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Coleman Xtreme Stove Review

Xtreme1

This is a specialised gas stove designed for cold conditions. It has a three-legged burner and a 140 mm (5.5″) flexible hose leading to a separate gas cartridge, and the matching Powermax cartridges are custom to this series of stoves. They are different from the standard screw-thread butane/propane gas cartridges in both shape and connector. The Powermax connection is also different from the French CampingGaz one. While it is a ‘twist-click’ connection similar to the French one, the two have different valve diameters and are not compatible (I’ve tried).

The stove has a pre-heat or ‘generator’ tube just before the jet. Coleman refers to this in some of their literature as their HPX Anti-Flare system, but it is no different from what is used on any petrol or kerosene stove. The liquid fuel goes through this tube before reaching the burner.

The construction appears to be magnesium, brass and stainless steel. I suspect the pre-heat tube (blue line) may be Inconel, a special high-temperature alloy. The stove has three (magnesium) legs, each with a stainless steel wire arm with serrations. These legs rotate together to fold up for packing. Opened out they give a support diameter of 150 mm (6″). The serrations serve to prevent pots from sliding off, and are quite effective. Unlike many other stoves, the tops of the arms do not make a flat surface: it is concave. For small pots this means there is a strong centering force. The bottom ends of the legs have plastic feet which are moderately effective at preventing slipping. The manufacturer advises that the diameter of the pot should not exceed 200 mm (8″) and the weight should not exceed 3.6 kg (8 lb).

The hose between the stove and the control valve or coupling unit seems to consist of heavy rubber sheathed with stainless steel braid, and the ends are protected by heatshrink tubing. The coupling unit seems to be a magnesium casting. There is a single control valve (green line) located on the coupling. This is on the liquid side of the pre-heat tube, so it valves liquid. The control is done by a conventional needle valve in the coupling, and is actuated by the large black knob. There is a wire leg at the coupling which I assume is meant to stabilise the coupling and bottle, although it isn’t necessary in the snow.

A nylon packcloth bag is provided with the stove. The stove legs have to be collapsed together and the hose has to be folded around the body to get the stove into this bag. However, the bag is heavy and I have replaced it with a lighter one as I could see no benefit from the extra weight.

The instructions which came with the stove were in English, French and Spanish. They were fairly comprehensive.

 

 

 

Product Information – Powermax Cartridge

 

Large Small
Measured Weight, gross: 386 g (13.6 oz) 240 g (8.5 oz)
Quoted Gas Weight: 300 g (10.6 oz) 170 g (6.0 oz)
Measured Diameter: 65 mm (2.6 “) 65 mm (2.6 “)
Measured Length: 220 mm (8.7 “) 135 mm (5.3 “)
Gas Composition: 60% butane, 40% propane
MSRP: Not found on web site

 

Product description – Powermax Cartridge

 

The cartridge is a rather beautiful slender anodised aluminium tube, with its own ‘push and twist’ connector. One might wonder why Coleman chose to make it different from the other ‘standard’ cartridges on the market: the screw-thread one originally developed by Epigas and the ‘Twist-Click’ one developed by CampingGaz. I believe this was done because the design of the stove really requires these custom Powermax cartridges for proper operation in the snow. That is, the design of the Xtreme uses a liquid feed, and Coleman did not want a user to put an ordinary gas-feed cartridge on it.

So where did Coleman get these beautiful cartridges? The answer becomes apparent when one contemplates large hair spray canisters in the shops. Some of them are identical in shape and size – and also anodised brightly. What’s more, hair spray cartridges are rated to take butane or propane pressures because the propellant in them is, or used to be, butane or propane. In fact, the Lindal valve used in these Powermax cartridges is essentially the same as those used on most pressure pack spray cans around the world.

Coleman has redesigned the feed mechanism inside this cartridge. The Powermax cartridge has a special modification to the conventional Lindal valve. There is a long steel extension tube (green line) with a flexible connection (blue line) to the inside of the valve (purple line), as shown to the right. One can hear this going ‘clank’ when the cartridge is shaken. Fortunately, the end of the steel tube has a little bit of plastic over it to prevent it wearing a hole in the thin aluminium wall. The end of the tube flops to the bottom of the cartridge as it lies on its side, and this draws liquid fuel from the bottom of the cartridge. A very small amount of propane boiling inside the cartridge provides the pressure to drive the fuel to the stove, but the amount is microscopic. The gas in the cartridge does not cool down by evaporation during use, and the mixture or ratio of propane to butane stays essentially constant right to the end. Once the liquid fuel reaches the generator tube it is vaporised (using energy from the flame), mixed with air and burnt. This is absolutely the same process as with a petrol or kerosene stove. Doing this does not subject the stove to any exceptional conditions. Since propane boils at -40 C (-40 F), this means the cartridge will still be pressurised under very cold conditions.

