Product Review: Esbit Pocket Stove
by John Boch
(Guns Save Life) – The Esbit Pocket Stove is a tiny and lightweight foldable stove for backpackers and others who want a small stove without packing a lot of weight. About the size of a deck of cards, it weighs only a couple of ounces.
The stove itself sells for about $10 and the Esbit fuel cubes come in boxes of a dozen for about $6. The fuel blocks have a bit of an offensive odor, so I recommend storing them in a quart-sized heavy duty freezer bag (or better still, double bag them).
I purchased one of these to boil water for Mountain House meals or instant oatmeal while hiking/camping or to heat up water for hot chocolate at the next cold and rainy Appleseed event.
I decided, almost on a whim, to give it a test run and I’m glad I did. Frankly, I expected the manufacturer’s claims to be accurate as to this diminutive stove’s capabilities but I came away very disappointed.
Sans any real windscreen, the a single fuel cube only raised the temperature of 20oz of water from 70 degrees to 135 over a seven minute burn time. That’s a far cry from the manufacturer’s claims that a fuel cube will burn for 12 minutes and bring 16oz of water to a rolling boil in eight minutes. Thinking wind was maybe the main problem, I sought a windbreak.
I picked up a piece of metal ductwork – specifically a 5” to 4” reduction connection. That effectively made two windscreens – the 5” diameter segment (about 2” tall) and the reduction segment (about 3” tall). With my cordless drill, I drilled a series of air holes on both top and bottom to facilitate airflow for combustion.
My second test on a very windy Easter Day only netted me 185 degree water (20oz starting at about 60 degrees) after burning two fuel blocks which still only burned for about 7 minutes each with the benefit of the windblocking ductwork.
This tiny little stove doesn’t have much horsepower (an LP gas or Coleman fuel camping stove it isn’t), but it beats nothing. It is backpacking friendly thanks to its size and non-volatile fuel but you’re going to need patience and a lot of fuel to boil your water.
The moral of the story here is to do your best to shelter your stove and cooking vessel from the wind as much as possible. As always, don’t forget to bring along plenty of spare fuel blocks and a trusty lighter or matches if your plan includes an Esbit.
Would I recommend this stove to a friend? Not unless it filled a very special niche for them.