) and Trangia (right) simmer rings.

Esbit (left) and Trangia (right) simmer rings.

Esbit (left) and Trangia (right) simmer rings.

Esbit (left) and Trangia (right) simmer rings.

In the second photo, notice how the sliding disk on the Esbit is floating off the plane of the ring while it is sliding on (and indeed scratching the varnish off) the Trangia ring. This is my one gripe about the Esbit. The disk is very, very loose. First, it’s hard to get it into the position you want when on the stove because it moves so easily. Second, unless you lock it back down into the closed position, it’s much harder to snuff the flame using this. However, the Trangia simmer ring doesn’t have the handle so you must have some additional tool to pick it up when necessary.

Given that one gripe, I still think the Esbit system is good. I do think that the Trangia system as a whole is superior, but unless I know I’m going to be cooking for multiple people, I won’t suffer the extra weight and bulk of the Trangia.

Since I like the Trangia simmer ring better, I thought I would see how a comparison of the two burners within the Esbit system would turn out. To test this, I set up the Esbit stove with a Vargo windscreen protecting it. Each test was to boil 2 cups of room-temperature water; I allowed the burner to bloom and then placed the large pot on the stove with the small pot covering. Prior to the first round, I emptied each burner of alcohol and placed 2 ounces fresh within. On the second round, I added 1 ounce of alcohol to each.

Test configuration.

Test configuration.

Results

Burner Round 1 Round 2
Esbit 8:50 8:50
Trangia 8:50 8:30

I guess you can see that the results were remarkably similar except for the second round with the Trangia burner. I cannot explain that result because I ensured that all had cooled prior to beginning each round. I will say that my gut feel is that the Trangia puts out more heat. I could physically see more flames escaping around the bottom of the pot and I could feel more heat by placing my hand above the pot.

One minor difference that I like about the Trangia burner is that it blooms with more of an audible “pop”. Since alcohol flames are mostly invisible in daylight, that’s a handy feature.

Conclusions
I’ll stick to the Esbit kit for solo cooking, but since I think the Trangia puts out a little more heat and I like the simmer ring better, I’ll substitute the Trangia burner in the future.

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2 Responses to Review of Esbit Alcohol Trekking and Further Comparison with Trangia

  1. E.M.Smith says:

    Nice comparison and write up. I’ve grown quite fond of my Trangia (though the Esbit is just about as good). I now make my morning tea of coffee on it. Put it on a pie tin (for safety) an make my tea while watching TV. No more need to run to the kitchen 😉

    I’ve not been able to figure out why the Trangia “Pops!”, but it does. Just an easy to hear “poofT” when it heats up enough. It’s a feature, how ever they got it to happen.

    IMHO, the full on Trangia stove / cook kit is a larger “with a friend” kit and for “solo just me” I’d take the Esbit. I also like that it has a little solid fuel pellet stand. Putting a chewing gum size pack of fuel pellets in the kit is light weight insurance against a leaking alcohol bottle… Might not be able to simmer taco meat for an hour, but I’d have my tea and oatmeal!

  2. Pingback: Grand Canyon Backpacking Tour – Gear Retrospective | Bike Lane Ends

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