Backpacking Stove Review


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Mountain climber
Topic Author's Original Post - Nov 1, 2006 - 04:52pm PT
Well, it's more like "Eric trying to burn his house down AND kill himself, AND kill his kids, dogs, lizard, and goldfish" but that title was too long.

So I get a new cheapo backpacking stove off Ebay a while back. Last night at about 8:03 p.m. I think to myself, "Self, you really oughta try that stove out before you head into the woods with it this weekend." So I grab the stove, and head upstairs to the attic (where the fuel canisters are ... with my backpack.) Now I know you are thinking, "He's not dumb enough to light a stove in his attic. Not Eric!" (At least humor me and tell me that's what you are thinking.) I hook the stove up to the gas canister, briefly think, "I should do this outside." Then my thoughts rapidly switch to, "Eww... it's chilly and damp outside, and I'd have to go down the stairs again..." Then I think, "This really isn't safe." Again, the dude on my other shoulder says something like, "Oh screw it! Light the damn thing!" I should mention here for those who don't know: My attic is the fourth level up in my house.

So I open the valve a teeny bit, turning the knob in the "anti-clockwise position" as the chinglish instructions said , hit the nifty piezo igniter, and the stove fires right up. Nice soft purring blue flame. I let it heat up for thirty seconds or so, then turn it up a little... it's roaring like a jet engine... great flame, lots of heat. I'm impressed. So I think, "I wonder what it's like turned all the way up?" Well, there's only one way to find out. I turn it up, and up, and up until suddenly there is a distinct POP and the little blue flame turns into a three foot tall yellow flame. In my attic. Nipping at the insulation. Trying to remedy the situation, I calmly started turning the knob in the "pro-clockwise directions."

Suddenly there is a second POP, followed by a whooshing roaring sound. Now there are two blue and yellow flames shooting out sideways from between the stove and the gas canister like a two headed propane torch, and the entire stove, not just the burner, is enveloped in a large yellow flame. No longer even remotely calm, I actually tried blowing the stove out with my mouth. You'll be shocked, I'm sure, to know that this tactic didn't work.

I turn and run down the stairs, past my sons who are watching from my bedroom and are just standing there like stone statues with HUGE eyes and gaping mouths... I think they were wetting themselves. I screamed, "Out of the way!" and started running down the first set of stairs, three foot yellow and blue plume trailing behind me and burning all the hair off my knuckles and hand. I hear one boy start screaming "Fire! Fire! It's a fire!" Thanks, Einstein. I yell for the boys to get away from me and not follow me, thinking that at any second, this canister is going to turn in to a homemade hand grenade. I get to the front door, now with my hand AND arm feeling kinda burnt, and trailing the scent of burning flesh and hair throughout the house, I grab the front door... it's locked.

See ... there's this project I've been putting off. It just so happens that in certain weather conditions (Say, like, when it's chilly and damp outside) the door swells or shrinks (or the house swells or shrinks, I haven't really taken the time to measure it) and the door becomes nearly impossible to unlock with one hand. So there I was, looking like Richard Pryor on a bad freebase outing with a ticking time bomb of a fuel canister burning the hell out of my right hand, and stupid door that stupid me hasn't fixed firmly locked in my left hand. I think I already mentioned my lack of calmness, but I'll re-emphasis: I was in a full blown panic at this point. I yelled "Fire! Fire! It's a fire!" (Thanks, Einstein) and was about to wet myself. Just as I'm beginning to think that at any second there would be a third, much louder POP followed by a lack of sensation in my right extremities, the lock gives and I yank the door open.

Now remember, dear reader, it's just after 8:00 p.m. on beggars night. Trick or treat has been over for mere minutes. I open the door and hurl the fully engulfed contraption with all of my might like an Irish Protestant with a Molotov cocktail. (Which is an amount of force somewhere between "Palestinian ten year old with rock" and "Irina, the Russian shot put champion with shot put thingy.") The burning stove and canister arc through the dark Halloween sky, flames trailing behind like the tail of a comet. The stove hits the ground, bounces three or four times into the street, and the flames go out. Shocked three foot tall Goblins, X-men, and Power Rangers are looking on from all directions... parent's mumbling something about "White trash" and "rednecks."

