Esbit Cook Set – Alcohol Stove Review

Esbit 5-Piece Trekking Cook Set

Base stats:
– BTU:  7K at the burner
– Weight:  14.7 oz
Stove comparison chart

Esbit CS985HA 5-Piece Lightweight Trekking Cook Set with Brass Alcohol Burner Stove and 2 Anodized Aluminum Pots

The Esbit 5 piece cookset with alcohol stove….

So much promise, and yet, at the end of the day, would be in the bottom half of picks for me when selecting a stove for hiking, backpacking, car camping, or trekking. Such great features, but doesn’t improve on the key area alcohol stoves need the most improvement.

First, the good.

The stove is very lightweight, and the fact that all the pieces fit together nicely means that the system stays very compact, much like a JetBoil. Even when all packed together, there’s still plenty of space in the main pot for additional small items.

Sidebar: What the alcohol stove world really needs is a plastic alcohol bottle that looks about the dimensions of two hockey pucks stacked together, cuz then you could fit that alcohol bottle in the spare space of this pot, or the other alcohol stove pot systems I use.

The fuel tablet plate is pretty good here, and it’s pretty effective overall. In fact, if your preference is fuel tablets over alcohol, I can tell you that my tests showed the fuel tablets pretty comparable in effectiveness to the Esbit emergency stove. Even more effective with an additional heat reflecting wind shield.

The lightness and robustness of the stove is rather a pleasant surprise. The anodized aluminum, while not as light as titanium, makes for a barely there package contrary that deceived me into thinking that parts might be missing. Yep, it’s that efficient in using space.

The markings are helpful when measuring. While the larger pot has a capacity of 33+ oz, it’s probably not a good idea to put more than 24 in there as a rolling boil will splash.

If you’re not a fuel tablet but rather really want an alcohol stove, then it’s a bit of a disappointment.

Now, this setup is better than alcohol stove + wire stand setups that you often see online. And that’s because the pot stand is basically a built in windscreen that blocks the worst of the wind, while also leaving one opening large enough to fit the alcohol simmer cap/snuff cap through, a nice touch to be sure.

But I ran three different tests boiling a couple of cups of 60 degree F water each time, and also adding a heat reflecting wind screen to boot, and a true rolling boil took between 13 and 14 minutes. Even then, the rolling boil was rather mild and not the aggressive rolling boil possible with my other alcohol stove setup.

13-14 minutes is quite a bit of alcohol when you’re trying to conserve every drop. What alcohol stoves need is a way to boil 2 cups of water in around 7-9 minutes, which is equivalent to roughly an oz of alcohol. The Esbit requires 1.5+ oz consistently. Doesn’t seem like much, I know, but those oz add up quick. If you make your soup or instant noodles, and also make tea in the same meal, even little inefficiencies that may occur can easily hit 4 oz. per meal per person. in a day, that could be 12 oz. in 2 days, 24 oz. A 3 day weekend could come to 36 oz. And that’s assuming you’re so good at using the alcohol stove that you never have efficiency problems.

So 1oz for 2cups is way better, and there are quite a few alcohol stoves online that do this. Some are so barely there, light, and small, that I conversely worry about losing parts.

One nice little advantage is also a bit of a disadvantage: the base of the pot and pan. To get a perfect fit with the pot stand, the base of the pot and pan are shaped with some sharper angled ridges. Which is great for the no-movement/stable fit feel. But the small disadvantage is that it does make it a teeny bit harder to clean. Not a big deal, but a little annoying if you cook anything oily and are trying to clean it.

Still, this anodized aluminum complete set has the critical advantage of being a complete kit in a sturdy body. If you’re not worried about every oz of fuel, or if you’re a bigger fan of fuel tablets (or even better, are a hybrid user continuously switching between the two), this is a stove that will last you years.

Pretty good job, Esbit. Will hold on to this and experiment some more in the years to come.

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