One of the things I enjoy about backpacking is the never-ending quest to eliminate a few ounces from my kit! I remember Colin Fletcher writing about a moment of madness where he found himself tearing labels off his tea bags.
In 2018 I made my first stoveless hike. I loved not carrying the extra weight of a stove and fuel canister. My carefully researched food selections were spot on with one exception… COFFEE!
I still smile thinking about my friend and I standing in our camp site drinking cold instant coffee from a Smartwater Bottle saying over and over, “It’s not too bad!” Translation, “I can barely choke this down.”
Since that time, I have been on a quest to find a lightweight, efficient way to heat two cups of water in the morning. Enter the Zpacks Titanium Wing Stove for Esbit.
I bought this stove from Zpacks for $14.95 and received it in a couple days. The stove weighs in at less than one ounce (0.7), 0.8 with the stuff sack.
How It Works
This stove burns Esbit Cubes which sell for about $8.00 for 12 cubes. Each cube weighs about 0.5 ounces. According to the product specifications, they burn at about 1,300 degrees.
The stove, four cubes and my titanium bowl give me a minimalist cook kit that weighs in at less than 5 ounces!
The stuff sack easily holds the stove and 4-6 cubes. Enough fuel for several days on the trail depending on how many meals you boil for.
For my field test I took the stove on an overnight in a nearby wilderness area. I set the stove up on a small flat rock for some stability and to keep the heat away from dry leaves.
The Esbit cube ignited quickly and easily. One word of warning, the flame from the cube is difficult to see.
I placed my small cook pot on it with about 1 ½ cups of water. In a little over four minutes I had a rolling boil.
A quick birthday candle blow and the Esbit was extinguished. Once cooled I stored the leftover portion of the cube in a baggie. I think it will be good for at least one more boil.
My field test took place under ideal conditions. I suspect if there were a strong breeze you would want to use a windscreen to protect the flame.
I don’t think I would depend on this setup in extreme conditions.
I only found two negatives in using the stove. Neither had to do with the function or quality of the stove.
First, the Esbit cubes give off a strong chemical odor (probably because they are burning chemicals).
Second, the cubes leave a sticky residue on the bottom of the pot. The residue cleaned off easily, but has the potential to make a sticky mess in your bag.
Both of these issues are minor, and for my version of Starbucks in the woods – the Zpacks Titanium Wing Stove is a winner!