FOR EDIT:Brasslite Turbo II-D Field Test Report
- Note to Editors: I will be on an outing from Dec 1-5, so I am submitting my report early for you to edit. I will revise the report and upload it to the files when I return. At that time I will embellish it a bit and add some photos for the .htm version. Thanks! Will
FIELD TEST REPORT: BRASSLITE TURBO II-D ALCOHOL STOVE
Date: November 30, 2003
Item Tested: Brasslite Turbo II-D alcohol stove and 8 oz (227 ml) fuel dispensing bottle.
Name: Brasslite Backpacking Stove.
Product Tested: Brasslite Turbo II-D alcohol stove.
Year of Manufacture: 2003.
Color: Brass (bare metal).
Materials: The stove body is 30 ga (0.0102 in/0.305 mm) brass shim; the simmer sleeve is 32 ga (0.008 in/0.203 mm) brass shim; and the pot holder is 0.5 in (1.3 cm) stainless steel wire cloth.
Weight Listed on Website: 2.5 oz (71 g) in one location and 2.6 oz (74 g) in another location.
Weight as Delivered: 2.7 oz (76.5 g).
Product Tested: Brasslite custom dispenser bottle.
Color: Translucent white.
Capacity: 8 fl oz (227 ml).
Weight Listed on Website: 1.5 oz (42.5 g).
Weight as Delivered: 1.5 oz (42.5 g).
According to the Brasslite website and product literature, the Turbo II-D is the improved version of the Turbo II (now discontinued). The Turbo II-D has a double wall (the reason for the "D" in the name), which increases the weight by 0.4 oz (11.3 g) but creates significantly improved flame control. The Turbo II-D is for use by one to two people. It has a fuel capacity of 2 fl oz (57 ml) and will burn for 20 minutes on a full load of fuel (longer if simmering). In general it's recommended that the Turbo II-D be used with a cook pot having a minimum capacity of 33 fl oz (1 liter), but the base size of the pot is more important to prevent flame spillage and wasted fuel. The minimum recommended pot base size is 5 inches (13 cm). Flame size can be reduced by partially closing the ports (air intakes) to compensate for pots that are slightly less than 5 inches (13 cm) in diameter and 33 fl oz (1 liter) capacity.
In my initial report I stated: "when you are accustomed to using a canister stove, going to an alcohol stove takes some getting used to." This has definitely been true for me. Being used to the flame control on a canister stove, I had a hard time letting go of the need to adjust the flame. I tried to use the stove's simmer sleeve to optimize the flame while bringing water to boil, and noted that the stove is slow to respond to adjustment of the air intake. Well, I have settled down with this stove over the past 3 months, and now I follow the directions that state to leave the ports open until boiling is reached. Now that this has sunk in, I am not trying to make the stove into something it isn't and I've grown to like and appreciate its simplicity, economy, and reliability. This field report presents what I have learned so far about the Turbo II-D, provides an analysis of how the alcohol stove compares with a canister stove, and updates how well the alcohol stove has met my expectations.
FIELD TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
In September I took the alcohol stove on one 3-day backpacking trip in the Weminuche Wilderness in southwestern Colorado USA, where I was able to test the stove at high elevations (11,900 ft/3627 m and 8,200 ft/2499 m). Evening air temperatures were 55 F (12.8 C) and 65 F (18.3 C) and morning temperatures were 45 F (7.2 C). Each time I used 0.75 oz (22 ml) of alcohol to boil 2 cups (16 oz/473 ml) of water. The diameter of my cooking pot was 5.5 in (15 cm).
In October I used the alcohol stove on a 9-day canoe trip on the Colorado River in southeastern Utah USA. Elevations ranged from 4,500 ft to 4,000 ft (1372 m to 1219 m). Evening temperatures ranged from 65 to 75 F (18.3 to 23.9 C) and morning temperatures ranged from 40 to 50 F (4.4 to 10 C). Each time I used 1.25 oz (37 ml) of alcohol to boil 3 cups (24 oz/710 ml) of water.
In November I took the alcohol stove on a 3-day backpacking trip in Grand Gulch, Southeastern Utah USA. Elevations ranged from 6,400 ft to 5,600 ft (1951 m to 1707 m). Evening temperatures were 44 F and 48 F (6.7 C and 8.9 C) and morning temperatures were 30 F and 31 F (0 C and -0.6C). Each time I used 1.25 oz (37 ml) of alcohol to boil 3 cups (24 oz/710 ml) of water.
MY EXPERIENCES WITH THE BRASSLITE TURBO II-D
When I settled down and followed the directions, I found that the alcohol stove is very simple and dependable. The directions say that the ports (air intakes) need to be fully open when the stove is lit, and the simmer sleeve can be used to reduce the flame after boiling is reached. I had a hard time getting it through my thick head that I needed to leave the simmer sleeve alone while the stove is heating the water to boiling. You simply light the stove, wait 10-30 sec (depending on temperature) for it to get warmed up, put your pot on, and leave it alone. Simple. The following bullets summarize my experiences and what I have learned:
** The stove has no direct way to turn it off. The process is to estimate the correct amount of fuel for the amount of water being heated and the burning conditions, then light it and let it burn until the fuel runs out. The simmer sleeve can be used to lower the flame after boiling has been reached.
