This past spring I started playing with an Alcohol stove on overnight foray's into the woods. Pressurized stoves are great and I like my Optimus Nova, but there's something to be said for the simplicity of an alcohol stove.
When I first bought the stove I was in need of a quick and light windscreen. I bought a package of aluminum flashing from the local hardware store and got to work on something quick and simple the night before a camp out. I started with two 5"x7" cards and fashioned what you see below. A quick, effective, but crude windscreen.
After forming a construction paper template to test and refine the concept I got to work on the finished product, Windscreen 2.0
After using and testing W-1.0 for the better part of this summer I had developed quite a few criteria for Windscreen 2.0:
- Provide more stability for the alcohol burner on soft and uneven surfaces, such as loamy soil, sand, or snow.
- Provide more stability for the pot. While the Vargo stove is nice, the tripod does not hold my pot securely.
- Be made of one continuous sheet of aluminum. V-1.0's interlocking design worked, but wasn't reliable, or elegant.
- Provide more wind protection than V-1.0. Having intake on one side of the screen allows me to turn it out of the wind.
- Be useable without the stakes. The stakes provide stability, but if my sleeping kit doesn't necessitate their use I can use a paperclip to hold it together.
- Fit inside my pot. I like that most of my kit can fit in the pot and all but the fuel if I leave the stakes at home.
Windscreen 2.0 has quite a few improvements over 1.0. Three holes in the baseplate provide support for the burner and keep it in place. If the burner starts sinking, the plate will keep it afloat.
The stakes support the stove above the flame while keeping the screen together. This is much more stable than the previous setup.
The whole kit is what I would consider luxury ultralight. This is what I carry on many overnighters, or coffee stops on the way to work. There are a few more things I carry for coffee, but those aren't part of the core kit (another time). Luxury is my Double Wall Snowpeak 450ml mug. I love this thing and if I really wanted to go lighter I could leave it at home, but I don't see that happening.
All of the gear; Windsreen, Base plate, mug, stove, lighter, rag, and spoon fit in my 700ml pot. The stakes will end up in my sleeping kit and the fuel in my bag. Based on the length of the outing I might take more fuel, but this Nalgene container holds about 8 oz. or enough to boil 8 cups of water.
Going light has never been so sexy. I find it serendipitous that despite all of the cooking systems available, alcohol stoves are still finding a niche amongst a few of us. They are simple, affordable, and elegant. Less, truly is, more.
As summer is winding down I find myself longing for time in the woods on my bike or in my hammock. Anni and I are looking for a weekend that isn't full to throw our gear in the car and get out of town with friends. I'm looking forward to those days of hiking, cooking, and relaxing. Forgetting about the projects to be finished and the anxiety of life back in the "real world".