Two other points should be made about the Powermax cartridges. The first is that the 60/40 gas mix used has the highest percentage of propane of all the cartridges I know, and that makes it extremely well adapted to the cold. Propane boils at -40 C (-40 F); Coleman claim the system will work well down to -20 C (-4 F). With a little care I would be confident in using the system in an ambient down to -30 C (-22 F).

The other point is that Coleman provides a little hard metal spike with the stove, which is designed for puncturing the empty cartridges to make them safe for recycling. They call this a ‘Green key’. Many screw-thread cartridge makers warn against any such puncturing, making disposal of the cartridges difficult.

Snow use

Since I use this stove in the snow I should explain how and why. I will start with a description of the problem faced by ordinary upright gas stoves in the cold to illustrate the problem this stove solves. The initial problem is that butane boils at -0.5 C (31 F), and the process of boiling extracts heat from the liquid. This means that butane in the snow would rapidly drop below its boiling point and a ‘pure butane’ stove would stop working. (The puncture cartridges are usually pure butane.) So the manufacturers add propane in the screw-thread cartridges, and this boils at -40 C (-40 F). Now there is some gas which can boil off even at very low temperatures. A typical screw-thread cartridge contains 70% butane and 30% propane, although there are variations. However, this does not solve the whole problem. On a cold day – say around -10 C (14 F), the propane will boil off but the butane (below its boiling point) will sit there in the bottom of the cartridge doing relatively little. While the gas is evaporating the remaining liquid is getting steadily colder as the energy or heat required for the boiling comes out of the liquid. Carried too far, the liquid can easily drop to 10 – 15 degrees C (20 – 25 F) below ambient. As a result the propane can get all used up and the cartridge is left with lots of liquid butane but not giving any gas out. This is why some people think gas stoves don’t work in the snow: they simply haven’t managed their stove properly. They haven’t kept the cartridge warm. (Actually, the physics is a shade more complex, but this explanation will do here.)

This stove has two design features for use in the snow. The first is the non-evaporating liquid feed from the bottom of the cartridge; the second is the really quite conventional pre-heat tube on the burner. In effect, this is a liquid-feed gas stove. The analogy goes further: butane and propane are just lighter fractions from the same refining process which gives petrol and kerosene. There are all long-chain hydrocarbons.

As mentioned above, with ordinary upright gas stoves one has to be careful to keep the cartridge slightly warm in the snow, otherwise the propane will be all used up before the butane. This does not happen with this design of stove, so the question arises as to whether the cartridge needs insulation and warmth. My experience is that it does not, at least down to -20 C (-4 F). In fact, I usually leave it lying on the snow.

 

Field Information

The biggest problem with this stove is attaching the gas cartridge. The valve fitting has to be pushed firmly into the coupling and given a one-eighth turn to make the connection. This actually takes a bit of practice before it happens easily. It has happened that I have thought I had done it correctly, only to find that the connection was loose. Fortunately, the design is such that the Lindal valve inside the cartridge is not activated (depressed) until the connection has been properly made. I have never found gas leaking out from this connection. In some ways this is actually better than the standard screw-thread connection, as I have found some conventional stoves which can leak gas slightly from the join if they are not screwed down properly. Anyhow, once I had done it a few times I got the knack and it does not worry me at all. It is not hard to recognise a poor connection: opening the valve does not let any gas out.

The second biggest problem with this stove is the rigidity of the hose. It is flexible, but it is not floppy. For safety reasons the strength of the hose is a good thing of course. But the stove itself is very light, and it is possible for the hose to make the stove stand on only two legs. This did happen a bit when I first received the stove, and this made it less than stable. However, I found that it is possible to just slightly slacken off the lock nut (purple line, first picture) which anchors the rigid part of the hose to the stove so the stove can be rotated with respect to the hose and cartridge. This let me adjust the alignment so the stove did sit square on all three legs. I then carefully tightened up the connection. It would not do to leave this connection loose. Since doing this the stove has sat squarely on all three legs, once I open the hose out properly. Again, once adjusted this ceased to be a problem.

