Get It in Gear: Classic Trangia alcohol stove

George Thwaites • May 5, 2013 at 7:22 PM

The classic Trangia alcohol burner (about $15) is one of the simplest backpacking and/or bug-out kit stoves imaginable.

Made of brass, mine weighs roughly 11.5 ounces. Much lighter and amazingly efficient alcohol stoves can be fabricated from aluminum beverage cans, but the Trangia has a long and distinguished service record. It is one durable, bombproof stove. There are many white gas and cannister stoves that will beat Trangia alcohol stoves in the raw BTU department. But it is difficult to find anything quieter. (Even a tiny wood stove will pop and crackle more!)

The Trangia features a “simmer ring” which can regulate the flame output. It can become quite hot while the stove is in use. Fine tuning the simmer ring with bare fingers is highly discouraged. After a Trangia is extinguished and properly cools, you can seal it up with the remaining fuel still in it. If the lid is replaced while the stove is too hot, however, the lid's seal can be ruined. Many users find that they are more efficient when just enough fuel is added sparingly to get through a single cooking or boiling session.

Most campers use methylated spirits (denatured alcohol) for Trangia fuel. This is basically ethyl alcohol that has been poisoned so one cannot drink it. Some users (of legal age) opt pay extra for pure ethyl — 190 proof stuff. Depending on the state in which you live, you may or may not be able to obtain it at your neighborhood liquor store. The drinkabilty of pure grain alcohol really isn't the issue: pure ethyl alcohol is simply less toxic than denatured alcohol if one happens to spill some of it on cooking utensils. A flask of ethyl alcohol also retains medical utility as a topical antiseptic.

Alcohol stoves are frequently thought of as three-season stoves because the fuel struggles to combust during freezing temperatures. There are, however, several aftermarket accessories and DIY solutions for “priming” a Trangia to function better in the cold. Some users have been known to pack their pre-fueled, sealed-up Trangias in an interior vest pocket to keep the fuel warmer.

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