Gear Review: the venerable Pocket Stove

I got hold of the Pocket Stove back in May, delivery of which was complemented by a nice phone call from Rose at backpackinglight.co.uk checking whether it had arrived safely. Nice touch. As I mentioned in my Camp Kitchen post, it replaced my Mini Trangia pot support which offered poor wind protection and could not reasonably be used with fuels other than meths in a Trangia burner.

Set up for the first time with a Trangia meths burner

The Pocket Stove is made up of in five flat pieces of either stainless steel or titanium which slot together simply and solidly. I opted for the former which weighs in at 141g without the presentation tin it shipped in. Although the tin is nicely screen printed it adds quite a bit of bulk to the product so I choose to leave it at home.

A well designed tin, with plenty of room for a fire steel and tinder as well as the stove

To remedy this personal issue I asked a friend of mine to make me a leather pouch. I think she did a fantastic job – the leather has character, the contrast stitching is a pleasing accent and  the lacquered wooden button is a great touch. The Pocket Stove in its pouch will comfortably fit inside my Trangia kettle but I struggle to squeeze it into my Snow Peak 900 pot now that I’ve replaced the lid. Perhaps this is the perfect excuse to get a second Pocket Stove solely for use with my kettle?

Custom leather pouch to replace the tin it shipped in

In use

Over the past five months I’ve been using the Pocket Stove exclusively with my Trangia burner; I’m a big fan of meths burners and this old classic never disappoints. The burner slots into one of two positions in the back and sides of the stove then the front section locks it in place ready for use. These slots allow a modicum of temperature control but anyone who’s used a Trangia will know that it is basically on or off unless you employ the simmer ring, which doesn’t work with the Pocket Stove as the stove’s aperture is too narrow to accommodate the open ring. The burner being raised off the ground means that the fuel is affected less by cold earth, making it easy to light and quick to bloom.

Before the bloom. About to cook a ‘paella’

Trangia in full bloom cooking the bacon on Blencathra

The Pocket Stove does a fine job of moderating the effect of wind but it could still benefit from a proper windshield if you don’t have the luxury of a sizeable tent porch or a sheltered area when its blowing a gale outside. Probably my favourite feature other than it’s tiny packed size and its ease of use is the way it focuses the burner’s flame. The Mini Trangia had flames spilling out left, right and centre meaning fuel efficiency was out the window but the Pocket Stove’s tight 61x61mm aperture points all of the flames right at the centre of my pot making cooking a quick and painless process (barring any food catching inside the titanium pot).

Boiling Tuscan water in the Snow Peak 900 pot

If you don’t use a meths burner you can insert the base plate into either of the two slots mentioned previously. This provides a platform for burning other fuels, most notably solid fuel tablets or wood. I’ve tried solid fuel with positive results and I’ll definitely carry an Esbit tablet in my ditty bag from now on just in case my meths runs out, but I still prefer using the Trangia burner. In truth I don’t really fancy the hassle and mess that comes with finding and burning wood so I’m going to discount that as an option unless I’m in a real pinch.

Burning 14g in the back garden

Conclusion

I really like the Pocket Stove. It has been a faithful part of my camp kitchen for a few months now and I’d definitely recommend it to a friend. The service from backpackinglight.co.uk was excellent, and they’ve produced a great video demonstrating all of the stove’s features. The only change I’d make to my Pocket Stove would be to make it a little lighter – perhaps I’ll have to add the Ti model to my Christmas list!

Pros

  • Pleasingly elegant design; hats off to Bob over at backpackinglight.co.uk
  • Robust construction
  • Versatile enough to be used with three different types of fuel
  • Compact size when folded flat means it fits inside my pot along with a mug, Trangia burner and various other accoutrements

Cons

  • The stainless steel model weighs almost three times as much as the titanium one
  • There isn’t a lot of in-built wind protection
  • You can’t use the Trangia’s simmer ring with it
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