To fire up the stove, I first lay out my stove base: a piece of 3-ply about 200 mm (8″) square. Smaller would suffice. This gives me a stable base for the stove; I do not like having my stove on a wobbly footing. Next I open out the two rotatable legs to the ‘click-stops’ and sit the stove on the base. I then remove the plastic cover from the valve on the gas cartridge, insert the neck of the cartridge into the coupling, press firmly and rotate until I hear a bit of a click. (The plastic cover on the gas cartridge is invaluable for keeping dirt out of the connection.) Then I put a windshield around the stove, both for safety and for fuel efficiency. Finally, I turn the valve (the black knob) on gently and light the gas. If nothing happens I turn the valve off and repeat the assembly steps. Once the flame is burning I turn the liquid flow up: this avoids any chance of an initial flare-up. I would emphasise here that I do normally start my stove inside the tent: done at a low setting there is no risk of a flare up in my experience.

To alter the burn rate I turn the valve slowly, and not too much at a time. The reason for the caution is that the hose is usually partly full of liquid fuel, and changes do seem to take just a little while to propagate through the system. Well, a few seconds delay is usually enough. The stove can go from a very low simmer to quite a fierce roar. I have not found any problems with flame lift-off, as reported in my Review of the Trekka Stove. At medium to high settings the flame does make a little ‘propane’ noise: a sort of faint roar. It’s very comforting as it means dinner will soon be ready.

The pot stand diameter of 150 mm (6″) is quite large enough in practice. I use a Trangia kettle for boiling water for tea and coffee, and sometimes to help with dinner, and this is 150 mm (6″) in diameter. I cook dinner in a light stainless steel pot for the two of us (myself and my wife) and this has an outside diameter of 180 mm (7″). The stove supports both the kettle and the pot very well; neither gets anywhere near the load limit!

I was given this stove by Coleman while writing a stove review for a local (Australian) walking magazine. It is hard to say whether I would have bought it without prior use as it is much heavier than my much-loved Snow Peak GS(T)-100stove. However, having since studied the problems associated with gas stoves in the snow, I find I am much more confident using this one when it is very cold as the design eliminates the normal problems. It is now my preferred stove for winter ski touring. I have to report that the cartridges, while very light, are not so widely available (in Australia), so I carry a couple in stock at home. I don’t use it in the summer; I use my GST-100 instead.

I carry the Xtreme in a light nylon bag. Sometimes I just pack it in with other soft things in my pack; other times I carry it inside my cooking pot. It seems to survive quite well – but I do take good care of it. Actually, when folded up it makes a rather awkward 3-D object due to the stiff hose. However, this is a minor quibble.

A close look at the neck of the cartridge in the first picture will show the number 374 written on it. This was the last measured weight of the cartridge. By subtracting the known empty weight of the cartridge (86 g), I know how much gas is still there. I also know I use about 45 g per day for my wife and myself in the snow, so I know that this cartridge will last for another 6 nights. I do however always carry extra in case I have to melt snow. But at least I do know how much gas I have and use.

 

Precautions

The special precaution to be taken with any stove with a hose is to treat the hose with much care. If it is damaged and leaks, a rather hot problem ensues! Cleanliness at the coupling between stove and fuel supply is important. With some simpler gas stoves I remove the controlling needle valve occasionally and grease it; I have not done so with this stove yet as the control unit looks a bit more complex to reassemble – and so far it hasn’t needed it either. Finally, just a little care is needed during set-up to make sure the stove is stable on its three legs.

Because I am paranoid I carry spare small O-rings for the connection. They are threaded on the wire stand on the valve housing. However, I have never needed to use them.

 

Summary

Likes Dislikes
Cold weather reliability Increased weight
Ease of assembly Cost
Large pot stand Stiff hose (mild)

Would I buy another? Quite possibly, as it is just so reliable in the snow. However, there are several other stoves which can use screw-thread cartridges tipped upside down which might also serve, such as the SnowPeak GS-200 and a Primus one.

 

 

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Stoves and Grills

Brasslite Duo Stove Review

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9.1tech score

The Brasslite Duo backpacking stove is a larger model from a family of stoves created by Aaron Rosenbloom. It uses commonly available methanol (also known as methyl alcohol or denatured alcohol).

