Can this titanium solid fuel stove compete with the blogger’s favorite, the White Box Stove? Can it boil enough h2O for two? A (non-field) full test and comparison.
Goal: boil 16 oz. (2 cups) of water using one .5 oz. Esbit cube AND/OR .5 oz. denatured alcohol
Conditions: 54 degrees, light wind at 860 feet
The plan: see how the 0.40 oz. Backpacking Light Firelite Titanium Esbit Wing stove + a single .5 oz. Esbit fuel cube fared against the 2.5 oz. White Box Stove + .5 oz. denatured alcohol for boiling 16 oz. of water.
Observations: the Firelite Esbit Wing Stove is crazy light, and is perfectly designed to do one thing: deliver burning Esbit solid fuel. Esbit comes in foil packages reminiscent of that 70’s era liquid center gum your Mom used to rock, and immediately you’ll notice two shortcomings vs. an alcohol stove: first, these things stink. Not in the package so much, but in bear country I’d definitely bag & hang ’em – think pickled herring. Second, you’ll need matches or a lighter to get it burning – not a deal breaker certainly, but a far cry from the ease of lighting an alcohol stove with a firesteel tool like the Spark-Lite Firestarter, as I did with the white box for this test.
It was a little breezy so I added a windscreen – specifically the one that ships with the White Box stove. I felt like I was cheating on my White Box stove – you know I love you White Box baby! – but as my experience has been that the White Box rarely if ever needs a windscreen, chalk this up as another “knock” against the Esbit Wing Stove.
Get on with it. How long did it take? Virtually everything I’ve read about Esbit fuel cubes is based upon boiling 8 oz. of water, making it essentially a solo stove, but as the burn time was listed as “up to 15 minutes” I was hopeful that it would be capable of bringing 16 oz. to boil. Which it did, in 9 minutes 10 seconds. Success! It furthermore had a total burn time of 15 minutes 45 seconds, leading me to conclude that, at least under today’s conditions and altitude, one Esbit cube with this particular kit could boil at least 18 ounces or more. By comparison, the White Box stove + the GSI Hae Tea Kettle, sans wind screen, brought 16 oz. of water to a boil in 6:45 (m:s) and consumed ~.5 oz. of denatured alcohol in 9:42 of total burn time – again, more than enough time to boil at least 18 oz. of water under similar conditions.
Esbit Wing Stove
|0.4 oz.||0.5 oz. Esbit cube||BPL Firelite SUL-900
32 oz. pot
|White Box Stove||2.5 oz.||0.5 oz. denatured
|GSI Hae Tea Kettle
Conclusions: While I still have to give the overall nod to the White Box Stove for performance and reliability – it hasn’t FAILed me yet – I was quite impressed with the ability of the solid fuel stove to deliver 2 cups of boiled water with a single cube. Given its reputation for superior cold weather performance vs. alcohol stoves, the Firelite Esbit Wing Stove will undoubtedly find its way into my winter kit as a backup stove at a minimum, and with a total weight savings of ~3 oz. (including fuel bottle) it will likely find its way into my regular kit mix as well. Grade: recommended.
Update: went vertical eh like 3 weeks back, up to about 4100′ with the idea of firing up Ploss’ BushBuddy stove + titanium grill to rock some trail steaks. Foot of snow and nothing even close to burnable tinder/wood later…thank Jah I brought the Esbit wing stove. Operating in roughly 30 degree conditions the Esbit worked it, boiling 2 cups of water easily for some backup freeze-dried chicken & potatoes handily. That is to say I made my beotch Ploss make my effing dinner for me. Good Ploss. But I digress. Setup on the snow on top of an inverted titanium sierra cup w/foil windscreen, this stove moved ahead of the White Box Stove as a candidate for week long trips, especially given the opportunity to cache Esbit tabs along with my food in cacheable areas.
What’s this? A post on Smackpacker, complete with photos? OMFG!
You’re the official stove whore! Yes, I can see how this would be a nice complementary piece of kit for certain conditions and the Esbit fuel makes an excellent wood starter for both an open fire -and- a Bushbuddy (should you ever Mola Ram yourself one!).
Fortunately most UL kits come complete with BOTH a lighter and some sort of firesteel, so either way that probably doesn’t make a difference. Both methods will require a fire implement unless you go ultimate UL and rub two sticks together . . ..
Perhaps for your next post you can compare various methods of starting a fire sans matches, lighter, firesteel, flint, oxy acetylene torch, or fire-breathing dragon.
The question is when are YOU going to post something fresh? Smackpacker v3 has been available for your nagging feel for months now…
You make a good point, most kits do include multiple fire starting sources (fire: good) I merely point out that a firesteel option isn’t available with the Esbit cubes – although of course you could use your firesteel to ignite some dry tinder with which you could light the Esbit in a pinch. Bottom line is you can throw the Firelite stove and a few Esbits in your pack for a penalty of an ounce and a half, all but guaranteeing yourself a fire starter (vicious fire starter) as you point out, and most likely a stove to boot. You simply can’t find a better emergency stove than this.
Ironically I was contemplating a forage for wild edible plants post; perhaps I’ll do a full survival post complete with rubbing sticks together…sticks are full of vitamins after all…