One of the stove's pot stabilizing arms was slightly bent, but other than that, it's no worse for wear. (I, of course, decided to re-light it once it had cooled off and everything seemed to work fine.) So my pro-tester review of the "Everst ES-102 backpacking stove" is very high marks on durability and heat output, and not so high marks on the flame control mechanism.

I'll let you know how it does on my trip.

(Oh, BTW... my wife thinks the funny smell in the house was just from a cheap tea-lite candle I bought at the dollar store. So ... Shhhhhhhhhhh!)
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Nov 1, 2006 - 04:58pm PT
Hmmm, a new thread "Near Death Experiences with Outdoor Stoves". Bet it'll be a long one.

Do you do this every Hallowe'en?

Let me tell you about my fun with an old Svea 123, aka Svea 3-2-1. And my Phoebus, aka Pheebleus.

Mountain climber
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 1, 2006 - 05:04pm PT
"HILARIOUS. . . but. . . are you OK? "

Aww ... so sweet of you to ask. Yes, my right arm is distinctly less hairy than the left, and I have a slight "sunburn" on my forearm, but yes... I'm fine.

Boulder climber
Salt Lake, UT
Nov 1, 2006 - 05:05pm PT
Ah yes. Svea 123. Reasonably priced, compact and durable. Also responsible for how many torched tents and singed hair?

Trad climber
A cube at my soul sucking job in Oregon
Nov 1, 2006 - 06:34pm PT
My favorite stove incident was an XGK with a 5 or 10 or 15 year old O-ring between the pump and the fuel bottle. In the middle of boiling something the O-ring gave and started spraying a stream of white gas DIRECTLY at the stove. The stove belonged to a guide doing some off the books guiding and sharing my site at Red Rocks. The guidee was screeching a hopping trying to shut off the valve despite the beachball sized ball of flame. The guide was around the corner sorting gear, totally un-aware. I let him know his stove's on fire. A quick peer at the 18" diameter yellow fireball and he tells the freaked out guidee to "just let it burn out", and returns to sorting gear.

I thought about using the fire extinguisher out of my camper, but then I thought about the metal table and concrete slab it was on. Hardly worth it.

Once the ashes had settled we found all sorts of melted utensils, grotesque half melted coffee cups, and so on.

Good times.
susan peplow

Desperately Seeking Climbing Related Topic!!
Nov 1, 2006 - 07:11pm PT
Funny, really funny. Sorry to hear that your arms now look like that of a road biker or weight lifter.

Not small....but fantastic!


Trad climber
New York, NY
Nov 1, 2006 - 09:34pm PT
This is absolutely THE sleeper thread of the century.....

It is taking vast amounts of self relstratint not to post to another thread and let the taco's who haven't read this yet know what they are missing.

Oh my GOD, that is pee in my pants, funny.

ummm...glad you're okay and all.....

Trad climber
boulder, co.
Nov 1, 2006 - 10:01pm PT
I concur. Great post funnier than a rubber crutch. Glad you are OK! I also agree with Susan P the JetBoil rocks.
mark miller

Social climber
Nov 1, 2006 - 10:14pm PT
Crazy story, there aren't any firearms in the house "Tim the Toolman" are there? We'll have to call the child protection agencies and the SPCA and notify them of Lucky but STUPID behavioral traits, You got real lucky in an attic and 4 floors up...

Those old Svea Stoves were brilliant and beautiful looking until you took them out into the field and actually needed to use them to cook your food on. They always worked great testing them and cleaning them at home, but once carried in your rucksack any distance from civilization and were dependent upon thoses "brass bastards". I hope you brought beef jerky cause they were only good for making soot.

Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Nov 1, 2006 - 10:33pm PT
Well, I can't resist. Here is a photo of the great-granddaddy of all our camp stoves, the Nansen cooker. Named for the famed Norwegian scientist, explorer, writer and diplomat, Fridtjof Nansen. (He also won the Nobel Peace Prize.)

Even more fun. There is a website, and group, just for people who are interested in old camp stoves. It's at Full of neat stuff about stoves, and pictures.


Edit: Note that the base for the cooker is labelled Primus. In fact, very similar to stoves still sold into the 1980s. The cooker was designed as a way to efficiently utilize all the energy available.

Trad climber
So. Cal.
Nov 1, 2006 - 10:57pm PT
A couple English guys were sharing a site at Camp 4 with us and when they fired up their stove, that's exactly what they did. They poured fuel all over it and lit it up. It was one of those old-timey square, white gas or kerosene jobs, I don't remember what they were called but they were fairly ubiquitous at the time.

