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  • Tuesday, March 22, 2011

    Gear Review: Zelph's SS Starlyte Alcohol Stove

    I will still be posting weekly trip journals, but decided to start writing occasional gear reviews as well.  I want to start with something I recently purchased that I’m kind of excited about. Actually, giddy might be more accurate, because as an adult, new gear day has replaced Christmas as the day you'll most likely hear me let out a schoolgirlish, "Eeeeeee!".

    I didn't take a cook stove on my last few trips, mostly to cut weight, but also because I've never been a big fan of cooking and cleaning without a modern kitchen. I want to give it another try, however, because sometimes after hiking all day, you just want a hot cooked meal. And I miss that hot cup of tea on a chilly night.

    I initially planned on making my own alcohol stove, but when looking for design ideas, I saw Zelph's SS Starlyte Alcohol Stove ($17-$20), and decided that what I would create wouldn't be as good. That and, anyone who knows me would promptly agree, I really shouldn’t be making anything that involves combining alcohol and fire. 

    This is not exactly a scientific test, but I tested it twice to get a more accurate average.  Here’s what I’ve found so far. 

    Boil time: 

    The starting temperature of the water was
     60 degrees F. The air temperature outside was 55 degrees F, with a slight breeze.  My altitude was about 700 feet above sea level.


    It took about 7 minutes and 15 seconds to bring 2 cups water, to a boiling temperature of 212 degrees F.

    Fuel Use:

    I used .75 ounces (22 mL) of denatured alcohol, which burned for a total of 11 minutes. I will probably pack .75 ounces of fuel per day, so for my weight estimates below, about .7 oz in weight (20g) per day.  I may adjust this as I test the stove on windier/colder days and will update this post if that changes.

    In the Box

    · Stove with integrated wire pot stand
    · Wind Screen with paper clip fastener
    · Aluminum Tray (circa 1986 Burger King style ashtray) 

    · Fuel Measuring Cup


    Weight: 
       · Stove - .53 oz. (15g) 
       · Stove with tray - .635 oz. (18g)
       · Windscreen w/ paperclip - .741 oz. (21g) 
       · Total with stove, tray, and windscreen - 1.377 oz. (39g) 
       · About 7 days of fuel in a small plastic bottle – 5.507 ounces (156g)
       · Total with 7 days of fuel – 6.884 ounces (195g) 

    Pros 
       · Spill-proof design (due to the mesh top and fiberglass insulation core)
       · Relatively fast boil time 
       · Ease of use. Just pour up to 1 oz. of denatured alcohol in, and touch it with a flame.
         I have also used Heet (only use the yellow bottle!), which worked just fine and is
         easier to get if resupplying in a small town. I used denatured alcohol for this test,
         however. I have heard that Heet doesn't burn as hot, so cook times may vary.
       · Very lightweight. No reason I can't still have my hot tea under the stars.
       · Quality construction and durability considering the lightweight materials.
       
    · Very small and easy to pack and setup, partially due to the integrated pot stand.

    Cons 
       · Small pot stand diameter a bit unstable with my MSR Soloist pot, but manageable.
         To remedy this, I use a large tomato juice can that I cut  to about 2" high and cut
         holes into for air to get in. I set the stove in the can, then set my pot on the top of 

         the can. Works perfect.
       · As with most alcohol stoves, you can't adjust the heat.  Although, I only boil water,
         so not a problem for me.

    Where can I buy the Starlyte Alcohol Stove?
    You can buy the Starlyte Alcohol Stove on Amazon. Click here to view the stove on Amazon
    UPDATE: I have recently thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail with this stove, and it worked flawlessly time and time again. I'm still very happy with it.