October 14, 2017

Portable Stove Road Test

I had posted about assembling this backpacking stove a while ago (see Backpacking Stove Test http://wp.me/p1dmhM-pB).  At the time, we tested it on our kitchen counter (with the windows wide open due to possible fumes) to make sure it turned on properly and it did.

We chose this model because we wanted reliability, portability, a wide pan rest that can fit a good-sized pot and the ability to use about 3 types of fuel.   The comments in the article I received were mixed – there may be better stoves out there considering the expense.

Well, I am here to report how it performed out in the wilderness.   We had the campfire going but as I mentioned in a previous post, cooking in an open fire takes a lot longer due to having to gather firewood. (See http://wp.me/1dmhM.)  We wanted an additional place to cook to speed things up.  So we hooked the Dragonfly stove according to directions, then turned it on.  My husband lit it, and waited the prescribed amount of time (two minutes) for the flame to turn blue.  It kept sputtering, as though the fuel wasn’t getting to the flame properly.  So he readjusted the fuel canister and the flame stopped sputtering.  We were able to boil a small pan of water on the stove to make a few cups of hot coco.

Later in the day, it was time to turn it on again.  He lit the stove and the flame came up, but this time it flickered and turned off.   It was fairly windy so he used the little aluminum barricade that it came with to cut the wind around it.  He tried lighting it again but nothing happened.  He checked the fuel canister and there was still half a bottle of fuel left.  He pumped the bottle to make sure there was pressure.  He believed the tubing in this type of stove is prone to clogging and that is what caused the sputtering earlier.  Finally we just put it away and just used the campfire.  My husband concluded that even though it takes time to build a campfire, it’s a much easier process than trying to figure out how to make the stove work, especially when you are cold and hungry and not thinking straight.

I think we will consider other cooking alternatives next time.  Maybe we will try something similar to the 16 Brick Rocket Stove, except with large rocks, as seen here  http://sustainingfarm.blogspot.com/2010/10/permanent-makeshift-rocket-stove.html This would work if you are in an area that has good rocks that would stack.  In the last article’s comments, the Primus Classic Trail Stove was mentioned by reader James.  We may check that one out since the price looks reasonable.  Readers, if you have suggestions on other good portable backpacking stoves or alternative cooking methods that do not add a lot of weight, please comment and let me know so we can try them next time.


16 Comments on Portable Stove Road Test

    • Hey Doug, we checked out that foldable pocket cooker on Amazon. It sounds great, and the price is right, so we put it on our wish list for the next time we order. Thanks for the link!

  1. I was kinda surprised that this stove did not work well for you. I have used the MSR Whisperlite for many years (backpacking) and had to only replace the pump assembly after 8 years of use. I would hope that you don’t put this stove on the shelf, but rather give it another trail especially after more home use and becoming more familiar with it. Granted, the Dragonfly is more of a stove than I like to carry. The only major selling point of the Dragonfly versus the Whisperlite is the simmering, but at a higher weight . I have found that by adjusting the canister pressure, and some attention that I can simmer with my Whisperlite just as well as the Dragonfly.

    • While we were disappointed with the initial performance, we haven’t given up on the MSR yet. We decided we’d keep trying it out and give it a few more tries. Thanks Karl!

  2. I’ve tried a few different backpacking stoves. I started out with a propane, then went with an MSR International I think, then I found the colmen dual fuel stove, it is not really a light weight stove, but it uses multiple fuels, is simple, and durable. I have had one that I’ve used for the last three years and have had no problems with. I also have used it to heat a small area on an open boat that has been made into a shelter and it works well for that too. I have a friend who swears by the new jetboil stove because it is so fast. However the fuel bottles have to be bought each time. I still do a lot of cooking over the fire though because for a group of four this seems to be the fastest, you can cook everything at once.

    Coleman 1-Burner Dual Fuel Sporter II Liquid Fuel Stove, $41 on Amazon with free shipping. you can also get these used at thrift stores and garagesales.

    • Hey countrygirl_alaska, will check out Coleman 1 Burner Dual Fuel Sporter stove. It’s good that it’ll run on unleaded gas. Will see if we can get at garage sale or craigslist. Thank you!

    • I keep forgetting about the Dutch oven- it is now on my list of emergency and camping cooking items. Thanks for reminding me.

  3. While I have had a “backpacking” stove for a number of years (left behind by a former housemate) that worked fairly well, the fact that it used disposable/non-refillable butane cartridges seemed less than ideal to me, as well as the fact that it could only support a very small pan. Several years ago I read about the Trangia stove, which burns alcohol and is also available as a cookset with a windscreen and cooking pots. This stove-set has just been added to my camping/emergency gear, and I shall be practicing using it here at home in the backyard. I like that fact that it can burn denatured alcohol, rubbing alcohol, or even drinking alcohol (vodka, etc). It is not as tiny and lightweight as some backpackers gear, but this type of stove has been in use in Europe for decades by campers and scouts and is supposed to be very reliable and simple.

  4. Thanks for the link!! You and your writing really appeal to me, although I live in a house on an acre. Speaks to your skill and the universiality of what you’re saying. 🙂

  5. That’s really odd, you should check back in at the store you bought your stove at. You’ve got about the best backpacking stove on the market, it should work just fine.

    • We ordered the backpacking stove online originally, I think i will contact the seller. Good idea. Thanks

  6. I haven’t personally used a backpacking stove like this before but would like to try it sometime. The last time DH and I camped, we used a foldable stove, Sterno, and an aluminum Dutch oven. It heated a can of stew in about 30 minutes, and supposedly, we could have skipped the Dutch oven and just heated the can. I wouldn’t recommend it for a whole family, but this could be a cheap and lightweight solution for an individual or couple.

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