** Some experience and skill is needed to estimate the amount of fuel needed. It depends on the amount of water to be boiled, water temperature, air temperature, and wind. The amounts listed in a table in the instructions are very close, and one quickly learns how much to adjust them for the specific conditions.
** About half of the times I have used the stove it has gone out and I have had to re-light it. Now I have gotten into a habit of waiting 10-30 seconds to make sure the stove stays lit before I put my pot on it.
** The stove takes a while to heat up, depending on air and fuel temperature. Once it gets going, you let it burn, and do not try to adjust the flame level with the simmer sleeve. There will be flame spillage around the cook pot. At higher air temperatures the stove can burn vigorously, producing a lot of flame spillage. But at lower air temperatures the stove burns less vigorously, with very little flame spillage.
** The fuel-dispensing bottle is a perfect accessory for the Turbo II-D. It does not leak and is ideal for accurately measuring and dispensing the desired amount of fuel. I found that the reservoir side of the bottle should be up when dispensing the fuel.
** The alcohol stove worked just fine at high altitude. In past experiences with alcohol stoves, I tried a Trangia stove and a homemade Pepsi can stove to cook meals at high elevations and they did not work very well. I have read comments from others reporting no problems using an alcohol stove at high elevations, so this confirms that they were right and that I was doing something wrong.
** On several occasions at warmer air temperatures (55 F/12.8 C and higher) there was a lot of flame spillage. I could not take the lid off the pot to add my food, for fear of burning my hand or clothing. At cooler temperatures on my more recent trips, the stove was quite well behaved, and there was minimal flame spillage and danger of getting burned. I need to do more testing on this issue. Perhaps at higher air temperatures I need to start the stove with the ports partially closed.
** My boil times were 6-9 minutes for 2 cups (16 oz/473 ml) of water and 8-11 minutes for 3 cups (24 oz/710 ml) of water, depending on air and water temperatures. These were significantly longer than the average 5 to 7.5 minute boil times stated on the Brasslite website, but Brasslite emphasized that actual boil times vary a lot because conditions vary a lot. I suspect that the shorter boil time can be attained at lower elevations where there is more oxygen and warmer temperatures. My boil times are probably fairly typical for the western mountain and canyon country. Note that most of my testing so far has been under fairly cool conditions.
** I have not yet tested the alcohol stove under either windy or rainy conditions, or very cold conditions. I hope to test under these conditions in the next 3 months.
** After 3 months of experience with the alcohol stove, my confidence in it has increased immensely. It seems to be quite predictable, and with experience I can carry the exact amount of fuel I will need for a particular trip.
COMPARING THE TURBO II-D ALCOHOL STOVE WITH A CANISTER STOVE
Most everyone would admit that a canister stove is the ultimate in backcountry cooking convenience. So, how does the Brasslite Turbo II-D stack up against a canister stove? I will take a shot at this comparison in this report, and presumably refine it in my long-term report.
CONVENIENCE: The canister stove has the edge in this category. All you have to do is put the burner on the canister and light it. The alcohol stove has the additional step of putting a measured amount of fuel into the stove, then lighting it.
TIME TO BOIL: Again the canister stove has the edge, with a boil time of 4 minutes or less for 2 cups (16 oz/473 ml) of water. The alcohol stove takes 5 minutes or more.
NEED FOR A WINDSCREEN: Both stoves are very sensitive to wind so they are equal on this issue. A canister stove needs a taller windscreen, which is a little heavier.
WEIGHT: The alcohol stove wins. A lightweight canister stove weighs 3 oz (85 g), and a canister of fuel weighs about 14 oz (397 g), for a total weight of 17 oz (482 g). I can make 1 canister last for 7 days if I conserve fuel. The Turbo II-D weighs 2.7 oz (77 g) and fuel for 7 days adds up to 13.5 fl oz (10.7 oz/303 g), for a total weight of 14 oz (397 g) (I rounded up to allow for piming fuel.). So, for a 7-day trip, the weight of the alcohol stove plus fuel is 3 oz (85 g) less than the canister stove plus fuel. The alcohol stove clearly wins for a shorter trip, because I can take the exact amount of fuel I need. Note that I can take a partially full canister of fuel, if I have one, but I would be carrying 5 oz (142 g) of canister to provide about 5 oz (142 g) of fuel.
FUEL COST: The alcohol stove easily wins in this category. At WalMart a canister of fuel costs $4.25 and contains enough fuel for 7 days for one person. A quart (.95 liter) of denatured alcohol at WalMart costs $4.00 and contains enough fuel for 14 days.
RELIABILITY: The alcohol stove wins in this category too. I have had the jet replaced on my canister stove because it became clogged from using different brands of canister fuel. The Turbo II-D has no jets to become clogged, or anything that would keep it from working.
ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS: The alcohol stove wins again. I personally don't like the throwaway technology of canister fuel. A fuel canister weighs about 14 oz (397 g), of which about 9 oz (255 g) is fuel and 5 oz (142 g) is the canister that is thrown into the trash when it's empty. It can't be recycled. On the other hand, the metal container that alcohol comes in can be recycled.