As one might infer from the name, this lightweight stove is made from brass and intended to serve the needs of two diners. An integral stainless steel wire grid stand holds a cooking vessel an optimum 1 in (2.5 cm) above the flame. The bottom flares up to form a fluted preheating cup.

A brass thumb screw closes the center filling hole, allowing the sealed container to build some pressure as the alcohol heats to vaporize and burn above the 24 tiny holes precision drilled just within the top perimeter of the stove. Included with the Brasslite stove (test) is a self-measuring plastic fuel bottle with a filler spout. (This measure/flask is available as a separate purchase at the Brasslite website.) Also included are operating instructions, usage tips, instructions for making a pot cozy, a windscreen, and a reflector, a disclaimer, and warranty information. The slogan on the box reads, “Light as a feather, hot as a torch.”

 

Product information

  • Manufacturer: Brasslite
  • Manufacturer’s website:
  • http://www.brasslite.com
  • Year of manufacture: 2003
  • Weight as delivered: just over 2 oz (57 gm) on my kitchen scale
  • Specifications as listed on the product website (Note:  I found no significant differences in home measurements or boil times.  Any small discrepancies in boil times and fuel use at ambient summer temperatures can be related to variations in water temperature, fuel spillage, wind, and operator error.  I found the manufacturer-stated data to be a good guide.)
  • Width of chamber and stand: 2.4 in (60 mm)
  • Width of preheat pan: 3.0 in (75 mm)
  • Height of chamber: 1.38 in (35 mm)
  • Overall height: 2.4 in (60 mm)
  • Weight: 2.2 US oz (63 gm)
  • Fuel capacity: 3 US fluid oz (90 ml)
  • Total burn time using 3 US fluid oz (90 ml) of methanol is about 35 minutes
  • Time to bring 16 US fluid oz 475 ml) water to boil: 6:00
  • Time to bring 32 US fluid oz (946 ml) water to boil: 10:00

Review of Brasslite Duo Stove

I want to write this review a bit differently. Let me tell you my conclusions, and, then, if you readers wish to delve into how I arrived at these opinions, keep reading.

The Brasslite Duo works. It works very well, in fact. If you are looking for a quick, secure, and efficient way to boil water, consider the Brasslite line of stoves. Because of the Duo, as well as the other models, burns methanol, fuel is readily found in paint sections of hardware and discount department stores. With a bit of careful reading, one can also find methanol sold as a gasoline additive, HEET being one brand, at gas stations and convenience stores. Anyone who has had to search extensively for concrete canisters for a butane stove, a source of quarts rather than gallons of naphtha (Coleman fuel), or has had to lug large, heavy propane canisters can appreciate the convenience of quickly finding fuel in manageable amounts.

The Duo does burn very hot, so I often felt the need to wear leather gloves while cooking. When just boiling water, this was not necessary, but for cooking foods that needed pot stirring, food turning, etc., the gloves let me avoid singed wrists and hands. An experienced cook will find (s)he has the option not only for the “boil water and dump” cooking method, but also, with a bit of practice, will be able to produce freshly cooked quick bread, stews, grilled foods, etc.

One secret is to control the heat delivered to the foods being prepared, as there is no stove control. The stove is burning, or it is not burning. To reduce the heat provided one could, a) extinguish the flame and relight for intervals (quickly becomes tedious), b) raise the pot height with a second stand, or, c) put some water in the pan. (I have more on this at the end of the report under “Test Cooking Details.”) I did find the initial burn phase to be more intense than the later phases.

I am assuming it has to do with the amount of pressure from the heating alcohol while the stove has more fuel, diminishing as the quantity of alcohol decreases. I use this first phase to get the starchy entire to boiling and let that food “coast” in a cozy while the protein entire cooks. When circumstances allow such luxuries, I can recommend poaching salmon, steaming assorted quick bread including corn bread or fruited muffins, steam cooking eggs, stir frying chicken dishes, simmering stew (using ground beef), and grilling strips of meat with a Pac-Flat Backpackers Grill.

Most of my trailside cooking consists of little more than boiling water, but it was a pleasure to experiment with fresh foods for short trips or trailhead meals. I find that some freshly cooked foods can entice reluctant campers into backpacking and as well as lift drooping spirits.

