Ahead of a recent six day backpacking trip (my first > 2 day backpacking exped. in, ahem, 12 years) I sought to find ways to reduce the weight of my kit. I’d already got a lightweight tent, so I looked next at my stove. I was amazed to discover that my MSR Dragonfly, cookset and a half full petrol fuel bottle totalled up to 1800 g. After seeking advice from a friend, a former outdoor education instructor, I looked through the offerings from Alpkit. I then compared these to gas stoves from MSR, Optimus, Primus and Jetboil. For my money Alpkit’s Koro came out on top in terms of stability and weight and also came in at the most reasonable price.
The stove packs down to fit inside a 650ml mug and the 100 g gas canister fits into my breakfast bowl. When I’ve carried the MSR until now I’ve never bothered taking out bits I don’t need, I just carry it all. Making the change from MSR and S/S cookset to the Koro and a titanium cooking mug saved me an amazing 1.4 kg in pack weight, that’s almost a tent. Right now the Jetboil is a very trendy option. It is true that it boils more water more quickly and I’d estimate you’d save ca. 20-30% in fuel burnt but it’s bigger, more complex, has plastic parts and is 340 g vs. 200 g for my set up. Also because the Koro stands separate to the gas canister is it far more stable. For a three season stove I am delighted and will probably invest in a larger pan for proper cooking for my next totally unsupported trip.
After many years with a petrol stove (which are very quick to boil water due to the high calorific value of liquid hydrocarbons) I was really impressed with the simplicity of going back to a gas stove. Also with the safety, meaning I was happy to cook in the porch of the tent (not that I could or should commend doing this to others). Unlike a petrol stove, errors cannot lead to a six foot flamethrower!
I wasn’t sure how I’d get on with a single skin titanium mug either, but the moderate thermal conductivity of Ti (25 W/m.K) vs. Al (237 W/m.K ) or Cu (400 W/m.K) works well if you want to drink your tea straight from the mug you have boiled the water in. Ahead of going I wondered if I might have been better with a double skinned mug, but my experience says no – single skin works well enough and is obviously lighter in weight.