Alcohol Stoves & Fuel Storage

As spring approaches one of the great things for us UL travelers is that we get to put away the big (relatively speaking) white gas and propane stoves and bring out our lovely little alcohol stoves. If you are not familiar with Alcohol Stoves, they are small, uber lite, and run on denatured alcohol or some other derivative. For three-season camping where all you are doing is heating water for coffee and tea, or boiling some water for pasta or soup, these stoves just can’t be beat.

While many opt to make super lite versions out of assorted types of aluminum cans, for which there are a plethora of YouTube directions, I prefer the strength and stability of the Trangia. Trangia is a Swedish company that builds a complete cook system around their little stove, but for those wishing simplicity, you can simply purchase the burner without all the pots. These are wildly popular in Europe for good reason. They are just bomber little devices. I use the base Trangia unit paired with the little Trangia Triangle which forms a windscreen and pot stand when in use, and folds flat when you are done with it.

As with all stoves you have to carry fuel, in this case liquid, and while the big bottles sold by MSR work great for the highly toxic white gas they carry, I prefer something simpler for the Trangia.  I have discovered over the last year that the folding bottles from Platypus work amazingly well. I can take .5 liters of fuel on a trip in one of the collapsible bottles and as the fuel is consumed, the bottle gets smaller and smaller, taking up less and less space. If I’m simply going for a one or two day trip and don't need that much fuel, I start out with the amount I need and the bottle will still shrink to a very manageable size. With regards to durability, I have had fuel stored in one of these bottles for the past 5 months with no apparent degradation to the bottle or the cap.

At my presentation the other night a student picked up the little Platypus bottle and asked why my water bottle said 'TOXIC' on it.  I told him it was not water and that instead was my way of insuring I did not accidentally drink my fuel. Apparently my method works!

Trangia Triangle, Trangia stove, Platypus .5L fuel storage...

The little Trangia burner...


This story was first posted on Glenn's website: The Traveling Vagabond. You can find a lot more of Glenn's writing and beautiful photography there.

This post filed under topics: Bikepacking Explore Gear List Skills Touring Travel

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Glenn Charles

Glenn Charles

Glenn Charles spent his first 40 years living what he thought was the American Dream; he now says he’s living life. Traveling by bike and kayak, he finds new ways to explore the world, meet new people and grow as a person. As he travels 50,000+ miles by human power, he hopes to inspire others to reconnect with nature and lead simpler, happier lives.


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bsimon | April 19th, 2013

A hiking buddy once grabbed my repurposed beverage container to wash down some ibuprofin with denatured alcohol.  It didn’t go well.  I recommend more clearly marking that container or sacrificing a little space and use a proper fuel container. 

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Jim | April 19th, 2013

In light of recent events the phrase “bomber little devices” should probably be revised.

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Ole | April 19th, 2013

Where do you buy alcohol fuel?

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Jeff | April 19th, 2013

Ole you can buy denatured alcohol at any hardware store or most outdoor stores.
To lighten up the stove weight even more Evernew makes a Trangia style stove out of titanium. Vargo is another manufacturer that makes titanium solid fuel and alcohol stoves. The Vargo stoves have built in pot stands and the Evernew has a ultralight pot stand that fits onto the stove. There is also Minibull Designs, this is a manufacturer out of Maine, he makes a wide variety of stoves and cooking accessories.

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Rob @ oceanair cycles | April 19th, 2013

Great write up.

The fuel for these stoves can be found at most hardware stores, denatured alcohol is what you are looking for.  If you are lucky enough to live in a state that sells Grain alcohol, 190 proof, that will work too.  The later is not toxic, at least in moderation ;-)

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Chris | April 20th, 2013

Glenn, this is great information.  I have a Trangia myself and they are fantastic.  I see in the first photo that you have a Snowpeak Titanium cup.  Curious about the type of cookware you use most frequently and have found to be the best?

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Glenn Charles | April 21st, 2013

Chris, thanks for following along. 

I am a big fan of the Snow Peak Ti stuff.  It is light and it is very duarable.  I have three sets of cook kit that I use depending on the situation.  My go to, 3 season kit is the Trangia, w/Triangle and homemade pot holder plus the Snow Peak 700 Ti pot.  With the Trangia Triangle, this pot will not fit unless you make a little attachment to sit on the top of the triangle.  I took some cheap steel strand from the HW store, cut it to length and then made a triangle out of it.  It sits on the top of the Triangle and holds the pot.  You can see it in image 1.

If I think I need a little more cooking capability, but still not a full blown cook kit, I use the Snow Peak Hybrid cookset.  It fits perfectly on top of the triangle, gives me a small pan and has a bit more volume for cooking.  I have even used it plus the Trangia for some lightweight snow melting duties.  Paired with a homemade pot cozy made out of reflectix material, you get a very good shoulder season kit.

Lastly, for my winter setup I am using the MSR Universal Stove plus the Snow Peak Ti 1400 pot.  This kit is bigger, but still small enough to fit into my custom frame bag.  The pot is big enough to melt snow and to hold all of the stove bits when not in use. 

I hope this helps, please let me know if you have any other questions.


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Jay Hui | August 22nd, 2013

For my Great Divide ride this year, I had a mini Trangia too and simply used a POM bottle in banff when I was there. Wasn’t worried about the non-collapsable aspect of the POM bottle but it held up great and had plenty of room for fuel on the divide for me for dinner and breakfast.  Turns out, that we didn’t cook as much as I thought we would as we loaded up on Subway and had a few non-cooking dinners on the trip as we passed through towns with a Subway in them…

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mariotto | September 27th, 2013

mitico Trangia! Sono 20 anni che mi accompagna nei miei tour.Francia Corsica Grecia Italia…...sempre con me!

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FCAsheville | October 18th, 2013

Trangia FTMFW!  No moving parts and one of the last products that will last a lifetime.  Don’t undersell them however.  I have a mini and we also use the family kit for our 3-person trips, and it handles larger meals and frying with no problem.

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Nigel | October 24th, 2013

I use the Trangia UL anodised with the kettle. The anodised is as good as the non-stick version, easy to clean. The whole system is so simple, so nothing really to break or clog up as does the multi-burners do. Only thing, don’t leave the rubber ring on the burner, it will disintegrate! Fortunately, easy to acquire spares.

Fuel (methylated spirits) is easy to acquire and relatively cheap.

Top piece of cycle touring kit :-)

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