I must say the Duo is a remarkable and well-crafted stove. In experimenting at home, at my parents’ home, and in the field, this stove has seen more use than I would be likely to heap on it in a solid month of backpacking. I see color changes indicating use, but no real wear on the stove or the steel stand. The oven and steel mesh stand no longer have their bright shiny new color, but look used and a bit burned. p

My family raved about the marinated pork strips grilled on the Pac-Flat Backpackers Grill. My other attempts to use this grill with alcohol stoves were unsatisfactory, but the Brasslite Duo burns hot enough to make this practical, allowing that this method uses a lot of fuel. Of my standard backpacking/camping cookware, I used pots including an MSR Titan Kettle, an Evernew titanium 1-liter pot, a Teflon coated Evernew frying pan, and the famous “Wal-Mart grease pot.”

The Titan kettle has the smallest diameter, so there seemed to be a less efficient heat transfer than when using the larger containers. The grease pot is the one I used the most, as it is the lightest of this group and the one of these that I use most often in the field for this stove. Using a rack made from a recycled aluminum foil pie tin in the bottom of the grease pot, I could steam muffins and eggs very nicely in foil baking cups (also known as cupcake and muffin liners). Informational note: I have also used the Duo successfully with a small pressure cooker, just to try it out.

Fuel Bottle Accessory

Mr. Rosenbloom provided the testers with the particular fuel bottle that he sells as an option to stove buyers. I recommend that customers do purchase the fuel bottle The fuel bottles come in two sizes: 8 oz (237 ml) capacity with a .5 oz (15 ml) dispensing reservoir, weight: 1.5 oz (43 gm), and 16 oz (473 ml) capacity with a 1 oz (30 ml) dispensing reservoir, weight: 2.5 oz (71 gm). I admit to still uttering “unrepeatable words” of frustration as I spill fuel while using this bottle, but it is the best that I’ve found.

Select the one that will hold the amount of fuel you anticipate using between resupply points. To use, fill the bottle through a port on one side, close the filler port with the screw on cap, then, holding the flask upright, squeeze the bottle as the alcohol flows up a side tube into a measuring chamber. Invert the stove over the (removable) spout, turn over the stove and fuel bottle as one, and dispense the alcohol. Practice this in the daytime, as it was difficult to see the alcohol filling the chamber in low light conditions.

My frustrated words usually were the result of squeezing the bottle too hard, as my spout connection leaks with pressure. Filling the stove with the 3 oz (90 ml) needed for extended cooking times necessitates more than one measuring chamber full of alcohol, so tip the fuel bottle directly into the filler hole and expect a bit of spillage. I did experiment with other filling options.

A used hair color applicator bottle or a syringe for refilling printer ink tanks can be made to work, but the hair color bottle is a bit awkward to judge fuel amounts and sloppy to use, while the syringe, holding maybe a teaspoon (5 ml), can be very tedious to use. So, although I am not fond of the filler bottle sold at the Brasslite site, it works and is the best option I tried.

 

Testing Locations and Conditions

I used the Duo in my kitchen, backyard, on my deck, and on two backpacking trips along the Midstate Trail, all in Eastern and Central Massachusetts. At home, the food was prepared for three adults, on the trail, two adults, or one adult and a child. Elevation was not much of a factor, as we are close to sea level in this part of the state.

I also used the stove to prepare meals for my parents and myself in Florida, as I unexpectedly extended my short visit to 6 weeks due to a family member’s illness. In addition to cooking in and around my parent’s home, I prepared hamburger stew on a stone picnic table in front of a hospital. The east coast of the USA has had a hot (and wet) summer, as I have experienced it.

Most of my outdoor experiences seem to be in 80 to 90 degree F (27-32 C) weather. I have no complaints about the portability, ease of set up, and consistency of use for the Duo. As a summer stove, it has performed admirably. I expect similar results in winter conditions at the altitudes that I usually encounter. (Again, the location would be east coast, mostly close to sea level.)

Side Note

I have a side comment, related to traveling, not to the stove performance. With air travel security issues, I’ve read a good bit in discussion groups about going with stoves and fuel. As best I can tell, transporting fuel on airplanes is not allowed, but an empty stove SHOULD be all right.

Then we hear stories about over eager security people confiscating stoves and other items that MAY have contained fuel. I had no problem with my homemade soda can stove in my checked luggage on my way to Florida in June of 2003. When we extended my stay, my husband emailed the Duo, some pots, and some extra clothing to me.