As you can see from this comparison, the alcohol stove is equal to or better than a canister stove in all categories except convenience and boiling time, where it takes about 1 minute longer to fill the alcohol stove and 2-3 minutes longer to boil water. That is not a problem for me because I usually do other things while my stove is boiling water. Overall, this is one of those situations where simplicity and elegance wins over modern technology.
Now that we are going into winter, I won't be doing as much backpacking as I do in the other seasons. Because of the long cold nights in the wintertime my preference is to car camp and day hike in the desert and canyon country of Southeast Utah, Northern Arizona, and Southern New Mexico. To give the stove as much testing as possible under a wide variety of conditions, I will use it on car camping trips, and also use it at home under different conditions.
Weather conditions in the Southwest desert and canyon country are highly variable and depend a lot on elevation. Precipitation is unpredictable. Winter frontal storms produce rain, snow, and wind. Periods between storms are usually very pleasant, and I target these times for outings.
MY EXPECTATIONS FOR THE TURBO II-D
How is the alcohol stove doing so far? Below, in the list of expectations from my Initial Report I have placed two stars (**) before the expectations that I believe have been met, one star (*) before the expectations that are tentatively met, and none for the expectations that still need to be evaluated.
*The Turbo II-D will be dependable and reliable and require little or no maintenance under a variety of backpacking conditions.
**The weight of the Turbo II-D stove and fuel will be significantly lighter than a canister stove and fuel for the same number of meals.
*Boil times will be reduced as I develop more skill with using the Turbo II-D.
**The Turbo II-D will be slower to boil water than a canister stove, but the difference will be small and the weight savings will justify the additional boiling time.
*The Turbo II-D will boil cold water in cold weather in an acceptable amount of time.
**The Turbo II-D will boil water for 2 people in a reasonable amount of time.
The Turbo II-D will perform as well under windy conditions as a canister stove, assuming an adequate windscreen is used.
**A windscreen will significantly increase the efficiency of the stove.
**By calculating the amount of fuel needed, accurately measuring the amount of fuel used, the Turbo II-D will use fuel efficiently.
**The Turbo II-D is sufficiently rugged for backpacking conditions.
*Since the Turbo II-D costs about the same as a canister stove, there will be compelling reasons (e.g. lightweight, reliability, economy) to recommend it over a canister stove.
*It will take some practice to master the flame control of the Turbo II-D, but it will eventually become second nature.
I will continue evaluating the Turbo II-D with the above expectations in mind, over a wide range of terrain and weather conditions. During each trip I will record data and notes and after each trip I will document how well the Turbo II-D met my expectations and needs. After six months of use I expect to have plenty of documentation and clear opinions on how well the Turbo II-D met the above expectations. Based on the data, the above hypotheses will be either accepted or rejected in my Long-Term Report.
Tester Name: Will Rietveld.
Height: 6' (183 cm).
Weight: 170 (77.3 kg).
Location: Durango, Colorado, USA.
Backpacking Background: 46 years of hiking and backpacking in the mountains and deserts of southwest Colorado, southeast Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona. I have also made numerous trips in Wyoming, Montana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and upper Michigan. I have been a lightweight backpacker for many years, and an ultralight backpacker for 4 years. I have been retired for 6 years and backpack frequently. My wife and I present workshops on ultralight backpacking in the local area and have developed a website called "Southwest Ultralight Backpacking." The URL is: http://users.sisna.com/swultralight/.
I would like to thank Aaron Rosenbloom at Brasslite and the BackpackGearTest group for selecting me to participate in this test.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- Will & Janet wrote:
> Date: November 30, 2003Thanks for the report, test monitor "EDITS/QUESTIONS" are below:
> Item Tested: Brasslite Turbo II-D alcohol stove and 8 oz (227 ml) fuel
> dispensing bottle.
Most everyone would admit that a canister stove is the ultimate in
backcountry cooking convenience.
"SOUNDS LIKE A PROJECTING STATEMENT"
Height: 6' (183 cm).
Weight: 170 (77.3 kg).
"NOT SURE THAT THE PERIOD IS NEEDED AT THE END OF THESE LISTED ITEMS"
Jack, Cyber and Drager
- Will and Jack,
You may want to consider adding a unit after 170 here:
Weight: 170 (77.3 kg)
--- In BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com, Jack Corrigan <jack@j...> wrote:
> Will & Janet wrote:
> > Date: November 30, 2003
> > Item Tested: Brasslite Turbo II-D alcohol stove and 8 oz (227 ml)
> > dispensing bottle.
> Thanks for the report, test monitor "EDITS/QUESTIONS" are below:
> Most everyone would admit that a canister stove is the ultimate in
> backcountry cooking convenience.
> "SOUNDS LIKE A PROJECTING STATEMENT"
> Gender: M.
> Age: 61.
> Height: 6' (183 cm).
> Weight: 170 (77.3 kg).
> "NOT SURE THAT THE PERIOD IS NEEDED AT THE END OF THESE LISTED ITEMS"
> TEAM JackQuest
> Jack, Cyber and Drager