There are flames jumping four feet into the air and my buddy and I get up and hide behind a tree, waiting for the thing to explode. Right next to this burning stove sits one of the English dudes, reading my three-day-old newspaper, calm as he can be.

Turns out that's how they always lit their stove.

Trad climber
Nov 1, 2006 - 11:03pm PT
Funny story. MSR's Whisperlight and Dragonfly are both good stoves but the first thing gone on any tramping trip is the hair on my fingers. Dragonfly's a bit loud. Had a great (fake) shouting match with a Austrailian guy while cooking up dinner in a hut one time. Hut warden came out on the porch thinking he was coming to break up a fight. Good times.

Mountain climber
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 1, 2006 - 11:05pm PT
Mighty ... forgive my ignorance, but why is the outer cooker labeled "filled with ice?"
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Nov 1, 2006 - 11:13pm PT
I've actually seen one of the things, in the Nansen museum in Oslo. But it wasn't cut up.

I believe the idea is that the inner pot was for cooking things and boiling water, right over the burner. The outside of the inner pot is pretty hot, so another pot (jacket?) enclosed it, where you could stuff snow and get it melting with the extra heat. Remembering that it takes about as much energy to melt snow, as it does to heat water from 1 degree to 100 degrees. Sort of a double boiler, to contain all the heat and use it. Possibly the outer pot in effect insulated the inner pot, also - air temperatures are pretty low in the places they went.

Apparently it worked much better than whatever they had previously. Blubber stoves or something.


Trad climber
Someplace F*#ked!
Nov 1, 2006 - 11:15pm PT
HOLY SH#TE. That was quite possibly the funniest thing I've read on ST. Well Done (no pun intended)

I too nearly burnt my place down about 10 years ago with one of those MSR stoves that'll burn vodka, jet fuel, etc...

Didn't bother reading the instructions, so forewent priming the jet.

Left a trail of burning white gas on the carpet as I ran for the front door. Similar shot-put incident ensued sans the 3' goblins.

Trad climber
Nov 1, 2006 - 11:51pm PT
Holy sh#t that is the funniest thing I've read in a long time. Thanks for sharing glad you're OK.

Trad climber
Nov 2, 2006 - 02:01pm PT
My friend had just moved into an apartment and it seemed the gas range had not yet been hooked up. No problem he thought as he fueled up his Optimus stove on top of the supposedly defunct range. Gas fumes were immediately ignited by the fully operational pilot lights turning the refueling operation into 2 flaming cocktails, his stove with the gas cap off and the open fuel bottle. In a panic he throws both across the room towards the open balcony doors, igniting the curtains. Much water later he finally douses all the flames with relatively light damage.

My Phoebus will put out a 6' blowtorch flame out of the safety release valve when clear full of gas and cooking on high for awhile.

beneath the valley of ultravegans
Nov 2, 2006 - 03:36pm PT
"looking like Richard Pryor on a bad freebase outing"


Back when I was a kid, my dad got so pissed at a bunk toaster that we had that he chucked it out the window, and into a snowbank in the backyard. "That's the last goddamn piece of toast you'll ever burn!!!" It sank into the snowbank and we recovered the offending vessel in spring. Another time, a pot roast'd been on too long while we were on an errand, so when we return home the house is engulfed in smoke. Again, dad to the rescue, and again, the offending tool (cast-iron skillet) was chucked into the backyard, skiding to it's proper resting place beneath an elm, or sycamore. RIP.

Social climber
Nov 2, 2006 - 06:21pm PT
Great post. I pulled a similar incident a couple of years back with a malfunctioning Whisperlight. I ended up trailing flaming white gas across my brand spanking new -40deg sleeping bag and my buddy's arm. He lost a little arm hair but luckily had the presence of mind to put out the fire while I pitched the stove in the snow. Come to think of it, I still have the original duct tape patches on that sleeping bag :)
Tahoe climber

Texas to Tahoe
Nov 2, 2006 - 06:47pm PT
Awesome story!

Dude - get the pocket rocket (MSR).
The only indignity you'll suffer from it is that your female friends will giggle *for some reason* every time you mention it.
And it won't set your house on fire.

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