The package took at least a week in transit and cost about $12 to send. I was unwilling to risk having the Duo confiscated in a luggage search, so I chose to mail my Duo and my favorite knife/tool for the return trip home. For this mailing, I taped the filler screw and the knife to the underside of the stove, wrapped the combination in bubble wrap and mailed the items inside a 2-liter soda bottle. (Cut a flap on the side of the bottle, then tape it closed.) I couldn’t insure the package sent this way, but asked for a delivery confirmation, for an extra fee. I was shocked to receive the stove package two days after mailing it from Florida to Massachusetts.

The stove was in fine condition. So, my thought about transporting a stove when next I fly somewhere, mails it, again in a soda bottle “package,” with delivery confirmation. The fee was about $2.50 this time. I consider that a small price to pay for the safe passage of an item which could be easily lost, stolen, or confiscated.

 

Test Cooking Details (for those who wish more information)

With preparing many meals for my family and extended family, I had the opportunity to learn some techniques for using the Duo. Preferring to use the attached stand, rather than making a taller one, I found that I could control the heat in the pan by adding water. So, many foods were better prepared boiled or “poached.” Water boils at about 212 degrees F (100 C). More heat applied only makes it boil more furiously, and water evaporates faster, but the water temperature does not significantly increase.

If I did wish to fry, I would first boil any water that the meal needed and have the food “coast” in its pot inside a cozy (pot insulator). By the time I had the intimate part of the meal set, the flame would be less intense. If I needed to turn away from the stove to accomplish the cozy set up, I found that I could easily blow out the stove, then reprime, relight, and continue with my next step. So, for making a stir fry, I would first boil some water for rice or noodles and blow out the stove as I set the pot into the cozy then relight the stove and continue with the meat and vegetables. Sometimes the pan still seemed too hot, so I’d add a few tablespoons of water. This worked for braising hamburgers and bacon strips. I will have to try this with “fried” eggs during the long term phase of the test.

A ground beef and vegetable stew worked very well over the Duo, as previously mentioned. I cooked this at a picnic table in front of a hospital in Florida. (Yes, I received a few “looks.”) By having all the ingredients pre washed, measured, cut, etc., the stew went together very well. I started with 3 ounces (90 ml) of alcohol, and when it was used up, cooled the stove by placing a wet paper towel on the side, then refilled, relit, and continued. With using 6 ounces (180 ml) of alcohol, I cooked a quart of fresh stew, from scratch. The temperature was in the low 90’s F (~32 C), and there was a good breeze.

I found that the windscreen was essential, especially in windy conditions. I have deviated a bit from Aaron Rosenbloom’s suggested heat reflector and wind screen set up. He recommends a piece of foil to match the pan bottom be placed under the stove as a reflector and a display of folded aluminum foil or a cut up aluminum foil pan. I cut corrugated cardboard to a bit larger than my pan and cover it with aluminum foil.

This picnic table I cooked on was stone. Even with the (approximate) 90 degree F (~32 C) temperature, I think the stone top would have been a significant heat sink and kept the stove from functioning. (My tile counter top was able to put the flame out when it was first lit.) The insulated reflector also protects the cooking surface from being damaged. Also, I have been making my windscreens from walls of aluminum soda cans. I find that they hold up longer than aluminum foil and are lighter than foil pans or oven liners. I just staple as many together as I need to encircle the pot.

Once I returned home (eastern Massachusetts), I had more tools (read toys) available and tried different pots and accessories. In Florida, I had tried corn bread batter, thin, cooked rather like a pancake and then, thicker, setting the pot with batter into the frying pan containing some water. The “corn pancake” scorched, in spite of my efforts to hold the frying pan above the flame, but the steamed cornbread (whole pot set up covered with aluminum foil) fared reasonably well.

At home, I also got my “Wal-Mart grease pot” into the mix. By cutting down a disposable pie pan, I was able to fashion a fair rack that could sit in the bottom of the “grease pot.” Foil cupcake liners work quite well to hold small amounts of muffing batter or eggs for steaming. So, poached eggs and fresh muffins were on the first day’s menu on a little backpack with my husband. I found that I could make more at one time by setting the eggs on foil in the strainer that comes with the “grease pot.” To make the various muffins, I used mixes that I expect to be able to find in trail towns.

One brand of corn bread I tried may be a standard Southern name, as I have not seen it elsewhere. For that test, at my parents’ home, I did use the oil, egg, etc. At my home, and on the trail, I just used water, no egg or oil. Try filling a foil cupcake liner about full with dry mix, then add water in small amounts, stirring just to blend to a thick batter. I can get four regular size muffins steam cooked, on a rack in a grease pot, with oz (15 ml) of alcohol, at summer temperatures. This is using Jiffy muffin, Betty Crocker small bag mixes, or Pillsbury quick bread mixes.

