I’m trying out a homemade design for a backpacking stove that combines a few of the best ideas I’ve seen with some solutions for their most common problems.
The main inspiration for this stove is the “Super Cat” design — a single aluminum cat food can with holes cut in it. The basic idea for this stove is that (once primed by lighting the open can), the boiling alcohol exits through the holes, ignites with oxygen in the air, and the heat is conducted through the can to boil more of the alcohol.
The miracle of this stove is its simplicity (no moving parts, no precision parts) and reliability (you carry your own fuel, which does not require any special container) for a weight cost of practically nothing. The downsides are its instability with a pot on top of it, the need to separate it from any flammable material on the ground, and the susceptibility of an alcohol burner to wind.
This is my initial sketch of the concept, from November 18th 2013. The goal was to make a stand that elevated the burner and integrate a wind screen into it — additionally, guiding the heat up past the sides of the cook pot. The stove itself should break down and fit inside the cook pot.
While the initial design was based on a titanium pot, the price turned out to be astronomical (over $200, since it apparently was not popular enough to go into mass production). So as a last minute substitute (after doing all the initial cutting), I went with the aluminum Imusa grease pot — sold as a grease receptacle rather than a cook pot, but a very popular backpacking cook pot just the same.
The burner, the stand, the windscreen, the fuel, and a bag containing some utensils and soap fit quite comfortably inside the pot.
Besides rounding the corners of the stand to aid in its assembly, I cut some holes in each piece. This saves weight, but the real purpose of the holes is to allow an air exchange around the entire burner.
The burner can is seated so that its top is level with the rest of the stand.
This is important so that the top of the can will be sealed off by the cook pot and the alcohol will burn through the punched holes instead.
The stability of the stand (which is wider than the pot) versus the burner can itself (which is much slimmer than the pot) can’t be understated. It feels nice and solid.
I made the windscreen out of a piece of aluminum flashing. Rather than the interlocking design I had drawn, I found a better way to join the 2 ends by folding over the aluminum. There are 4 slots on the bottom, one for each slot in the base. Additionally, there is a chunk taken out to accommodate the pot handle.
The windscreen goes down to the ground on one side, but has a gap on the other — this would be the downwind side to prevent the flame from blowing.
For larger pots (or tea kettles), the windscreen can be detached and just placed upwind of the burner.
All in all, I’m extremely pleased with how this came out.