I also used a Pac-Flat Backpacker’s Grill with the Duo stove. My homemade alcohol stove and an open stainless steel alcohol stove didn’t seem to throw enough heat to make grilling worth while. The Duo burns so hot; I figured I’d try this combination. Using the knowledge gained in early phases of this test, I planned to start the summer part of the meal first and be sure the grilled items would be in tiny pieces.

I prepared four servings of a wild rice pilaf mix and let the prepared pot come to a boil for a few minutes before slipping the pot into a cozy. Then I grilled about a half pound (~230 g) of marinated pork strips using the Pac Flat with the Duo stove. Here was another instance I needed leather gloves. The pot stand is a bit undersized for the grill, and I needed to hold the side post of the rack to move and turn the meat.

To cook this much pork and rice, I did need to refill the stove, so this meal cost me 6 oz (180 ml) in fuel. I brought the rice mixture back to boiling and held it there for another 2 or 3 minutes before cooking the second half of the meat, and as the last batch finished cooking, I piled all the cooked meat on the rack to get all of it reheated before serving dinner. Also, I hooked the food on the grill with aluminum foil to hold in some heat. The Wind can carry away too much heat and slow down the cooking process. Save heat by loading the grill rack before firing the stove. That burn time may be just the amount needed to finish cooking your food and spare the need to refill and relight.

This fresh food cookery takes extra time as well as fuel. The egg and muffin breakfast with coffee water boiled first and took about an hour to complete. Most meals that needed 6 ounces of fuel ran about an hour in cooking time. I was and pleasantly surprised to get the poached salmon on the table in about a half hour, though.

For this meal, I had the salmon pre-cut into serving pieces; some cut up cooked potatoes, fresh green beans, and partially cooked bacon. First, I got the beans, potatoes (pre-cooked), and the bacon (precooked) into a pot with about a half inch of water. With the vegetable pot on the stove, I started the burn and allowed the pot to reach and maintain boiling for about 3 minutes, then set the whole pot into a cozy. While the vegetables “coasted,” I put the pan containing fillets of salmon, a bit of butter and a small amount of water on the now calmer fire, covering the pan with a piece of aluminum foil. After about 6 minutes, I turned the fish and replaced the foil cover.

When the flame went out, I served the completed meal. Checking the clock, I realized the actual cooking time ran under 35 minutes, and I had done all this with only about 3 ounces (90 ml) of fuel.

Food List of Successfully Prepared Meals/Accompaniments

  • Corn bread/muffins, cranberry muffins, garlic cheese biscuits (as muffins): one pot
  • Rice pudding, bread pudding: one pot
  • Poached and scrambled eggs in foil liners, (reheated) bacon: one pot
  • Poached salmon with bacon seasoned potatoes and green beans: two pots
  • Hamburgers: one pot
  • Cheeseburger macaroni: one pot
  • Mac and cheese with tuna and broccoli: one pot
  • Hamburger stew: one pot
  • Asian stir fry chicken and vegetables with rice: two pots
  • Thai style chicken and vegetables with noodles: two pots
  • Italian braised steak cubes with zucchini and potatoes: two pots
  • Teriyaki braised steak cubes with vegetables and noodles: two pots
  • Grilled ginger-honey-lime pork strips with rice: two pots
  • Boil water and add: oatmeal, home dehydrated cooked meals, ramen with dehydrated add-ins, etc.: one pot
  • Barbequed pork ribs: one pot, a small pressure cooker, two fillings of alcohol fuel

Likes:

  • Lightweight
  • Dependable
  • Durable
  • Well crafted and pleasing in appearance
  • Well designed built-in primer cup

Dislikes

  • Small fill hole can be awkward for filling
  • Heavier than my homemade aluminum stoves (Inherent in the materials that give it durability)

Summary

The Duo is a lightweight, sturdy, workhorse of a stove that is great for boiling water for two (or three) backpackers in the field. It can also be utilized for more exotic cooking. It has the potential for use with accessories for the right user. For myself, I see using this stove more often for a leisurely trek with companions, but I will probably go “Gram Weenie” if hiking alone. For those times during warm months, wishing to move faster, I will likely be back to using a smaller homemade aluminum stove and smaller, lighter pots.

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